Monday, January 8, 2007

Blockbuster day for Eagles and their fans; a look at what exactly was done

Today was certainly the most exciting day for the Eagles and their fans in quite some time. Players, fans, family, billets, and staff went into today's trading deadline expecting to see moves made to improve this year's edition of the Screaming Eagles, and boy did they get what they bargained for. Without any further preamble, let's look a little more in-depth at each of the three trades made by GM Pascal Vincent this morning.


Trade #1

To Moncton: Mark Barberio (D, 16 years old), Cape Breton's 1st round pick in 2007.

To Cape Breton: Luc Bourdon (D, 19 years old).

This was obviously the "main event", the big blockbuster that was anticipated for weeks and weeks. It sent shockwaves throughout the local hockey community when it was announced, and it was the talk of many an office in Sydney today.

Luc Bourdon needs little introduction to most of you who are reading this blog, but I'll give one anyway. Luc was the #3 overall pick in the 2003 Q Midget Draft by the Val d'or Foreurs, and was the #10 overall pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He spent two and a half seasons with the Foreurs before going away to the 2005-2006 World Junior Hockey Championship, where he not only helped Team Canada win a gold medal, but also was named to the tournament all-star team. During his time away with Team Canada, he was traded to the Memorial Cup host Moncton Wildcats in a blockbuster deal that sent Brad Marchand (among others) the other way. He was a member of the Wildcats' 2006 President's Cup champion and played for the Cats at the Memorial Cup, although his effectiveness was limited by the fact that he was just coming back from a broken fibula or ankle (I can't quite remember which).

Luc started off this season in the NHL with the Canucks, but after a handful of games was sent back to junior for one final season. He absolutely dominated during his short time in Moncton this year. To illustrate, his +17 was tops on the Wildcats by 10, and was achieved in only 13 games! To me, that is a staggering indication of just how much this guy can dominate at this level. After his brief return to Moncton, Luc was off to the WJC again, and once again helped Canada win a gold medal at the event.

Bourdon is a physical, mean, hard-hitting defenceman who is a very good skater, very mobile, moves the puck well, has a very good shot, and can play both ends of the ice (including powerplay and penalty kill). In short, there isn't much that this guy can't do when he's healthy. He has championship experience (two WJC gold medals and a President's Cup ring), Memorial Cup experience, World Junior experience, and NHL experience. He will be counted upon to use this experience to be a calming leadership force on the Eagle blueline and in the Eagle dressing room. He will be counted upon to be that dominant defenseman that we needed to take the pressure off of JC Sawyer and Oskars Bartulis. In short, Luc Bourdon was possibly THE most coveted player available in the Christmas trading period........... certainly the most coveted defenceman.............. and the Eagles went out and got him. He is almost certainly the most high-profile acquisition the Eagles have ever made.


The Eagles paid a very high price.

Perhaps not as high a price as some of the rumours were suggesting might be required to land Bourdon, but losing Barberio, our first round pick in the 2006 Q midget draft, definitely stings. We have all seen Mark Barberio and we all know how good he is now and that the sky is the limit in terms of how good he may be. He is a real blue-chipper and has the potential to be one of the very best defencemen in the league someday, if not THE best. If the Eagles fail to reach their playoff potential this year, or if Bourdon is a disappointment in any way, it will be very painful for fans to have to watch Barberio develop into likely a superstar in a division rival's colours. However, that is the price that you have to pay if you want to acquire someone of Bourdon's calibre. Obviously, the Eagles decided that such a risky move was worth it. We will know come playoff time whether or not they were right.

Bourdon could be the final piece of the puzzle for Cape Breton this season, or this huge blockbuster deal could end up being something the Eagles regret in the long term. However, right now, there is no denying that the acquisition of Bourdon is just cause for great excitement among Eagles fans and the Cape Breton hockey community in general, and it should create quite a buzz around the team for the remainder of the season. On paper, we now have a defence that may be second to none in the league. Whether or not that translates into having the best defence in the league on the ice remains to be seen.

All we can do is sit back now and watch how everything unfolds. At the very least, the Bourdon acquisition signals that the Eagles are undoubtedly GOING FOR IT this season, and that in itself is very exciting.


Trade #2

To the Saint John Sea Dogs: Matthew Stoddard (winger, 16 years old).

To the Eagles: Jonathan Laberge (center, 19 years old).

In this trade, the Eagles get a versatile centreman who has been playing his trade with the Saint John Sea Dogs for the past year and a half. Laberge has 16 goals and 33 points in 39 games to date for the Sea Dogs this season. He is a hard-working, intense, two-way player who can play both the powerplay and the penalty kill. He is gritty and is tough to play against. He is also good on faceoffs (52.50% to date this season, on 1021 draws, the most on the Sea Dogs).

Laberge will likely start out as an upgrade at the third line centre position, although he is good enough to play on the second line as well in the event of any tinkering with line combinations. With his grit, attention to defense, intensity, and decent scoring ability, he really fits the type of player we were looking for. Most importantly, our team was very much in need of another strong faceoff man. With all of the hype about Bourdon, do not forget about this pretty solid acquisition.

We are giving up Matthew Stoddard, who was our 2nd round pick (35th overall) in the 2006 Q midget draft. As you may recall, we had actually traded up (traded a 3rd and a 4th rounder) to acquire the pick used to select Stoddard, but he had a disappointing training camp and surprisingly did not make this year's team. Matthew is still a very solid Q league prospect, scoring at a clip of almost two points per game with Cole Harbour Major Midget, but it was felt that he was a price we were willing to pay to acquire Laberge. The Eagles have now given up both of their top two picks from the 06 draft (Barberio and Stoddard).

In all, the Eagles add some depth at forward at the sacrifice of a prospect.


Trade #3

To the Drummondville Voltigeurs: Cape Breton's 3rd round pick in the 2007 midget draft.

To the Eagles: Beau Prokopetz (D, 19 years old).

In this trade, the Eagles (1) add further depth to their defensive corps (2) address a need for physicality on the blueline.

Beau Prokopetz is a stay-at-home defenseman who is reliable in his own end and is VERY physical. The league keeps track of hits on their statistics page, and Beau ranks #11 overall in the league with 103 "good hits" (whatever their definition of a "good hit" is!) in 33 games played.

He is not flashy, is not so much a "star player", and will not be counted upon to produce offense or play the powerplay, but he is steady, reliable, can play the PK, and adds a dimension to our defence that perhaps we were a little bit lacking in before; a real punisher along the boards, in open ice (apparently his specialty), and in front of the net. The Eagles lost three very physical defencemen from last season (Vincent Zaore, Charlie Fontaine, David Victor), and while this year's team possesses very good defencemen of all different kinds, they were kind of lacking that one real bruiser. With this trade, Vincent believes that they now have him.

A third round pick is a quality draft pick, but in this blogger's opinion, it will be worth it if Prokopetz delivers as advertised, especially considering that the Eagles do have another third round pick to fall back on (acquired for Vincent Zaore back in June from the Victoriaville Tigres).

It should also be noted that Beau played last season for the Bathurst Titan club that eliminated the Eagles from the playoffs in round two. It will be nice to have him on our side this time around.


All in all, Cape Breton used the final day of the trade period to address depth at forward, and to BIG TIME address depth on defence. No longer do fans have to worry about Sawyer and Bartulis wearing down due to being overworked come playoff time. The team now has many more options for point men on the powerplay (Sawyer, Bourdon, Bartulis, McIlveen, Swit). The team now has four pretty good faceoff men (Fergus, Sheppard, Laberge, JC Gauthier). The team is now extremely deep and talented........... on paper.

The key will be for all of this "awesomeness" on paper to actually translate into a great team on the ice. Fans remember full well in 2004, how a great team on paper totally flopped on the ice come playoff time. The team had no chemistry, and that's the biggest challenge laid out before the players and especially the coaching staff for the rest of this season; to make sure that this new-look edition of the Eagles finds and maintains the right chemistry, and to make sure that nobody gets overconfident, which is easy to do with such a talented lineup.

Whether or not Pascal Vincent, his staff, and his team are up to this challenge over the next number of months, once again, only time will tell.

But for now, even if fans are (rightfully) wary about losing a player of Barberio's calibre, it is pretty much impossible for fans not to be excited about the rest of this season.

The floor is open, as always, to thoughts and opinions.


Luke Dotto said...

Howdie, i'm a volunteer writer for the Vancouver Canucks, you can see my work on under the "Prospects Central" page. As you surely know, Bourdon is arguably our top pprospect currently, and the news that he is now a Screaming Eagle is very important to me, mainly because i want to see him make it to the Mem. Cup for a second year in the exact town that drafted him.

I was hoping you could tell me exactly what type of team C.B. has this year, how serious of a contender they are, and if they will be able to get past Lewiston (who it appears is running away with the league lead) to get to the Mem. Cup.

More specifically: How well will they match up vs. Lewiston if they face them, and are there any other teams that pose a real challenege to them right now (such as a close by rival that could post an upset)

If you could help me out with the above information, you can email me at:

Thanks for your blog, and cheers!
Good luck Cape Breton!!!

Anonymous said...

Luc Bourdon is definitely a great acquisition for the Eagles, but I agree with everyone else that Mark Barberio is the flip side of the coin, a great loss. I also hope that he will fit right in and join the great team chemistry we have going for us this year. There has been a lot said about how well the team get along with each other, both on the ice and off. We have two extremely good goalies, only one of which can obviously play at a time, and they still remain very good friends (you can see that from the stands as the goalie sitting on the bench is always encouraging his counterpart on!). So the same can certainly happen on the "D" when we have a number of top players working toward the same ultimate goal - top in the league (let's go all the way and say the CHL!). My only fear is that we have given up Mark Barberio, and what if... somewhere down the road to the finals, the Vancouver Canucks have a run of bad luck in the injury department, and decide to call Bourdon back up. He has already played 9 games with them. Is that something we may have to worry about? Or can I put my mind to rest and say it isn't a possibility! Any comments?

Anonymous said...

responding to CB EAGLE FAN'S comments, no need to worry about bourdon being recalled, once a 19 year old player has been sent back to junior the only way he can be recalled is if vancouver runs into a ton of injuries and theres no one left in the AHL and also the east coast league to recall.

Anonymous said...

Hey Luke,

"exactly what type of team C.B. has this year", wow there's a loaded question. There are all kinds of different answers to that but in my opinion --- The Eagles have a 1st or 2nd place team. Despite the current standing I think we will see both CB and Vald'or take over 1st and 2nd, leaving lewiston in likely 3rd place.

Vald'or looks really good and now even better with some solid goal tending.

This CB team has no problems scoring goals (lewiston game being an exception), but has been struggling to keep or get control in their own end. This weeks trades should hopefully address this issue. Goal tending is very good but perhaps not the dominating combination the fans here were expecting. All in all very well rounded, solid and with few caps...

Keep an eye out for the back to back games on Jan 26/27... should be a good indicator

Anonymous said...

Thanks To Cb Eagles Fan for taking that question off my mind. I was thinking about that for some time now since Bourdon's name came up in the trading period. I must say I am glad to see Cape Breton get someone like Bourdon to help out Jc Sawyer and Oskars Bartulis although I must say they have been doing a great job so far...It is a huge lose to see Cape Breton's Mark Barberio leave the team. He has played an excellent season so far and I give him much credit to the many ways he has helped the team. To end this comment I am hopeing that people reading this will agree that the fans in the Nest are very quiet. We need to make some noise for the boys! They do their job, now its our turn to give them credit. Come on Cape Breton, lets fill that rink and make some noise for your Cape Breton Screaming Eagles!!!!!!