Greenough: Junior Wildcats watching QMJHL choices, prepping for MHL draft

John Decoste
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General manager Nick Greenough says the Valley junior A Wildcats are in good shape going into the Maritime Hockey League draft.

“We’re looking to acquire more players,” he said May 28. “We’re looking to make a move or two during the draft aimed at making our team better for the future.”

In 2013, as the newly transplanted Metro Shipbuilders franchise, the Wildcats had the first overall MHL pick, which they used to select goalie Blade Mann-Dixon. However, their next pick was in the fourth round.

This year, Valley has a first-round pick, fourth overall, a second-round pick and two each in the fourth and fifth rounds, as well as five additional picks in the later rounds.

Greenough said the Wildcats’ organization “is getting geared up” for the draft, which is scheduled for June 13 and 14 in Summerside, Prince Edward Island.

“We’ve already had a couple of meetings,” he said.

Greenough confirmed the Wildcats “have some players identified now” heading into the MHL draft and added the team is looking for younger players in order to ensure a strong future.

“In the first three rounds, we’re allowed to draft first-year midgets (with 1998 birthdays),” Greenough said.

Valley has 13 picks, including two territorial picks from the Valley region.

 “We’re planning to use both our territorial picks,” Greenough said, adding he is planning to announce his local picks next week.

Talent pool

The coach and GM said this is looking like “a pretty good year” in terms of the draft. “There are some talented young midget players out there,” Greenough said, but who ends up where depends on the outcome of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams’ choices.

After the May 31 QMJHL draft, Greenough said, management will “ have another meeting after that, to see if any of the players we had identified ended up drafted by the Q.”

While unable to identify specific players May 28, Greenough said there was interest in “a couple of local guys, and a couple from Newfoundland.”

During the season, the Wildcats picked up draft picks as part of trades and also “gained some players that were drafted last year

He said fans shouldn’t expect major changes, but “there are a couple of pieces we’re looking for, and sometimes to get something you want, you have to be willing to give up something.”

Roster changes

From the 2013-2014 roster, Valley has lost Brandon Weir, Brad Ryckman and Pat MacIsaac to age limits. Two other 20-year-olds, Brandon Boutilier and Justin Thomas, were traded during the past season for younger players.

“We can protect 12 players off our 35-player,” list, he said. “There are players who played with us last year we’ll have to leave unprotected.”

In terms of the Wildcats’ protected roster, Colby Tower is already the property of Cape Breton of the QMJHL, and Greenough expected Mann-Dixon to likely be drafted by someone this weekend.

In addition, Greenough is expecting to lose two players in the expansion draft to stock the new MHL franchise: the County Aces based in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

Once a player is chosen in the expansion draft, another player can be added to the protected list to replace him, but in the best-case scenario, “we’re likely to lose two players.

“Everybody in the league is in the same boat.”

Greenough confirmed that with Mann-Dixon likely to be chosen in the Q draft, the Wildcats would be looking for a goalie.

“We’re looking at drafting players at all three positions.”

 

Organizations: Maritime Hockey League, Wildcats, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Metro Shipbuilders

Geographic location: Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland Colby Tower Cape Breton New Brunswick

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