It was a wild Maritime Hockey League trade deadline day for the Valley Summit Hyundai Junior “A” Wildcats. Head Coach and General Manager Nick Greenough pulled the trigger on two deals in the final hours before the deadline on Friday.
The biggest trade sent team captain Brandon Boutilier and a seventh round pick in the 2014 draft to the Truro Bearcats in exchange for Alex Hazlehurst and defenceman Jean-Marc Evans-Renaud. A second trade sent goaltender Max Feener to the Campbellton Tigers for a tenth round pick in this summer's draft.
Hazlehurst is a 19-year-old from Bedford who was scoring at nearly a point a game pace last season, which he split between the Bearcats and the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the QMJHL. Greenough says Hazlehurst is taking this season off from hockey after running into some concussion issues, but the deal was worth the risk.
“He'll be deadly if he comes,” says Greenough.
Evans-Renaud is a 17-year-old from St. Peter's Bay, PEI in his first MHL season. Greenough says he fits perfectly into the mould of making the Valley Wildcats better this year and in seasons to come.
It's never easy to trade the team captain, but Greenough says going to Truro is a great opportunity for Boutilier to play for a contender in his final year of Junior hockey.
“(Trading Boutilier) was the toughest decision I've had to make so far in this role,” says Greenough.
Neither Boutilier nor Evans-Renaud dressed as the Wildcats and Bearcats squared off in Kentville Friday evening. Truro cruised to win the game 8–1, but there were bright spots for the Wildcats. Fans saw goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon back in the net for the first time since Nov. 30 as he returned from an injury. New additions John Deacon and Jeremy Butterworth also looked good, playing on the top line with Mike Molloy.
Butterworth, who formerly played in the MHL with Bridgewater, was acquired Thursday from the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for future considerations.
Deacon, an 18-year-old from Port Williams who helped the Major Midget Valley Wildcats reach the national midget championship Telus Cup last spring, was acquired from the Amherst Ramblers on Monday, along with the rights to Jesse Hammer, in exchange for Justin Thomas and the rights to Ryan Falkenham. Thomas was the Wildcats leading point scorer at the time of the trade, but Greenough says he's happy with the moves.
“This is not a sale,” says Greenough, “we're strengthening our team, and I like where we're positioning our team for the future.”
Falkenham is an 18-year-old with the reigning Memorial Cup Champion Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, but is out with a season long hip injury. Hammer currently plays with Newbridge Academy in the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League, and leads his team in scoring.
Valley's other trades ahead of Friday's deadline saw them send defenseman Chris Clark to the Campbellton Tigers on Jan. 5 in exchange for a fifth round draft pick this summer and a seventh round pick in 2015.
Valley traded the rights to 20-year-old Danick Emond to the Dieppe Commandos on Jan. 2 for the rights to 19-year-old goaltender Dominic Graham. Emond was recently released by the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL when they acquired too many 20-year-old players, but will not be reporting to the Commandos. Graham is playing with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the QMJHL.