Two QMJHL groups loaded up by buying and selling 31 draft picks to take a run at a Memorial Cup that gained’t occur
It isn’t unusual for high main junior golf equipment to load up forward of the post-season in an effort to chase a league crown and Memorial Cup title, however what occurs when the tournaments are cancelled?Dawson Mercer|Steven Ellis/The Hockey NewsRelatively talking, the issues the hockey world faces pale compared to the hardship lots of people are enduring on the subject of the disaster surrounding COVID-19. However when you’re going to really feel sorry for anyone in hockey, you may wish to save these sentiments for a few guys by the names of Ritchie Thibeau and Yanick Jean. And the groups they run.
Thibeau and Jean are the GMs of the Moncton Wildcats and Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL, respectively. And seeing their groups with a legit probability to compete for the Memorial Cup this season, they each went all-in on the league’s annual commerce deadline. Like, actually all-in. QMJHL groups, specifically, are likely to deal with draft picks the way in which we used to treat hockey playing cards as children, however even by these requirements, what Thibeau and Jean gave as much as complement their rosters was staggering.
Thibeau acquired three QMJHL stars for the Wildcats – heart and Anaheim prospect Benoit Olivier-Groulx, defenseman and Detroit prospect Jared McIsaac and left winger and Tampa Bay prospect Gabriel Fortier – for a sum complete of 13 draft picks and a 16-year-old prospect. All three of them will age out of junior hockey after this season. Jean went even additional, buying 5 gamers for the Sagueneens for a complete of 18 picks (18 picks!) and two gamers. 4 of these picks have been within the first-round of this yr’s draft and so they gave up seven first-rounders in complete. The Sagueneens obtained Canadian World Junior Championship gamers Raphael Lavoie and Dawson Mercer, together with veterans Felix Bibeau, Patrick Kyte and Karl Boudrias. No less than Mercer, who’s a consensus first-round on this yr’s NHL draft, can be again. Boudrias may return as an overager.
All advised, the Wildcats surrendered – attempt to sustain right here – two second-rounders and two third-rounders in 2020; a first- and second-rounder, plus two fourth-rounders and a fifth-rounder in 2021; and picks in every of the primary three rounds in 2022. The Sagueneens gave up 4 first-round picks, two second-rounders and a fifth-rounder in 2020; two first-rounders, two second-rounders, one third-rounder and one fourth-rounder in 2021; and, picks in every of the primary 5 rounds in 2022.
Now to be honest, there’s an excellent variety of these picks that can find yourself again with their groups for gamers to be named later as a result of that’s how they do issues within the QMJHL. Groups in that league are rather a lot just like the little woman with the curl within the Longfellow poem. After they’re good, they’re extremely good. And after they’re unhealthy, they’re horrid. However there’s little doubt that each groups have mortgaged an excellent chunk of a future for a gift that not exists. Final evening, the Canadian Hockey League introduced that it’s going to not award a Memorial Cup this season. It should mark the primary time in 102 years the trophy has not been awarded. The Wildcats and Sagueneens have been second and third total within the QMJHL this season and one among them stood an excellent probability of profitable the league, and maybe the largest prize in junior hockey.
“We had 23 shattered boys final evening,” Thibeau mentioned. “They really feel like they obtained cheated a little bit bit, however all of them perceive that this can be a larger factor than simply our group and our league and our sport.”
That’s fairly darned mature for a bunch of youngsters who’re chasing their goals. And the factor is that for almost all of them, the dream will most likely cease right here. When the NHL comes again, the gamers will proceed to choose up their huge paychecks and have possibilities to win the Stanley Cup. However for lots of gamers in junior hockey, that is the top. That is pretty much as good because it will get. Some will go on to play at greater ranges, however plenty of them will transfer on to greater schooling and jobs in the actual world.
As for the way forward for his group, Thibeau was sensible concerning the state of affairs and didn’t lament the possibilities he took attempting to construct a championship group. The gamers they introduced in gave them 25 video games of the very best they needed to supply and he’s happy with what his group completed this season. There’s little doubt the league will make any lodging to compensate the groups for dropping their picks for nearly nothing and Thibeau isn’t anticipating his aggressive rivals to do him any favors.
“There’s actually nothing we will do about it,” Thibeau mentioned. “We will sit right here and lament it or we will transfer on. We’re going to prepare for the draft and we’re going to get again to work, that’s what we do. If we hold trying within the rear-view mirror, we gained’t see what’s coming in entrance of us.” So far as the draft picks, Thibeau isn’t frightened. A few of them can be coming again, however not the first-rounders. “You all the time mortgage a few of the future once you go for it,” Thibeau mentioned, “however we’ll nonetheless be aggressive and we’ll make one other run at it in due time. If you happen to have a look at our roster, we’ve been profitable in getting gamers in mid-to-later rounds. And we simply have to ensure we hit on these picks once more.”
There are lots of people who deserve sympathy. The Kelowna Rockets have been imagined to host the occasion this yr and that has been taken away from the group, the gamers and tons of of volunteers. The opportunity of merely giving the occasion to Kelowna subsequent yr was mentioned, however OHL commissioner David Department confirmed to TheHockeyNews.com that the commissioners of all three leagues determined the rotation will proceed and the OHL will host in 2021. Meaning the earliest Kelowna would get one other crack at it could be 2023.
There are gamers who’re up for the draft and who have been taking part in for contracts in professional circuits subsequent season and the stress of the playoffs and the Memorial Cup would have offered the proper stage for that. There are an excellent variety of overage gamers whose careers merely ended with out them being to say a correct goodbye to the followers for whom they performed. However as Department mentioned, “The sport of life is a bit more essential for the time being.”
Need extra in-depth options and evaluation? Subscribe to The Hockey Information journal.
Tags: information, main juniorConnect: Concerning the AuthorKen CampbellKen Campbell, The Hockey Information’ senior author, is in his second tour with the model after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native as soon as tried out for the Ontario League’s Wolves as a 30-year-old. For sure, it did not work out.