The Weeks Junior Crushers went in to the Maritime Hockey League draft over the weekend with a mission to secure quality players for their blueline and walked away feeling confident they had accomplished their mission.
“I think this was probably one of the better drafts we’ve had in recent years,” said general manager Chad McDavid.
The Crushers headed into the MHL Draft with a total of six picks over eight rounds and selected four defenceman, a forward and one goalie.
“We identified a short list of players we wanted and the players we were able to select were high on that list,” McDavid said.
Over the last couple of seasons, McDavid said, the team has found it hard to find good solid and reliable defencemen, which is why they went into this draft with that as their priority.
“We decided this year we would definitely target some guys on the blueline that have the capabilities of stepping in right away if needed.”
Three of the defencemen were born in 2001 and could potentially see action on the team this year while the players born in 2002 will likely spend some more time at the midget level.
The Valley Wildcats hosted this year’s draft on June 9, as clubs from around the 12-team league sought to add young talent from across Atlantic Canada.
One hundred and twenty names were called out at the draft as the junior clubs claimed the rights to midget-aged players.
The County Aces from St. Stephen, N.B., had the first three selections, picking Zachary Alcorn of the Saint John Vitos, Jack Morris from Cape Breton West, and Ethan Stuckless from Newfoundland first, second and third respectively.
The Grand Falls Rapids, recently relocated from Woodstock, N.B., selected Yannick Bastarache from the Moncton Flyers fifth overall, the team’s first-ever draft pick.
Valley made two appearances in the first round as the host junior A Wildcats picked sixth, selecting Enfield’s Liam Kidney from the Cole Harbour Wolfpack of the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League. The Truro Bearcats picked seventh, drafting Damian Hartt from the Kohltech Valley Wildcats Major Midget team.
MHL president Brian Whitehead says the entire draft weekend in Berwick was fantastic, with great Valley hospitality.
“We had some very positive meetings. There’s a few initiatives coming forward as we move the needle on making the experience better for players, and we had a good healthy discussion on a number of topics.”
Next year’s draft will be held in Edmundston, N.B., hosted by the league champion Blizzard organization. The 2018-2019 MHL season begins in September.
The Crusher’s picks
Round #1, Pick 4 – Defenceman Sean Stewart, CB West Islanders
Round #2A, Pick 4 - Defenceman Paul Norman, St. John's Maple Leafs
Round #3A, Pick 4 - Defenceman Logan Carruthers, Halifax Macs
Round #6, Pick 3 – Forward Chase Ellis, CB West Islanders
Round #6, Pick 4 - Defenceman Malcolm Genge, Western Kings, NL
Round #7, Pick 4 – Goalie Jeremy Robar, South Shore Mustangs