The 2018 QMJHL Trade Deadline has come and gone. As we often see in junior hockey, the contenders have really loaded up, while those further down the standings have gone into full sell and rebuild mode. Here is a look at the most significant moves in the QMJHL.
Breaking Down the Biggest Moves of the 2018 QMJHL Trade Deadline
Drummondville acquires Joe Veleno from Saint John
The Volitigeurs made a statement when they made an agreement with Saint John to acquire Veleno in early December. The worst-kept secret in the QMJHL, the trade was finalized on December 20th, with the Sea Dogs picking up a boatload of prospects for the QMJHL’s first exceptional player. Veleno had 31 points in 31 games for Saint John, and has added 10 points in eight games in Drummondville.
Acadie-Bathurst Load Up
The Acadie-Bathurst Titan needed offence, and so they went out early in the trade period and made a number of trades to get it. As part of three trades on the first day of the Holiday Trade period, they finally picked up Mitchell Balmas and a third-round pick from Gatineau in exchange for Dawson Theede and a pair of first-round picks. Balmas brings instant offence to the Titan. He had 37 points in 35 games with Gatineau and has seven in nine games for the Titan.
The Titan were not done there though. The club acquired one of the top goalies in the league, adding St. Louis Blues prospect Evan Fitzpatrick from Sherbrooke for Reilly Pickard. Fitzpatrick struggled with the Phoenix, with just an .874 save percentage in 25 games. His numbers should improve behind a stronger Titan team, and he already has an .897 save percentage in four games with the Titan. The Phoenix are banking on the fact that it is more likely that Pickard comes back as an overage goalie next year, rather than counting on Fitzpatrick playing a fifth-year.
They also added a big-time scorer to the defence. The Titan added Olivier Galipeau from Chicoutimi for a package of draft picks that included a second rounder, two third rounders, a fourth rounder, and a fifth rounder. With 40 points in 37 games for Chicoutimi, Galipeau adds a new dimension to the Titan attack.
They also added Samuel Asselin from Moncton for Olivier Desroches and a pair of mid round picks.
Quebec Remparts Acquire Pascal Laberge and Antoine Samuel
It’s no secret that Philadelphia Flyers prospect Pascal Laberge was not having an ideal season with Victoriaville, with just 20 points in 31 games. He needed a change of scenery and gets that with a move to the Remparts. In return, the Remparts give up just a second and third-round pick.
The Remparts also beefed up their goaltending, picking up Antoine Samuel and a fifth round pick from Baie-Comeau for Luke Kirwan and a pair of second rounders.
Blainville-Boisbriand Acquire Drake Batherson
After becoming the breakout star of Team Canada’s World Junior Championship gold medal team, Ottawa Senators prospect Drake Batherson finds himself at the centre of one of the QMJHL’s biggest trades of the deadline. He takes his 17 goals and 39 points in 22 games with Cape Breton and adds them to Blainville-Boisbriand. The Armada hopes that Batherson’s sniping ability will put them over the top in a hotly contested league this year.
In other moves, the Armada added Samuel Leblanc, and Alexis Sansfacon in an attempt to further bolster the lineup.
Victoriaville and Val D’Or Wheel and Deal
The Tigres and the Foreurs made a pair of deals on January 2nd. The Tigres ended up with Etienne Montpetit, Simon Lafrance, as well as fifth and eighth round picks. Meanwhile, Val d’Or rebuilds with James Phelan, a first-round pick, a second-round pick and three third rounders. Montpetit solidifies the Tigres goaltending situation, while gives them a centre who had 30 points in 37 games with the Foreurs.
Halifax Adds Jake Ryczek
Chicago Blackhawks prospect Jake Ryczek was playing for Providence in the NCAA. However, once the defenceman saw his rights transferred from Acadie-Bathurst to Halifax (along with a third rounder) in exchange for a first-round pick, he left school and reported to the Mooseheads. The young blueliner added to an already strong Halifax team and has seven points in his first nine QMJHL games.