Islanders' GM 'really excited' about future

Jason Malloy
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Charlottetown Islanders general manager Grant Sonier, left, and coach Gordie Dwyer answer questions from the public during an inside the Islanders session Sunday at the Eastlink Centre.

The Charlottetown Islanders have a power forward and a premier young offensive player coming to town later this year, Islanders general manager Grant Sonier said Sunday.

He told about 125 fans during an inside-the-Islanders event the two players are part of deals made during the trade deadline.

The players’ identities can’t be disclosed until the trade period opens at the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) Draft.

“When we can announce those names, we’ll be happy to announce them, and you’re going to be really excited about where they’re going to fit in with the depth that we have,” Sonier said.

One of the acquisitions is an overage player and clubs are only permitted to dress three per game. Five players, who finished this season with the Islanders, are eligible to return as 20-year-old players.

Sonier and coach Gordie Dwyer talked about its young nucleus, including forwards Daniel Sprong, Alexandre Goulet and Kameron Kielly, defencemen David Henley and Luc Deschenes and goalie Mason McDonald.

“I’m really excited about the future of our hockey club,” the general manager said.

The franchise showed videos with Colorado Avalanche scout Guy Perron and John Moore, who has been the radio voice of the Halifax Mooseheads for 18 years.

“I think the organization has done a great job,” Perron said. “The fans should be excited about the future.”

Moore said the Herd had the worst winning percentage in Canadian Hockey League (CHL) during a three-year span, but management stuck to the plan and was rewarded with a Memorial Cup.

Sonier said the team is committed to building around the pieces that are in place.

“These kids have to grow, they have to become bigger, they have to become stronger,” he said. “When they do, they’re going to start to shine the way we think they can.”

Dwyer said the Islanders’ players have developed well during the past year, but that process must continue between now and the start of training camp in August.

“They have to work extra hard and they have to work hard when people aren’t watching,” he said.

Sonier is heading to Finland later this month for the under-18 world hockey championship.

It is a key scouting opportunity, particularly with the Islanders needing to land a good player with the 11th pick in the CHL’s import draft.

The club also has 16 picks in the QMJHL draft, including picks 12, 15 and 16 in the first round.

“I’m not going to tell you we’re going to get another superstar like Daniel Sprong, but I sure hope we can,” Sonier said.

The general manager said the team has identified seven really good players and good depth from eight through 20 in the draft.

The Islanders could package picks to move up or stay put, and make its selections.

“We’re going to get good players,” he said.

The staff will be going to Montreal at the end of the month for the combine to scout and interview the draft-eligible players.

One fan asked about improving the show, including the music, while another suggested putting the Islanders logo on the jersey.

A a season ticket holder thought the team was “finally on the right track.”

Dwyer said the team has great fans and there are exciting days ahead.

“That’s the great thing about Charlottetown, hockey matters,” he said.

Organizations: Islanders, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League Colorado Avalanche

Geographic location: Finland, Montreal, Charlottetown

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