The Charlottetown Islanders have made their list and checked it more than twice.
On paper, the club has eight picks in the first four rounds heading into Saturday’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Draft in Sherbrooke, Que.
Two of those picks are first-round selections that are involved in trades to bring in defenceman Ryan MacKinnon and left-winger Oliver Cooper, The Guardian has learned, but trades can’t be announced until Friday.
Charlottetown’s first pick is No. 12 while it has two second-round picks, a third and a pair of fourths.
“It may not have the elite, elite top-end players like (Nathan) MacKinnon or (Sidney) Crosby,” Islanders’ general manager Grant Sonier said, but “we believe that there’s more depth to this draft than people are suggesting.”
Central Scouting’s top-five ranked players are Chateauguay forward Pascal Laberge, Jonquiere defenceman Samuel Girard, College Notre-Dame forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and Newbridge teammates Evan Fitzpatrick, a goalie, and Luke Green, a blue-liner.
Charlottetown Mark’s Work Wearhouse Islanders defenceman Conor MacEachern is the top-ranked Island native. The six-foot-one, 154-pound, 15-year-old is listed in the sixth- to eighth- round range.
Parker Ronohan, a 16-year-old defenceman, is the top-ranked Kensington Wild. He is ranked between the ninth and 12th rounds.
Sonier wasn’t tipping his hand on the players the Islanders’ scouting staff has identified,
but he did provide a sense of what he would like to accomplish moving forward.
“I’d like to continue to get bigger down the middle,” Sonier said, while adding depth on the blue-line and in the crease.
He commended its scouting staff for being well prepared
heading into Saturday.
“Our coverage, I believe, is second to none.”
The Islanders see three players separating themselves from their peers and then another 20 in the next cluster.
The team’s depth is up front and there could be more moves, depending on how a few variables fall this week.
“Just about every player, I’ve got calls on,” Sonier said. “We’re going to have a lot of internal competition here.”
One trade to be completed on Friday, The Guardian has learned, will see left-winger Ross Johnston coming home to play as an overager.
The Suffolk native was part of the Yan-Pavel Laplante trade with Victoriaville in December.
In return for Johnston, Charlottetown will send back Victoriaville’s 2015 first-round pick.
The Islanders will be holding a draft party Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hunter’s Ale House in Charlottetown.
While many of the Islanders organization will be at the draft in Sherbrooke, Que., a few of the owners and staff will be attending the draft party in Charlottetown.
Today is the first-year anniversary of Sonier being announced as the Islanders general manager.
He has been a busy man in his first year in the position, completing 12 trades before the 2013-14 season and another dozen during the trade window from mid-December to Jan. 7. The trades overhauled the roster and set the team up for the future.
u What – The annual draft of players entering the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
u When – Saturday at 11 a.m.
u Where – Sherbrooke, Que.
Here is a look at the picks the Charlottetown Islanders currently own in Saturday’s QMJHL Draft:
u First round – 12, 15 and 16.
u Second round – 24 and 34.
u Third round – 48.
u Fourth round – 63 and 73.
u Fifth round – 84.
u Sixth round – 97.
u Eighth round – 140.
u 10th round – 169.
u 11th round – 187.
u 12th round – 205.
u 13th round – 223.
u 14th round – 241.
A look at who currently owns what pick in Saturday’s QMJHL Draft:
1 – Saint John
2 – Sherbrooke
3 – Shawinigan
4 – Gatineau*
5 – Cape Breton**
6 – Acadie-Bathurst
7 – Gatineau
8 – Victoriaville
9 – Victoriaville
10 – Rouyn-Noranda
11 – Rouyn-Noranda
12 – Charlottetown
13 – Val-d’Or
14 – Quebec
15 – Charlottetown
16 – Charlottetown
17 – Acadie-Bathurst
18 – Rimouski
19 – Cape Breton
20 – Blainville-Boisbriand***
* - Originally Charlottetown’s pick that was traded for Kameron Kielly.
** - Compensation for last year’s top pick Nicholas Roy not reporting to Cape Breton. The Screaming Eagles subsequently sent Roy to Chicoutimi for three first-round picks.
*** - Compensation for the Ryan Tesink trade with the Saint John Sea Dogs from January 2013.