Islanders busy at the swap shop

Jason Malloy
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Ross Johnston played the 2013-14 season with the Victoriaville Tigres. He will play for the Charlottetown Islanders as an overager in 2014-15.

The Charlottetown Islanders added size, experience, talent and became a deeper team on Friday by announcing four deals when the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League trade window opened.

They added a pair of Island natives, defenceman Ryan MacKinnon and left-winger Ross Johnston, as well as blue-liner Dexter Weber and forward Oliver Cooper in separate deals. MacKinnon and Johnston will be two of the Islanders’ three overagers while Weber and Cooper are a year younger.

It is part of the team’s plan to insulate its talented youngster with character players to help the maturation process.

“If we want the Kameron Kiellys and the Bradley Kennedys, the (Alexandre) Goulets, the (Daniel) Sprongs of the world to evolve into what we all think they can, they need people to guide them down that road,” general manager Grant Sonier said.

The Islanders brass identified a need to bring in an overage player with high leadership and character qualities. When it evaluated potential players, MacKinnon and Johnston were atop the list. To acquire the four players, it shipped out four first-round picks and 17-year-old defenceman

Kevin Laliberte.

One of the reasons Charlottetown was able to move the picks was because of the assets it acquired at the trade deadline. On top of the picks, it brought to town guys like goalie Mason McDonald and defencemen David Henley and Luc Deschenes.

“What goes unnoticed, maybe, is the picks we acquired,” Sonier said.

Charlottetown had 16 picks before Friday’s moves in Saturday’s draft, including five in the top 50, and three first-round selections in 2015.

The picks are important, but they are unproven commodities.

“It made more sense to plug pieces into accentuate what we already have than to continue to stockpile (picks),” Sonier said.

“I have a lot of confidence our hockey club can take big leaps this year and the following year.”

CLOSER LOOK

A look at the trades the Charlottetown Islanders announced on Friday with a comment from general manager Grant Sonier.

- Charlottetown acquires defenceman Ryan MacKinnon from Rimouski for a first-round pick (16th overall) in 2014 and a fifth-round pick in 2015.

Sonier says – “His experience and leadership are immeasurable in my mind.”

Profile

Ryan MacKinnon

Age – 19

Size – Five-foot-11, 193 pounds.

Hometown – Summerside

Did you know? He was the Oceanic’s captain last season, taking over for UPEI Panthers defenceman Casey Babineau.

2013-14 stats

GP    G    A    Pts.    PIM

66    4    18    22    28

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- Charlottetown acquires forward Oliver Cooper from Saint John for first-round picks in 2014 (15th overall) and 2016.

Sonier says – “People might suggest we paid a lot for him, I’m going to suggest otherwise. To go through the league and find six-foot-three, 30-goal scorers that have character, it’s a very short list.”

Profile

Oliver Cooper

Age – 19

Size –Six-foot-three, 197 pounds

Hometown – Fredericton

2013-14 stats

GP    G    A    Pts.    PIM

68    28    29    57    105

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- Charlottetown acquires left-winger Ross Johnston from Victoriaville for a first-round pick in 2015 (acquired in Yan-Pavel Laplante deal).

Sonier says – “Ross is a man and we will have some boys in our locker room that will aspire to become a man like Ross.”

Profile

Ross Johnston

Age – 20

Size – Six-foot-four, 230 pounds

Hometown – Suffolk.

2013-14 stats

GP    G    A    Pts.    PIM

60    10    15    25    139

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- Charlottetown acquires defenceman Dexter Weber from Drummondville for defenceman Kevin Laliberte.

Sonier says – “I like the way he moves the puck and the way he can manoeuvre on the power play.”

Profile

Dexter Weber

Age –18

Size – Six feet, 185 pounds

Hometown – Kitchener, Ont.

2013-14 stats

GP    G    A    Pts.    PIM

62    2    20    22    24

Organizations: Islanders, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Iceland, Rimouski Saint John Victoriaville Drummondville Kitchener

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