The Charlottetown Islanders have added some experience and grit in a pair of separate deals announced on Saturday.
The Islanders acquired Nicolas Leblond, a 19-year-old right-winger, from Baie-Comeau for a fourth-round pick in 2017 and overage defenceman Alexis Vanier from the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada for a fifth-round pick in 2016.
Vanier, who turns 21 on Jan. 21, was traded to the Armada on Dec. 29 by the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The six-foot-five, 227-pound blue-liner was a fourth-round pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2014.
“He’s a mammoth of a man,” Isles general manager Grant Sonier said. “He’s got an absolute howitzer of a shot.”
He pointed to his 15 goals in 2013-14 with Baie-Comeau as evidence of his offensive ability.
Vanier also brings experience, a left shot and the ability to clear the front of the net. It also allows the Islanders to protect 16-year-old rookie Pierre-Olivier Joseph from wearing down as the season progresses.
“He’s been unbelievable,” Sonier quickly pointed out about Joseph.
He added none of the team’s four 1999-born players – Joseph, goalie Matthew Welsh and forwards Carl Gervais and Shawn Boudrias – would be moved during the trade period, despite teams asking for them.
The fifth-round pick going to the Armada was originally Chicoutimi’s pick the Islanders acquired from Shawinigan in the Samuel Guilbault pre-season deal.
Leblond played with Islanders recently acquired defenceman Guillaume Beaudry in Baie-Comeau when they were making their runs deep in the playoffs. The two are good friends as well.
“Leblond is a high, high character, in-your-face kind of player that’s going to bring a lot of energy and push our players to play hard,” Sonier said. “He’s going to be one of those players that fans are going to like to watch.”
In 33 games this season, the five-foot-10, 163-pound Leblond has five goals and seven assists with 79 penalty minutes.
The Islanders were looking to add speed and energy during the trade period.
“We think our team has dramatically changed with the return of Daniel and the people we’ve added,” Sonier said.