The Charlottetown Islanders did not make a move on the final day of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League trade period.
General manager Grant Sonier said the team was in on a lot of things.
“We tried really hard to improve our hockey club,” he said. “The price was really high.”
How high? Try three first-round picks or two first-round picks and a really good young player for a top-end defenceman. And some of those types of players may only have half a season left in junior hockey.
“At the end of the day the price was too high,” Sonier said. “We weren’t prepared to jeopardize the future.”
The Islanders have four 16-year-olds and two 17-year-olds playing regularly. It has a first-, second- and third-round picks in June, a first and two seconds in 2017 and two firsts, a second, a third and a fourth in 2018.
The team acquired five players during the trade period, adding experience, size, grit and speed to the team. Sonier said striking early was part of his plan.
“People like to wait to the last minute . . . and I wasn’t about to be backed into a corner and overpay.”
Since the trade period opened Dec. 19, Daniel Sprong was returned from the NHL and Kameron Kielly is getting closer to returning to the lineup. Mason McDonald returned to practice on Wednesday and Filip Chlapik will be back on Sunday. Both played at the world junior hockey tournament in Finland.
“We’re a better offensive team, we’re a better defensive team,” Sonier said. “We need the players to play up to their ability and expectations and we’ll be fine.”
Sonier said the team’s goal is to take the next step and get deeper in the playoffs than it ever has, which would be the third round.
Forward Oliver Cooper said it is nerve-racking for players in the days before the deadline. He is in his final major junior season.
"I want to have a chance to make a good run at it and I think we have the team that can be successful," he said. "It's going to take some getting use to, we have a lot of new faces, but we're excited."