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Taking a look at the Charlottetown Islanders prospects

Drew Johnston was a fourth-round pick of the Charlottetown Islanders in 2017.
Drew Johnston was a fourth-round pick of the Charlottetown Islanders in 2017. - Jason Malloy

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Out of sight, out of mind.

While the Charlottetown Islanders had no players in their lineup during the first half of the season from last year’s draft, it doesn't mean they won’t figure into the team’s future.

Prior to the Christmas break we caught up with general manager Jim Hulton to find a little bit more about some of the team’s prospects.

2017 draft picks

C Brett Budgell

Second round, 25th overall

Chicago Steel, USHL

GP    G    A    Pts.

14      2    2      4
RW Brad Morrissey

 

 

 

Third round, 53rd overall

 

Notre Dame Hounds (Saskatchewan)

GP    G    A    Pts.

20    16    20    36

Both Budgell and Morrissey decided not to play in Charlottetown this season.

“We’ve had very good, cordial conversations with both parties,” Hulton said before Christmas. “Neither side slammed any doors back in September.”

One QMJHL squad asked Hulton if they could speak with the Budgell family with the hopes of attracting him to major junior. Hulton declined.

“The family has assured us the only place he’d play in the Quebec league is Charlottetown,” he said. “Maybe it’s the stubbornness in myself and our hockey people, but we still think there’s a better chance than not that at least one, if not both, will be in our uniform next year.”

There was speculation Monday Budgell had committed to the Islanders, but nothing official was available at presstime.

Morrissey is in top 10 in league scoring, playing against his peers. While some look at Budgell’s numbers as being low, Hulton, who coached in the USHL, cautioned he is playing with older players in a more defensive-minded league.

“It’s a 19-, 20-year-old league. It’s very, very difficult for a 16-year-old player to go down there to A play regularly and B produce offence.”

D Antoine Leblanc

 

Fourth round, 56th overall

Les Albatros du Collège Notre-Dame (Quebec)

GP    G    A    Pts.

40     3      6    9

Hulton said Leblanc is the captain of his team and the Isles have received great reports about his character and work ethic.

“Antoine is not a flashy type of player. He’s a steady Eddy defensive type.”

 

LW Drew Johnston

Fourth round, 66th overall

Saint John Vitos

GP    G    A    Pts.

16    11    11    22

Johnston was one of the team’s final decisions during training camp. In the end the Islanders felt it was best for Johnston’s development to go back to major midget and play more than the role they could have offered him in major junior.

“I think Drew struggled a little bit early. He had his heart set on making our team,” Hulton said, but “he has steadily improved.”

The GM saw him at the Monctonian and in Gatineau, Que., and said he is playing the point on the power play while playing for former NHLer Randy Jones.

Hulton said he has learned from mistakes in the past of keeping young players who don't get the ice time needed to continue to develop.

“I think we do more damage sometimes by keeping the young guys around because confidence is such a fragile thing at this age, (I) much prefer them to go back and have a big midget year,” he said.

D Greg Kehoe

8th round, 131st overall

Stanstead College

GP    G    A    Pts.

9       1    2    3

The St. John’s, N.L., native is playing at Stanstead College, which plays more games after Christmas.

“He’s a mobile young defenceman,” Hulton said.

C Zachary Beauregard

 

10th round, 180th overall

Esther-Blondin College

GP    G    A    Pts.

29    10    11    21

Beauregard is captaining his team this season and has been a pleasant find for the Islanders.

“(He) works extremely hard, skates really well and he’s one of those in-your-face guys,” Hulton said. “He’s everything we’re looking for in terms of (having a) high revving engine (who) plays the game the right way and (is) hard to play against.”

Hulton said there’s a pretty good chance he could be in the team’s lineup in 2018-19.

G Thomas-Anthony Gale

13th round, 234th overall

Mid-Fairfield Rangers under-18

GP    SAV%

17    .912

Gale has committed to Dartmouth College in the United States, but Hulton said he is worth watching. If the goalie gets drafted in the NHL, he might consider the major junior route as it enables players to attend camps earlier.

 

Need to know

The Islanders have also used a pair of defencemen from previous drafts in Dominic Hachey and Jack DesRoches.

Hachey is in his first year of junior with the Edmundston Blizzard after playing for Moncton’s midget squad last season.

“He’s playing on a really good Edmundston team. You could see a lot of improvement in his game,” Hulton said

“Jack DesRoches, another guy from a couple of drafts ago, has played some valuable fill-in minutes for us.”

Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild players Zac Arsenault and Evan Gallant also dressed some for the Isles this season and remain in the mix heading forward.

“Too often in this game we’re too quick to write people off if they don't make the team in the first year or two,” Hulton said.“Everyone improves at different stages and sometimes there are late bloomers. We want to make sure that we always give everybody an equal opportunity to make this club.”

Free agent

 

 

 

The team signed free agent T.J. Shea, who has 64 points in 29 games for the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals, as an affiliate player and he’s already dressed in two games for the Isles.

“We’re just intrigued by what he brings,” Hulton said. “When a guy is lighting up a league like he is to that degree it would be foolish not to look.”

He can play 10 games this season without it impacting the Capitals.

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