BERWICK, N.S. – The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals’ 2018 draft class has a distinctive Prince Edward Island flavour.
Nine of the Caps’ 10 picks selected, including territorial picks and Summerside natives Colby MacArthur and Bennett MacArthur, are from Canada’s smallest province.
“We were pretty pleased to be quite honest,” said Capitals general manager Pat McIver in a phone interview with the Journal Pioneer following Saturday afternoon’s draft in Berwick, N.S. “We got a lot of guys who were on our list, and we didn’t have an abundance of picks.
“We had some trades that fell through that we thought we were going to get a lot more picks. We are really, really excited about our draft.”
Overall, the Capitals selected seven forwards and three defencemen in the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) Draft.
“We wanted to make sure we got some good defencemen, and we felt we did that,” assessed McIver. “We added at every position except in nets, so we’ll have to address that. We are in pretty good shape in nets for the immediate future, so it wasn’t really a priority for us.”
McIver confirmed goaltender Dominik Tmej is committed to returning to the Caps next season.
The Caps selected Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild forward Marc Richard of Clinton, near Kensington, with their first-round pick. Richard, who is coming off a 29-point campaign in 35 regular-season games in his rookie season in the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League, was drafted by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) on June 2.
“Marc was really high on our list,” said McIver. “He’s an ’02 kid, and we feel he’ll come in and hopefully push for a spot on our team. We like him, and we are excited to get him.”
Richard, who doesn’t turn 16 until December, said he “was very surprised” to be taken so early.
“I wasn’t really expecting it, but very happy with where I was placed and who I went to,” said Richard. “It’s definitely a special feeling knowing that the team wanted me that bad to be their first pick.”
Richard said his plan to attend the Screaming Eagles’ training camp, and if things don’t work out there to come back to try and earn a spot with the Caps. Richard said he will look to bring “a bit of energy, a little bit of defence and some aggression as well” to camp.
The Caps took Charlottetown Bulk Carriers Pride defenceman Ed McNeill in Round 2. McNeill, a recent draft pick of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, had 15 points in 34 games.
“We really like Ed as well,” said McIver. “We were up to watch him at the (QMJHL) Gatorade Challenge, and watched him throughout the season and felt he progressed all season.
“We feel he will be a real good junior A hockey player for us.”
The Caps, who were not scheduled to pick again until the seventh round, swung a deal with the Edmundston Blizzard to move up. The Caps gave the Blizzard their first-round pick in 2019 in exchange for fifth- and eighth-round picks this year, and a third-rounder in 2019 that Edmundston had acquired from the Valley Wildcats. The Caps used the fifth-round selection to call the name of Pride forward Nick Reeves of Summerside.
“Nick Reeves was high on our list, too,” said McIver. “He had a great camp with us last year, and was a target of ours.
“When we were able to trade and get that pick, we were extremely happy that he was there.”
The Caps then took two defencemen in a row – Greg Kehoe of St. John’s, N.L., in the seventh round, and Wild rookie Will Proud with their first of four picks in Round 8. Kehoe had three points in 21 games with Stanstead College while Proud, a draft pick of the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs, had nine assists in 34 contests. Kehoe is a prospect of the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders.
“Kehoe had a good interview with (head scout) Justin (Harrison),” said McIver. “He was drafted by the Islanders and obviously wants to play in Charlottetown, but if things do not work out there he wants to play junior A this year, and hopefully it’s in Summerside.”
McIver described Proud as “a good defenceman” and added, “We are looking to build up depth on the blue-line, and feel he will be a junior A player at some time.”
With their final three picks of the final eighth round, the Caps took Pride rookie forward Riley MacDougall of Stratford, forward Declan MacEachern of Charlottetown and King’s-Edgehill forward Isaac Wilson of Vernon River. MacDougall had 10 points in 30 games while MacEachern, who played with the Pride two years ago, had 15 points in 25 games with St. Georges School in the United States. Wilson notched 17 points in 22 games.
“Riley MacDougall is another Island kid we feel will play junior A someday as well,” said McIver. “Declan played with the Charlottetown Pride two years ago, and played high school in the United States this year.”
McIver added the Caps received “good reports” on Wilson.
“He’s a guy we think can play junior A at some point,” continued McIver. “He’s a good skilled player, a good skater.” The Caps also made four selections in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Supplemental Draft on Saturday morning.
Western Capitals’ picks in MHL Draft Saturday afternoon:
Forward Colby MacArthur of Kensington Wild.
Forward Bennett MacArthur of Rothesay-Netherwood Riverhawks.
Forward Marc Richard of Kensington Wild.
Defenceman Ed McNeill of Charlottetown Pride.
Forward Nick Reeves of Charlottetown Pride.
Defenceman Greg Kehoe of Stanstead College.
Defenceman Will Proud of Kensington Wild.
Forward Riley MacDougall of Charlottetown Pride.
Forward Declan MacEachern of St. George’s School.
Forward Isaac Wilson of King’s-Edgehill.
Prince Edward Islanders selected in MHL Draft:
(Including regular-season statistics)
Campbellton Tigers selected defenceman Logan Kelly-Murphy of Charlottetown Pride.
31 games, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points.
Territorial Round 2
Amherst Ramblers selected defenceman Cole Larkin of Charlottetown Pride.
33 games, 1 goal, 11 assists, 12 points.
Valley Wildcats selected goaltender Chad Arsenault of Kensington Wild.
18 games, 16 wins, 1 loss, 1 overtime loss, 2 shutouts, 2.04 goals-against average, league-leading .934 save percentage.
Valley Wildcats selected defenceman Ethan Beaulieu of Kensington Wild.
33 games, 5 goals, 16 assists, 21 points.
Miramichi Timberwolves selected forward Kennedy Gallant of Charlottetown Pride.
33 games, 7 goals, 22 assists, 29 points.
St. Stephen Aces selected forward Ryan Richards of Kensington Wild.
35 games, 10 goals, 24 assists, 34 points.
Yarmouth Mariners selected forward Dixon MacLeod of Kensington Wild.
35 games, 5 goals, 9 assists, 14 points.
St. Stephen Aces selected goaltender Erik MacInnis of Charlottetown Pride.
12 games, 7 wins, 1 loss, 3 overtime losses, 1 shutout, 2.55 goals-against average, .915 save percentage.
QMJHL Supplemental Draft
Western Capitals’ picks in QMJHL Supplemental Draft:
Weight: 185 pounds.
2017-18 team: Charlottetown Islanders.
Regular-season stats: 14 goals, 15 assists, 29 points in 60 games.
Playoff stats: 4 goals, 0 assists, 4 points in 18 games.
Weight: 213 pounds.
2017-18 team: Moncton Wildcats.
Regular-season stats: 8 goals, 7 assists, 15 points in 47 games.
Playoff stats: 5 goals, 1 assist, 6 points in 12 games.
Weight: 192 pounds.
2017-18 team: Shawinigan Cataractes.
Regular-season stats: 3 goals, 13 assists, 16 points in 48 games.
Playoff stats: Team did not qualify for playoffs.
Weight: 174 pounds.
2017-18 team: Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
Regular-season stats: 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points in 58 games.
Playoff stats: 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points in 3 games.
Annual General Meeting
Highlight’s of MHL’s annual general meeting:
The MHL, in partnership with the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), has also adopted a head injury protocol system devised by HeadCheck Health, a British Colombia based company that specializes in advanced concussion technologies. The goal of this partnership is to standardize the level of concussion care across the CJHL. All athletic therapists in the MHL will be trained on the proper usage of the HeadCheck software, and will be provided with certified medical professionals early in the season to help baseline test every player on their respective teams using HeadCheck software.
MHL teams are now allowed eight 20-year-olds, effective the start of the 2018-19 season. Prior to this teams could have nine 20-year-olds.
As a way to memorialize those who were lost in the Humboldt Broncos’ tragic bus crash in April, the CJHL will launch a nationwide show of solidarity when the 2018-19 season opens this fall. A special patch will be work on the helmets of each player in the ten leagues that represent the CJHL, including the MHL. In addition, all 132 CJHL teams will unveil a banner at their respective home openers to commemorate the Broncos’ organization and those who perished in the accident.
The MHL will welcome back the Three Stars of the Week beginning this fall. Early each week, three deserving players from around the league will be recognized on the MHL website for their achievements.
The 2019 annual general meeting and draft will be held in Edmundston, N.B.
Former MHL vice-president and president Dave Ritcey of Truro, N.S., was re-elected chairman of the board of governors. This will be Ritcey’s third season in that role.