Alex Graham is well aware he’s in position to experience a rare but special opportunity.
“It’s great being able to stay at home playing junior hockey,” said the 16-year-old Graham, who lives in Winsloe.
One week after he was drafted by the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the ninth round, 147th overall, Graham was the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals’ first selection of Saturday’s MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) Entry Draft in the second round, 22nd overall.
“It’s very exciting,” added Graham. “It’s a very good day.”
Graham, who was training when the Caps drafted him, learned of the selection via a text from his mother, Susan.
“I didn’t know at the time because I was at the gym and my mom texted me and I got a bunch of other texts,” explained Graham. “Then the coach (Billy McGuigan) called me. It’s a pretty good feeling.”
The centre registered 23 points, including nine goals, in 33 regular-season games during his rookie campaign with the Charlottetown Pride of the New Brunswick/P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League.
“We really like him,” said Caps general manager Pat McIver. “A lot of Island kids went really early in the draft and we were glad he was there when we picked.”
McIver describes Graham as an “overall good player” with a bright future.
Asked to describe his style of play, Graham answered, “I’m a 200-foot play-making centre and a team player.”
Overall, the Capitals had six picks on Saturday and announced the selection of Notre Dame Argos forward Connor Keough of Summerside and Kensington Wild forward Landon Clow of Kensington as the team’s territorial picks last week.
“We were pleased with our draft,” assessed McIver. “We didn’t have a lot of picks, but we felt we got good quality with a lot of our picks.
“We added a little bit of depth at each position.”
The Capitals were involved in two trades over the weekend. The Caps sent forward Sullivan Sparkes to the Pictou County Crushers to complete the Dylan Riley and Jacob Hickey trade in January.
Sparkes had 44 points in 33 regular-season games with the Caps.
The Caps acquired the MHL rights to 19-year-old defenceman Thomas Ashe as the player to be named later in the deal that had Matt Williams and Hunter McIntyre go to Amherst before the 2018-19 season. Ashe had seven assists in 28 regular-season games with the Ramblers last season.
“We really liked him when he was in Amherst.,” said McIver. “He’s a very solid junior A defenceman.”
The Capitals also announced the signing of defenceman Gianluca Fuoco on Friday for the 2019-20 campaign. The Etobicoke, Ont., native did not play last season due to an injury but has major junior experience in the Ontario Hockey League with the Saginaw Spirit and Erie Otters.
“He’s another big-body defenceman,” said McIver. “We feel he will be able to step in and help us as a bigger, physical guy and potentially a shut-down guy.”
GM Pat McIver comments on Western Capitals’ picks Saturday:
Forward Alex Graham, Charlottetown Pride
(33 games, 9-13—23 points)
“We think he has a tremendous amount of upside. He’s a 200-foot player and we feel he can be a great Capital.”
Forward Austin Arsenault, Ontario Hockey Academy
(45 games, 14-26—40 points)
“We didn’t really get to watch him a lot this year, but when we did we really liked him. We felt with his pedigree and where he’s from it was a good pick for the third round.”
Austin is the younger brother of Caps defenceman, Jacob Arsenault
Goaltender Jacob LeBlanc, Moncton Flyers
(18 games, 16-0-1, 3 shutouts, 2.31 goals-against average, .906 save percentage)
“Eric (Morency), our goaltending coach, did some homework on him and got all good reports on him. We are excited to add another goaltender to our list. He definitely has No. 1 potential down the road.”
Defenceman Zach Biggar, Kensington Wild
(31 games, 4-24—28 points)
“We took a bit of a long shot with Biggar, but we have him on our list now. You never know what the future will hold. We are anticipating he will play major junior (he is a second-round pick of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan), but we will be there as an option if that doesn’t work out.”
Forward Harrison James, Rothesay Netherwood Prep School
(18 games, 0-1—1 point)
“We’ve seen Harry a lot over the last couple of years and we feel he’s going to turn into a good junior A player for us.”
Forward Ethan Wheeler, Dartmouth Steele Subaru
(36 games, 6-7—13 points)
“He’s a big-body forward and a 200-foot player, a crasher, banger and we are happy to get Ethan in the fold.”