Defencemen batting to join strong back end
A fierce fight for the final roster spots on the Charlottetown Islanders’ blue-line begins this week as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League squad begins training camp.
Players attending the rookie portion of training camp report today. Some will be in Friday’s The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer parade before the squad holds fitness testing and hits the ice for the first time at 6 p.m. at the APM Centre in Cornwall.
Returnees Lukas Cormier, Noah Laaouan, overager Brendon Clavelle and Xavier Bernard, who will join camp next week, appear to be locks while recently acquired rookie Oscar Plandowski is also expected to be here this season.
That likely leaves two positions up for grabs.
“We’re pretty excited to see the battle that’s going to go on on our blue-line,” head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said.
Charlottetown acquired Plandowski, who was drafted 18th overall in June by Chicoutimi, earlier this month for a first-round pick in 2020 and a second in 2022. He was high on the team’s radar heading into the draft. He was ranked 13th by central scouting but was one of the top prospects who were considering the NCAA route.
Defenceman Zac Arsenault played for the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild at the 2019 Atlantic major midget hockey championship at MacLauchlan Arena.
“We paid a big price to get Oscar, but we think he’s everything you need in a modern-day defenceman,” Hulton said, noting the youngster’s size and mobility, plus being a right shot.
“The opportunity to put someone like that into our lineup was very intriguing.”
The Isles appear to have 10 guys fighting for the two remaining spots with a few familiar names and a couple of free agents. It includes Islanders Zachary Arsenault, who played major midget last season in Kensington, and Lucas MacAulay, who played junior A for Campbellton and Grand Falls in 2018-19.
The list also includes 2018 draft picks like Anthony Hamel, Nathan Martel and Dell Welton, plus William Trudeau, who was acquired from Drummondville in the Pierre-Olivier (P.O.) Joseph trade.
“Guys like Dell Welton and William Trudeau don't get a lot of exposure, but we keep hearing really, really good things about both of them,” Hulton said. “And Anthony Hamel. Those are three kids that are definitely going to be in the mix for spots on our back end, so it’s going to be exciting to see how it all plays out.”
The list also includes recently acquired Jack Tucker, who the Isles picked up from Acadie-Bathurst in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2021.
“If we don’t need the numbers . . . he might not necessarily play in all four of those exhibition games (in August),” Hulton said. “We just want to get a better read on him.”
Another new name is Malcolm Genge, a six-foot-two, 225-pound native of Anchor Point, N.L., who played junior A for Pictou County last season. The 18-year-old previously played in Western Newfoundland and a season of bantam with the Notre Dame Hounds.
In the mix
A look at the defencemen attending the first phase of the Charlottetown Islanders’ training camp.
Age Height/weight Hometown
Zachary Arsenault 18 5’10”/167 lbs. Montague
Nicholas Bourque 18 5’11”/161 lbs. Moncton
Malcolm Genge 18 6’2”/225 lbs. Anchor Point, N.L.
Anthony Hamel 17 5’10”/174 lbs. Gatineau, Que.
Lucas MacAulay 19 5’10”/160 lbs. Cardigan
Nathan Martel 18 5’10”/150 lbs. Outterburn Park, Que.
Matt McQuaid 16 6’/143 lbs. Charlottetown
Oscar Plandowski 16 6’1”/175 lbs. Halifax
William Trudeau 16 5’11/174 lbs. Varennes, Que.
Jack Tucker 19 6’2”/172 bs. Odessa, Fla.
Dell Welton 16 6’/174 lbs. Baddeck, N.S.
Note – Welton turns 17 on Tuesday while Trudeau turns 17 on Oct. 11.
A look at the Charlottetown Islanders’ pre-season schedule.
3 p.m. – Charlottetown vs. Saint John, at Quispamsis, N.B.
7 p.m. – Moncton vs. Charlottetown, at APM Centre in Cornwall.
Thursday, Aug. 22
7 p.m. – Charlottetown vs. Acadie-Bathurst, at Lameque, N.B.
Saturday, Aug. 24
3 p.m. – Acadie-Bathurst vs. Charlottetown, at APM Centre in Cornwall.
Friday, Sept. 6
7 p.m. – Charlottetown vs. Saint John, at Grand-Sault, N.B.
Sunday, Sept. 8
3 p.m. – Moncton vs. Charlottetown, at Montague.
Friday, Sept. 13
7 p.m. – Saint John at Charlottetown.
Sunday Sept. 15
4 p.m. – Charlottetown vs. Moncton, at Bouctouche, N.B.