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Charlottetown owns four of top 52 picks in Saturday’s draft with a goalie among top priorities
The Charlottetown Islanders brass feel they can get quality players at Saturday’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft despite not having a first-round pick.
The Isles first-round pick went to Gatineau in the Alex Dostie deal in January 2017. Charlottetown has two second-round picks and two more in the third round with all four coming in the top 52.
“They’re going to be four good players,” head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said Monday.
He left Tuesday for meetings in Quebec City, where the draft begins Saturday at 11 a.m. Atlantic.
Hulton pointed to the Memorial Cup champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies as the gold standard with their drafting and developing allowing them to add two top-end players in Noah Dobson and Joel Teasdale at this year’s deadline.
The team drafted well early in the draft, but it didn’t stop after the top 18 players went to the stage to pull on their new team’s jersey.
“They hit on a number of them,” Hulton said. “Their fourth-rounders, in particular, have been highly impressive.”
That list includes defencemen Samuel Regis and Justin Bergeron as well as forwards William Rouleau and Tyler Hinam.
A goalie for the future is among the Islanders top priorities with Matthew Welsh entering the final season of his five-year junior career. When they call a goalie’s name will depend on what occurs before Charlottetown’s first selection.
“A lot of that depends on when the so-called goalie run starts, but we think we’ll dive in fairly high on a goaltender,” Hulton said.
The top goalie selected a year ago was Antoine Coulombe, who went in the second round (35th overall) to Shawinigan. The next four went in the third round.
Tommy DaSilva was the top goalie selected in 2017 when the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles selected him in the second round (36th overall). The next three were third-rounders.
The last time goalies were taken in the first round was in 2016 in Charlottetown when Drummondville selected Olivier Rodrigue third overall and Cape Breton picked Kevin Mandolese at 13.
The Isles have some history in finding goalies after the first round. Welsh went 37th overall, the last pick in the second round, in 2015.
“It turned out very good,” Hulton said. “If we can pull that off, we’ll be alright.”
The team does have some organizational depth in the crease with the likes of Isaak Pelletier, Chad Arsenault and Nolan Boyd.
“This doesn't mean this goalie is going to come in and play next year. . . This is just a matter of keeping the bank full,” Hulton said.
“Like defencemen – I don’t think you can ever have too many in your system – and if you do, they become really marketable assets.”
The Islanders draft philosophy has been to take a defenceman with one of their top two picks in years past. The team has depth throughout its roster, so it is not seeking a specific skill set but values guys who skate well, play with tenacity and have a strong hockey sense.
“If you look at our depth chart of returning guys, there’s no pressure on any of these young kids we’re going to draft on Saturday to step in and play next year,” Hulton said.
The last time the Islanders didn't have a first-round pick was in 2017 when the team selected Brett Budgell in the second round (25th overall). The Mount Pearl, N.L., native slipped to the second round because he was considering the NCAA route.
Despite trading a number of draft picks for the 2017 playoff run, the Islanders are almost back to having picks in all rounds beginning in 2020.
“We feel we maybe dodged a rebuild bullet,” Hulton said. “The trades at the deadline certainly helped.”
The Islanders acquired first- and second-round picks in 2021 plus a 2019 second in the deal that sent Pierre-Olivier Joseph to Drummondville. The second in 2021 will be sent back to Drummondville for forward Cedric Desruisseaux when the trade period opens on Friday.
Teams are not permitted to release deals outside of trade periods, but the swap was reported in Quebec media earlier this year.
Charlottetown picked up a second-round pick in 2020 plus a third-round pick in 2019 in the deal that sent Keith Getson to Halifax. It acquired a fourth in 2020 plus a ninth this year from Sherbrooke for goalie Dakota Lund-Cornish.
A look at the Charlottetown Islanders picks for Saturday’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft.
Here is a look at the players who have been taken 31st and 32nd overall for the past five years.
31 – D Mavrick Gauthier, Val-d’Or.
32 – D Charlie DesRoches, Saint John.
31 – D Felix-Olivier Chouinard, Quebec.
32 – D Michael Pellerin, Chicoutimi.
31 – D Chris McQuaid, Rouyn-Noranda.
32 – C Shane Bowers, Saint John.
31 – D Yan Aucoin, Baie-Comeau.
32 – RW Nicolas Guay, Chicoutimi.
31 – D Jeremie Beaudin, Cape Breton.
32 – C Peter Abbandonato, Rouyn-Noranda.
A look at the Charlottetown Islanders/P.E.I. Rocket first picks during the past 10 years.
2018 – D Lukas Cormier, fourth overall.
2017 – F Brett Budgell, 25th overall.
2016 – D Marc-Olivier Alain, 18th overall.
2015 – F Shawn Boudrias, 13 overall.
2014 – F Mitchell Balmas, seventh overall.
2013 – F Daniel Sprong, 13th overall.
2012 – F Alexis Pepin, second overall.
2011 – D Ryan Graves, ninth overall.
2010 – Victor Provencher, 11th overall.
2009 – D Jimmy Oligny, seventh overall.