Colten Ellis has a national hockey title on his resumé but hasn’t won the President Cup as Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) champs.
He’s looking to change that next season in Charlottetown.
The Charlottetown Islanders acquired the River Denys, N.S., native Saturday in a blockbuster deal with the Rimouski Oceanic.
“My main focus is to help bring a championship to the Island,” he said from the Bell Bay Golf Club in Baddeck, N.S., shortly after the deal was announced.
Ellis, who turns 20 in October, backstopped the Cape Breton West Islanders to the Telus Cup title as Canada’s top midget team in 2017. They are the only squad from Atlantic Canada to win the championship.
“We had a special team,” he said. “To get that experience of playing seven games in seven days and on a big stage, it really helped me prepare for the junior level.”
Ellis played three seasons with the Oceanic. They were expected to make a deep playoff run this year, led by superstar Alexis Lafreniere and a strong supporting cast, before the season was abruptly halted, and then cancelled, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic in mid-March.
“We definitely had a good team in Rimouski. We felt that we were going to have a good run, so it was disappointing the season was cut short, but we weren’t the only ones in that position,” Ellis said. “It just makes you that much hungrier for next year. Next year, being my final year, you want to go out with a bang.”
The Islanders traded a third-round pick (39th overall) in Saturday’s draft, plus their own first- and second-round picks in 2021 to acquire Ellis. The Islanders still have first- and second-round picks in 2021. They own Drummondville’s first from the Pierre-Olivier (P.O.) Joseph deal and Quebec’s second from the Xavier Bernard swap with Sherbrooke.
“We made this move, I think, to send a message to our team and our fan base that we really believe we’re a contender,” head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said.
“In our opinion, he’s the best goaltender in the league,” he added. “He’s a third-round NHL pick for a reason. This kid is legit.”
Ellis went 18-10 last season with a 2.41 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage last season. He doesn’t have many connections to the Islanders’ organization but knows its modus operandi (m.o.).
“Anytime I played against Charlottetown my whole career they always had a hard-working team,” he said. “I just hope I can … help the team in any way I can.”
The six-foot-one, 187-pound goalie with provide another veteran leader for sophomore Jacob Goobie to learn from. Goobie, a 17-year-old goalie from Halifax, was the Islanders’ top pick a year ago when he went 31st overall. He backed up Matthew Welsh in 2019-20. Goobie and Ellis have the same agent and have worked summer camps together.
“What can’t get lost in all of this is this isn’t just about acquiring Colten Ellis, it’s also about taking Jacob to the next step,” Hulton said.
Acquiring Ellis, led the Islanders to trade Liam Peyton to the Halifax Mooseheads to clear an overage spot as teams can only have three. Wingers Thomas Casey and Cedric Desruisseaux are the Isles’ other overagers. Halifax sent a ninth-round pick in Saturday’s draft and a fourth-round pick in 2021.
The last time the Islanders made a draft day splash was in 2016 when they landed defenceman Guillaume Brisebois from the Acadie-Bathurst Titan during the draft in Charlottetown. They made it to the semifinal for the first time in franchise history the following season before losing to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
Need to know
Who – A 19-year-old hockey player from River Denys, N.S. It is located in Cape Breton about 40 kilometres from the Canso Causeway.
Height, weight, position – Six-foot-one, 187-pound goalie.
The latest – The Charlottetown Islanders acquired Ellis from the Rimouski Oceanic Saturday in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft day deal.
Did you know? The Cape Breton Eagles drafted Ellis in the fourth round (59th overall) in 2016 and traded him to Rimouski for a 2018 first-round pick in June 2017.
Ellis said: “I like to play an athletic style of game and be positionally sound and be cool, calm and collected at the same time.”
Season GP W L GAA SAV%
2017-18 51 33 14 2.35 .913
2018-19 46 27 17 2.47 .910
2019-20 29 18 10 2.41 .904