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For the next three weeks, Jacques Carrière says his cell phone will be fully charged.
The Cape Breton Eagles general manager is referring to the timeframe in which in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League winter trade period will take place.
The trade period officially opens on Sunday and runs until Jan. 6 at 1 p.m. Atlantic Time.
Cape Breton currently sits fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 17-12-1-1 record, 11 points back of the conference-leading Chicoutimi Saguenéens.
Despite rumoured trades which have Chicoutimi and Moncton adding high-end pieces to their lineups for playoff runs, Carrière expects the Eagles to be “moderate buyers,” in a “crazy market.”
“I think we have to look at it from a global perspective, having an open mind and looking at everything and all aspects and I think the first thing we have to look at is the conference and how strong ours is,” said Carrière.
“The prices we’re hearing right now are incredible — I’m hearing some guys are going for four or five values, so that’s a combination of players and picks, which is totally crazy.”
TRADE PERIOD BREAKDOWN
Number of Cape Breton Eagles winter trades over the past five seasons:
- 2014-15 – 8 trades (12 players and nine draft picks involved total)
- 2015-16 – 5 trades (seven players and five draft picks involved total)
- 2016-17 – 5 trades (six players and seven draft picks involved total)
- 2017-18 – 3 trades (seven players and four draft picks involved total)
- 2018-19 – 5 trades (eight players and four draft picks involved total)
*Note: Trades were made under the direction of Marc-André Dumont
Carrière believes some teams will make a run for the league title this year but won’t have much left for future years.
“That’s a direction that we can’t take, we can never sell everything and completely rebuild from zero,” said Carrière, who was attending the CCM Midget ‘AAA’ Challenge in Quebec when reached by the Cape Breton Post on Thursday.
“We always have to make sure that we have some stuff in the cupboards to compete from year-to-year.”
Trade-wise, Chicoutimi kicked things off Thursday, officially acquiring 20-year-old forward Félix Bibeau from the Quebec Remparts in exchange for two first-round picks in 2020 and 2021.
Bibeau, a New York Islanders draft pick, will reunite with fellow Memorial Cup winner in Rafaël Harvey-Pinard. The two won the national title with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies last May in Halifax.
According to reports out of Quebec, the Saguenéens may also acquire forwards Dawson Mercer from the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Raphaël Lavoie from Halifax.
Meanwhile, rumours have also circulated involving Moncton acquiring NHL draft picks, defenceman Jared McIsaac and forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx from the Mooseheads.
Lavoie, McIsaac and Groulx are currently with Canada’s national junior team and cannot be traded until after the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in early January.
The teams involved have not released any information about the rumoured deals.
“I don’t know how much truth there is to some of those — every single general manager is keeping those trades secret and tight to their chest,” said Carrière of the rumours.
“It’s crazy, I never seen anything like it, the trades went from 0 to 100 miles an hour in point-one second, where everybody was on the table to nobody is left on the table.”
Carrière said the team has some ideas as to what it wants to add at the deadline.
“Our goal right now for this trade deadline is to add some grit up front to our roster and maybe a piece on defence to get stronger,” he said. “We’re confident with the goalies we have right now that they can stop the puck for us.”
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The QMJHL trade period will begin on Sunday
- Players attending the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship cannot be traded until after the tournament is over
- First-year import players are eligible to be traded during the trade period.
- Trades will be approved by the league between Dec. 15-23, Dec. 27-30 and Jan. 2-6 at 1 p.m. Atlantic Time.
- Trades will not be processed on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 26, Dec. 31, Jan. 1 and Jan. 2 (starting at 1 p.m. Atlantic Time).
- The trade period wraps up on Jan. 6, 2020, at 1 p.m. Atlantic Time.
Carrière admits the tough competition within the Eastern Conference can make things more difficult for general managers as to what direction a team takes.
“It is a little harder because you have to look at everything,” said Carrière. “We have to be conscientious and be smart about it.
“Knowing that the first two rounds are interdivision, it’s not going to be an easy division to get out of, so it’s probably a lot easier in the other division than ours.”
Although trades — not including overage and import players, can’t be made until Sunday, Carrière said he has been working the phones and having conversations with fellow general managers.
“Making a trade is not like going to your corner store and buying a jug of milk, it’s a lot longer than that,” said Carrière. “You probably make 20 to 25 calls for a single trade — it’s very rare you phone someone and reach an agreement and everything is done in one call.”
When asked about the team’s overagers — Derek Gentile, Shawn Boudrias and Shaun Miller — Carrière said the club is comfortable with those players, while noting “you never know.”
“It takes two to tango in a trade, so you never know what’s being asked from other teams, sometimes you’re at the mercy of what they’re asking,” he said.
Carrière said the team has identified players on the current roster who are untouchable for trade but wouldn't say who those players were.