Long-time P.E.I. bed and breakfast owner recalls life-long fighting ...
Peers Alliance set to host annual poetry slam and have some wacky fun ...
UPEI student to share her experiences as an out, queer woman in China
Making East Coast workplaces more inclusive for LGBTQ2+ community
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Visit SaltWire.com for more of the stories you want.
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19: August 7, 2020
Plenty of activity expected during annual trading period
The QMJHL's trading period opens this weekend and, as always, there should be a plethora of deals.
Buy or sell is the question, and to no one's surprise the Chicoutimi Saguenéens have already started buying. Before the general trading period, 20-year-olds or imports can be moved at any time, and the Sags snagged overage sniper Félix Bibeau from arch-rival Québec. The Remparts were no doubt thrilled to get two first-round picks for Bibeau and may explore moving another overager, offensive-minded blue-liner Darien Kielb.
In the East Division, Rimouski has gone neck-and-neck with Chicoutimi this fall and it's unlikely the Océanic would miss the chance to go on a run before Alexis Lafrenière almost certainly moves onto the NHL. There are concerns that Rimouski is a top-heavy team, with no forward outside their top line ranking in the top 60 in scoring, but the club went 5-2-2 run following an injury to star Dmitry Zavgorodniy.
Moncton has led the Maritime Division for the bulk of the season. After spending an import pick on 19-year-old defenseman Axel Andersson and getting veteran winger Jeremy McKenna back from the pro ranks, buying seems like the logical move. But the cloud hanging over the Wildcats is the disappearance of head coach John Torchetti with no explanation from the organization — Moncton went 1-4 in their first five road games in the absence of their main bench boss.
Charlottetown and Cape Breton have provided Moncton's biggest competition and find themselves in the upper middle of the Eastern Conference, perhaps in limbo as to what to do over the holidays. Jim Hulton's Islanders are playing over .500 hockey, but are in the bottom half of the league in both goals for and goals against. The Eagles have been battling with the Isles for the final home ice East playoff spot, but have a record of 5-9-1 against teams in the top half of the circuit at time of writing.
At the bottom half of the Eastern Conference reside the league's potential big sellers. Halifax hosted the Memorial Cup last May but didn't completely empty the cupboards. As a result the Mooseheads still have three players on Team Canada's World Junior training camp roster (forwards Raphaël Lavoie & Benoit-Olivier Groulx along with rearguard Jared Mcissac), and a top-five goal scorer in overager Maxim Trépanier. It's highly unlikely any will be back in the QMJHL next season, along with NHL-drafted Alexis Gravel, so the nation's biggest fire sale may be in Nova Scotia's capital.
Baie-Comeau bought heavily last trading period but were bounced in round one and now must reconstruct. Nineteen-year-old centre Gabriel Fortier notched 83 points in 2018-19, and while he's not on pace to match that, he should command a high price. Another NHL draftee, Xavier Bouchard, along with overage defenseman Keenan MacIssac could net big returns. The big wildcard is offensive dynamo Nathan Légaré, only 18, but already signed by Pittsburgh.
Bathurst and Saint John are currently rebuilding, but fatigue from losing might be wearing on the fanbases. (Although the Sea Dogs have improved since the return of Maxim Cajkovic and the installation of Jeff Cowan as head coach.) If either team takes calls, 19-year-old power forward Shawn Element of the Titan and former 40-goal man and overage centre Nicolas Guay of the Sea Dogs would attract interest.
Sherbrooke is miles ahead of their competition in the Western Conference, and also leading the league, and it would be shocking if they didn't make moves with some of the Eastern teams likely loading up. Heading into weekend play, only five points separate second from sixth in the West, while Gatineau and Victoriaville sit at the bottom with not much to sell.
Gatineau's rebuilding isn't all bad as the Olympiques hold four first-round picks in 2020. Blainville-Boisbriand might sell some 19-year-old NHL-drafted pieces, forward Luke Henman and defenseman Samuel Bolduc.
Defending Memorial Cup champion Rouyn-Noranda has been at or near the top of the West Division this fall and could win multiple playoff rounds again, but may opt to aim for a title chase down the road. Nineteen-year-old defensemen Justin Bergeron has been linked to multiple clubs in rumours, and 19-year-old netminder Zach Emond could be the top goalie available. Overage forwards Vincent Marleau and Tyler Hinam would potentially be upgrades for teams as well.
Sunday marks the opening of the trading period and business closes on Jan. 6.
Patrick McNeil is the play-by-play announcer with the Cape Breton Eagles. Happy to see Strasburg stay, sad to see Rendon leave, thrilled to have seen a World Series champion. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Twitter: cbepbp.