A busy summer lies ahead for Halifax Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell, but the first matter for him to deal with is the QMJHL expansion draft.
Russell’s 16-man protected list is due at the QMJHL’s front office by May 17, with remaining players on the Mooseheads’ 50-man reserve list available for selection by the Sherbrooke Phoenix.
Sherbrooke can select two players from each team, but no more than one goaltender, in the expansion draft on June 6.
“Our team is going to look a little bit different after that,” Russell said. “Depending on who you lose in expansion, you might have to go out and replace somebody. We’ve got a good idea what we want to do, but at the same time things are going to change after expansion.”
While the Mooseheads could lose valuable players to the Phoenix, they recognize that last year’s Lewiston Maineiacs dispersal draft landed them the 11th overall draft choice used to select all-rookie goaltender Zach Fucale.
Not only that, it indirectly led to the acquisition of captain Cameron Critchlow. The Victoriaville Tigres picked him in the dispersal draft and traded him to Halifax for a draft pick.
“If there’s no dispersal draft, you don’t get those two players,” Russell said. “It’s tough that we’re going to lose two guys, but if you look at the big picture, we also gained two important pieces of the puzzle.”
Either way, the 16 players the Mooseheads protect are expected to form the foundation of a team that could be favoured to win a QMJHL championship next season.
“We’re excited because for the first time in four or five years, we’ve got a great nucleus coming back and we just have to add to it a little bit,” Russell said.