In January, the Halifax Mooseheads made a point of securing a first-round draft pick when they traded veteran forward Gabriel Desjardins to the Quebec Remparts. The question is, will they still have it when it’s time to step up to the podium in Quebec City?
Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell, looking to bolster his roster for next season, is expected to dangle the 15th overall selection in trade talks in the hours leading up to the draft on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Colisee Pepsi.
His own first-rounder (13th overall) belongs to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar courtesy of the Nathan MacKinnon trade.
“It gives you options of trading it for an established player, drafting a good young 16-year-old, or putting that pick together with another player and moving it in a big trade,” Russell said. “First-round picks are always nice. At the draft, picks are like gold (in trade talks).”
The Mooseheads are expected to announce one trade on Friday morning, the acquisition of 20-year-old right-winger Stefan Fournier from the Victoriaville Tigres for third- and eighth-round picks.
But the first-rounder could help them land a 19-year-old top-six forward with grit who can help balance out their top two lines.
Russell said he would prefer to make his deals this weekend rather than wait until mid-season when prices tend to skyrocket.
“That’s a best-case scenario,” he said. “In a perfect world that’s what we’d like to do and if we can’t get the deals we want, we’ll stay with what we have and reevaluate at Christmastime.”
The Mooseheads are barely losing anybody from a club that came two wins away from the QMJHL final last season, so Russell said he doesn’t need to resort to drastic measures such as selling the farm.
“You look at our team, we should be able to make a couple of changes and give ourselves a really good shot at winning it and still be good for next year and the year after,” Russell said.
DRAFT NOTES: The trade period opens on Friday at 9 a.m., while the draft starts on Saturday at 11 a.m. … The Mooseheads have picks in the first round (15th overall), third round (44th and 50th), sixth round (106th), seventh round (124th), eighth round (142nd) and then in rounds 10 through 14 (178th, 196th, 213th, 231st, 249th) … Those picks will change with any trades announced Friday morning.