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MacKinnon and co. may surprise

Logo courtesy of: http://en.lhjmq.qc.ca/roster/index/team/57/sort/last
Logo courtesy of QMJHL

Mooseheads could be threat next year

 

 

As fans of the now-defunct MLB’s Brooklyn Dodgers once put it: “Wait ‘til next year!”

The old adage should ring true this season for the Halifax Mooseheads as they attempt to contend for a championship in the QMJHL.

This year’s Moose will no longer be among the league’s doormats though—placing fifteenth in the 18-team league last season—courtesy of some significant offseason additions by the front office.

The Moose made the league’s biggest splash in the summer break when they acquired first overall draft pick, Nathan MacKinnon of Cole Harbour. The forward has already been harkened as the “next Crosby,” not solely because of his talent, but the parallels he shares (same hometown and prep school) with the NHL superstar.

MacKinnon carried Team Nova Scotia at last winter’s Canada Games with highlight-reel puck handling and great awareness, but it will be interesting to see where he stacks in a higher-level major junior outfit.

In the draft, a number of weeks before the Mooseheads traded for MacKinnon, Halifax was fortunate enough to swap ahead to second to select forward Jonathan Drouin, a shootout specialist who would have been picked first in any non-MacKinnon year considering his skill level and maturity.

The team also tapped forward Alexandre Grenier (selected 90th overall in the 2011 NHL draft) from the Quebec Remparts. Grenier registered slightly over a point per game in last year’s playoffs.

Combined with projected NHL first round picks Martin Frk and Luca Ciampini, the Mooseheads appear loaded on the offensive end, especially considering their nucleus is young—mostly 16- and 17-year-olds.

Their young forward core will have to compensate for the team’s recurring issues on the backend. The Moose’s defence is slow and neither offensive or defensive-minded.

Of the five returning defensemen, the Herd garnered only 14 goals last season, paced by Konrad Abeltshauser and his eight. Abeltshauser may have been on the scoreboard, but he was dismal in the plus/minus category. He was -36 at the end of the year and -3 in the Herd’s four playoff games before the Montreal Juniors swept them.

The goaltending duo in Anthony Terenzio and Fred Piché stood on their heads on some nights, but a combination of poor defensive zone play and bad penalties last season makes it difficult to determine whether they are effective backstops or not. Piché held a respectable 3.13 goals against average after his mid-season acquisition from Saint John, but finished 3-11-3 as the club’s top tender.

Much the way the dynasty Oilers of the 1980s rose to prominence with five Stanley Cups, this Mooseheads lineup has the potential to enjoy at least a couple championship-calibre seasons as early as next year.

 

 

The Halifax Mooseheads drop the puck on their season Friday in Charlottetown. The Metro Centre should be buzzing next Friday for the home opener against Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

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