It’s been said that hockey is a year long sport, and the annual QMJHL draft may be the biggest off-ice event on the calendar. With two picks in each of the first four rounds, the 2018 draft is shaping up to be a big day for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. The event will take place on Saturday, June 2nd, at the Centre Gervais Auto, the home of the Shawinigan Cataractes.
Just as is the case in the NHL draft, teams come to the podium for each first round choice they make and have the opportunity to introduce their player to the audience. The Screaming Eagles currently hold the 7th and 9th selections in the opening round. Cape Breton head scout and assistant general manager Jacques Carrière feels “there is definitely a strong top 8” players available, and says that unlike recent drafts that were filled with quality defensemen, that forwards are the strength of the 2018 draft class.
On June 1st, the QMJHL’s spring trading period opens and teams will have the opportunity to make deals up until the end of the draft. The Screaming Eagles have made it clear they are in the market for a 20 year old player and that vacancy could be filled with a deal in early June.
“We have had talks (to bring in overagers) and we will pursue them,” said Screaming Eagles general manager and head coach Marc-André Dumont. “We want to acquire a top quality 20 year old to support our growing group of players. We have many talented and skilled 17 and 18 year olds next season with experienced 19 year olds and we believe that adding a quality overager will benefit them and the team.”
Dumont feels the high amount of selections the Eagles hold doesn’t necessarily affect the club’s strategy. “We have always had the same approach to continue building our pool of assets and entering the draft with a list of needs. Our needs are more mid and long term at this point in our cycle”, says the Eagles general manager, noting that the club has 20 potential returning players for the upcoming season.
The 2018-19 campaign will be an exciting one in the QMHL as with the Halifax Mooseheads hosting the 2019 Memorial Cup, two QMJHL clubs will have a place in the championship tournament. However Dumont doesn’t foresee that being a factor in what move teams make this spring. “If the Memorial Cup being held in the Q has any impact, it will most probably be at the Christmas trade period, where there is a shorter window to make changes.”
For a hockey team’s scouts, draft day is their time to shine and it marks a culmination of hard work throughout the prior season. Carrière explains that during the season, Screaming Eagles scouts are responsible for their own geographical area as well as some out of province tournaments. “Team work is what makes the strength of our scouting team,” notes Cape Breton’s assistant general manager. “Our scouts are well versed having done ‘cross-overs’ meaning the Quebec scouts get to see the Maritimes players and the Maritimes scouts get to see the Quebec players. Everyone is a contributor at the final meeting.”
The scouts will travel to Shawinigan for their last meeting together on June 1st to create a final draft list. Dumont notes that the scouts are also present when a player from their region is interviewed. Before the draft begins, 80 players will have been interviewed in person by the Cape Breton organization with approximately 100 additional interviews being conducted by telephone.
“Interviews play an integral part in our player selection process,” says Carrière, who identifies leadership and resilience as key characteristics the Screaming Eagles look for. “We think an Eagle should display special qualities on and off the ice. The interview process helps us identify those that resonate our core values.”
In total, Cape Breton holds 18 draft choices through 14 rounds. The full list of Screaming Eagles’ selections is found below.
ROUND 1: 7, 9
ROUND 2: 25, 36
ROUND 3: 38, 44
ROUND 4: 61, 72
ROUND 5: 79
ROUND 6: 95
ROUND 7: 115
ROUND 8: 141
ROUND 9: 151
ROUND 10: 169
ROUND 11: 187
ROUND 12: 205
ROUND 13: 223
ROUND 14: 241