Despite sitting atop the overall standings of the 11-team MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League at 26-6-2-0 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses), the Caps did not stand pat and made six different transactions leading up to the 10 p.m. roster deadline.
“The commitment from the staff and ownership here in Summerside is unbelievable,” said Caps general manager Pat McIver in an interview on Thursday night. “There has been a lot of time, effort and money put into this hockey team this year.
“The (fan) support has been good, but hopefully it gets better as we feel there are lots of exciting times ahead.”
Overall, the Capitals acquired two defenceman, one goaltender, two forwards and traded two players – defenceman Dale Deon and forward Justin Thomas.
“It was a good couple of days for us,” said McIver. “Overall, we feel we got a lot deeper.”
The moves are expected to bolster the Caps’ roster for what is expected to be a long playoff run leading up to the 2013 RBC Cup Canadian junior A hockey championship tournament in Summerside from May 11 to 19.
The Capitals’ first acquisition of the day was 18-year-old defenceman Michael Crocock from the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Central Junior A Hockey League in exchange for future considerations.
“He’s (Crocock) a very mature, reliable 1994 (-born player),” said McIver. “He’s going to be a very, very steady defenceman for us. He skates very well and has a little bit of offence to his game.”
In 37 games with the Lumber Kings this season, Crocock had two goals, 10 assists, 12 points and 20 penalty minutes.
Crocock played for Team East at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Yarmouth, N.S., in November.
The Caps also acquired defenceman Mackenzie Braid from the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Sudbury Wolves for future considerations.
Braid, who is listed as six feet and 165 pounds and turns 20 on Jan. 16, played the last 2 1/2 years in the OHL. With the Wolves this season, he recorded one goal, four assists, five points and 29 penalty minutes in 19 games.
“He’s a very good skater,” said McIver. “He’s played close to 140 games in the OHL, he’s tenacious and is another guy who will be tough to play against. He keeps guys honest, works hard and is a guy who competes very well.”
The Caps signed free-agent goaltender Kevin Bailie, who had the sixth-best goals-against average in the Ontario Hockey League this season with the London Knights.
In 27 games, the six-foot-three and 195-pound Bailie accumulated a record of 18-4-0-1 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses). His goals-against average was 2.50 to go along with a .921 save percentage.
Bailie, who is from Belleville, Ont., turned 21 on Jan. 3.
“The commitment from the staff and ownership here in Summerside is unbelievable. There has been a lot of time, effort and money put into this hockey team this year. The (fan) support has been good, but hopefully it gets better as we feel there are lots of exciting times ahead.” - Caps general manager Pat McIver
“It kind of sprung up quick,” said McIver about Bailie’s signing. “London had signed a younger goaltender, and we had contacted him (Bailie) in the summer and he had our number. When things didn’t work out in London, he called us first, we were able to make it work and we’re excited to have him.”
McIver added that Dylan McQuaid, who was backing up Jacob Riley, will remain with the team as a third goaltender.
The Caps also swung two deals with Nova Scotia teams in the MHL. They acquired 19-year-old Luke Warner from the Bridgewater Lumberjacks for a third-round selection in this year’s draft and future considerations.
A five-foot-11 and 200-pound right-winger, Warner has 13 points, including three goals, and 138 penalty minutes, in 36 regular-season games. Warner is from Amherst, N.S.
“He brings a lot of grit, he’s a hard worker, he’ll battle all night, he’s an in-your-face kind of player and he’ll keep other teams honest for sure,” said McIver.
The Capitals boosted their offence with the acquisition of five-foot-eight and 183-pound left-winger JP Harvey from his hometown Dartmouth-based Metro Shipbuilders. Harvey, 19, is averaging almost a point a game as, in 36 games, he has 35 points – 17 goals and 18 assists.
“He’s (Harvey) been Metro’s best player this season,” said McIver. “We liked him any time we played against them. He also brings some grit to the table, is a hard worker and has an offensive touch.”
The Shipbuilders received Thomas, who had seven goals, seven assists, 14 points and 46 penalty minutes in 29 games, and future considerations.
With teams allowed only two 20-year-olds from outside the region, the Capitals had to make a move to make room for Bailie. They did that by trading Deon to the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for future considerations.
Deon, whose hometown is Brampton, Ont., had 30 points, including seven goals, in 31 games.
Defenceman Jason Seed of Ottawa, Ont., is the other Capital 20-year-old from outside the Atlantic region.
Crocock and Bailie arrived on Thursday while Harvey and Warner were travelling to Summerside on Thursday night. Braid is expected to land in Summerside over the next couple of days.
McIver expects all five players to be in the lineup for Saturday night’s home game against Metro at 7 p.m. The Caps have guaranteed a 50/50 pool of $5,000 for that game.
The Caps visit the Campbellton Tigers on Friday evening.