CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Chris McQuaid enjoyed his time in Rouyn-Noranda, Que., but is looking forward to his new home in Gatineau.
The Charlottetown native was dealt by the Huskies to the Olympiques on Monday for second- and third-round picks as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) trade period opened.
“I think it’s a move that will help me in the long run and I’m really excited to get things started in Gatineau,” McQuaid said Thursday.
The Huskies (20-8-4-2) are 10th in this week’s Canadian Hockey League’s rankings while the Olympiques (20-10-2-2) are the hottest team in the QMJHL, having gone 10-0-1-1 in their last 12 games. Gatineau did trade veteran Mitchell Balmas to Acadie-Bathurst on Wednesday.
“I wasn't disappointed at all,” McQuaid said. “I enjoyed my time there, but I knew Gatineau would be a good fit for me.”
McQuaid, who turns 18 on New Year’s Day, was drafted in the second round of the 2016 QMJHL draft at the Eastlink Centre and made the defending league champs as a rookie.
“It was a pretty cool experience playing with such high-calibre guys,” McQuaid said. “It was great to be able to play alongside them and kind of learn the ropes (from them) a little bit in my first year in the league.”
McQuaid played half of a season with EC Red Bull Salzburg in Austria before joining the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild in major midget for the second half of the 2015-16 season.
“I gained a lot of experience, met a lot of good people and, obviously, travelled a lot,” he said.
McQuaid said the transition to a French community in northern Quebec was relatively seamless. He enjoyed his time there and, while he never requested a trade, he is looking forward to playing for the Olympiques.
“The community was great, the fans were great, I was fortunate enough to have a good billet family there and the organization treated me very well,” he said. “When I found out it was Gatineau, I was really excited. Their organization is great.”
McQuaid said he will miss his billet family, Richard Plourde and his wife, Roxane Tessier, in Rouyn.
“You live with anyone for a year and a half they kind of like become a second home, a second family to you and that’s what my billet family in Rouyn has become,” he said. “We’ll miss each other, but we’ll still be in contact.”
It’s about a six-hour drive from Gatineau to Rouyn and the teams play in the same division, so they will get a chance to see each other again this season.
The still growing six-foot-two, 180-pound blue-liner, who is eligible for this year’s NHL draft, said he is looking to bring his steady game to Gatineau along with his positive attitude.
He’s had the opportunity to speak with the staff and is looking forward to making the transition.
“They see a lot of potential in me and really like the way I’ve played,” he said. “I think it will be a great place for me.”
Another thing the Olympiques will be getting is a bit of a rink rat. McQuaid is always looking to get extra ice time or is in the gym working out. He credits his parents and family for instilling in him a strong work ethic and it’s been one of his main attributes for years.
“It’s a goal and a dream to grow as a hockey player and as a person, so I just do whatever I can to get better,” said McQuaid, who is looking to take his game to the next level with the Olympiques.
Need to know
Who – A Charlottetown native who plays in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
Size, position – Six-foot-two, 180-pound defenceman.
Drafted – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies selected McQuaid in the second round (31st overall) of 2016 QMJHL draft.
Traded – Rouyn-Noranda traded McQuaid to Gatineau on Monday for a 2018 third-round pick (previously acquired from Charlottetown) and a second-round pick in 2019.
SEASON GP G A Pts. PIM
2017-18 34 4 1 5 40
2016-17 55 3 6 9 44