CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Daniel Hardie knew he could be on the move again, but as the Jan. 6 trade deadline closed he figured he was staying put in Saint John, N.B., and playing that night against the Halifax Mooseheads.
He was wrong.
“I was ready to take my nap and then I got a phone call that I was traded,” Hardie explained after Tuesday’s Charlottetown Islanders practice. “I was literally laying in my bed and I got the phone call.”
The deal sent Hardie from the team with the second-worst record in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on the verge of missing the playoffs to one of the surprises of the first half.
He bounced around a couple of lines during the second half of the season as the Islanders looked to find the right fits amongst its four new forwards.
Hardie has caught fire in the playoffs, playing right wing on the Isles top line with veterans Keith Getson and Pascal Aquin.
“Those guys have elevated their game for playoffs and I think I’m just kind of feeding off that,” Hardie said. “They hound the puck really well and they get the puck back for us a lot. . .
“They’re obviously scoring a lot of goals right now. It seems like everything they touch is going in, so, I guess, you just have to keep getting them the puck.”
The Islanders are reaping the rewards of the last-minute deal.
“He gets overlooked until you look at the scoresheet,” head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said. “He quietly contributes a lot of offensive.”
While Hardie doesn’t have one asset that wows you, Hulton said the pass-first guy has a proven ability to put up points, good vision, patience with the puck and has played a lot of valuable minutes.
Entering the trade deadline, the Islanders were looking for offence to help boost a club that had proven itself defensively and was lauded for its work ethic.
The Islanders first move was to send Matthew Grouchy and Gregor MacLeod to Quebec for Derek Gentile and a pick, which was immediately flipped to Shawinigan for Cam Askew. Four days later, with the trade window closing, Hulton traded Sam Meisenheimer to Chicoutimi for a pick it used to help acquire Hardie.
Hulton said it was a calculated risk, particularly in moving Grouchy, who complemented Aquin and Getson so well.
“We knew giving up Grouchy was going to have a bigger impact than just one player leaving because that line had been so integral in our success for a year-and-a-half,” he said.
Aquin said Hardie, who was the team’s second-leading scorer upon arriving in Charlottetown, has fit in really well.
“He has the same mentality of me and Getson and we have a good chemistry,” he said.
With the mix and matching of lines, it has meant some guys who played higher in the lineup earlier in the season have played further down in the post-season. Those players haven't moped or complained.
“All the credit goes back to the core of our team, who kind of set the example that egos aren’t going to be permitted in there,” Hulton said. “Everybody has an ego, but they’ve been willing and able to set aside the ego for the good of the team. It’s easy to say, but lots of time in junior that’s a tough task.”
He pointed to Hardie, Askew and Gentile who were acquired to provide offence, but have been asked to fill a variety of roles. It has provided depth and versatility to the squad.
“They've set aside their personal agenda of points and just said, ‘OK, whatever it takes to win’,” Hulton said.
Hardie, a Brampton, Ont., native was dealt from Rimouski to Saint John on Aug. 28 in the trade that sent Chase Stewart to the Oceanic. He is eligible to return as an overager next season.
“I bounced around a bit this year, but, I guess, I hope to find a home here,” he said.
Need to know
Who – A right-winger with the Charlottetown Islanders.
Size – Five-foot-10, 185 pounds.
Birthtown – Brampton, Ont.
Season Team/League GP G A Pts.
2015-16 Georgetown Riaders/OJHL 45 20 28 48
2016-17 Rimouski/QMJHL 45 18 20 38
2017-18 Saint John/QMJHL 37 12 18 30
2017-18 Charlottetown/QMJHL 31 13 10 23
2017-18 Charlottetown 11 3 10 13