SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals are hoping to be active on the trade front at the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) Draft on Saturday afternoon.
“There is a lot of talking going on right now, whether it’s players or picks,” said Caps general manager Pat McIver in an interview with the Journal Pioneer. “I expect to see some movement at the draft, but you just never know.”
McIver described this year’s draft, which is being hosted by the Valley Wildcats in Berwick, N.S., as one of the “deepest” he’s ever seen, and touched on one major change now in effect.
“The MHL, in January, changed the rules that you can draft 16-year-olds in any round,” said McIver. “Prior to this year’s draft, you could only draft them in the first three rounds. That changes a lot.
“Unfortunately, the last couple of years we were contenders, and used some of our picks as assets. We are currently trying to get some more picks.”
The Caps, who selected Summerside natives Colby MacArthur and Bennett MacArthur as territorial picks earlier this week, currently have one pick in the first, second and seventh rounds, and three in the eighth and final round.
“Our goal is to get some picks in the middle rounds,” explained McIver. “We are looking to move up into the third, fourth, fifth rounds if we can, and acquire more picks.
“It’s a deep draft throughout Atlantic Canada, not just Prince Edward Island. We are cautiously optimistic we are going to get a lot of good players.”
McIver stressed every pick is important.
“Those eighth-round picks will be very valuable this year because we can draft 16-year-olds with them,” said McIver. “In the past, you’d see teams giving away picks (at the end) because they were running out of guys to draft. That won’t be the case this year. Those three picks will be three good picks.”
Take a run
With the rebuilding Capitals coming off a surprising 33-16-1-0 (won-lost-overtime losses-shootout losses) regular season, and taking the league-champion Edmundston Blizzard to seven games in the Eastlink North Division final, McIver understands there will be high expectations entering the 2018-19 season. But, he warned, a number of factors can come into play before the puck drops in September.
“There are some things that are out of your control,” offered McIver. “If things fall into place for us, and there is potential for three or four guys who are in major junior to potentially come back, we are cautiously optimistic. I don’t have a crystal ball, but if things fall into place the way we hope they do we should be in the mix for sure. . .
“If we don’t get some guys back, and we end up losing some of our guys, then that could change things in the other direction. You just never know.”