CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Charlottetown Islanders have a chance to win the lottery tonight.
The Islanders know they will pick in the top five of June’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft and have the third-best odds to claim the top pick when the lottery winner is announced tonight. It comes after winning Game 7 of their first-round playoff series with the Remparts Tuesday in Quebec City.
“It adds to the excitement,” Islanders head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said Wednesday. “We’re heading into the second round of the playoffs and we’re going to have a top-five pick.”
Geoff Boyle, one of the team’s owners and its governor, will represent the Islanders at the lottery, which will be broadcast on a 30-minute TV show on TVA Sports beginning at 8 p.m. Atlantic.
“Hopefully Geoff has his four-leaf clover in his pocket and all his good-luck charms,” Hulton said.
The five teams with the worst records from the regular season each have a chance to garner the top selection, but the odds are weighted in favour of the team (Saint John) that finished in the basement of the 18-team league.
The Islanders and Sherbrooke Phoenix are both in the lottery because of previous trades while still alive in the playoffs.
“Any time you get to pick in the top five it usually means you’ve had to live through a difficult season — that hasn't been the case,” Hulton said.
The Islanders, he said, are pretty excited about its young players with linemates Brett Budgell and Nikita Alexandrov playing prominent roles this season.
“To be able to add another high-end, young talent is a really good sign for our future,” Hulton said.
The Islanders are in the lottery because Grant Sonier, who was the general manager at the time, insisted a first-round pick be included when he was forced to trade 18-year-old defenceman David Henley to Val-d’Or in 2015. Henley, a first-round pick of the Foreurs in 2013, came to Charlottetown in the Ryan Graves deal in January 2014. He asked to be traded home to support his family as his father, Rock, was dealing with cancer.
“I’ll give Grant a ton of credit because he was painted into a corner a bit for circumstances beyond anybody’s control, including David. You want to be a humanitarian, but you also have a job to do,” Hulton said. “I know Grant was adamant that there had to be first-round (pick) involved because I know that was not part of the initial offer.”
The Dec. 20, 2015, trade saw Henley head home for Val-d’Or’s second-round pick in 2016, Baie-Comeau’s second-round pick in 2017 and the Foreurs first-rounder in 2018.
Right now, the deal shows Henley for forwards Nathaniel Doyon and Budgell and the first-rounder.
“A pretty damn-good trade,” Hulton said.
The deal also enabled the Islanders to move their own first in 2018 and second in 2017 in order to acquire Acadie-Bathurst defenceman Guillaume Brisebois, who captained last year’s team into the third round for the first time in franchise history.
The draft will take place June 2 in Shawinigan, Que.
The league will also today announce who will host the 2019 Mastercard Memorial Cup. Moncton and Halifax have made their bids to host the event. The league’s selection committee included Nancy Orr, P.E.I.’s chief provincial judge.
A look at the teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft lottery and each team’s odds to win the top pick.
Team Number of balls in lottery Percentage of winning top pick
Saint John 9 43
Shawinigan 6 28
Charlottetown* 3 14
Chicoutimi 2 10
Sherbrooke** 1 5
* Charlottetown has Val-d’Or’s first-round pick from the David Henley deal.
** Sherbrooke has Moncton’s first-round pick from Anderson MacDonald deal.