Wild­cats named for QMJHL draft

Sev­eral Val­ley Wild­cats play­ers could be drafted to Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior fran­chises

Annapolis Valley Register - - SPORTS - BY KIRK STARRATT ,*/(4$06/5:/&84 $" #&38*$, LTUBSSBUU!LJOHTDPVOUZOFXT DB

Sev­eral mem­bers of the midget Val­ley Wild­cats could be on the verge of break­ing through to the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League (QMJHL).

On May 8, af­ter watch­ing hun­dreds of games and scru­ti­niz­ing thou­sands of play­ers this past sea­son, the QMJHL’S Cen­tral Scout­ing pub­lished its fi­nal prospects rank­ing list for the up­com­ing en­try draft. Eight play­ers from the Wild­cats or­ga­ni­za­tion have been named on the list. The draft takes place June 3 at Har­bour Sta­tion in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The top draft-el­i­gi­ble player from the Wild­cats is de­fense­man Car­son Gal­lant of Eller­shouse, Hants County, listed in the third round, 52nd over­all.

Wild­cats gen­eral man­ager Nick Gree­nough said there have been play­ers in the past that have been named high on the draft list but Gal­lant could be one of the high­est ranked to come out of the pro­gram.

He said Gal­lant is big, skates well and has a great skills set. He has “a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing go­ing for him.” Gree­nough be­lieves that Gal­lant could be a great ma­jor ju­nior player down the road.

Right wing Ri­ley Spears of Mid­dle Sackville has been listed for rounds six to eight. Cen­tre Rob­bie Dow­ell of Nic­taux; goalie Joseph Mac­don­ald of Eller­shouse; de­fense­man Matt Mackay of Mid­dle Sackville; Evan Weir of Kentville; and left wing Gregor Yoell of Wolfville have been listed for rounds nine to 12, while left wing Isaac Chap­man of Lower Sackville has been listed as an el­i­gi­ble player for the draft.

Gree­nough said the Wild­cats have been for­tu­nate over the past sev­eral years to have play­ers drafted. Some years there have been more than oth­ers but it looks good on a small, ru­ral com­mu­nity, he said, and demon­strates strong mi­nor hockey roots and the strength of the Wild­cats in de­vel­op­ing play­ers.

“I think it bodes well for the strength of our ma­jor ban­tam pro­gram and our ma­jor midgets,” Gree­nough said. “Some of these guys have come through both pro­grams and they’re go­ing to have bright ca­reers.”

Gree­nough would love to see all of the play­ers drafted. It makes the Wild­cats a choice team as play­ers rec­og­nize that the ex­pe­ri­ence could be a step­ping-stone to the next level. Most as­pire to play ma­jor ju­nior, he said, and be­ing named on the draft list is the first step.

He said the Wild­cats are es­sen­tially a de­vel­op­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion. Ev­ery­one wants to win cham­pi­onships but, at the end of the day, if play­ers are drafted in QMJHL pro­grams and go on to play at a higher level, the Wild­cats or­ga­ni­za­tion has done its job.

Gree­nough said the num­ber-one goal is to en­sure that once play­ers leave the Wild­cats, they’re bet­ter on and off the ice. They want to give play­ers the op­por­tu­nity to pur­sue hockey as a ca­reer and fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tions through the process.

He said that as higher-end play­ers are drafted, it cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for oth­ers to step up and shine as the cy­cle of tal­ent de­vel­op­ment con­tin­ues.

“If our ma­jor ban­tam club is strong then the tran­si­tion pe­riod is usu­ally very min­i­mal for us and the play­ers will fit right in,” Gree­nough said.

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