QMJHL trades see Remparts add scoring, goaltending

Vladimir Tkachev. (Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto)

In one of many moves announced over the weekend as the QMJHL trade period officially opened, goaltender Zach Fucale is a member of the Québec Remparts ending months of rumours and speculation

Loading up for a chance at the MasterCard Memorial Cup as hosts this year, the Québec Remparts acquired Fucale, defenceman Matt Murphy and a fifth-round pick in 2015 in exchange for 19-year-old goaltender Eric Brassard, first and third-round picks in 2016 and first and second-round picks in 2018. The 2018 second-rounder will be flipped back to Québec for 18-year-old blueliner Cody Donaghey at this spring’s draft.

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At the start of the season, goaltending was seen as Quebec’s biggest weakness. Second-year player Callum Booth had decent stats in 25 games last season—11-5-3, 2.68 and .914—but this season, those numbers have fallen off. Through 22 games, he’s 12-9-1 with a GAA of 3.17 and a save percentage of .899.

With Fucale, they now have a goalie who can handle a heavy workload who has won the Memorial Cup. The second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens had a slow start, along with the rest of the Halifax Mooseheads, but is heating up again. In the month of November he picked up eight wins after only winning four games in the first two months of the season. He’s also the likely No. 1 to start the world junior championship for Team Canada.

Defenceman Matt Murphy’s last game with the Halifax Mooseheads came against his future team. He scored two goals late in the third to tie up the contenst, which the Mooseheads eventually won in a shootout. The 6-foot-2, 207-lb. defender won the Memorial Cup with Halifax in 2013. He’s a strong positional player, using his big frame to shut down scoring chances.

The trade period in the QMJHL takes place between Dec. 19, 2014 and Jan. 6, 2015. However, a number of moves were made before the period began as players not on starting rosters, primarily 20-year-olds and European players, can be moved outside the window.

Earlier in the month, the Remparts acquired Vladimir Tkachev from the Moncton Wildcats. The small Russian forward signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Edmonton in the off-season, but it was ruled ineligible since he played in a pair of games in the KHL last season. They also traded for 20-year-old right winger Jérome Verrier. With all these moves, the Remparts are in a prime position to not only host the Memorial Cup and win games, but also compete for the President Cup as winners of the Q. Right now, there biggest competition is division rival Rimouski, which sits four points ahead of them in the standings.

The Océanic made a handful of minor deals, acquiring goaltender Louis-Philip Guindon from the Drummondville Voltigeurs in exchange for a 2017 first-round pick. He provides depth behind starter Philippe Desrosiers. On the season, Guindon has a 9-11-2 record along with a 3.15 GAA and .887 save percentage. It’s the second deal with the Voltigeurs this month after Rimouski acquired Drummondville’s captain, Charles-David Beaudoin. The 6-foot, 186-lb. defender joins the scariest, biggest, blueline in the Q. The Océanic have Sam Morin (6-foot-7, 225 lb.), Simon Bourque (6-foot, 189 lb.), Jan Kostalek (6-foot-1, 196 lb.), Guillaume McSween (6-foot-4, 215 lb.) and Andrew Picco (6-foot-3, 215 lb.).

A pair of major deals involving the Gatineau Olympiques are reportedly in the works, although injury concerns may be delaying their completion. JF Plante of Le Droit reports that Gatineau will pick up Yan Pavel Laplante and Tommy Veilleux from the Victoriaville Tigres in exchange for Pascal Laberge, the second-overall pick of the 2014 draft, and a 2016 first-round pick.

It’s also being reported that forward Valentin Zykov will be traded from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar to the Olympiques in exchange for forward Vaclav Karabacek and a third-round draft pick. Zykov, drafted in the second-round of the 2013 draft by the L.A. Kings, has five goals and nine assists in 13 games but hasn’t played since the end of October. Karabacek, drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round last year, has 10 goals and 23 points in 29 games this season. Veilleux, a sixth-rounder by the Nashville Predators in 2013, has 10 goals and four assists through 31 games. Yan Pavel Laplante, a third-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes, has 13 goals and 25 points through 20 games, but has been out with an injury since Nov. 16.

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If these trades are completed, the Olymiques will have a chance to move out of last place in the West Division. They have 34 points, just nine behind the first-place Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. Zykov and Laplante would give them a major boost in the scoring department.

Earlier in the season, the Olympiques acquired goalie Brandon Whitney from the Victoriaville Tigres. He’s been one of the league’s best with a GAA of 2.95 and save percentage of .903. In their past 10 games, the Olympiques have a 3-7-0 record and need to turn things around quickly to compete this season.

Other trades

The Sherbrooke Phoenix picked up blueliner Alexis Vanier and forward Hugo Roy from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in exchange for forward Simon Desbiens and a ninth-round selection in 2015.

The Charlottetown Islanders acquired right-winger Quinn O’Brien and a 2017 10th-round pick in exchange for center Anthony Wojcik. The 5-foot-10, 202-lb. Wojcik was drafted in the fourth-round of the 2014 QMJHL draft and has yet to play in the league.

The Val-d’Or Foreurs picked up right winger William Gignac from Chicoutimi for a 2015 eighth-round pick.

Right winger Charles-Eric Légaré went to Victoriaville in exchange for 2015 fourth-round pick.

Olivier Mathieau was traded from Moncton to the Shawinigan Cataractes for a 2015 third-round pick.

Left winger Owen Bennington was traded from Val-d’Or to Sherbrooke in exchange for a 2015 sixth-round pick.

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