With the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on pause until January 17th, I thought it would be best to look at the best team the QMJHL has seen in a while, the Charlottetown Islanders. They’re sitting fifth in the KIA CHL power rankings, including two other Canadian Major Junior leagues, the Ontario Hockey league and the Western Hockey League,
Now, granted, there is (almost) zero competition this season in the Q outside of the top two teams in the standings, but, as it stands, the Islanders are the best team in the league, with a four-point lead over the second-place Quebec Remparts. The islanders went into the pause with a record of 22-7-2. Forward Patrick Guay leads the team in scoring with 47 points in 31 games, good enough for second overall in league scoring, along with Vegas Golden Knights 2020 3rd round draft pick (68th overall) Lukas Cormier on the back end, with 36 points in 26 games.
Insert the 2021-22 trade period and GM Jim Hulton where the Islanders solidify their roster to make a memorial cup run—adding depth defence, starting goaltending, depth scoring and an all-star starting as soon as the trade period began on December 19th. The islanders acquired proven starting goaltender Francesco Lapenna from the Drummondville Voltigeurs in exchange for goalie Jacob Goobie and forward Sam Oliver. Lapenna has a career 906 save percentage across 77 career QMJHL games. Next up: the islanders fortified their already stellar defence by acquiring Jeremie Biakabutuka from the Rimouski Oceanic, a stay-at-home, physical defenceman who can produce some offence from the back end, going the other way, two second-round draft picks, a fifth-rounder and a fledgling defenceman. The action on the trade from stalled for the Islanders until the new year; with the trade period about to end, the Islanders acquired sharpshooter Dawson Stairs from the Cape Breton Eagles for rookie defencemen Mathis Ouellet and a sixth-round pick. The second last deadline move came in 19-year-old forward Zachary Roy from the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in exchange for a third and fourth-round pick. Roy was the leading scorer of the Armada at the time of the deal. Lastly, the final piece of the deadline period was a depth move to cement the bottom six in an agreement with the Shawinigan Cataractes. Owen Saye comes to town in exchange for a ninth-round pick. Saye has 14 points in 32 games this season.
Could you indulge me for a second? Charlottetown didn’t give an impactful player on their roster and added some scoring prowess, much-needed depth, in case of injury or whatever the case may be. Did they give up a lot of draft picks? Sure they did, but that’s the price of winning in junior hockey. I wouldn’t be surprised if they climb up the Kia CHL power rankings going into the playoffs.
I’m going to make a bold prediction right now; The Charlottetown Islanders will not only win the Presidents Cup, but they’ll make it to the Memorial Cup Final. The work done by the brain trust of the Islanders sends a clear message: they’re all in. This is the cost of going on a run in Junior hockey, mortgaging the future, doing whatever you need to do to make sure your team has a chance to compete at the highest level for the junior hockeys holy grail.
The 2022 Memorial Cup takes place between June 4th and the 13th in St John, New Brunswick.
Please let me know what you think. Am I way off base? or am I right on the money? Only time will tell. one thing is for sure, it’ll be a wild finish to the season
main image credit: