BLOG: On The Move
For many players in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, a trip home for the holidays could also be the start of a new chapter in their playing careers, with several being traded at this time of the year each and every season.
With the junior circuit’s annual holiday trading period underway since December 18, general managers are busy wheeling and dealing and looking for ways to improve their respective teams before the January 6 deadline.
For some, that help will come in the way of players that will have an immediate impact. While for others, prospects and draft picks acquired over the next few weeks will pay dividends down the road.
One thing is for sure, though, you can expect many moves to be made once again this year.
Last season, for example, a total of 50 trades were made over the three-week period. The Moncton Wildcats led the way with 11 moves, involving 18 players and 20 draft picks changing hands.
The Wildcats were at the beginning of a rebuilding process and saw several of their elite players move on to new destinations in exchange for pieces that will help them get stronger in the future. For other teams, the reason to make big moves is to help them get one step closer to contending for a President’s Cup championship.
Looking back over the past seven seasons, beginning with the 2010-2011 season, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan have been the most active on the trade front, making a total of 57 trades. That’s an average of just over eight moves during the holiday trade period each year. The Titan also holds the mark for most holiday trades in a single season during that period, with 14 coming in the 2012-2013 season alone.
This year looks to be no different for long-time Acadie-Bathurst general manager Sylvain Couturier, who had already pulled the trigger on five deals by the end of the third day of the current trading period. With the Titan expected to be among a handful of teams vying for a league title by season’s end, Couturier promised more moves over the coming days.
Other teams to keep an eye on, if history repeats itself, are the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. They are second only to Acadie-Bathurst for the amount of trades made between the 2010-2011 and 2016-2017 holiday trading periods, with a total of 52. That represents an average of 7.43 trades a season. The Quebec Remparts and Victoriaville Tigres follow with an average of 6.43 each; while the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Shawinigan Cataractes are close by at 6.14 each.
On the other end of the scale are the Halifax Mooseheads, who are the least likely trade partners at this time of the year, averaging just three trades each holiday trade period. The Mooseheads have made just one holiday trade twice since the 2010-2011 season.
Interestingly enough, the 2013-2014 Saint John Sea Dogs is the only other QMJHL team to make just one holiday trade, with every other team making at least two deals each and every year.
A total of 16 trades were made during the first three days of this year’s holiday trade period, with 18 players already changing teams. With so much parity in the QMJHL and a trip to the Memorial Cup on the line next spring, expect a lot more moves by the time the holiday trade period officially comes to an end.