Head coach and general manager Joël Bouchard could see his Blainville-Boisbriand Armada roster shaken up over the next few weeks.
Many of his players are currently in National Hockey League (NHL) training camps, meaning the team could see some of its players begin their seasons at the professional level, therefore opening up roster spots for rookies.
Alex Barré-Boulet (Las Vegas), Antoine Crête-Belzile (Winnipeg), Pierre-Luc Dubois (Columbus), Francis Leclerc (Colorado), Jérémy Roy (San Jose) and Joël Teasdale (Minnesota) are all attending professional camps. Recently released by the Montreal Canadiens, Alexandre Alain is back with the Armada.
From the lot, Dubois was the first round selection of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2016, while Barré-Boulet is a 20-year-old player who could make a leap to the pros after receiving an invite to the Golden Knights camp. Drafted by the Sharks in 2015, Jérémy Roy is also a 20-year-old who appeared in only ten games last year.
“It requires a lot of management”, admitted Joël Bouchard. “We’re a part of junior hockey and we need to face reality. We depend on the NHL on many levels. We are obviously wishing the best of luck to our players in those camps. On my end, I need to prepare for any possible outcome. I try to manage everything as best I can.”
Bouchard says the Armada’s training camp has been one without surprises or deceptions, adding that every player showed up with a great attitude.
“In the middle of summer, I had a conference call with all the players. To have reached the finals and to have lost in the finals, made the past season a very long one so I gave them a full month off to relax. But my expectations were very clear on that call”, says the coach who always expects his team to aim to win.
“Right from the first practices in camp, I saw the guys showed up with the attitude I was looking for. The best players were the best players and it was the same with our prospects.”
THE 2016-17 ARMADA BY THE NUMBERS
Record: 43-19-4-2 (5th)
Eliminated in the finals by Saint John
Goals for: 224 (11th)
Goals against: 171 (1st)
Power play: 22,1% (8th)
Penalty kill: 79,4% (7th)
NAMES TO REMEMBER
Alexandre Alain (C)
Alain had his best season in 2016-17 with 52 points in 54 games played, including 11 in his final seven games of the regular season. The forward also led the Armada thanks to his 13 power play goals. In the playoffs, he dominated with 19 points over 20 games.
Alex Barré-Boulet (C)
Acquired midway through last season, Barré-Boulet stayed red hot with 33 points in the 28 games he played with the Armada. He finished at the top of the QMJHL’s scoring race with his 81 points in 65 games.
Joël Teasdale (LW)
The team’s first round pick in 2015, Teasdale made great strides in his sophomore campaign. After a 27-point season when he was 16 years old, he followed up with 47 points over 60 games played last year.
Antoine Crête-Belzile (D)
Slowed down by injuries, Crête-Belzile appeared in only 39 of his team’s 68 regular season games last year. He had amassed 7 points, all while maintaining a +8 differential.
Charlie Roy (D)
The Quebec-born defenceman is entering his fourth full season with the Armada. The blueliner is nearing the 200 games played in the QMJHL plateau, he who begins the season at 188. In 64 games played in 2016-17, Roy registered 10 points.
Francis Leclerc (G)
Leclerc was called upon to protect the Armada crease last season when Samuel Montembeault was unavailable. With the latter moving on from his junior career, Leclerc has inherited the starter’s job. Last season, he skated away with a record of 15 wins and 12 losses.