Sherbrooke Phoenix getting ready for second season in QMJHL

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After a first season that began in disaster before gradually getting better and finally ending in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs, the Sherbrooke Phoenix began their offseason by completing some trades and by taking place at the QMJHL Entry Draft, which was held in Chicoutimi, last June 8th.

First, GM Patrick Charbonneau dealt with Baie-Comeau in order to get the 20-year old veteran goaltender Francis Desrosiers, in exchange of a 5th round pick in 2013. Desrosiers, 5’9″, registered 28 wins in four seasons in the QMJHL. Last season, he held a 7-2-2 record and kept a 2.95 Goal Against Average and a 88.3% save percentage. He will try to replace Jacob Chouinard, who was without any doubt the best player in the club’s inaugural season. Charbonneau also completed the transaction that many knew since last winter, bringing the former Rempart Axel Rioux in Sherbrooke, in exchange for a 4th round draft pick in 2015. Rioux scored 17 points including 8 goals in 59 games last season. It is also a 20 years old player. Then to support Desrosiers, Sherbrooke has dealt with Quebec and obtained the services of the young Gabriel Parent, 17 years old, and a 7th round pick in 2013. The 5’11” goalkeeper only played 18 minutes in his career with the Remparts, allowing 3 goals. Quebec got jumbo-sized goalie Jack Flinn (6’6″) in return, as well as a 5th round pick in 2013 and a 3rd round pick next year. Flinn has only recorded one victory with the Phoenix in the 18 games in which he had participated. However, he was solid in many games, receiving more than 30 shots on six occasions. Flinn is 17 years old.

Sherbrooke has also been adding depth by dealing with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles for the 18years old forward Cole Murphy, who has 10 points in his record in 80 games the past two seasons. Charbonneau gave away 17-year old defensemen Brendon Nickerson, who has only played two games in the QMJHL, which were during the playoffs against the Drakkar, not obtaining any point. The Phoenix acquired center Jean-François Plante of the Oceanic in exchange for a 9th round draft pick in 2013 and a 4th round pick in 2014. Plante will be one of four players 20 years of the club, and has registered 76 points in 171 games in the QMJHL. Plante is a native of Richmond, near Sherbrooke.

Regarding the draft, the Phoenix has drafted 14 players (ten forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender). In the first round, Sherbrooke used the fourth overall pick to claim 5’11” defensemen Jeremy Roy, who obtained 54 points, including 12 goals, in 42 games in QMAAA last year. The right-hander was born in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu has a very aggressive style, and likes to compare it to the one that plays Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings. The club also selected Sherbrooke-born Gabriel Fontaine in the second round (29th overall) , who played near here last year with Magog Cantonniers in the QMAAA level. The 5’11” forward collected 31 points in 37 games last season.

Having traded away its third round pick, the Phoenix was forced to wait until the fourth round, where he spoke at the 68th rank. Sherbrooke chose right-handed winger Chase Harwell, a 5’10” American of which we know very little. He played in USEHL last year and belongs to Dubuque in the USHL. Three turns later, The Eastern Townships team drafted a former teammate of first rounder Jeremy Roy, left winger Jeffrey Truchon-Viel. He tallied 10 goals and 9 assists in 41 games last season with Collège Antoine-Girouard.

After selecting winger Maxime Poulin in the sixth round, the Phoenix had two seventh-round pick and used the first on winger Trevor Stacey, who played in Espoir AA level with Lac St. Louis last year. As young as 15 years old, he has quite an amazing physique for this age: He is 5’11” and weighs over 190 pounds so he obviously did not afraid of physical play, since he has collected 96 penalty minutes in 30 games during the 2012-2013 season. He also picked up 16 points. Then, with the other seventh round pick, Patrick Charbonneau claimed goalkeeper Francis Lavallée. Lavallée had 17 wins in 28 games last year with Roy and Truchon-Viel at Collège Antoine-Girouard.

For the rest of the draft, Sherbrooke has added to its roster: Samuel Jutras (10th round, right wing, 17 years old and 6’4″), Samuel Pitre (10th round, center, Magog Cantonniers, 17 years old and measuring 5’9″), Ryan Chiasson (11th round, 6’0″ right-handed forward who played in Moncton at the MAAA level), Pascal Beaulieu (12th round, a Sherbrooke-born D-man measuring 6’0″ that played in Jonquière in the QMAAA last year), Cody Todesco (13th round, a 17 year old American forward measuring 5’9″), Jonathan Cloutier (14th round, a right winger who played in Magog last year and is from Sherbrooke) and Sofian Kherrafi (14th round, a 17 year old defensemen measuring 6’2″).

The Phoenix appears to be in a little more comfortable position than at the end of last season. The bigger role that will be given to young team leaders like centerman Daniel Audette and defensemen Carl Neill and Jonathan Deschamps (who are all eligible for the next NHL Entry Draft) that have grown a lot while facing adversity last year will likely be an important factor in the success of the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The arrival of youngsters like offensive-minded blue liner Jérémy Roy, who could be given quality ice time on the power play alongside Neill or physical Ukrainian D-man Vladislav Lysenko, could also play an important role in the next season of a young Sherbrooke team.

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