The Baie-Comeau Drakkar have laid their cards on the table: They’re planning to take Michael Matheson first overall in Saturday’s QMJHL draft. The Halifax Mooseheads? Not so much.
“I don’t want to show my cards at all,” Mooseheads head coach and general manager Cam Russell stated firmly.
Russell, who holds the second overall pick, is basically at the mercy of Drakkar general manager Steve Ahern, who has told Metro he plans to take Matheson — the consensus top pick — regardless of the highly touted defenceman’s threats to play NCAA.
One source told Metro the Mooseheads are prepared to select high-scoring forward Luca Ciampini at No. 2 if Ahern follows through on his plan to take Matheson.
Ciampini, a six-foot, 190-pound left-winger who played midget AAA in Chateauguay, Que., last season, is ranked second by Central Scouting and appears to be just what the doctor ordered for the offensively starved Mooseheads.
He piled up 30 goals and 32 assists for 62 points in 55 games — saving his best hockey for the post-season with 12 goals in his final 19 games — and is described as a pure sniper in the mold of a Dany Heatley.
“He’s probably the most skilled player in the draft,” the source said.
“Halifax is looking for hands and offensive punch. He’s a lazy player … But when he’s on he can be an impact player. I think the Mooseheads will take a chance on him.”
All Russell will say is he has made his list and checked it twice.
Other players in the mix could be hard-shooting defenceman Dominic Poulin or small, skilled forwards Frederick Gamelin and Charles Hudon.
“Picking second overall, there are two or three guys who separated themselves from everybody else,” Russell said. “We’re pretty confident we’re going to get a pretty good hockey player. But I’m not going to put any names to that.”
To say it’s an important draft for the Mooseheads is an understatement. They’re coming off back-to-back last-place finishes and hold their highest selection since they took forward Etienne Drapeau first overall in 1994.
Said Russell: “It’s a very important part of the building process and the whole Mooseheads franchise that we select the right player.”