The Halifax Mooseheads saw Jessyko Bernard as an aging spare part. The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies saw him as a top-six forward. With that, a trade was born, albeit a minor one on an unusually quiet opening day of the QMJHL trade period Friday in Drummondville, Que.
The lone Mooseheads deal of the day saw Bernard head to the Rouyn-Noranda for the Rimouski Oceanic’s fifth-round pick in 2011.
The six-foot-two 205-pounder, entering his 19-year-old season, had spent two seasons with the Mooseheads. But with as many as a half-dozen new players arriving via Saturday’s draft, Bernard simply would have taken away from a youth movement.
“It was a situation where he felt and we felt it would be a better fit for him to have a new (team),” Russell said. “Sometimes players get stale on certain teams so (moving him) opens up a position for one of our younger guys to step up and fill.”
Bernard stepped in with the Mooseheads as a 17-year-old after being drafted in the fourth round (69th overall) in 2008. He put up 14 goals and 12 assists for 26 points in 57 games in a solid rookie campaign, but took a step backward last season after admittedly reporting to training camp out of shape.
He finished with eight goals and eight assists in 56 games but usually found himself patrolling the third or fourth line in a checking role.
The Huskies, however, like Bernard’s potential. In one stint on Halifax’s top line with Tomas Knotek in 2008-09, he averaged a point per game during a month-long stretch.
“His skill level is higher than people think,” said Huskies general manager Andre Tourigny. “He had a really good season at 17 years old and on our team, he will have a chance to play in every situation with our best players and have a chance to show all of his talents.”
The Huskies also acquired Antigonish native Taylor Lambke from the Bathurst Titan in a multi-player deal involving draft picks. Lambke, an over-ager, was third in Titan scoring last season with 51 points in 67 games, but was a mind-boggling minus-49, worst in the QMJHL.
“He’s another guy with talent, speed and skill, and he could be a good fit on a line with Bernard,” said Tourigny. “I think we improved our team this morning.”
The Mooseheads were not only happy to open up space for youth to step up, they also added another quality pick to their stable.
They have five picks in the top 37 on Saturday, including second overall, and now have seven picks in the first five rounds in 2011: a first, two seconds, two thirds and two fifths.
“It gives us more assets,” Russell said. “We can move them and acquire players or draft and acquire players.”