The Halifax Mooseheads cut two of their brightest prospects to finalize their season-opening roster.
Defenceman Jamie Bishop and forward Matthew Boudreau, both 16, were part of the Herd’s final cut on Thursday along with 18-year-old Haligonian Justin Belanger.
Bishop, selected in the second round (19th overall) in June’s draft, and Boudreau, chosen in the third round (49th overall), will both start the season in the midget ranks.
“We’re not keeping players around because of where we drafted them,” said Mooseheads head coach and general manager Cam Russell. “We’re keeping players around who are ready to step in and play. And we feel we’re going to get the proper development out of (Bishop and Boudreau) in midget.”
Russell said the six-foot, 167-pound Bishop showed “more improvement than anybody” since the first day of camp but didn’t want him to sit 75 per cent of games as an eighth defenceman. Boudreau, a five-foot-eight, 160-pounder, impressed with his high skill but would have been a 14th forward.
Russell said they both need more meat on their bones.
“They still have physical maturing to do,” Russell said. “They’re not big kids. They’re very slight. We see a tremendous upside but this is where they’re suited to play right now.”
The final two defence spots went to 17-year-old rookie Sawyer Hannay and 18-year-old returnee Alex MacDonald.
Belanger will suit up for the junior A Halifax Lions but had a good camp and could return as an injury call-up.
There are 25 players left, including Tomas Knotek, who is trying out with the Minnesota Wild, and injured players Gerrad Grant (wrist) and Garrett Clarke (groin). Russell said he will make one more cut — a forward — when all three are back.
It’s possible there will be more openings at mid-season if the Mooseheads decide to trade off some veterans.
“I told both of those guys it’s a good possibility,” Russell said. “There are always changes. It all depends how they do and the attitude they take on their midget teams.”
The Mooseheads wrap up the QMJHL pre-season against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Forum. Their season-opener is on the road the following Friday.
Season-opening Halifax Mooseheads roster (ordered by age)
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FORWARDS (15) — Yuri Cheremetiev, Linden Bahm, Tomas Knotek, Matthew Stoddard, Gerrad Grant, Charles Bety, Chuckie Schembri, Jessyko Bernard, Travis Randell, Guillaume Pelletier, Jordan Costello, Gabriel Desjardins, Carl Gelinas, Alex Lemieux, Brent Andrews.
DEFENCE (8) — Alexandre Brunet, Pascal Amyot, Spencer Metcalfe, Alex MacDonald, Stephen Gillard, Garrett Clarke, Sawyer Hannay, Konrad Abeltshauser.
GOALIES (2) — Mathieu Corbeil, Joel Grondin.