Carl Gelinas didn’t come with a lot of fanfare when the Halifax Mooseheads drafted him last June.
On that day, the spotlight was on top picks Brent Andrews and Jamie Bishop and two others drafted before him, as well as the surprise trade of veteran Gabriel O’Connor.
But of all the moves made on a day that will shape the future of the franchise, drafting Gelinas in the fourth round (72nd overall) could ultimately prove to be the smartest.
The 17-year-old left-winger is fourth in Mooseheads scoring with 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points in 52 games and is among the top 15 rookie scorers in the QMJHL.
“When I came here, in my head, it was just, ‘Work hard and I’ll get ice time,’” said Gelinas, who has earned shifts on the top line and No. 1 power-play unit over the past month. “But the coaches have confidence in me and I’ve gotten a more ice time. I’m scoring goals and points and I’m happy.”
Gelinas has already matched his goal total from last season, when he totalled 37 points in 40 games while playing for Trois Rivieres of the Quebec Midget AAA League.
“Last year, I was not the guy who would score a lot of goals,” he said. “I’ve scored more here than I did in midget. Maybe I like this league more. It’s a good fit for me.”
Gelinas is quick to say the transition off the ice has been more of a challenge than it has on the ice. The Shawinigan, Que., native only spoke French when he arrived in Halifax and is attending Prince Andrew, an English high school.
“At school and all that stuff, it was really hard, but I think in a few years it will be good,” Gelinas said.
The five-foot-11 171-pounder’s emergence is great news for a team rebuilding for the 2011-12 campaign.
“No one really knew who he was, but he’s certainly made a name for himself,” said right-winger Travis Randell, a linemate of Gelinas’. “If he keeps improving like he has this season, no doubt about it — he’s going to be a great player.”
• The last-place Halifax Mooseheads (11-37-4) host the first-place Saint John Sea Dogs (42-8-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. and the seventh-place Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (30-18-5) on Saturday at 7 p.m.. The Herd has lost two straight and five of its past six.
• Forwards Gerrad Grant (ankle) and Alex Lemieux (mono) and defenceman Steve Gillard (shoulder) are questionable. Forward Bradley MacDonald (shoulder) should play.