It’s clear as mud whether Brent Andrews plays in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season.
Even Andrews doesn’t know if he will report to the Halifax Mooseheads’ training camp in August.
“We’re not sure yet. We’re in discussions,” Andrews, 16, told the
Charlottetown Guardian from his home in Hunter River, P.E.I. “It was a
pretty big surprise. I didn’t expect them to pick me that high.”
The Mooseheads selected Andrews 15th overall at the recent QMJHL entry
draft in Moncton, despite him telling all interested teams, including
the P.E.I. Rocket, he wouldn’t forfeit his NCAA hockey eligibility at
an American university by skating in the QMJHL.
But the Mooseheads, without a first-round pick, sent 18-year-old
defenceman Gabriel O’Connor to Rouyn-Noranda for the spot and nabbed
Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell told the Metro Halifax newspaper
after the draft: “When you see someone of Andrews’ status still
available, you’ve got to take a risk.”
The move boiled the buttons of the P.E.I. Rocket.
Kent Hudson, Rocket general manager and P.E.I. scout, said the
organization dislikes the optics of a possible back-door deal and
missing out on the six-foot-one, 183-pound Cornwall Thunder winger,
considered one of the best prospects in the 2009 draft.
“We just hope the kid was upfront with us,” said Hudson, who added
Andrews told the Rocket he had an offer from the University of Maine.
Why didn’t the Rocket, with the seventh overall pick in the draft, take Andrews?
Hudson said conversations with Brent’s father, Byron, and Brent assured
the Rocket that Brent was headed south and he would never report.
Instead, the Rocket chose defenceman Jimmy Oligny from Quebec midget AAA with the pick.
It’s not the first time a midget player has talked NCAA then flipped-flopped.
In 2005, Angelo Esposito said he was going to the United States then
recanted when the Quebec Remparts drafted him 11th overall in the first
Nor is the Rocket immune.
It took Freetown defenceman Allan Clow, another NCAA potentiate, in the
sixth round in 2006 and last year grabbed blue-liner Mathieu Brisson in
the second round after his draft stock dropped because of NCAA talk.
This year, the Saint John Sea Dogs selected Pierre Durepos, who said he
was going NCAA then changed his mind, with the 10th pick.
QMJHL president Gilles Courteau said from the draft in Moncton he can’t
do anything about a kid changing his plans and can’t imagine any rule
against it working.
After the draft, Victoriaville president Eric Bernier ranted to RDS, a
French-language sports television network in Quebec, about the same
For Hudson, it’s about a level playing field.
He said he’s worried larger markets like Halifax and Quebec with bigger
rinks and deeper pockets can tilt players heads away from the NCAA and
smaller and mid-market teams like the Rocket.
“As a franchise, we all should have the same access to these kids. It makes it difficult for us to compete.”
Right now, Andrews’ options are: reporting to the Mooseheads camp in
August knowing he forfeits NCAA eligibility if he plays just one
exhibition game with the team; retaining his NCAA chances by playing in
the Maritime Junior A Hockey League with the Summerside Western
Capitals; attending prep school, although he said he hasn’t any schools
in mind; returning to major midget hockey with the Thunder.
For Andrews, it’s about finding the best footing and he can’t help it if the Rocket think the Mooseheads are up to no good.
“It’s their opinion, I guess. I had no real deal with Halifax. I guess
they just took a gamble,” said Andrews. “Me? I just want to make sure
to get a good balance of school and hockey.”