Mooseheads Update: 23 December, 2012

QMJHL

It's time for the next Mooseheads draft update. Let's see how the best team in junior hockey has fared since we last got together.

With the upcoming 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship, Team Canada was primed to feature a loaded squad due to the NHL lockout. In a move that surprised everybody outside of Halifax, Team Canada elected to add both Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, both underagers, to their squad. This is special not only because Team Canada traditionally ices a more veteran squad with no more than a single underager, if that, but also because the two young Mooseheads forced the Canadian brass to keep them, and cut loose a bevy of NHL-drafted talent.

Since my last update, the Mooseheads have played six games, winning five and losing one in overtime. All six games were divisional clashes with Maritime rivals Acadie Bathurst on December 8th and 14th, Saint John on December 9th and 21st, and with games against PEI on the 13th and Moncton on the 15th.

Four of the games were on the road, and the two home games weren't part of my season ticket package, but from following each game I can offer the following:

December 8th: 7-6 OT loss to the Titan. MacKinnon finished with four assists, while Drouin scored a hat trick and added a helper. Fucale was not sharp, letting in five goals on 12 shots before getting pulled. The Moose were down big early, and fought back hard to force the game to OT, but it was't their night.

December 9th: 4-2 win over the Sea Dogs. Halifax split the New Brunswick series by bouncing back to beat Saint John. MacKinnon was held off the scoresheet, but Drouin potted a goal. Fucale stopped 16 of 18 to get the victory.

December 13th: 3-1 win over the Rocket. This game was the first that Mac and JD missed due to being away with Team Canada. The secondary scorers stepped up and Fucale turned away 28 of 29 shots.

December 14th: 4-3 win over the Titan. Halifax got its revenge over Acadie-Bathurst, this time without Mac, JD, or Fucale, who was home in Quebec after a death in the family.

December 15th: 8-6 win over Moncton. The Wildcats have been on fire of late, and though Hali built up a sizeable lead, they let their foot off the gas and got a scare when Moncton started a third period comeback. Fucale missed his second consecutive game.

December 21st: 5-1 win over Saint John. In the final game before the QMJHL Christmas break, Halifax defeated the 'Dogs, with Fucale returning to the lineup and stopping 22 of 23.

MacKinnon's Current Stat Line:

GP G A PTS PIM
30 22 30 52 33

Drouin's Current Stat Line:

GP G A PTS PIM
24 19 29 48 16

Fucale's Current Stat Line:

GP RECORD GAA SV% SO
27 22-3-0-1 2.52 0.897 0

In a bit of a role reversal, in the past few games before heading to Team Canada camp, Nate was showcasing his playmaking ability, racking up helpers while Drouin started shooting the puck more, capped off with a hatty against the Titan.

With the two exhibition games under their belt, we're starting to see what kind of roles Mac and JD will be playing with Canada. Drouin is currently on the second line with Ryan Strome, and though he missed time with a slight injury, Brett Ritchie. Strome and Ritchie are a high scoring duo that play together for Niagara of the OHL. Drouin is pure offense, and will do well with these players. Drouin had the lone regulation goal in a 2-1 shootout victory for Canada over Sweden yesterday.

MacKinnon's role is in flux. He's played both wing and a bit of center, but with a likely suspension to CBJ prospect Boone Jenner, he may get the fourth line center spot. He seems like the player that every year starts down in the lineup and works his way up to finish the tournament on a scoring line.

Fucale was not sharp in the Titan track meet, and as I mentioned above, is dealing with a personal issue. Write this down though- he'll have a great second half, be the first goaltender taken in the 2013 draft, and will be Team Canada's starting goaltender at the 2014 World Juniors.

Current Draft Rankings:

NHL Central Scouting: MacKinnon and Drouin are 1-2 in QMJHL Preliminary rankings. Fucale is the top ranked goaltender.

International Scouting Service (ISS): MacKinnon 1st, Drouin 4th (December Rankings)

Future Considerations: MacKinnon 1st, Drouin 6th, Fucale N/R (December Rankings)

Events:

CHL Subway Super Series - 5th, 7th November, 2012 (QMJHL Portion)

World Junior Championship - 26 December, 2012 -> 6 January, 2013

CHL Top Prospects Game - Halifax, 16 January, 2013

Mooseheads Team Update

The Mooseheads are once again ranked first overall in the CHL rankings. They have a record of 29-3-1-1, good for 60 points in 34 games. Though they lost their super-talented duo to Team Canada for a few weeks, they haven't missed a beat. Matt Boudreau has been especially hot of late, scoring 17 points in his last 11 games, scoring at least a point in 10 of those 11 contests. This hot streak has moved him ahead of Marty Frk, for third in team scoring. Speaking of Frk, he is also away at the World Juniors, representing the Czech Republic.

Dominic Beauchemin, a depth forward for Halifax, has really stepped up and made his offensive presence known. Though he only has 12 points in 27 games, he's scored eight of those points in the last seven games, scoring at least a point in six of those seven.

The Moose made a deal as well, involving picks and non-roster players. Halifax sent its 2013 Euro 1st Rounder, a 2013 2nd Rounder (previously acquired from the Drakkar), their 2014 1st Rounder and non-roster player Kyle Kavanagh to the Shawinigan Cataractes for non-roster player JP Provencher and the 'Cats 2013 Euro first rounder.

This move is an excellent example of asset management. The Mooseheads are going to lose overage Euro defender Konrad Abeltshauser to the pros next season. Junior squads can carry a maximum of two European import players, and the Mooseheads now own the top two QMJHL Euro picks, thanks to this trade and an earlier deal with Sherbrooke. The import draft involves all junior teams from the three leagues that make up the CHL, and the order of picks between the leagues rotates based off of the Memorial Cup host. With Shawinigan hosting the Mem Cup last year, that means that based off of current standings, the Moose now own the 3rd and 6th overall picks in the Euro draft, ensuring that Abeltshauser's spot in the lineup will be quickly filled in the lineup, and Frk will have competition for the second spot.

The Mooseheads return from the break next weekend when they take part in a home-and-home with Cape Breton.

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