Maineiacs news

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Yikes! Where do we begin?

How about we start with the Lewiston Maineiacs? They’re local, and the most important day of the team’s offseason calendar is fast approaching: The QMJHL midget draft, being held this year in Drummondville.

In the days leading up to the draft, I will be arranging some live chats with the powers that be, including head coach JF Houle, and hopefully Roger Shannon, the team’s GM.

In the meantime, let the speculation begin.

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Although, the players are leaving little to the imagination.

League policy states that teams cannot complete trades until the day before the draft. But they would be naive to think that teams don’t talk ahead of time. Of course they do. And, they talk to the players about their futures. And then the players talk to their friends.

And, of course, there’s Facebook.

So, what do we know?

We know that 20-year-old defenseman Olivier Dame-Malka believes he is being traded to Lewiston. We know that 20-year-old forward Antoine Houde-Caron believes he’s being traded to Lewiston.

And we know that last year’s captain, Billy Lacasse, is sad to be leaving Lewiston. That rumored deal sends him to Chicoutimi.

Well-placed sources of mine have all but confirmed these deals, although absolute specifics are still fuzzy. Also to be completed is the worst-kept secret since the mid-season trade deadline, the back end of a trade that will bring Olivier Roy to the Maineiacs from Cape Breton.

What will be interesting in all of this is which picks are trading hands.

This upcoming draft isn’t as important to Lewiston player-wise as it is picks-wise, and not picks in this draft, but in next year’s draft and in the year after that. Why? Movable assets. Any pieced this team feels are missing to make a bona fide run to the title in 2011-12 can be had for the right price, and many times, the “right price” includes draft picks.

A quick peek at the Maineiacs’ depth chart is promising. Plenty of offensive firepower, and young offensive firepower at that. The biggest concern, now that Roy will be tending the cage, is on the blue line.

Shannon is confident that Zachary Evans-Renaud, Ian Saab, Zach Shannon, Sam Finn, Sam Carrier, Dame-Malka, Mathieu Brisebois, Eric Bonawitz and anyone else they want to throw into the mix can, indeed, do the job, at least for next season. That will allow the team to save assets and picks to use for the run year.

The other changes afoot are administrative. There is little surprise that the Maineiacs have been a ship without a rudder, at least on the business side of things, for quite a while. One person remains on staff in the front office right now, and the plan all along has been to bring in a new administrative boss. That, Shannon insists, is a couple weeks out, at most.

Also expected at that announcement is a new assistant coach, who will be added to the game-day and planning staff as a defensive coach.

My sources tell me that the coach coming in has extensive NHL playing experience, including a stint as a captain during a career that lasted more than a decade. Let the wheels start a’spinnin,’ folks.

Recently, the first Lewiston-Auburn area team of young players, sponsored and organized by the Maineiacs, made its inaugural trip to a tourney in New Brunswick, hosted by Shannon’s other employer, the University of New Brunswick. That was the beginning, Shannon said, of a push to develop youth hockey players under the watchful eye of the Maineiacs’ organization, with a goal of developing players locally who will one day play in the QMJHL.

They had to start somewhere, and it seems like a good faith gesture.

Also, one last tidbit of note on the Maineiacs: That same announcement at which the team will announce some hires will also yield what I am told is “promising news” of potential local minor ownership, if not immediately, certainly in the near future.

If this is true, it would go a long way to helping solidify the team’s intentions to remain in Lewiston for the long haul.

Keep your eyes out for more from the Sun Journal on the Maineiacs in the coming weeks!

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