LEWISTON – Simon Courcelles knew the trade winds were blowing this weekend.

“I was expecting to be traded,” said the 20-year-old former Quebec Remparts captain. “I was expecting Val d’Or or maybe Gatineau.”

Instead, Courcelles is headed to Lewiston.

The Maineiacs sent a third-round pick to the Remparts on Monday for the rights to the rugged forward, completing a trade that had been rumored for a few days.

“We add grit to the team with him,” said Maineiacs’ head coach and general manager Clem Jodoin. “I told him we need his leadership, that he would an important piece of this hockey team.”

Courcelles said Monday he is flattered to be in demand for those reasons. Last year, the stocky forward had 12 goals and 52 assists in the regular season and another 15 points in the playoffs for the Remparts, who won junior hockey’s holy grail, the Memorial Cup. Courcelles was also the team’s captain.

“I was pleased with what Clement said when we talked (Sunday),” Courcelles said. “It’s flattering to know that a team wants you for leadership, and that they trade to get you for that reason.”

Courcelles hopes his experience dealing with a Memorial Cup run will help Lewiston make its own run at the league title this season.

“By going through that, you learn what it takes to win,” Courcelles said. “It’s been two months, but it’s still fresh to me. I learned quite a bit about what it takes, how to create team chemistry.”

Even Jodoin hinted at his aspirations for this year’s team when he spoke of the acquisition, and his ability to snag a desired player for what appears to be at reduced cost.

“Patrick (Roy, the Remparts’ owner, GM and coach) and I are in good,” Jodoin said. “He wanted to send him to a place where he could win.”

Even though Courcelles has already had a solid QMJHL career (40 goals and 99 assists in 215 career games), he still feels as though he has something to prove in Lewiston.

“This is a new start for me,” Courcelles said. “I have to make my own mark in Lewiston. I have to prove to the team that I deserve to be there, that they made the trade for a reason.”

Courcelles is expected to arrive in Lewiston on Wednesday, and will be available when the team faces Moncton on Friday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

In another move, also announced at the trade deadline Monday, the Lewiston Maineiacs parted ways with 18-year-old forward Pier-Luc Champagne, who has been with the team since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2004.

Lewiston sent Champagne to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for a third-round pick at the 2008 draft, though that will likely be returned to the Huskies for a fourth-rounder in 2007.

The forward played in 125 games over two seasons, scoring eight goals and adding 25 assists.

Champagne could not be reached for comment Monday.

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