Eric Gelinas, come on down.

The Lewiston Maineiacs were pleasantly surprised Saturday when Gelinas, a solid, 16-year-old puck-moving defenseman slid to the 16th position in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s annual entry draft.

The problem was, the Maineiacs were slated to pick 18th.

“We didn’t think he would be available,” Lewiston’s acting general manager Ed Harding said. “When he was still there, we decided to become proactive and grab him.”

Proactivity meant a trade. Lewiston sent its first-round pick (18th overall) and its fourth-round pick (72nd overall) at Saturday’s draft to the Val-d’Or Foreurs for their first rounder (16th overall). With that pick, the Maineiacs selected Gelinas, a 6-foot-1-inch defenseman.

“You can never have too many good defensemen,” Harding said. “We were very happy he was still available.”

Gelinas describes himself as a mobile puck-mover.

“I would say I am a defenseman in an offensive mold,” Gelinas said in his native French. “I can move the puck and make a good first pass on the tape. I was really happy to be drafted to Lewiston. This is a good organization, a winning organization, one with prestige.”

Gelinas was one of two blueliners the Maineiacs selected with their first three picks. Pierre-Luc Pelletier (fourth round, 55th overall) was the other.

The team then turned to address its more pressing needs: Goaltending and forward depth.

Lewiston selected Billy Lacasse, a small, gritty center, in the second round, 36th overall, and Tommy Dery, another diminutive grinder in the fourth.

“I was surprised to go as high as I did,” Lacasse said. “I’m honored to have been picked high, though.”

Lacasse is a defense-first forward, something that likely drew the Maineiacs’ attention.

“I think you can generate good offense by playing well defensively,” Lacasse said. “Then you can jump back into the play on offense by skating hard.”

Also in Round 4, the Maineiacs selected Pier-Olivier Morin, a lanky forward who shows solid speed and better-than-average hands.

Then, the team turned to goaltending.

“(Maineiacs’ starter Jonathan) Bernier may be gone for a while during the season,” Harding said, “and Delmas could be, too. We didn’t want to run into the same situation we did last season when both got hurt and we needed a goalie badly.”

In Round 6, the Maineiacs selected goaltender Kirk Rafuse of the Truro Bearcats.

Todd Chinova, an 18-year-old forward with two years of QMJHL experience under his belt, became a Maineiac in Round 7 after Harding and company dealt their seventh-round choice to the Shawinigan Cataractes for the gritty winger.

“He filled a need and he has experience,” Harding said. “I didn’t think he was ready for this league two years ago when he went to Quebec, but now, we think he’s ready.”

Close, but no dice

Despite every effort to make it happen, the Maineiacs weren’t able to acquire two former Maineiacs’ siblings.

Triston Manson’s brother Tanner, and Simon Courcelles’ brother Samuel both left the draft board before the Maineiacs had a chance to select them – and both are now property of the PEI Rocket.

“We tried to work a couple of deals for (Courcelles),” Harding said. “We just couldn’t make it work.”

Courcelles went 101st overall. Lewiston selected at No. 108. Manson became a Rocket in the fifth round, No. 83 overall.

Wheeling and dealing

The Maineiacs may have made just two small deals, but the rest of the teams in the league were moving and shaking.

Rimouski again made an early-round splash, and managed to move up to fifth overall. In return, the Oceanic gave Halifax their first-round European Draft selection.

Halifax made four separate deals, all involving picks.

He’s No. 1

Simon Despres was the first player selected. The Saint John Sea Dogs took the highly-touted defensemen, the third year in a row the Sea Dogs have taken a defenseman first overall.

Drummondville took Philippe Lefebvre at No. 2.

Steven Anthony, projected to be the top pick in many circles, fell to 10th (again to the Sea Dogs) amid rumors he is planning to attend college in the United States.

MAINEIACS’ DRAFT PICKS

Round (overall) Name Position

1 (16) Eric Gelinas D

2 (36) Billy Lacasse F

4 (55) Pier-Luc Pelletier D

4 (56) Tommy Dery F

4 (66) Pierre-Olivier Morin F

6 (108) Kirk Rafuse G

8 (144) Stephen Horyl F

9 (162) Marc-Antoine Coulombe G

10 (180) Marc Bourgeois F

11 (187) Justin Parsons F

11 (198) Damien Pinheiro G

12 (216) Hubert Joncas F


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