It didn’t take long for the Lewiston Maineiacs to be active on the trade front this season.

Less than 24 hours after the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s mid-season trade window opened, Lewiston and Chicoutimi pulled off a four-player deal Saturday involving a pair of forwards from each squad.

The Maineiacs send 19-year-old Alexis Piette, an acquisition in a deal with Halifax over the summer, and 17-year-old forward Julien Houle to the Sageneens. In return, Chicoutimi sent to Lewiston 18-year-old European Michal Hlinka and 18-year-old Marc-Andre Carre.

“We’ve been after Hlinka for at least a year now,” Maineiacs’ GM Roger Shannon said. “We think he needs a bit of a fresh start to get back on track, but he has a big upside to him and we think we’re getting a really good player. Carre had some medical issues with some asthma that he’s now gotten under control. He’s been toughing it out in the Saskatchewan junior league and he’s leading all rookies in that league in scoring.”

Piette, meanwhile, will join his third team in six months. He had nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points and was a minus-19 in 35 games this season for the Maineiacs.

“For Chicoutimi, they’re getting a guy that they were targeting, too,” Shannon said. “We knew a while ago that this was a deal we had a chance to make happen because of the mutual interest.”

Houle, meanwhile, was solid in the Maineiacs’ training camp, but according to Shannon, didn’t fit into the team’s future plans.

“It was a good chance to give him a shot,” Shannon said.

Hlinka played in just 41 games for the Sags last season, but netted 34 points, including 22 assists. This year, the Czech-born skater had 15 points in 29 games.

“We needed a player like Hlinka who can be the kind of player we roll out there on a top line, someone we can cut loose on the power play and have score some goals.”

Carre played in just five games last season in Chicoutimi and didn’t register a point. This season, after apparently beating back issues with asthma, he leads the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the SJHL with 30 points in 29 games, good also for third league-wide. His 16 goals are the second-most in the league.

“If there is such a thing as a risk in this case, he’s well worth it,” Shannon said. “His upside is really, really high.”

The new players are expected to join the Maineiacs for their first game back after the holiday break, on Dec. 27 in Victoriaville.

Shannon said that while the team has dealt early, there may be fewer fireworks the rest of the way.

“You can never really sat that’s it,” Shannon said, “the way some of these teams are loading up, you never know who might all of a sudden be looking for a player or two. But from our standpoint, from here out, we’d be just as happy to stand pat.”

Some of the biggest speculation surrounding the Maineiacs this trade season is the status of 20-year-old goalie Adrien Lemay. With Nicola Riopel returning to Moncton, the list of likely suitors for Lemay has dwindled, and Shannon is admittedly asking a hefty price.

“We feel he’s one of the best goaltenders out there,” Shannon said. “And of course we’re listening, but it might not be in our best interest to part ways with him. I know that might fly in the face of some people’s logic, but he’s a definite security blanket for the young team we have in front of him. Unless something drastic happens, we’ll be sticking with him.”

Shannon said that the team will likely address an apparent lack of depth at goalie at next summer’s entry draft, or perhaps via the import draft.

“It’s always a tough position to find guys for anyway,” Shannon said. “There’s a small number of top-end goalies out there now, so we’re going to be patient and evaluate all of our options.”

With the addition of Hlinka, the Maineiacs will fill one of two open European spots on the roster. They may fill the other in the second half with a possible return to Lewiston of Oskar Orrpars, who left the team earlier in the season for personal reasons. The team is also looking at adding 16-year-old defenseman Stephen Woodworth to the full-time roster, as well as 17-year-old defenseman/forward Mathieu Brisebois.

The league’s mid-season trade period runs through the second week of January.


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