The Maine Nordiques are losing 118 goals from last season, so new head coach and general manager Nick Skerlick was looking to add scoring in the North American Hockey League Entry Draft.

Four of the Nordiques’ first five picks in last week’s draft were forwards, including first-round selection Olivier Lamothe.

The Nordiques made all nine of their picks in the first seven rounds of the draft.

Lamothe, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, played in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons last season, and tallied 19 goals and 20 assists in 54 games.

Maine used its next pick on another AJHL player, Cody Pisarczyk from the Drayton Valley Thunder. In a combined 50 games between the Thunder and the Spruce Grove Saints in 2022-23, he had 14 goals and 18 assists.

The Nordiques didn’t have any picks in the third round, but had three in the fourth. The first of those was used on Ashton Paul, a forward with the OCN Blizzard of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Paul was nearly a point-per-game player with 26 goals and 30 assists in 57 games.

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Skerlick said the first three draftees have the potential to be on the Nordiques’ top two lines next season.

“I’m hoping those three kids, alone, come in and take top-six roles and make this team successful,” Skerlick said.

The first non-forward selected by the Nordiques was goalie Carter Richardson, from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League, in the fourth round. Richardson is from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and was a 2021 third-draft pick of the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He went 4-2-1 in 12 games, with a 3.29 goals-against-average and a .887 save percentage, last season with the Silverbacks.

NHL Central Scouting put Richardson on its Preliminary Players to Watch List in October as a prospect who could go between the fourth and sixth rounds for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, which will be next Wednesday and Thursday.

Skerlick said there’s a chance the Nordiques trade current goalies Thomas Heaney or Kael DePape, who both have one year of junior hockey eligibility remaining, to make room for Richardson.

“We aren’t going to get rid of anybody that doesn’t have a starting position, because both of those goalies on coach (Matt Pinchevsky’s) team, they are top 10 goalies in the league — both of them,” Skerlick said. “They are incredible human beings. We are trying to figure that out, as well, with those guys.”

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Cole Hipkin, a forward, was the Nordiques’ third fourth-round selection. He spent the 2022-23 season with the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the AJHL, scoring 15 times and adding 20 assists in 47 games. He’s already committed to play for St. Lawrence University in 2024-25.

“Once we got all four forwards, those were the first four forwards off our board, we felt we won our draft,” Skerlick said. “I am not saying we beat other teams, but we felt we won our draft. We are drafting against ourselves and the other teams in the league. When you can get your first four picks off the board, it means one of two things: You either are going to have a good team or you are wrong because no one else wanted them. But we know these kids were approached by other teams in our league.”

Skerlick also has high hopes for fifth-round selection Jakub Krizan, a forward from Selects Hockey Academy’s 18U team. Krizan had 16 goals and 24 helpers in 2022-23.

The first defenseman the Nordiques selected was Lucas Di Chiara, of the Navan Grads of the Central Canadian Hockey League, in the sixth round. He put up seven assists in 50 games and has NAHL experience with the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks during the 2021-22 season.

Cameron Stehle is the Nordiques’ youngest selection. He also was picked in the sixth round. The 17-year-old forward racked up 53 goals and 65 assists between the Boston Hockey Academy and North Jersey Avalanche 16U teams last season.

The Nordiques’ final selection was defenseman Alec Waller, who played for the Gillette Wild of the North American 3 Hockey League. He tallied 14 goals and 35 assists in 45 games.

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MAKING DEALS

The Nordiques have made a few trades over the past few weeks:

• They acquired forward Nick Ramm from the Northeast Generals for the rights to defenseman Evan Orloff and a second-round pick in last week’s draft. Ramm finished with 10 goals and eight assists, along with 162 penalty minutes, for the Generals in 2022-23.

Orloff, who recently committed to UMass-Amherst for the 2024-25 season, is expected to play in the Tier I United States Hockey League next season after being selected in the USHL Phase II draft by the Green Bay Gamblers in the spring. Orloff had eight goals and 14 assists in 50 games for the Nordiques in 2022-23.

• Maine sent defenseman Brendan Kimball to the Generals for a draft pick.

• The Nordiques acquired forward Layten Liffrig from the Anchorage Wolverines for a third-round pick in last week’s draft. Liffrig scored five goals and dished out 14 assists in 49 games.

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• Maine sent forward Hunter Fetterolf to the New Hampshire Mountain Kings, who are coached by Auburn native and former Twin City Thunder co-owner and associate coach Cam Robichaud. Robichaud was a coach in the Nordiques organization before joining the Thunder.

OTHER NORDS NOTES

One of 11 tender signings announced by the Nordiques announced last week is Northeastern commit Luke Posthumus. The 18-year-old forward recorded 19 goals and 29 assists in 54 games with the Nepean Raiders of the Central Canadian Hockey League.

• Skerlick expects Sanford native Oliver Genest to start the 2023-24 season with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids Roughriders, who selected him in the eighth round of the Phase II draft this spring. Genest put up 20 goals and 20 assists in 58 contests with the Nordiques in 2022-23.

• Nordiques defenseman Nicholas Bernardo committed to Long Island University last week. The 20-year-old defenseman had nine goals and 28 assists in 54 games this past season.

Bernardo is the sixth Nordiques player from the 2022-23 team to commit to an NCAA Division I hockey program, joining Orloff, Patrick Schmiedlin (Lindenwood), Filip Wiberg (University of Alaska-Fairbanks), Tony Achille (Arizona State) and Brendan Gibbons (Air Force).

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