St. Stephen Aces Jr. A Hockey Club

Trade deadline an opportunity to build for future

By Vern Faulkner

Saint Croix Courier – Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016

On Wednesday night, a few players familiar to area junior hockey fans may play their last game in the white, blue and green of the County Aces.

As the Jan. 10 deadline approaches, the second-year Aces are in what can best be termed as a “sell,” mode, that is, willing to part with veteran assets in exchange for players who will make the team stronger next year.

“Obviously, making the playoffs for us is a pretty huge task, but we want to build a winning culture,” stated Aces general manger Eric Bissonnette Monday. But, at the same time, “We can’t compete with teams that have nine 20-year olds.”

And yes, there is an MHL team with nine 20-year-olds: the Summerside Capitals. Dieppe has eight – including former Aces rearguard Erik Campbell – as does Woodstock and the Valley Wildcats. Amherst has seven, Truro and South Shore six.

By comparison, the Aces have but two of those 20-yearolds veteran assets: Marcus Payne and Eli Jarvis, and Bissonnette said he’s willing to entertain offers for both.

Jarvis, who came to the Aces early last season, has blossomed. He’s emerged as a skilled, offensive threat: the kind of player a team making a run for a championship would find valuable.

Payne offers a reliable depth defenceman who could become invaluable insurance in a contender’s long playoff stretch.

The QMJHL trade deadline may also play a factor in who moves – or arrives – on the Aces roster. The Charlottetown Islanders just acquired a centre in a trade which might lead to the QMJHL team cutting former Aces speedster Chris Chaddock – who has but six points in 35 games for the Islanders.

“It’s been affecting other teams more than us,” said Bissonnette, of the annual shuffle of QMJHL assets.

Bissonnette is also willing to take on second-chance products, give players who weren’t receiving ice-time somewhere else a chance to play and prove themselves. (As examples: Adam Crowe, who was rarely dressed in

Dieppe, but in exchange for an eighth-round pick has become a top-six forward for the Aces; Keegan Marcott or Raphael Roy, who during the holidays told a Quebec magazine he’s found a home here. Or, for that matter, consider Hunter Wood, an 18-year-old free agent who was named December’s Pro Design Cresting Rookie of the Month.)

The mandate for Bissonnette, who also has a stack of draft picks to play with if needed, is to “do what’s right for our club.”

But no matter what other teams may offer, neither Hastings nor Young are moving. The team will also finish the season with goaltenders Roy and Kyle Porter.

“We will re-evaluate (goaltending) at the end of the season,” said Bissonnette.

In the weeks to come, however, expect to see a variety of call-ups given a chance to play.

“We’re going to try to bring in as many young players as we can, to give them a chance to see the culture of the club, to see the organization,” said Bissonnette.

And, in the days to come, there is a very strong likelihood that some familiar faces – Jarvis in particular – will vanish from the Aces dressing room, and, perhaps, a few others join the team.

The Aces next home game is Saturday, Jan. 23 at 7pm as the Campbellton Tigers visit the Garcelon Civic Center.