2016 QMJHL Entry Draft: Halifax swings coup, takes both Groulx and McIsaac in wild draft day

·Mike Sanderson
The Halifax Mooseheads selected Benoit-Olivier Groulx with the first overall selection at the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft. (Vincent Ethier/QMJHL Images)
The Halifax Mooseheads selected Benoit-Olivier Groulx with the first overall selection at the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft. (Vincent Ethier/QMJHL Images)

The Halifax Mooseheads stole the show Saturday at the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft, ending the debate of who to take first overall by swinging a deal for both players.

The Mooseheads selected forward Benoît-Olivier Groulx first overall, making the son of former Gatineau Olympiques coach Benoit, and then traded the seventh, 16th and 24th picks and a first rounder next season to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar for the second overall pick to take blueliner Jared McIsaac.

The Mooseheads now have a pair of excellent cornerstones to build around, and with young forwards Arnaud Durandeau and Joel Bishop and defenders Jocktan Chainey and Walter Flowers all 17 or younger, they have a very bright future.

The Drakkar were somewhat handcuffed if they wanted one of the top two players. Groulx was the top ranked player by the QMJHL’s central scouting list, and McIsaac flat out said he wouldn’t report to Baie-Comeau if he was picked.

Jared McIsaac, left, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, center, and Olivier Rodrigue, right, were the top three picks. (Vincent Ethier/QMJHL Images)
Jared McIsaac, left, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, center, and Olivier Rodrigue, right, were the top three picks. (Vincent Ethier/QMJHL Images)

Don’t feel too bad for them, though, as they ended up with four picks in the first round, including the fourth and fifth overall picks.

Groulx is a all-around offensive forward who is defensively responsible. The only knock on him seems to be his skating, but that shouldn’t be an issue at the Q level. He can play center or the wing. Scouts compare him to top prospect Pierre-Luc Dubois.

McIsaac is a ready-out-of-the-box blueliner who is strong in every aspect. Brandon Gormley is a name that’s used to describe him, at least at the same age. He is a bigger body at 6’1”, 203, can run a PP and is capable in the defensive end.

Lots of top picks changing hands

The Drummondville Voltigeurs picked the first goaltender available, Olivier Rodrigue, with the third overall pick, then the silliness began.

The fourth overall pick, originally a Sherbrooke Phoenix pick, went to Chicoutimi, then to Baie-Comeau in a pair of deals. The Drakkar selected Gabriel Fortier, younger brother of Maxime from the Mooseheads.

Baie-Comeau got their hands on the fifth overall pick as well, an original Acadie-Bathurst Titan selection that went through the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. The Drakkar took Xavier Bouchard, son of Rouyn-Noranda Huskies head coach Gilles.

Only four teams selected with their original picks in the first round – Halifax at the first pick, Drummondville at the third pick, Cape Breton at the 13th pick and Rouyn-Noranda at the 19th pick.

The Titan took blueliner Noah Dobson with the sixth pick, the only player ranked in the top round by the league who played outside of North America. He laced up with the Red Bull hockey academy in Austria.

The Armada selected forward Mathias Laferrière at seven, while the Saguenéens took center Samuel Houde at eight.

The Drakkar took center Shaun Element in a bit of a reach with the ninth pick. Element was ranked 18th on the league’s list. Sherbrooke wrapped up the top ten, taking Anderson MacDonald one pick before his hometown Sea Dogs hit the stage.

The Québec Remparts made a move into the first round to take Andrew Coxhead from Halifax at the 14th overall selection. Coxhead is going to prep school next season and believed to be pursuing the college route.

The hometown Charlottetown Islanders went off-the-board with their first round pick, taking blueliner Marc-Olivier Alain at the 18th spot. Alain was ranked 40th on the league’s list, and 99th on HockeyProspect’s QMJHL list. Alain is the brother of forward Alex of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, and was on the move Friday.

Shane Bowers has a new team. He was selected in the second round by the Saint John Sea Dogs, at 32. The Sea Dogs were believed to be one of the handful of teams that Bowers would be open to reporting too, but apparently he’s lukewarm on the subject, tweeting out that he’s anxious for a second year with his USHL team, the Waterloo Black Hawks.

The full draft list is available here.

Not many players moved

The QMJHL opened up their draft trading period Friday, with the final bell ringing at the end of the draft. Teams can look into reshaping their team for a brief time before the off-season begins.

Not many teams made moves for players, while a lot of picks moved.

Defenceman and San Jose Sharks prospect Jérémy Roy was on the move, from the Sherbrooke Phoenix to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. That trade was announced in April. The Phoenix got two first rounders and a second rounder for his services.

Titan captain Guillaume Brisebois got his wish Saturday, as he was sent to the Charlottetown Islanders along with fellow defender Jake Barter. The Titan got defenceman Luc Deschênes in return, along with a first and a second round pick.

The Alain household was full of movers this weekend, as the younger Marc-Olivier was selected, and the older Alex moved from Gatineau to Blainville-Boisbriand for a second and a third round pick, both picks originally belonging to the Olympiques.

Forward Olivier Desjardins went from Acadie-Bathurst to Val-d’Or, while the Foreurs received blueliner Jason Bell and a tenth rounder. Val-d’Or will be Bell’s fourth team, and they weren’t done, picking up winger Adam Marsh from the Sea Dogs, getting a fourth and a second in return.

A pair of overagers were moved during the draft, as Jonathan Bourcier went from Chicoutimi to Acadie-Bathurst, and Bradley Kennedy went from Charlottetown to Halifax.

A full list of trades is available here.

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