A break while waiting for reinforcement
The Phoenix is hoping to get some reinforcement in net with Samuel Hlavaj's return or through a trade.
Share November 9, 2020 6:27 p.m. Share A break while waiting for reinforcement
Jérôme Gaudreau La Tribune SHERBROOKE – Without his star goalkeeper Samuel Hlavaj, the Phoenix has struggled to collect points since the launch of this particular season. The absence of defenders Pavel Grishin and Gregory Kreutzer, still in their native country, and of 20-year-old veteran Olivier Crête-Belzile, who fights cancer, does not help the cause of the Sherbrooke club. Which forces the Phoenix to want to add a bit of reinforcement.
Five losses in five games. The Phoenix had a false start. As if that weren't enough, the defending champions will also have to pass their captain Samuel Poulin, who will take charge of Red Deer next weekend hoping to carve out a position with the national team in sight. World Juniors, scheduled for the Holidays in Edmonton.
Since Sherbrooke should enter the red zone on Thursday, the Phœnix gets a moment's respite and now wants a little reinforcement during this forced break.
The main need? A goalie.
In his first four starts in the QMJHL, Jasmin Simon has suffered loss every time. His average? Five goals against per game. Its efficiency rate: 0.857.
Nothing unusual for a rookie goalie. But nothing reassuring for a coach who wanted to be able to count on the best goalkeeper on the circuit, Samuel Hlavaj, rather than a 17-year-old goalkeeper drafted last summer.
“We don't blame him,” says Phoenix coach and general manager Stéphane Julien. It's so difficult to keep goals in the QMJHL in his first season. A rookie goalie shouldn't have to go through every game acting as a number one. We do not want him to lose confidence in his means. Fortunately, David Provencher did very well on Saturday. But I'm still looking at all the options we have when it comes to the goalkeeper position. “
The trading period will only open during the Holidays. It is therefore only 20-year-old players who can change address at any time according to the rules of the QMJHL.
A bad for a good
Three excellent last year goalies are currently on the market: Alexis Gravel of the Halifax Mooseheads, Kevin Mandolese of the Cape Breton Eagles and Zachary Émond of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
The Phoenix has long been interested in Mandolese at the start of the season. The problem: the price to pay is very high for a goalkeeper who could make the jump as early as January among the professionals, when activities in the American League begin. Remember that Mandolese belongs to the Ottawa Senators.
Alexis Gravel did not receive the hoped for contract offer from the Chicago Blackhawks and completed his quarantine before returning to action in Halifax.
Zachary Émond for his part remains the property of the San Jose Sharks and depending on the circumstances, the Huskies goalkeeper could well leave Abitibi following a transaction or to join the Sharks school club.
“The general managers do not want to sell them at a low price despite the uncertainties caused by the current circumstances. The price to pay is that normally asked for a good number 1 goalkeeper in the circuit. For my part, I am not ready to pay this price for a goalkeeper who could leave us in the coming weeks ”, assures Stéphane Julien.
The Phoenix could become the only team to be on a forced break and could then bet on the eventual return of Samuel Hlavaj, who will take part in the World Juniors.
The Phoenix can also forget for the moment the possibility of adding Samuel Bolduc to its roster. Trading rights is not in the plans either. A clause in the Armada deal regarding the star defender is rumored to force the Phoenix to be timid. Not to mention the fact that Bolduc is only waiting for the resumption of play among the pros to head to the United States.
“We don't really know which foot to dance on,” says Julien. Time will let us know if Hlavaj, or the others absent, will be back with us soon. Otherwise, we may have to add an experienced goalkeeper who can help us a little in front of goal. I really did not hope to see Sherbrooke go into the red zone, but knowing that Samuel Poulin will be leaving us soon, we can say that it is bad for good. “
Once again, weather will be the Phoenix's best ally for the next few weeks.