Halifax Mooseheads trade away top players for rebuild effort

In the weeks leading up to Wednesday's trading deadline, the Halifax Mooseheads unloaded a lot of their top veteran talent, but if recent history is any indication, the wait will be worth it.

In part because of the trades, the Mooseheads have built up a stockpile of high future draft picks

The Halifax Mooseheads traded away their best player, Timo Meier, as part of the team's rebuilding plan. (The Associated Press)

In the weeks leading up to Wednesday's trade deadline, the Halifax Mooseheads unloaded a lot of their top veteran talent, but if recent history is any indication, the wait will be worth it.

The most notable trade happened on Wednesday when the team traded forward Timo Meier, a Swiss player who drafted ninth overall in the 2015 NHL draft. In return for Meier, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies parted with their first and second round draft picks in the 2017 QMJHL draft, as well as a fourth rounder one year later.

5 trades in 2.5 weeks

This is just one of five trades the Mooseheads conducted during a 2.5-week window. The downside is the Mooseheads already are near the bottom of standings this season and likely will stay there.

However, in part because of the trades, the Mooseheads have built a stockpile of future draft picks.

The team will have three first-round picks in this year's draft, as well as two picks in each of the second and third rounds. In next year's draft, the Mooseheads will have two first-round picks.

General Manager Cam Russell says, where the team didn't have a good shot at success this season, trading away veteran talent is a way of helping the team speed up its rebuilding efforts.

The situation has parallels with what happened to the team between three seasons beginning in 2007-08.

"We went through three years where we didn't have a lot of top-end players. We didn't have a lot of draft picks. It took us a while to dig ourselves out of it," Russell said.

This meant younger players got to play more.

"It is similar where we have a young hockey team now and we're playing them a lot. We're giving them experience and the opportunities to compete on a nightly and daily basis and improve quicker than they would," Russell said.

Changing fortunes

However, beginning in the 2011-2012 season, the team had stockpiled draft picks and landed coveted rookies Nathan MacKinnon, Zach Fucale and Jonathan Drouin. One season later, the team won both the President Cup and Memorial Cup.

While the Mooseheads traded away some of its coveted veterans this season, the trade did bring some young players in return, as well as some veterans.

"You want to make sure you have a little bit of experience and some older players that can help your young players as well," Russell said.

Trading Meier also frees up a spot on the roster for a European player. Under Canadian Hockey League rules, each team is allowed to carry a maximum of two European imports.

In the last import draft, the Mooseheads selected Dane Joachim Blichfeld. Blichfeld won't be joining the team until next season, Russell said.


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