SYDNEY, NS — The Cape Breton Eagles were active on the last day of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League summer trade period on Sunday, making four trades.
The Sydney-based franchise acquired two players along with two draft picks, while shipping two players and four draft picks out of town.
The Eagles’ first trade of the day saw goaltender Rémi Delafontaine traded to the Shawinigan Cataractes for a 2023 third-round pick, originally owned by Blainville-Boisbriand, and a 2024 seventh-round pick.
Cape Breton then sent forward Matthew MacDonald to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in exchange for an eighth-round pick in 2023.
The club concluded the trade period by entering into two separate prospect deals with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
The Eagles acquired forward Cameron Henderson for a 2023 fifth-round pick, originally from the Titan, and a 2023 10th-round pick. Meanwhile, the team also picked up defenseman Owen Arnold for a 2023 third-round pick, originally owned by Blainville-Boisbriand, and a 2024 sixth-round pick, originally owned by Gatineau.
The third-round pick going to the Titan was originally acquired by the Eagles as part of the deal for Delafontaine.
In Delafontaine’s case, Eagles general manager Sylvain Couturier said the decision to trade him was more important than hockey.
“Our intention was not to trade Remi, but due to a family issue – his father is ill – we thought it was the right thing to do,” he said.
“These young people are coming to Sydney and hockey is obviously the reason they come here, but there are more important things in life when it comes to family and sick people. I think you have to do the right thing and that’s what we did by trading him.
Couturier confirmed that Delafontaine requested a trade for this reason, but noted that he told the team that if they could not accommodate him via a trade, he would stay with the club.
“He wants to be closer to his father and that’s understandable. It was really about doing the right thing. We are happy for him and that he is closer to his family and we wish him well, he is a great boy.
Delafontaine, 18, was acquired by the Eagles on January 25, 2021, as part of a deal with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens for forward Félix Lafrance. In his rookie season with the team, the Sherbrooke, Que., product went 7-20-1-2 with a 4.79 goals-against average and .868 save percentage.
Delafontaine played 32 games for the club in the 2021-22 season against his counterpart Nicolas Ruccia who played 40 games.
MacDonald, 18, was traded to Cape Breton on Jan. 22, 2021, as part of a deal with Shawinigan for prospect Alexis Bonefon, who won the President Cup with the Cataractes last year.
In 55 games in his first full season with the team, the Halifax product had four goals and 14 points, as well as 28 penalty minutes and a minus-26 differential.
Couturier said MacDonald fell victim to the numbers game on the roster and the emergence of 10th-round pick Angelo Fullerton, who Couturier said will start the season in Cape Breton.
“Fullerton really impressed us at camp from day one and when you have a 17-year-old like him who is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds who can skate and play the same kind of game that Matt was playing, Matt became the strange man,” he said.
“Baie-Comeau showed interest and we had the choice we had for him and we will move on.
Henderson, 17, was a fifth-round pick by Acadie-Bathurst in 2021. He played 20 games with the Titan last season, registering one goal and five points. The five-foot-10, 201-pound New Minas, NS product also played in 11 games for the Valley Wildcats of the Maritime Junior Hockey League, scoring two goals and three points.
Couturier said Henderson will start the season at Valley, but the club will closely monitor his progress throughout the season.
“He’s a big boy, he’s not afraid of anything, he plays hard and plays good old hockey and that’s what we like about him,” he said. “He will be in Sydney as soon as possible and we think it was a good bank for us to have him.”
Arnold, 17, was the Titan’s 2021 sixth-round pick. The 6-foot-5, 218-pound player from Quispamsis, New Brunswick, spent last season with the Saint John Vitos under-18 of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Major League Hockey, posting four goals and 25 points in 30 games.
Couturier, who drafted both Henderson and Arnold with the Titan, said Arnold is a right-hander and sees the deal as good for the future.
“He will come here and challenge for his ice time,” he said. “He’s one of those guys who is smart with the puck and makes good decisions with the puck. “
Meanwhile, last Thursday, the Eagles officially acquired goaltender Giovacchino DiMattia from the Moncton Wildcats in exchange for forward Kiefer Lyons.
DiMattia and Lyons were both on loan for their respective clubs’ training camps before the swap. Lyon was cut by the Wildcats on Saturday.
DiMattia played 31 games with the MHL’s Grand Falls Rapids last season, posting a 12-16-1-1 record with a 3.80 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.
The Halifax product was selected in the ninth round, 152nd overall, by Moncton in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft.
Couturier confirmed that DiMattia will start the season with the team, noting that the 19-year-old “deserves his break”.
“He will come here and challenge (Nicolas) Ruccia and I think we have a good goalkeeping pair this year,” Couturier said. “He’s proven himself in Junior A and I think he’s been the best goaltender in the league for the last three years.
In other Eagles news, Couturier said the team will place 19-year-old Carter McCluskey on waivers Monday. He said that, like MacDonald, McCluskey fell victim to the numbers game as a forward.
Jeremy Fraser is the sports reporter for the Cape Breton Post. Follow him on Twitter @CBPost_Jeremy.