The Bearcats graduated eight forwards following the 2016-17 championship season, and will look to restock the shelves and fill some immediate holes at Saturday’s draft in Miramichi.
“There’s our glaring need,” said Bearcats coach and general manager Shawn Evans. “We’re in some big need for forwards, no question.”
Evans said he would like a couple of forwards he drafts this weekend to step right into the lineup next season.
“Certainly the top pick, whoever that may be.”
Conversely, all of Truro’s defencemen from last season are eligible to return.
The Bearcats have seven selections in the eight-round draft. They select 10th overall, but don’t have a second- or third-round pick. Their second-round pick was traded to St. Stephen two seasons ago in a deal that brought forward Eli Jarvis to Truro. They traded their third rounder to Dieppe last year to acquire goaltender Jason Rioux – the playoff MVP last season.
“Certainly, that worked out well for us,” said Evans.
Truro has two picks in the fourth round and owns picks from rounds five through eight.
The Bearcats, who traditionally build the core of their teams through the draft, don’t plan on wheeling and dealing much prior to the draft. However, they would like to acquire another pick, said Evans.
“If we could get another pick to replace one of the second or third rounders that we don’t have, I’d like to see if I can find one of those two,” he said. “If we could do that, that would be great. If not, then we’ll just have to go with what we have.”
The Bearcats added to their protected list at the forward position earlier this week when they made Weeks Major Midgets teammates Carson Lanceleve, of Stewiacke, and Gavin Hart, of Bible Hill, territorial selections.
Lanceleve, five-foot-eight, 150 pounds, was fourth in team scoring with Weeks last season with 16 goals and 38 assists for 54 points in 36 games.
His brother, Colby, played four seasons for the Bearcats from 2011 to 2015.
“Carson will earn his own way,” said Evans. “He’s a good character young man. I’ve already been through one brother and had some good success with Colby being here. He has the intangibles of a Lanceleve – he comes from good hockey lines and had a really good season (last year with Weeks).”
Hart, five-foot-six, 165 pounds, was fifth in team scoring with 19 goals and 21 assists in 36 games.
“Gavin’s a pit bull out there,” Evans said. “He can skate, he can shoot it, and he’s a ton of fun to watch.
“What we provide is options for these guys, and it’s up to them to see if they want to grab a spot.”
Saturday’s draft at the Rodd Miramichi River Hotel gets underway at 1 p.m.