January 05 2017 09:00AM
With the QMJHL trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Charlottetown Islanders are beginning to load up to make a run at the President's Cup this year. Yesterday they acquired Canucks 2015 5th round pick Carl Neill in a trade with the Sherbrooke Phoenix.
Confirmé. Carl Neill passe aux Islanders. #LHJMQ— François Carignan (@CarignanTQN) January 4, 2017
We had reported on rumours that Neill could've been on the move since October - it was just a matter of finding the right fit.
The return for the Phoenix was a fairly good bounty given that Neill is an overage player, thus the options of teams that could take him would've been limited.
Adding Neill from the Phoenix has been a part of a series of moves the Islanders have made to boost their lineup in anticipation of the upcoming QMJHL Trading Deadline on January 6th.
This excludes adding Daniel Sprong, who will be returning from surgery this weekend after sitting out the entire season so far.
The Islanders currently sit one point behind the Saint John Sea-Dogs in the Maritimes Division, so making a run at the President's Trophy is easily within grasp, and bolstering their lineup could push them over the top. Given the cyclical nature of the CHL, contending teams need to be extremely aggressive to add players when they have a chance at their respective league's titles.
For Neill, the leading scorer amongst defenceman in the QMJHL, he moves from the 15th place Sherbrooke Phoenix to the 4th place overall Charlottetown Islanders. At times, it was Carl Neill running the entire show for the Phoenix. If Neill wasn't on the ice, they weren't generating much offence and giving up goals. In Charlottetown, he will likely slide into a Top 4 role, with fellow Canucks prospect Guillaume Brisebois and Colorado Avalanche prospect Nicholas Meloche (who was acquired last month in another deal), and not be relied on to be the workhorse.
It will be interesting to see how Neill can adapt to a smaller role. The former captain of the Phoenix has had a stellar QMJHL career thus far, and likely hopes to make the most of his chance.
I would expect Brisebois and Meloche to remain the number one pairing for the Islanders, and Neill will be part of the second pairing. But I would expect Neill to supplant Brisebois on the first power play unit going forward.
From a Canucks perspective, there couldn't be a better situation. They have two of their best CHL defensive prospects (aside from Olli Juolevi) on a legitimate QMJHL contender, and they will be relied on to handle a huge part of the workload. Neill will have to turn pro next season, and it is expected that Brisebois will as well, so a long playoff run with the Islanders will go a long way towards their development.