Pembroke Lumber Kings, Cumberland Grads make deal 0
Pembroke Lumber Kings coach and GM Sheldon Keefe
The Pembroke Lumber Kings pulled the trigger on a seven-player deal with the Cumberland Grads Monday night.
Kings’ coach and general manager Sheldon Keefe announced the trade soon after the deal received approval from the Central Canada Hockey League.
Pembroke acquired three players in the trade – defencemen Phil Drouin and Keegan Harper and forward – and Pembroke native – Scott Conroy while the Grads got forwards Trevor Packard, Chris King, Justin Pelock and Connor Currie, who was drafted by the Kings in May.
The trade had been in the works for some time, according to Keefe, who first proposed a similar offer in the first week of May. The Grads didn’t feel the sense of urgency to get the deal done during the summer, but with training camps fast approaching Cumberland was ready to negotiate.
While it was difficult for Keefe to say goodbye to the players involved in the trade, the motivating factor was a surplus of forwards and a need on defence with only Sam Gleason returning this season, especially after the team strugged at the beginning of last year with an inexperienced defensive corps.
“While many of the forwards we have are not at the same level as Packard, it was about greater needs and holes on defence that needed to be addressed,” the coach said Tuesday afternoon.
“On defence we need guys who’ve played and have talent. The fact they (Drouin and Harper) have chemistry together before they get here is a bonus.”
Drouin, an 18-year-old from Orleans, is committed to attend NCAA Division 1 Mercyhurst College in the fall of 2013 and of all returning CCHL defencemen he listed second overall with 41 points in 61 games including five goals and 17 assists on the power play.
Harper, 19, is a left-handed shooting defenceman from Nepean, who was drafted by the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters in 2009. Last season he scored five goals and added 15 assists for 20 points in 53 games with the Grads.
Conroy, 18, is a product of Pembroke Minor Hockey Association and the Upper Ottawa Valley Aces where he played before leading the Renfrew Timberwolves Junior B in scoring last season. He was named the 2011-2012 Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League Valley Division rookie of the year with 22 goals and 30 assists for 52 points in 42 games and also added a goal and an assist with the Kings in four games as an affiliate player before being drafted by Cumberland in the spring.
Keefe is pleased to add to the depth with experienced players on defence including Drouin, a true offensive defenceman, which the Kings were lacking last season. Drouin’s point totals are almost double the production from any one defenceman with the Kings last season, he added.
“Drouin, along with Keegan Harper, gives us the offensive boost and stability on the back end that you need to have in order to compete against top teams in this league,” the coach said.
Drouin has committed to having his best year in the league, so Keefe is hoping he can deliver.
He felt Conroy “got away” from them in the draft and when there was an opportunity to bring him back to the organization as part of the deal, Keefe was happy make it happen.
“He’s a local player that has talent and after a great year in Junior B we’re looking forward to seeing him at training camp,” Keefe said. “We lost a number of local forwards so we’re looking for players to step up into that role, and it could be him.”
The Lumber Kings wished Trevor Packard, Chris King and Justin Pelock all the best in the future and thanked them for all their hard work and dedication during their time in Pembroke.
Late last week, Keefe also announced the acquisition of forward Jordan Larson, 17, from the Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
As a 16-year-old rookie last season, Larson finished fifth in league scoring with 34 goals and 35 assists for 69 points in 56 games, earning him rookie of the year honours in the SIJHL. He carried his regular season success into the playoffs where he scored 14 points in 15 games to put him into a tie for second overall in playoff scoring through a run that ended with a loss in game seven of the league finals.
Keefe sees Larson as a high-end young talent with a bright future and he credits the Lakers for allowing him to seek a new opportunity that could lead to more exposure to NCAA scouts. The forward identified the CCHL as a potential destination and after meeting with Keefe and touring Pembroke and meeting other teams, he chose Pembroke.
“We feel he is a good fit for our team,” Keefe said. “He is an accomplished young player, but after a period of adjustment we expect he will become a big part of our team despite his youth.”
Larson, who stands 5 feet 10 inches and weighs 180 pounds, is a native of Fort Frances, Ontario. He represented Team West last season in the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Top Prospects Game in Langley, B.C. where he scored in each game of the two-game series defeating Team East, which was coached by Keefe and featured Pembroke forwards Ben Dalpe and Chris King. Larson also attended the final camp of Team Canada West for the 2011 World Junior A Challenge.
More player announcements are expected to be released in the coming weeks along with the exhibition and regular season schedules.
Lumber Kings’ fans can get their first glimpse of the new additions when training camp opens August 17 at the Pembroke and Area Community Centre.
Tina Peplinskie is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist