Coming out of this past weekend’s MHL entry draft, the Yarmouth Mariners – the MHL’s defending champs heading into the next season – says this isn’t a rebuild year, but rather a retool.
“It isn’t like when you see a team say we’re going to build and then we’ll be ready in three years’ time. We feel we’re going to be very good again next season,” said head coach Laurie Barron.
Barron said he came out of the draft feeling pretty good, especially given that the team didn’t have a first or second round pick. He said the team’s scouting staff has done a terrific job, noting that some of the players drafted are ones the team has been keeping an eye on over repeated seasons.
But there weren’t just players drafted, there were also players traded.
One of the trades that generated the most reaction from fans on social media is the trade that sees last year’s starting goaltender Tyler Caseley going to the Valley Wildcats to complete the previous transaction that saw Landon Quinney come to the team last season.
Asked if it’s presumed Caseley – who was named the MHL’s rookie of the year last year – will end up playing in the QMJHL, Barron said there is always that possibility.
“That deal actually went down when we got Quinney, that was part of the deal to lead up to that. Obviously we didn’t want to trade Tyler, but in order to get Quinney and all of the things leading into it, it’s just something we felt we had to do at that time to get a player and not knowing what Tyler’s future would be at the time. It just made sense at the time,” Barron said. “I guess all I can say is (the fans are) going to have to trust me. We’ve done some pretty good things in the past three years.”
The Mariners have picked up another goalie that they’re quite excited about. The team has signed goalie Justin Sumarah for the upcoming season. Sumarah was named top goaltender at the 2018 Don Johnson Cup – the Atlantic Jr. B championship. His Sackville Blazers lost 1-0 in overtime in the semi-final but Sumarah made 58 saves. He’s known for fending off a lot shots in games.
“He’s been on our radar since bantam. A very good goaltender and also just an unbelievable kid, so we’re really excited to get him,” Barron said.
The team also selected goaltender Griffin Kelly from Cole Harbour who was an AP with the Mariners last year.
“A big, 6’5” goalie that, if he doesn’t go to Quebec major junior, he’ll be a big part of our club,” Barron said.
Other trades the Mariners announced over draft weekend included Zach Bennett for forward Nathan MacMillan and Miguel Poirier to Amherst for a fifth-round draft selection and future considerations.
Barron said the team never imagined that defenceman Lucas Robinson would still be available to them in the third round, which was the Mariners’ first pick of the draft. “If he doesn’t make the Mooseheads, he’ll jump in and play and be a huge part of our club” Barron said.
Ahead of the draft weekend the Mariners had announced Ryan Semple as their territorial pick. Semple has played with the South Shore Mustangs major midget team these past two seasons and was an AP with the South Shore Lumberjacks last season.
Asked overall what the Mariners’ game plan was for the draft, Barron noted the team lost four 20-year-old defencemen last year so “we need to restock there. With the rest of our picks we took the best players available.”
The Mariners listed their entry draft picks on their Facebook page.
On June 11, the Mariners annoucned they had also signed free agent forward Caleb Garet from Okotoks Alberta. Garet is a graduate from the International Ice Hockey Academy in Calgary, Alberta. Last season in 36 games he accumulated 26 goals and 14 assists.