CHRONICLE / The plan seemed good. In fact, he was until recently. So, that no one would question him. But it was necessary that Samuel Poulin sow doubt in the mind of its director general.
J ocelyn Thibault must think about it every night while lying down. And also every morning when getting up. After having evaluated all the scenarios, analyzed all the probabilities, it is confirmed: I would not want to be in his shoes.
It was obvious that the Phoenix was a great contender for the President’s Cup in two seasons.
In 2020-2021, the core of the team will be 19 years old. A nucleus made up of many players having been drafted in the first round.
All of these 17-year-old players dominated the AAA midget two years ago. We think of Bailey Peach and Jaxon Bellamy in the Maritimes. Or to Jérémy Jacques and Alexandre Joncas in Quebec. And especially, to Samuel Poulin.
The Phoenix will then bet on excellent players of 20 years. Like Benjamin Tardif and Olivier Crête-Belzile, the latter being considered the best midget AAA defender in his last year on the circuit.
Not to mention the 16-year-old Patrick Guay, who should be a major player in the QMJHL in two years.
However, the recent performance of the Phoenix star player changes the game. You saw him like me: Samuel Poulin is simply impressive. Enough to be drafted in the first round in the NHL in a few weeks. And all too often, these players do not evolve in the QMJHL at 19, but in the NHL. Especially when they measure 6’2, weigh more than 205 pounds and form a real hockey machine.
Here’s the problem. He’s there. Does the Phoenix want to risk waiting for the 2020-2021 season to put all its eggs in the same basket, aim for great honors to finally have to get by without Poulin? I am sure not.
Now or never
The Phoenix will have excellent 20-year-olds in 2019-20. Alex-Olivier Voyer and Félix Robert were already formidable this season. Added to this is Yann Félix-Lapointe, who seems to be more and more a good bargaining chip.
Because some rumors send Patrick Guay’s brother to Sherbrooke. Let’s admit that the captain of the Voltigeurs, Nicolas Guay, would complete wonderfully the trio of 20 years. Not only would the Magogois join his brother, but in addition, he would evolve with one of his best friends, Alex-Olivier Voyer. And those who follow the QMJHL at least know that Guay will be one of the best veterans. Knowing that the Voltigeurs will probably position themselves in the clan of sellers, the idea becomes plausible.
The kernel would then be 18, but would bet on excellent veterans of 20 years and also dominant 19-year-old players, including European players Taro Jentzsch and Oliver Okuliar. The latter could, however, evolve under other skies. Despite obvious talent, Okuliar may not represent the perfect European prototype prototype to help a team lift the famous trophy.
Trading rather than fishing
Another argument that could influence the choice of Jocelyn Thibault: the bank of choice in the repêchage well stocked. By having choices 9 and 10 of the first round at the next auction, the Phoenix can afford to trade one, or even two, to get established players. Same for the 2020 choices.
There is, however, a hybrid, but more complex and daring solution that is only rarely seen in the QMJHL: a window of opportunity for two seasons.
But in both cases, the recipe for success remains the same.
I do not pretend to have the capacity of general manager. But one thing is certain. I love to improvise DG.
In this case, let’s play the game. If I were Jocelyn Thibault …
If I were Jocelyn Thibault, I would look to a senior guard. Like an Olivier Rodrigue or Alexis Gravel. A big challenge.
I would add a general to the blue line. I would also look to another top 6 striker.
The name Xavier Parent circulates a lot and I do not hate the idea of welcoming to Sherbrooke the one with whom Poulin made the rain and the good weather in the past. Especially since Parent’s value is at its lowest after a more difficult season in Halifax.
When I think about it, I much prefer my role as a journalist. Because today, I can be wrong. To deceive myself into believing that the best solution to aim for conquest would be to go all for the next season. Fool me in my additions, which may be the case. But the CEO of the Phoenix, he can not be wrong.
For after seeing the Phoenix miss its end at the end of its first four-year cycle in 2015-2016, fans would digest badly another failure. But with Samuel Poulin in his ranks, it’s hard to be wrong this time.