Russian Rocket buoys 'Piques' draft

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 PM ET

The Gatineau Olympiques left the QMJHL draft in Charlottetown yesterday with the host team's best player: A bona fide Russian Rocket.

In a buzz-generating trade with the P.E.I. Rocket, Olympiques GM/coach Benoit Groulx acquired left winger Slava Trukhno and a sixth-round pick for defenceman Pierre-Luc Lessard, a second-round choice and the team's first selection in the import draft.

The 19-year-old Trukhno, a 6-foot-1, 190 pounder from Moscow, was the top scorer in P.E.I. last season by 25 points.

In 60 games, the fourth-round Edmonton Oilers draft choice had 28 goals and 68 assists to go with 81 penalty minutes.

"Letting Luc go was tough," Groulx said of the 18-year-old Lessard, who had 32 points in 55 games for Gatineau last season. "But we feel we got one of the top two or three players in the league back in Trukhno. He scored 96 points last season and he'll get 120 next year."

With his first pick and the 13th selection overall, Groulx grabbed winger Travis Stacey, a 6-foot-2, 213-pounder out of Chateauguay. In the second round, he took took 5-foot-8, 146-lb. centre Alexandre Touchette 28th overall and Steven Delisle, 6-foot-1, 159-pounder, with the 31st choice. Delisle was the only defenceman among 10 players selected by the Olympiques.

"(Stacey) is going to be a dominant player in this league," said Groulx. "We're very, very happy to get him.

"Our team was built on character, aggressiveness and size, and Travis has those three qualities.

"Delisle might be a diamond in the rough. He's got to grow, but he has the potential to be a (power play) quarterback. He might be a surprise for us."

FOUR FIRST-ROUNDERS

Qualifying as the most surprising series of events yesterday were deals by the Rimouski Oceanic to leave that team with four first-round picks -- the second, fifth, sixth and eighth picks overall.

The Saint John Sea Dogs took defenceman Yann Sauve with the first choice.

Other Gatineau draft picks included centre Joseph Campanelli (fourth round, Webster Academy), winger Simon-Yves Lazure (seventh round, Chateauguay), centre Jason Silvia (10th round, Belmont Hill), winger Michael Biega (11th round, Salisbury), centre Vincent April (12th round, Rive Nord), goalie Adam Chalifoux (13th round, Outaouais) and winger Samuel Pomerleau (14th round, Chateauguay).

Groulx made a couple of other trades, sending a fifth-round pick to Moncton for Jean-Philippe Chabot and sending Nicolas Lareau to Chicoutimi for an eighth round pick next season.

"We're very happy," said Groulx, who expects a couple of walk-on defencemen to make the team at training camp. "We feel we got the players we needed."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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