A bolstered Mooseheads club will look to stay undefeated this weekend as they take on a pair of Maritimes Division foes and the team’s latest addition has the endorsement of a former Mooseheads star.
With six call-ups in the line-up on opening weekend, Halifax took home four of a possible four points thanks to victories over Saint John and Charlottetown.
With a newly acquired Ostap Safin on the team roster and three players back from NHL camps, the Herd will try to keep that win streak alive tonight at Centre 200 in an all-Nova Scotia match-up at 7 p.m. on NEWS 95.7.
Safin was acquired from the Saint John Sea Dogs on Monday in a trade that sent a 2020 first round pick back to the port city. The Mooseheads also picked up a fourth round pick in the 2021 draft as part of the deal.
The 19-year old Czech, a 2017 Edmonton Oilers fourth rounder, is expected to round out the Mooseheads’ top-six.
He will also help fill an empty import spot on the roster that was left vacant when the team could not secure 2018 CHL Import Draft pick Samuel Fagemo’s release from Frolunda.
Of course, that vacancy only opened up because last season’s Mooseheads imports Otto Somppi and Filip Zadina, a duo that finished one-two in team scoring, have both continued onto the pro ranks.
Zadina, the sixth overall selection of the Detroit Red Wings in June, says he has been in close contact with his fellow countryman in recent days and had only good things to say about his time in Halifax.
“I have talked to him many times about Hali,” Zadina said in a note on Thursday night. “I said [it’s] the best spot to play junior hockey. Good people, good city, good organization.”
Zadina had some praise for the skating and shooting abilities of Safin, a winger who racked up 26 goals and 32 assists in 61 games to lead the Sea Dogs in scoring last season.
The pair were teammates on last winter’s Czech under-20 team that had its best finish at the World Juniors since 2005.
“I think that he is going to help the team a lot. He is a good leader so he can help those young players for sure.”
The deal capped off a busy few days for Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell who made a deal with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan last Friday to add overager Samuel Asselin to the roster.
Russell expects Safin’s 6-foot-5, 192 pound frame to be a good fit up front for the Herd.
“We’ve got a lot of skilled forwards so it’s nice to add another skilled forward,” Russell said. “But with the size that he has, he’s going to be a very hard guy to handle down low.
“He’s got a dangerous shot and he’s an excellent playmaker so he’ll round out our top-six nicely.”
Safin won’t be the only player making his Mooseheads debut tonight. Antoine Morand, acquired in a trade with Bathurst back in June, will also be in the line-up.
Morand, a 2017 Anaheim second rounder, and Benoit-Olivier Groulx were on the ice with the Anaheim Ducks at training camp last week and missed opening weekend, while defenceman Jocktan Chainey was in attendance at New Jersey’s camp. All three should be available tonight against Cape Breton.
The Eagles split their first weekend of the 2018-19 campaign, losing to Charlottetown 4-2 last Friday night before rebounding the following evening against the Titan, trouncing the defending Memorial Cup champs 9-3.
The Mooseheads dominated the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles last season, stringing together eight-straight wins over the Sydney-based club after dropping the first meeting of the season. They will hope to extend that streak to nine tonight and spoil Cape Breton’s home opener.
On Sunday, the Mooseheads travel to Moncton and the brand new Avenir Centre to take on the Wildcats at 4 p.m. It will be the team's first look at the Maritimes Division's newest arena.
You can catch all of the play-by-play action from Sydney and Moncton on NEWS 95.7.