The Acadie-Bathurst Titan are, in sports parlance, “going for it” this season. They obviously think goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick can be a key part of that quest.
On Tuesday, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Titan confirmed they had acquired Fitzpatrick, a St. John’s native and St. Louis Blues prospect, in a trade that sent another 19-year-old netminder, Reilly Pickard, to the Sherbrooke Phoenix.
Fitzpatrick, a second-round draft pick by the Blues in 2016, is in his fourth QMJHL season after being a 2014 first-round pick of Sherbrooke (17-14-7). So far in 2017-18, he has a 9-13 record, with a 3.48 goals-against average and .874 save percentage, but there is every reason to expect those numbers to improve with Acadie-Bathurst (20-10-8), which was four points out of the overall league lead entering Tuesday.
The trade was one of eight made in the last three weeks by Bathurst.
The 6-4, 210-pound Fitzpatrick becomes the third Newfoundlander on the Titan, joining overage defenceman Adam Holwell (8-22-30) of St. John’s and centre Jordan Maher (13-16-29) of Gander.
One other QMJHL club now features three players from this province on its roster. That’s the Quebec Remparts, who already had centre Jesse Sutton (10-19-29) of Mount Pearl and defenceman Andrew Picco (0-4-4) of Marystown before picking up winger Matthew Grouchy of Labrador City in a Tuesday trade with the Charlottetown Islanders.
The 1`8-year-old Grouchy had been one of Charlottetown’s top scorers, with 11 goals and 13 assists in 33 games, but on Tuesday, the Islanders announced he had been traded to the Quebec Remparts.
There were two other deals involving Newfoundlanders — both involving Acadie-Bathurst — earlier in the QMJHL’s mid-season trade period, wrapped around the Christmas holidays. In December, the Titan traded Czech import goalie Dominik Tmej to the Remparts for the rights to forward Liam Leonard of Clarenville, while the Chicoutimi Sagueenens acquired defenceman and St. John’s native Evan White from Bathurst in deal that saw a 10th-round draft pick head the other way.
Both Leonard and White had been playing with Maritime Hockey League, but while the 17-year-old Leonard remains with the MHL’s Edmundston Blizzard, the 18-year-old White — who had been with the junior A St. Stephen Aces — has appeared in three games for Chicoutimi since coming over in the Dec. 18 deal.