For Nick Greenough, general manager of the Valley Junior A Wildcats, the answer is simple: character.
“We're looking for character. Guys who will go out there and compete every night, every shift, no matter what the score. It's character, work ethic and skill... in that order.”
Greenough and his staff will have a chance to find those players this weekend during the annual Maritime Hockey League Draft, being hosted in Miramichi, NB. Annual general meetings will also take place over the weekend.
Player selection began earlier this week as six of the league's 12 teams made territorial picks ahead of the entry draft. Valley used both eligible picks on June 5 to secure forward Sam Henderson and defenceman Evan Weir.
Henderson, a native of Canaan, spent two seasons with the bantam Wildcats before spending the 2016-2017 season with Newbridge Academy, picking up 11 goals and 28 points in 36 games.
Greenough says Henderson is a skilled two-way forward who can “do it all.” “Sam brings a lot of skill and grit. He's someone who can play an offensive style one night or a more defensive and pesky role another night.”
Weir, standing at six-foot-three, has spent the last three seasons in a Wildcats jersey, playing for the bantams and midgets. The Kentville native comes with a big reach and great skating ability for his size, Greenough said.
Both players still have a year of major midget eligibility remaining, but Greenough says he likes what they bring, and they'll have a chance to show they can make the jump to junior hockey.
“Sam and Evan will be at our training camp in August and will be trying to make our club, but if they don't, they'll just be a few doors down the hall.”
Valley has 12 picks to make going into the draft as they look to assemble a more competitive squad for the coming season. The sell off of players at last season's trade deadline netted the Wildcats a slew of prospects and draft picks, so Greenough knows it's going to be a busy weekend.
“We've got a few more trades to be announced at the draft. (Director of player personnel) Sam Foster has done a great job identifying kids we're looking at in the draft. We want guys who can step in and help us be more competitive,” Greenough said.
The junior A Wildcats completed a trio of deals leading up to the draft, sending Johnny Foley to the Aces in St. Stephen, NB in exchange for a second round draft pick this year and a fourth round pick in 2018, as well as trading Alex Olschewske to Pictou County for a conditional eighth round draft pick in 2018 and future considerations. Curtis Scales was also traded to the Campbellton Tigers for future considerations.