20 year old defenseman Francis Meilleur (seen in photo) - acquired from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles as part of the Pierre-Antoine Dion trade.
- 19 year old centerman and Montreal Canadiens draft pick Louis Leblanc - acquired from the Chicoutimi Sagueneens as part of the Guillaume Asselin deal.
- 19 year old left winger and also property of the Montreal Canadiens Philippe Lefebvre - acquired as part of the Jake Allen transaction.
To kick off the first of our three Q&A sessions, here's what Francis Meilleur had to say:
Hockey Points: Francis, you're a now a member of the Montreal Juniors. What were your first thoughts when you learned that you were dealt to this team?
Francis Meilleur: "I went into my ex-coach's office, Mario Durocher, and he told me I was going to Montreal. I was very very excited because I knew Montreal was going to build for a huge year this season. My home town is Montreal so I was very excited to hear that I'd have a chance to play in front of my family and friends."
Hockey Points: So are you expecting to see a lot of signs in the crowd with your name on it?
Francis Meilleur: "(Laughs) Ya, I guess. I hope so!"
Hockey Points: You've played with Montreal coach Pascal Vincent before when he was with the Cap Breton Eagles organization. What can you say about that past experience?
Francis Meilleur: "When I met Pascal I was only 16 years old and it was my rookie year. He taught me a lot because at that time I was new to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He gave us many pointers on how to play better throughout a 60 game season, stay in shape. So coach Vincent helped me a lot to start my career. Now he trades for me as a 20 year old player which is very nice. I'm very happy. I'm coming to a new team in Montreal but having already known the Coach and GM is a big plus for me."
Hockey Points: Speaking of 20 year olds, we're expecting Montreal to select yourself, Nicolas Chouinard and Jeremy Gouchie, three players that all played under Pascal Vincent a few years ago in Cape Breton. Why did coach Vincent decided to re-unite the three of you?
Francis Meilleur: "Well it's great. Obviously he has a lot of trust in the three of us. The three of us are good friends. We started our Junior careers together in Cape Breton and I guess he saw that we had good chemistry together and that made him want to reunite us together again."
Hockey Points: How does it feel to have a chance to play in the Q as an overage player? And what have you learned from some of the 20 year old players that had an impact on you in the past?
Francis Meilleur: "It's great to play as a 20 year old player. Playing as an overager is pretty special. There's only three players like that on each team. I'm going to try to help the kids that are coming into the league. When I look back I remember guys like Robert Slaney, Chris Culligan, Dean Ouellet, Joey Haddad, they all taught me a lot, they were really friendly with the rookies. I want to do the same for the young guys on this team because I felt great around them and I felt more confident with them on my team. I want to do the same."
Hockey Points: How would you describe your game to the Montreal Juniors fans?
Francis Meilleur: "I guess I'd consider myself a two-way defenseman and maybe a little more offensive than defensive. I can play one the power play, penalty kill and 5 on 5 hockey. I try to push the attack in order to make something happen in the offensive zone, and in the defensive zone I make sure I can get the puck out."
Hockey Points: What do you consider your best asset, skill-wise?
Francis Meilleur: "I'd say my speed. When I use my speed I play a better game and am usually more successful."
Hockey Points: You're moving back to your home town. What are your living / accommodation plans?
Francis Meilleur: "(Laughs) I'm going to be back with my family. It's been four years since I spent a full year at home. I'll have a chance to be back with my family, my brothers. It's very exciting and I'm looking forward to enjoying it with them."
Hockey Points: How many of your new teammates have you had an opportunity to meet so far?
Francis Meilleur: "I'd say maybe 10 or 12 already. It's great because I'm coming to a new team but I already know half of the team and I've played with some of those guys. Everyone is very excited and we can't wait for it to start."
Hockey Points: Are there any players in particular who you're looking forward to play with for the first time.
Francis Meilleur: "Well, Louis Leblanc obviously (laughs). I don't know him too well but he's a very good player and I can't wait to see him on the ice and pass him the puck to see what happens."
Last season in 68 games played Meilleur scored 6 goals and added 36 assists for 42 points. He also registered 74 penalty minutes and finished with a plus minus of +26.
-----check back to www.montrealjuniors.blogspot.com to read our Q&A with Louis Leblanc-----