Option plays for Hynes, O’Brien

John
John Browne
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QMJHL stars want to turn pro, but wouldn’t mind spending overage years as teammates in Bathurst

Brandon Hynes makes it clear his first priority is to play pro hockey somewhere next season, but if he has to return to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as an overager, that works too.

Hynes was dealt to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan from the Victoriaville Tigres just prior to Saturday’s QMJHL draft for two second-round picks and a fifth rounder, and said the trade wasn’t a shock.

“It happens to a lot of guys in junior,” said the Norris Point native. “It was sad, but at the end of the day, it’s part of a learning curve.”

The five-foot-eight, 170-pound right winger said he shook the hand of Tigres’ general manager Jerome Mesonero at the end of the season, “and he said ‘This may be the last time we do this.’

“He (Mesonero) called me the morning of the draft to let me know about the trade,” Hynes said.

“It was a pretty emotional conversation because we had a pretty close relationship in Victoriaville over the past four seasons.”

Hynes has not been drafted by an NHL team, but did attend a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect camp a couple of years ago.  He said he would like to make the next step to the pros, either in the AHL or ECHL, but added he’s in no rush.

“At the end of the day, it’s not a bad option to play in Bathurst. If it does come down to me playing in Bathurst, I’ll be more than happy to put on the uniform and finish my junior career there,” said Hynes, who will be working out at the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook all summer.

Hynes finished second in scoring on the Tigres with 42 goals and 44 assists in 61 games, this despite missing seven starts because of a shoulder injury at start of the season. There’s already speculation he could wind up on a line with fellow Newfoundlander Zach O’Brien (50-51-101), who is also an overager, and left winger Matthew Bissonnette (36-47-83) in Bathurst.

“Yeah,” said Hynes. “I’ve read that and I’ve talked to both of those players since the trade. We’re looking forward to it if we’re put together. We put up 128 goals among the three of us. They are both great passers and they can score.

“It would be almost like playing on a pro line with those two guys.”

He said he hasn’t set any specific statistical goals for himself for the coming season except that, if he plays in the QMJHL, he’d like to at least equal last year’s numbers, and hopefully improve on them.

Hynes said as a 20-year-old, he would be expected to take on more of a leadership role with a major junior team.

“At the end of the day, that only helps you grow as a person and that helps you get ready for the pros,” he said.

O’Brien, who is working out with local fitness guru Bob Thompson, also wants to play pro somewhere next season.

The St. John’s native said he’s “not sure” where he might wind up and is waiting for the NHL Entry Draft later this month where there’s a possibility, though remote, he may be picked by an NHL club. Like Hynes, he was not selected in his first two years of eligibility.

When his 2011-12 season ended in Bathurst, O’Brien made one start with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps after signing an amateur tryout contract.

If he does return to junior, the centreman says he expects Hynes will join his line and believes it will be a good fit. O’Brien is very familiar with Hynes having played with him on a couple of provincial teams.

“We’ve played on the under-15 and under-16 Newfoundland teams and we were linemates with under-17 Team Atlantic,” O’Brien said.

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning Pepsi Centre

Geographic location: Bathurst, Victoriaville, Norris Point Corner Brook Newfoundland

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