Junior hockey: Maine Nordiques acquire former NHL draft pick

Nov. 2—Former National Hockey League draft pick Liam Gilmartin was acquired by the Maine Nordiques on Wednesday.

On Monday, the Nordiques of the Tier II North American Hockey League traded leading scorer Nick Romeo to the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the Tier I United States Hockey League for future considerations. After Dubuque forward Gilmartin, a 2021 sixth-round pick of the San Jose Sharks, cleared USHL waivers, the Fighting Saints completed Monday's trade by sending him to the Nordiques on Wednesday.

Romeo had 13 goals and eight assists in 15 games for the Nordiques. Gilmartin had three assists in six games for Dubuque.

"I think it's a good trade for both clubs and for both kids," Maine Nordiques general manager and coach Nick Skerlick said. "I think Liam is excited to come here, and part of getting him here was actually through (defenseman) Evan Orloff and (forward) Jake Bernadet. They are two kids who have played with him and know him pretty well. Just like any other kid, we have to recruit them. Just because we made a trade, that doesn't mean that kid has to come here."

Skerlick said Gilmartin, 20 years old and in his final year of junior hockey, had pro offers in the ECHL at the start of the season.

Before starting the season with Dubuque, Gilmartin spent the previous two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League — one of the three major junior hockey leagues in Canada, including the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League — with the London Knights and the Erie Otters. He had 16 goals and 18 assists in 55 games with the Knights in 2021-22 and 15 goals and 19 helpers in 55 games with the Otters in 2022-23.

However, the Sharks relinquished his NHL rights when they didn't sign him to an NHL contract by the June 1, 2023, deadline to sign 2021 draft picks who played major junior hockey.

Skerlick said there's a chance for Romeo to return to the Nordiques this season.

"The USHL team is making a really smart move by getting him to play 10 games, which means once he plays 10 games, they own his rights for next season," Skerlick said. "If they only play him a few games and he's not hacking it — which we don't think that will be close to happening, we think that kid will do well — he comes back here."

Romeo is the first player to move to the USHL midseason since goalie Connor Androwlewicz (now at University of Maine) played for the Sioux City Musketeers and Lincoln Stars during the 2019-20 season.

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