“He is a big strong defenceman,” Gagne said. “He’s got offensive skills, also. He could play forward or defence.
“He is a great presence on the ice every time he is there … he likes to hit.”
St. James’ father, Tom, who played in the American Hockey League, the International Hockey League and in Europe, is originally from Iroquois Falls.
In addition, his grandfather Gail was a standout defenceman with the original Eskimos franchise in the ’50s.
Another newcomer who will be wearing the black, gold and white of Abitibi is power forward Delmer Moses, a 20-year-old from Waskaganish, Que., who played for the Kahnawake Condors of the QJAAAHL last season.
He scored six goals and added six assists in 43 regular season games.
Moses appeared in four games with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Val d’Or Foreurs during the 2008-09 season, after being drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, 112th overall.
”He is really strong, a power forward,” Gagne said. “He establishes a presence on the ice every time he is on the ice.
“He likes to take the body and he is going to bring some leadership.”
The Eskimos will have a more familiar face in the line-up for 2011-12, as well.
Goaltender J.P. Fecteau will be back between the pipes, after posting a solid 3.94 goals against average and .898 saves percentage last season.
He had a 23-14-1 record and played the lion’s share of games.
Another veteran back in an Eskimos uniform will be defenceman Karl Spenard, who was solid on the blue-line after coming over from the Blind River Beavers.
He got in 34 games with Abitibi, scoring three goals and adding nine assists.
Up front, the Eskimos have made a commitment to centre Richard Therrien, the team’s fourth leading scorer in 2010-11.
Therrien had 19 goals and 26 assists in 49 games.
Because the prospect camp was cut short due to ice issues, most of those taking part were invited to the main camp that started Monday.
“We cut down, we had nine of 10 goalies, so we are going to have four goalies in camp,” Gagne said.
“But the rest of them (non-goalies) were welcome to come back, but some didn’t for one reason or another.”
The coach feels there are at least a couple of kids from the prospect camp who have a legitimate shot of cracking the roster this season.
“There are a few 16 year olds who I am really considering,” he said.
“We are going to take an extra look at them. Right now there are three of them.”
The Eskimos — like all junior teams — are restricted, however, to carrying just two 16 year olds on their roster.
“We are considering it,” Gagne said, of the prospect of carrying one or two 16 year olds.
“There are always different issues with 16 year olds playing with 20 year olds.
“It’s a really heavy schedule. All of these things have to be considered in the decision making, but we will take a good look at them.”
The Eskimos did have a 16-year-old on the roster during the 2010-11 season.
Jordan Delaurier played in 50 games, scoring six goals and adding nine assists.
“Jordan got lots of ice time last year,” Gagne said. “He was playing on our third line and he took a lot of responsibility and he improved over the season.”
Delaurier likely won’t be back with the Eskimos for the 2011-12 season, however, as he will be attending training camp with the OHL Kitchener Rangers.
The Eskimos could also be without their top scorer from 2010-11, Erik Robichaud (31 goals, 42 assists in 50 games).
Robichaud will be attending training camp with the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats.
“He has been to their prospect camp and he was invited to the main camp,” Gagne said.
“If a kid can graduate to a higher level, that’s what it’s all about.
“We try and develop them and continue playing hockey and if they get a chance to go somewhere at a higher level, then great.”
Eskimos training camp will continue tonight through Friday, from 7:30-9 p.m., at the Jus Jordan Arena.
The team will then be off on the weekend, before resuming a normal regular season practice schedule the following week in preparation for a pair of exhibition games against the Blue Devils — in Kirkland Lake on Friday, Aug. 26, and back at the Jus Jordan Arena on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Gagne anticipates that he will have 80% to 90% of his team in place by the time they begin regular season practices on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
He will begin making cuts around the middle of this week.
The roster that kicks off the regular season in Sudbury on Wednesday, Sept. 7, will likely also include a number of players who are not currently in training camp — either players currently away at other camps and/or veterans picked up from other organizations.
“I would like to have two more 20-year-old defencemen, they are not in camp right now, and if we lose Robichaud and players of that status we are going to need a couple of more 20 year olds,” Gagne said.
“Hopefully we will be able to get a couple of kids who can fill their shoes.”