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Former NHL hopeful pleads guilty in Quebec court to manslaughter charge

SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. - A former hopeful with the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League pleaded guilty Tuesday to a manslaughter charge stemming from a drug-related murder.

Eric Laplante, 28, who was a third-round draft pick by the Sharks in 1998, could spend the next 11 years behind bars if the Crown gets what it wants.

The defence has recommended a jail term of five or six years.

Laplante and his co-accused Ninja Elgin pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge for a slaying that happened in January 2006.

The two men were to meet drug trafficker Benjamin Lefebvre at a house in nearby Chateauguay.

The drug deal went wrong and Elgin shot at Lefebvre, hitting him in the face.

Laplante, of Laval, Que., had set up the meeting and was also present and carrying a weapon. He wanted to leave the meeting with money and drugs.

In the 1998 draft, Laplante came in just behind Brad Richards of Tampa Bay and was awarded a bonus at the time of $150,000.

Hockey records indicate he had most of his ice time in the junior leagues and it was not immediately known when he broke with the Sharks.

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