MONTREAL, QC. — The Montreal Canadiens are holding their annual rookie camp from September 11-16. Part one of the camp will take place in London, Ontario from September 11th to September 13th where Habs rookies will participate in a tournament against their counterparts from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins. All Habs Hockey Magazine will be in London to provide full coverage from the tournament.
The rookies will then return to Montreal for two days of practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on September 15th and 16th.
For those who are attending the camp or those who will follow them from afar, here’s a handy guide to each of the 26 players attending the Habs rookie camp.
Fucale could be next in line of the Habs’ prized goaltending prospects. He has won the QMJHL championship, the Memorial Cup championship, the Ivan Hlinka tournament, and the IIHF U20 tournament. The former 36th overall in the 2013 draft will be looking to fight for the starting job in St. John’s with future teammate Mike Condon. A proven winner, Zach Fucale is known for his quickness and his calmness in goals, but has been prone to let in bad goals. Fucale will be looking to bounce back from a shaky season one year ago.
The 18-year-old Owen Sound Attack goaltenders made the OHL at the age of 17 and has put up a .914 save percentage last season, ranking him sixth among North American goalies on the NHL’s Central Scouting list for the 2015 draft. McNiven then went undrafted in seven rounds. The Canadian goalie is known for his stability and his calmness in the net and has previously mentioned that he studies Carey Price and Jonathan Quick up close.
Mac Bennett has been on the Habs’ system for quite some time. In fact, he was the Habs’ third round draft pick back in 2009. He decided to complete four full years in the University of Michigan before heading to the AHL last season. Having been to many Habs’ training camps through the years, I have seen a lot of Mac Bennett. He is a smooth skating defenseman and a good puck mover with offensive upside. Bennett was an excellent complement to Greg Pateryn when the two played in Michigan. I was very high on this prospect when we drafted him but his first professionnal season was rather disappointing. He will have to impress in this rookie camp to stay in the Habs’ long term plans.
Freshly drafted in 2015, Simon Bourque was the Canadiens’ sixth round pick in the most recent draft. Currently acting as an assistant captain for the Rimouski Oceanic, the native of Greenfield Park is mainly a reliable defenseman with a very good first pass. The 6-foot-1 defenseman is known for his leadership qualities as he was named assistant captain at the age of 17.
Another 2015 draftee, Juulsen was the Montreal Canadiens’ first round pick in the most recent draft. The club has very high hopes for him as he just had an excellent season with the Everett Silvertips in the WHL, totalling 52 points in 68 games while playing in every game situation. Juulsen is known for his smooth skating and on-ice vision. He is mainly a playmaking defenseman but can also play a gritty game. He has excellent size at 6-foot-1 but will likely have to put on some weight before making the NHL as he is currently listed at 171lbs. He will definitely be one of the players to watch in this rookie camp.
From one player to watch out for to another, Brett Lernout, 19, was the Habs’ third round pick in the 2014 NHL draft. In the first season after being drafted by the Canadiens, Lernout almost doubled his point totals (42) and played a leadership role with the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL. The 6-foot-4 defenseman plays with an edge on every shift. He is excellent in front of his own net, and he as physical as a defenseman can be. He will not hesitate to defend a teammate or to eliminate forwards on the forecheck. From my sources, the organization really likes this player.
Travis Brown, a former fifth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2012 is coming to the Habs’ camp as a member of the St. John’s IceCaps. He was drafted but not signed by the Blackhawks, making him a free agent. He has played six seasons in the WHL for the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Victoria Royals. The 21-year-old is a physical defenseman with a touch for offense. He has obtained 181 points in 281 WHL games. His 6-foot-2 frame combined with his skillset makes him an interesting defenseman for the IceCaps.
A Habs’ fourth-round pick back in 2011, Didier mobile stay-at-home defenseman. At 6-foot-3, Didier was an assistant captain last season in his senior year at University of Denver in the NCAA. He is the prototypical shot-blocking, penalty killing defensive defenseman and the Canadiens do not have a lot of those. It will be interesting to see what he does in his first year as an IceCap.
A free-agent signing this off-season by general manager Marc Bergevin, Hanley has already seen two seasons in the AHL. Currently on a two-way one year deal with the Canadiens, Hanley is a depth defenseman that will likely play a leadership role with St.John’s. He is a two-way defenseman that was able to put up decent amount of points in his college career but hasn’t brought his game to the professional level yet.
Another free-agent acquisition from Marc Bergevin, Johnston is a below average sized defenseman who can skate very well. He brings leadership, smarts and maturity to a hockey team, qualities that the current management team is very high on. The 23-year-old undrafted rookie is on his way to play his first professionnal season of his career.
Thrower was the Habs’ second round pick back in 2012 and injuries have slowed him down. In a mix of injuries, up and down performances and suspensions, Thrower did not play a full season in his junior career. Thrower was sent to the Brmpton Beast of the ECHL last season on an injury-rehab assisgnment, where he put up just six points in 37 games. For a defenseman who was expected to contribute offensively, that doesn’t look very encouraging. Aside from being an offensive defenseman, Thrower is extremely physical and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves with tough opponents. In fact, he totalled 107 penalty minutes in the ECHL. If he could get back in shape, he could still be a good prospect for the Montreal Canadiens.
Nikita Scherbak, RW
Let’s start with the most interesting prospect. The Canadiens already have a positive impression of Scherbak from last year’s training camp. Scherbak was selected 26th overall in the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry draft. The charismatic Russian has already charmed the city of Montreal with many fans wanting to see him make the opening night roster. He will definitely get a look if he performs well despite the limited available spots. After scoring 160 points in 130 WHL games, Scherbak is looking like an offensive specimen. His soft hands and release reminds me of Alex Galchenyuk but Scherbak is less explosive than Alex. Scherbak is an excellent playmaker and has a good work ethic. He will definitely be winning over additional fans in camp.
Daniel Audette, C
Son of former Habs’ Donald Audette, Daniel’s style is similar to that of his father. A fifth-round pick of the Canadiens in the 2014 draft, Audette was a first overall pick in the QMJHL draft in 2012 by the Sherbrooke Phoenix. Audette possesses, seemingly, every offensive tool possible for a forward, He is an excellent puck-handler with amazing on-ice vision. The question mark is if his 5-foot-8, 176 pound frame will hold up against bigger and tougher defensemen.
Tim Bozon, LW
After a well-publicized bout with meningitis, Tim Bozon is back in full form and ready to fight for a roster spot. Bozon has scored 30 goals or more in each of his four WHL season, and is known for his quick and deceptive shot. To have seen him play, he reminds me of a quicker version of Michael Ryder. He is mainly a scorer, but he will get his fair shair of assists throughout the season as well. His defensive game is still questionnable, but he has allegedly improved it in his first year back from his meningitis. He will very probably start the season in the AHL this season.
Jeremiah Addison, LW
Addison is the Canadiens’ seventh round pick in the 2015 Draft and could project to be a solid bottom-6 player. He plays a physical type of game and has been able to put up good numbers (47 points in 63 games last season) for the Ottawa 67’s in the OHL. He also added six goals and four assists in six playoffs games,
Daniel Carr, LW
Carr is a prospect that our All Habs team has covered a lot. He is a very energetic player that can score a lot of goals. He finished last season with 24 goals, good for leading the Hamilton Bulldogs and the AHL rookie race in goals. He is a relentless worker that reminds me of Brendan Gallagher’s game. He doesn’t get in the crease as recklessly as Gallagher, but Carr also has a motor that never stops running. When he gets on a hot streak, he has that scoring touch that makes it easy to score a lot.
Connor Crisp, C
A third-round pick in 2013, Crisp has a had a disappointing season in Hamilton last year. He only put up a mere five points in 39 games and played mostly minutes on the bottom lines. He is a 6-foot-3, 221 pound forward that brings grit and toughness to the lineup. His offensive game has not translated to the pro-level and he is projected as a fourth-line physical player.
Markus Eisenschmid, C
The darling of Canadiens development camp, Eisenschmid is a German-born player that has played his last three seasons in the WHL while representing his country at the world tournaments on multiple occasions. He is coming off a 44 points season in 50 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers. Eisenschmid was the biggest surprise of the Habs training camp with four goals in two scrimmage games. Aged 20, he will be attending the Habs camp as a try-out player trying to stick with an NHL team. Eisenschmid has been recognized for his offensive abilities but his skating lacks acceleration.
Jérémy Grégoire, C
Grégoire, a former 6th-round pick of the Canadiens in 2013, has improved exponentially ever since he got drafted by Montreal. He has been over a point per game for the last two seasons (111 points in 97 games) in the QMJHL with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and has been acting as captain of the team for the last season. Having met Grégoire a number of times, he is a very down-to-earth person that has a very good work ethic. He is a two-way player who has developed an offensive game to his play, and I think that he projects as a perfect third line centre. Although he is only 6-foot tall, he now weighs 191 pounds, which makes him very solid on his skates and very hard for opponents to knock the puck off his stick.
Charles Hudon, LW
Out of the entire list, the former 5th-round pick of the Canadiens back in 2012 is the one that I consider the closest to the NHL. Hudon is a fast skater that plays a style that could fit in any lines on any given day. He has better hands than we give him credit for and Hudon finished second on the Bulldogs last season in points with 57 points. His hockey vision and the way he thinks the game makes him a viable option for bottom-line duties as well. For that reason, I do think that Hudon is going to spend some time in the NHL this season. Injuries have held him back a little bit in his career and he is going to have to fight this problem if he wants to have a long career.
Dryden Hunt, C
A centre with decent size, Hunt has played his last five seasons in the WHL despite being only 19 years old at the moment. Although he did not get drafted by an NHL team in two NHL drafts, Hunt has improved every single year since he’s started in the WHL. He is a tough forward that works the boards really well and really hard. He is known for his good offensive instincts although he is not a primary point scorer.
Mark MacMillan, C
A 2010 4th-round draft pick by the Canadiens, MacMillan has recently signed his first contract with the team. MacMillan is known as a defensive forward who can kill penalties and block a lot of shots. On top of scoring 25 points in 29 games this last season with the University of North Dakota, MacMillan has won an award for best defensive player in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in the NCAA.
Michael McCarron, C
Although known as a right winger, McCarron finished last season with the Oshawa Generals as a centre. IceCaps coach Sylvain Lefebvre has indicated that McCarron will play centre throughout rookie camp. McCarron was traded from the London Knights to the Oshawa Generals in the middle of last season putting up 27 points in 31 regular season games. He added 18 points in 21 playoff games to help lead his team win the OHL championship and the Memorial Cup Championship. At 6-foot-6, McCarron would be the Habs tallest forward, which is the reason why so many Habs’ fans want to see him in the lineup as soon as possible. Despite his huge frame, McCarron has soft hands and good playmaking ability. He is able to throw hits and score the dirty goals, but he is also able to make the finesse plays. Ever since he got drafted, his skating is what pundits are worried about, but his play last season certainly makes a good case that his skating will not be liability.
Brandon McNally, LW
McNally is attending the Habs’ rookie camp as a part of the St. John’s IceCaps. Marc Bergevin signed him to a contract last May. McNally is an interesting player who has spent four years in the American college ranks. Listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, McNally has put up decent offensive numbers in his college career with 65 points in 105 games. He also recorded three points in 11 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs on a try-out contract last season. McNally is, in my opinion, an underrated signing by Bergevin and he has a chance to develop as a power forward. At 23 years old, the upcoming season is going to decide where his professional career is heading.
Angelo Miceli, C
A hometown player, Miceli is a small forward at 5-foot-9 who has played for the Victoriaville Tigers in the QMJHL for the last four seasons. Considered an offensive dynamo, Miceli has averaged well over a point a game in his junior career and has put up 92 points in 64 games last season. The 21-year-old undrafted player is known for his gritty style of play and his scoring touch.
Jamal Watson, LW
Jamal Watson has played his last four seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL and was acting as captain when he got traded to the Seattle Thunderbirds last May. Watson will also be attending the Habs’ rookie camp as a try-out after setting career highs for goals and assists in his past season.
Following this rookie camp, the official training camp will be also around the corner. So don’t miss out on any news and analysis from the All Habs team that will provide a continuous coverage of the Habs-related events preceeding the start of the season.
Schedule – 2015 Canadiens Rookie Camp
Friday, September 11:
9:30 a.m. Practice (London)
4 p.m. Game vs. Pittsburgh (London)
Saturday, September 12:
11:30 a.m. Practice (London)
7:35 p.m. Game vs. Toronto (London)
Sunday, September 13:
8:30 a.m. Practice (London)
4 p.m. Game vs. Ottawa (London)
Monday, September 14:
Tuesday, September 15:
10:30 a.m. Practice (Bell Sports Complex – Brossard)
Wednesday, September 16:
10:30 a.m. Practice (Bell Sports Complex – Brossard)