MONTREAL, QC. — The Canadiens Development camp wrapped up in Brossard on Saturday with a scrimmage in the final afternoon session. After a mostly tame few days of drills, there was finally some emotion and intensity during the 4-on-4 game played in two 15-minute periods. There was some spirited chirping and even a hit or two in the Red vs. White game — White came away with an 8-3 win.
The Habs brass was in full attendance for the game with Marc Bergevin, Rick Dudley, Larry Carriere, Scott Mellanby, Martin Lapointe, Michel Therrien and Pierre Groulx in the gallery.
Danny Kristo may have been the player of the game, demonstrating his raw speed and soft hands, scoring once. To a certain extent, Kristo has flown under the radar with fans and media in Montreal but until help arrives in the form of the No. 3 pick at the 2012 Entry Draft, the Fighting Sioux right-winger is the Habs most-promising forward prospect. Kristo will head back to the University of North Dakota for his senior year in the Fall in pursuit of an NCAA championship.
Louis Leblanc also had a fine game, with a goal and at least one assist. Leblanc has brought an all-work attitude to camp this year often seen on the ice well in advance of his fellow prospects. Leblanc became a little feisty earlier in the week jostling with his good buddy Kristo.
For Leblanc, the summer will have to be all about improving his skating to go along with his soft hands. He is able to minimize the effect of his below-average skating skills by being such a bright player anticipating the play. He must also show a willingness to engage in physical play if he hopes to hold down a bottom six spot on the Canadiens.
Michael Cichy also deserves mention after today’s scrimmage. During drills, one can’t help notice that his skating isn’t very strong and there’s nagging rumblings about his conditioning. But get him into game action and Cichy shows that he has excellent vision and a nose for offense. The smallish center scored twice during the scrimmage for Team White.
SCRIMMAGE SCORING SUMMARY
1. WHITE – Olivier Archambault (Danny Kristo)
2. WHITE – Louis Leblanc
3. RED – Gabriel Dumont
4. WHITE – Phil DeSimone
5. WHITE – Michael Cichy (Louis Leblanc)
6. RED – Philippe Lefebvre
7. WHITE – Alain Berger
8. WHITE – Danny Kristo (Joonas Nattinen)
9. RED – Jarred Tinordi
10. WHITE – Michael Cichy
11. WHITE – Joe Stejskal (Michael Bournival) (EN)
(tabulated by Dan Kramer)
Goaltending has been unremarkable throughout the development camp but Brandon Maxwell and Aaron Dell came in for the last half of the shootout for their teams. Each goalie gave an impressive performance not allowing a goal.
For Habs fans there was a lot to feel good about at this four-day camp. But who were the players who stood out?
1. As is often the case, Alexander Avtsin demonstrated that he was the most skilled-player in camp. His skating is powerful and technically flawless. He has magical hands and can be very creative with the puck. It’s incumbent upon Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebvre and his staff to find a way to get Avtsin to play to his potential this upcoming season.
2. Daniel Pribyl is an up-sized version of Avtsin. He has the same skill and vision in a bigger frame. He is a good skater but not at the same level as Avtsin. At this point in his career, Pribyl is quite raw and would benefit from being in the CHL. However, he will return to play in Czech Extraliga for one more season.
3. Joonas Nattinen could be primed for a break out season in Hamilton. Last year was an adjustment year for Nattinen returning after a long injury layoff and playing in his first pro season — you can expect more than 11 goals and 10 assists next year. The 21 year-old center is a good two-way player, skates well, has excellent vision and sports an underrated shot in addition to his play-making abilities.
4. Brendan Gallagher gave Canadiens fans a taste of what to expect from him last Fall. While Gallagher will be penciled in to the Bulldogs roster for the upcoming season, you can bet the diminutive right-winger has his sights set higher. Despite any physical limitations, Gallagher fights to get to open areas of ice, and has the hands to bury the puck once it arrives.
5. Danny Kristo and 6. Louis Leblanc belong in this category too. They showed this week that both will have a role in Montreal sometime in the future.
7. Steve Quailer has good size and has shown a desire to drive to the net. With some additional muscle to his large frame, he could be a power-forward in the making. Quailer has an upright skating style with good balance, and protects the puck well.
Three forwards didn’t make it into my top-7 but with added consistency could soon be part of that group.
Alain Berger appears to have it all. He isn’t quick but has smooth long strides to propel him where he needs to go. Berger has imposing size, will play physical and has the ability to score dirty goals. He just seems to disappear for long stretches.
Michael Bournival is a bit of a mystery. He is a very smooth skater and certainly has a scoring touch. But Bournival has this uncanny ability to look like a stud one minute and a dud the next.
Patrick Holland could be an interesting player to follow this season in Hamilton. There will be pressure on this 20-year-old to prove that his numbers last season (25 goals, 84 assists) weren’t just a product of his power-house team and linemates. There’s some work to do on his skating but Holland is a solid two-way prospect.
Forwards Olivier Archambault, Michael Cichy, Philip Desimone, Gabriel Dumont, Philippe Lefebvre, Mark MacMillan and Ian Schultz also attended camp. Dustin Walsh was injured and did not participate.
1. Jarred Tinordi‘s main attribute is obviously his intimidating size. He is a very good skater and is very strong over his feet. Tinordi plays tough and has natural leadership abilities. The crew in Hamilton would be wise to encourage his underrated offensive skills. He scored on a breakaway in Saturday’s game.
2. Nathan Beaulieu is the Canadiens most offensively-talented prospect on defense. He is a smooth skater but needs to work on his defensive positioning. Beaulieu will also have to improve his focus to be successful as a pro.
3. Darren Dietz arrived at camp this year with a new-found confidence. He is a good puck-moving defenseman who is not afraid to jump into the rush. Dietz has a bullet shot and can play physical to clear the front of the net.
The next three defenseman didn’t disappoint at camp but were not remarkable enough to jump into the top-3.
Greg Pateryn has a hard shot, has good size and plays physical. He will play a defensive role in Hamilton in the upcoming season.
Josiah Didier is still a very raw prospect. Using his size and shot-blocking are his best assets.
Joe Stejskal is a stay-at-home defenseman who relies on solid positioning and size to be effective. His skating is a project but has some leadership skills.
Morgan Ellis and Colin Sullivan were injured and did not participate.
1. Aaron Dell is listed as one of The Goalie Guild’s “Dark Horses” with a 35 per cent chance of being signed to a pro deal. In camp Dell demonstrated why he had such a successful NCAA career with solid positioning. He could improve his rebound control but was willing to battle to make the save when caught out of position.
2. Brandon Maxwell was one of the players signed to an amateur try-out contract by the Bulldogs last April as he backed up Peter Delmas. Maxwell has quick feet and stays square to the shooter. He plays a little deep in the crease giving room to shooters up high.
3. Robert Mayer is a technically-sound goaltender who plays an upright style to use his size. Mayer has never been a goalie to challenge shooters but seems to be experimenting with playing even deeper in his crease this Spring. Consistency and mental preparation has been an issue for Mayer in the past.
Goaltenders Joseph Quattrocchi and Cody Reichard also attended camp.
Peter Delmas was injured and did not participate.
Each of these players now heads home for the summer to work out, eat well and rehab any nagging injuries. We’ll see many of them back in Montreal in September for the Rookie camp. Your comments and questions are welcomed below.
Stay with All Habs Hockey Magazine this upcoming week for continuing draft coverage, with the Habs Development Camp (Part 2) to follow at the end of June.
Just one thought before we close the book on this development camp.
He can’t skate. His shot is so weak. He couldn’t stop a beach-ball. Why is he here anyway?
Waive him. Trade him. We’ll take a bag of pucks.
Fans can be a critical bunch. Demanding too. And when their favorite team hasn’t won the Cup for 19 years, they’ve earned the right to moan a little about the players in the organization.
But occasionally, let’s say once per year, we should remind ourselves that not just anyone gets drafted by the Montreal Canadiens. Or any other team for that matter.
Numbers vary, but about 1 in 1500 players in Canadian minor hockey makes it to the NHL. In the U.S. it’s estimated that the ratio is 1 in 3300.
Let’s not quibble with the numbers, and acknowledge that only three of the players at the Habs Development camp have been called up to the big club, so far. Some will never make it to the NHL. But these 32 prospects have been drafted, traded for, signed as a free agent or given try-outs by the Canadiens. That puts them in rare company.
They skate under the banners of retired legends, and they wear CH on their chests. And somewhere, they each have a Dad who is extremely proud. They are fathers who built backyard rinks and drove their boy to practise. Their sons are one of the special few to wear the jersey of the Montreal Canadiens.
So let’s take a minute to tip our caps to the prospects who made it this far and to wish hockey Dads and all others, a very Happy Father’s Day!