SHERBROOKE, QC. — The Montreal Canadiens have had a very successful regular season and decent playoff run this year. The team gave all it had to and in the end, fell short to the Tampa Bay Lightning, partly because of a lack of pure offensive skill. In this coming off-season, general manager Marc Bergevin must address this need. Bergevin’s way of managing revolves around good drafting. He will build his team from the inside out and this requires excellent vision at the draft.
Here are a five options that Bergevin could consider drafting with the five picks that the Canadiens have at this year’s draft. I personally think that this draft is very deep, but the talent is very equal aside from the top-3. I think that we will see a lot of players ranked lower that will end up being first round picks and that is the reason that my predictions are unlike other mock drafts. With the 26th pick, I’m guessing that the Canadiens will go with more of a long-shot attempt at a home-run. Also, I see the Habs putting emphasis on forwards for this draft as much as they did on defensemen in the last one.
Montreal Canadiens 2015 NHL Entry Draft
1st round pick, 26th overall
2nd round pick, 57th overall – traded to Edmonton (Jeff Petry)
3rd round pick, 87th overall
4th round pick, 117th overall – traded to Edmonton (Jeff Petry)
5th round pick, 131st overall – from Colorado (P.A. Parenteau)
5th round pick, 147th overall – traded to Florida (Mike Weaver)
6th round pick, 177th overall
7th round pick, 207th overall
First round (pick No. 26)
Dennis Yan, LW, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
6-1, 187 lbs., USA
CSB: No. 30 | ISS: No. 48 | THN: No. 45
2014-’15: 59 GP, 33 G, 31 A, 64 PTS (Shawinigan Cataractes)
Dennis Yan is one of my favourite players in this draft. Yan is an American-born Russian who is all about offensive power. He visibly has all the offensive tools of a dream forward. He is 6-foot-1, 187 pounds at 18 years old and is an extremely good skater to go with his big frame. Dennis Yan is known as a sniper with good hands and is willing to use them in heavy traffic despite exposing himself to hits. The Portland-native is also a very good puck chaser on the fore-check, which would fit in well with the Habs current offensive system. One thing that coaches loves about him is his attitude on and off the ice. His determination to become a professional player and his maturity are well documented. The obvious knock on him is his defensive play. His intentions aren’t bad, but his defensive positioning needs work. I could see him as a perfect partner for Alex Galchenyuk in the future.
Comparable : Valeri Nichushkin
Jake DeBrusk, LW, Swift Current (WHL)
6-0, 176 lbs., Canada
CSB: No. 19 | ISS: No. 27 | THN: No. 28
2014-’15: 72 GP, 42 G, 39 A, 81 PTS (Swift Current Broncos)
With the Canadiens drafting with the 26th pick, Jake DeBrusk could be a bit of reach if going by the Central Scouting Bureau rankings. But if he falls a few spots, I can see Trevor Timmins and crew making him a Canadien. If you like Brendan Gallagher, then you’ll like DeBrusk. The Edmonton-native is aggressive around the net and has a very quick release. He is equally effective using his speed to score as he is positioning himself for a redirect. His puck handling is decent, his vision is not a strength but he is definitely a player who gives everything he has every single game. Jake is the son of former NHL tough guy Louie DeBrusk, who laced up the skates for several teams, most notably, the Edmonton Oilers. Louie DeBrusk also played for the Quebec Citadelles and the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2001-02, the year before they merged to become an affiliate of the Canadiens.
Comparable: Brendan Gallagher (with height)
Later rounds (87th, 131st, 177th, 207th picks)
David Cotton, C, Cushing Academy (USHS)
6-2, 187 lbs., USA
CSB: No. 62 | ISS: | THN: No. 80
2014-’15 Season: 33 GP, 27 G, 42 A, 69 PTS (Cushing Academy Penguins)
A prototypical Trevor Timmins pick, David Cotton is a competitive two-way center. He already has a pro-ready physique and he already plays a game that is very adaptable to the NHL. Cotton will only be 17 years old come draft day. He is a solid technical skater that makes him look like he is flowing on the ice. Cotton is more of a play-maker than a scorer but he also has a deceptive shot. It is said that Cotton is a player that coaches love to coach. He still has to prove that he can be successful at higher levels, but he is a very intriguing prospect. Cotton has committed to the powerful Boston College hockey program for the 2016-’17 season.
Comparable: David Backes
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C, Omaha (USHL)
6-1, 185 lbs., Sweden
CSB: No. 31 | ISS: 55 | THN: No. 57
2014-’15 Season: 50 GP, 15 G, 38 A, 53 PTS (Omaha Lancers)
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson is a very intelligent playmaking center. He is a forward with very soft hands and plays a very mature two-way game. Forsbacka-Karlsson is one of those players who can create space for his teammates. If the Canadiens are looking for the explosive centerman, he is not their guy. The Stockholm-native plays a very patient style of play. He has a lot of potential offensively, but he hasn’t broken out yet. With the right development, he could become a very solid player in the NHL. At the very least, he would be a good support player. Forsbacka-Karlsson has committed to Boston University for the 2015-16 season.
Comparable: Saku Koivu (Similar shootout moves, but JFK doesn’t have the speed Koivu did.)
Gabriel Gagné, RW, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
6’5, 183 lbs., Canada
CSB: No. 36 | ISS: | THN: No. 92
2014-’15 Season: 67 GP, 35 G, 24 A, 59 PTS (Victoriaville Tigres)
Gabriel Gagné is a hit or miss type of player. If he develops optimally, Gagné could be a top-line player but he would need a lot of polishing. Gagné is a defensively responsible player who isn’t a nuisance on the ice even when he is not scoring. On offense, Gagné has speed, size and a very hard shot. His acceleration is great for his size and that is his biggest asset in my opinion. The young Quebecer is definitely a threat on the rush. Although he is hard to contain, Gagné isn’t a reckless hitter despite his big frame as he prefers to play a smart all-around game.
Comparable: Artem Anisimov