LONDON, ON — The Montreal Canadiens returned to Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario for another weekend of showcasing and evaluating their young prospects during the annual three-game tournament against the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins. Although the games were simply exhibition, they provided coaches, management, scouts, and the media ample time to evaluate and analyze the progress the prospects have made over the summer and see first-hand how they react in real-time game situations.
Overall, the rookies played relatively solid hockey – even though they dropped two of the three games. Mike McCarron performed well as captain, with Jeremy Gregoire, Brett Lernout, and Artturi Lehkonen serving as alternates. McCarron centered the first line with Lehkonen and Nikita Scherbak on the wings, a trio who proved to be a formidable force, tallying five goals and eight assists collectively.
Will Bitten played some memorable hockey over the weekend, making his presence felt with physical play and getting into the dirty areas in puck battles. Mikhail Sergachev dealt some punishing blows to opponents as he showed off his physical defensive style. He was forced to leave the game against the Senators in the second period after sustaining an upper body injury due to being boarded by one of the recipients of his body checking. Sergachev did not return to the game and is currently day-to-day.
As usual, Lernout didn’t shy away from hitting at either end of the ice and appropriately stood up for teammates whenever needed. He showed improvement in skating and getting opponents off the puck. Noah Juulsen had an average tournament, making some smart plays here and there while paired with Sergachev, but didn’t stand out tremendously. Arvid Henrikson will be fun to watch develop. He skates with confidence and isn’t afraid to get physical. Zone entries and passing were positive as well for him.
On the goaltending front, Charlie Lindgren had a very good game against the Penguins on Friday night. After looking a bit nervous out of the gate, and allowing a goal just 21 seconds into the first period, he settled into his role and looked increasingly confident as the game progressed. Zach Fucale had a good showing early in his game against the Maple Leafs, but after letting a few pucks past him, he seemed to get a bit rattled and let in a soft late-period goal in the third which gave Toronto the win. Finally, Michael McNiven had a less-than-stellar performance against the Senators, allowing six goals in total. At times he looked unsure of his positioning but other times he was seeing the puck well – consistency will need to be a focus for him moving forward.
Our Rocket Sports Media team was on location in London for the full tournament; you can check out the recap and photo gallery below and you’ll also find full audio of each post-game interview from players and coaches.
The prospects finish rookie camp on Wednesday before the rest of the team reports on Thursday for medicals and physical exams to kick off training camp.
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Penguins – Mike McCarron
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Penguins – Ryan Johnston
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Penguins – Artturi Lehkonen
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Penguins – Charlie Lindgren
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Penguins – Martin Lapointe
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Maple Leafs – Artturi Lehkonen
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Maple Leafs – Victor Mete
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Maple Leafs – Zach Fucale
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Maple Leafs – Will Bitten
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Maple Leafs – Martin Lapointe
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Senators – Mike McCarron
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Senators – Daniel Audette
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Senators – Noah Juulsen
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Senators – Brett Lernout
AUDIO: Canadiens vs Senators – Martin Lapointe