TORONTO, ON – Particularly since the advent of the NHL salary cap, the importance of building through the draft to piece together a winning professional hockey team is at an all-time high. The Chicago Blackhawks captured the 2013 Stanley Cup with starring performances from Jonathan Toews (3rd overall, 2006) and Patrick Kane (1st overall, 2007) offensively, a defense anchored by Duncan Keith (54th overall, 2002) and Brent Seabrook (14th overall, 2003), and stellar netminding from Corey Crawford (52nd overall, 2003). Playoff standout Bryan Bickell was also a Hawk selection (41st overall, 2004), showing the significance of proper player development over the longer term.
Admittedly, three of those six players were selected at a pick higher than any Marc Bergevin currently holds for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft which goes this Sunday, but this year’s crop of prospects is being touted as incredibly deep, and the Montreal Canadiens are in great shape to refill their prospect ranks with six selections in the first three rounds.
That makes Sunday both an exciting and critically important time for the Montreal Canadiens and their fans. Will Trevor Timmins and his staff look to address specific needs? Will they stick with their philosophy of simply drafting the best players available at their selections? Will Bergevin aggressively look to move up in the draft, improving on the 25th overall selection he currently holds? Questions will become answers in just a few days time, and to set you up for that afternoon, here we’ll look at some possibly likely candidates for each of Montreal’s 2014 selections.
ROUND 1, 25TH OVERALL
Pick Strategy: The Canadiens have a wealth of players to sign in the next two years as they’ve managed to restock what was for too long a very thin prospect pipeline. This has already led to tough decisions to let go the likes of Olivier Archambault, Daniel Pribyl, and Dustin Walsh. As such, my goal with a first round selection – especially given how many picks the team holds in the following rounds – is to take a homerun swing. Try to land an impact player, rather than a safe future NHL’er. This means if one of the players in spots 1-4 on this top 10 is still on the board past pick 15, inquire as to what it would cost to move up from 25 and secure that player’s rights.
HM: Zachary Fucale
Goaltender – Halifax (QMJHL)
6’1″, 175 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 1st (North American Goaltenders)
Are the Canadiens at a point where they need to spend a first round pick on a goaltender? Absolutely not. But the draft shouldn’t be a team’s means to address what presently ails them. It’s about filling gaps for the future, and the team’s netminding pipeline – even with the acquisition of Dustin Tokarski, retention of Robert Mayer, and signing of Mike Condon - remains rather thin. If the team has the opportunity to nab the top-ranked netminder in the draft, it’s certainly an option, though there are questions about how good Fucale will be simply because of the stacked roster he has benefited from in front of him. You can’t really hold that against a prospect, however, and Fucale did improve his numbers year over year to show some promise for the future.
10. Adam Erne
Right Wing – Quebec (QMJHL)
6’0″, 200 lbs
McKeen’s: 1st-20th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 26th (North American Skaters)
A thick, gritty, aggressive scorer, Erne improved to top the point-per-game mark in his second season with the Remparts, playing under the tutelage of Patrick Roy. He has an agitator side to his game (not unlike a Maxime Lapierre or Steve Ott), getting under the opposition’s skin, but then also capable of making them pay with his shifty stickhandling and netfront presence. That offensive ability and swift skating give him top six potential, leaving some to believe he’ll be gone before the Canadiens step up to the podium. If the team does get a chance to draft him, he’d bring a level of nastiness that the Montreal pipeline lacks
9. Anthony Mantha
Left Wing – Val D’Or (QMJHL)
6’4″, 190 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 1st-20th | Central Scouting: 10th (North American Skaters)
Mantha’s size and numbers have many thinking he’ll go early in the first round, but some teams handicap him for being one of the draft’s older players, just shy of having been eligible in 2012. He has hockey bloodlines as the grandson of former Canadien Andre Pronovost, but has faced criticism for lacking consistent intensity. His biggest offensive weapon is a lethal wristshot, and while he compliments it with adept stickhandling ability, he remains a one-way player, requiring improvement on the defensive end of the puck in addition to obviously filling out a lanky frame. The potential to add a 6’4″ forward with local roots would be far too sweet a fit for Beregvin to pass up on if Mantha falls into his lap.
8. Emile Poirier
Left Wing – Gatineau (QMJHL)
6’1″, 185 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 39th (North American Skaters)
Born in Montreal, Poirier showed the kind of improvement scouts love in a young player, more than doubling his goal total from 15 to 32 in two fewer games. Poirier has the work ethic, two-way responsibility, and tenacity of a Gabriel Dumont, while boasting a higher end skill set that should see him selected in the first round. Offensively, Poirier is primarily a passer, but will also go hard to the net to dig for rebounds or deflections. His well-rounded game seems to fit the mold of the type of player Montreal likes to build around, and thus he could be a future complimentary scoring forward for the team.
7. Kerby Rychel
Left Wing – Windsor (OHL)
6’1″, 200 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 17th (North American Skaters)
The Canadiens should know Rychel well from watching Brady Vail play this season, and one can’t help but be impressed by his consecutive 40-goal OHL seasons, even with being given opportunities to play alongside talented linemates. Rychel plays a strong physical game to go along with an impressive arsenal of dangerous shots and passes, but lacks the skating ability that would establish him as a true bluechip prospect. If his scoring doesn’t translate to the next level, or his skating holds him back, Rychel remains a versatile player, always willing to back up the sandpaper he brings by dropping the gloves as a willing combatant. More physicality is always welcome in the Montreal pipeline.
6. Jacob De La Rose
Center / Left Wing – Leksand (Allsvenskan)
6’2″, 185 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 41st-60th | Central Scouting: 7th (European Skaters)
De La Rose’s stock is rising in the books of many, and while some still have him outside the first round, don’t be surprised to hear his name called in the top 30. It was a year of experience for the tall, lanky Swede, playing in a second tier men’s league while representing his country at both U18 and U20 competitions. De La Rose won’t wow you with flashy skill, but plays a two-way gritty game, producing offense with a heavy shot and leveraging a strong stride to gain a step on opposing players. A safe pick as a top 9 forward who can play both center and wing, and one with significant upside which has me high on him for the Canadiens’ selection.
5. Frederik Gauthier
Center – Rimouski (QMJHL)
6’5″, 215 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 1st-20th | Central Scouting: 8th (North American Skaters)
Already blessed with NHL-size, the Laval native is the kind of homegrown package the Canadiens may be too tempted to pass on if he is still available at their selection. Gauthier showed offensive upside this season, but was also inconsistent, finishing just below the point-per-game mark. He did also display a very competent two-way game, however, making him a safe bet to at least fill a third or fourth line center role as he moves up to the next level of competition. Gauthier is strong in the corners, and not afraid to engage physically, but isn’t the heavy hitter one would hope for from a kid with such a frame.
4. Rasmus Ristolainen
Defenseman – TPS (SM-Liiga)
6’3″, 205 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 1st-20th | Central Scouting: 4th (European Skaters)
Ristolainen is the first player of this list who is probably a reach to still be on the board at pick 25, and thus might only be attainable through a trade-up. With experience already playing against men in the pro Finnish league, and the size to compete at any level, it is unlikely Ristolainen falls out of the top 20, but he has appeared all over various pre-draft ranking lists. A puck-moving blueliner with good skating for his size, a quick pass, and a solid point shot, Ristolainen can also play a physical game, but does so perhaps less often than most fans would want to see. Despite his strong legs and offensive abilities, there are questions about his defensive timing and reaction speed, which means he may not top out at more than a #4 – 6 blueliner at the NHL level, if he is unable to improve in those areas.
3. Samuel Morin
Defenseman – Rimouski (QMJHL)
6’6″, 205 lbs
McKeen’s: 1st-20th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 23rd (North American Skaters)
What could be better than having one 6’6″ or bigger d-man in the pipeline? Having two of course! Where Jarred Tinordi‘s game is more shutdown than physical, Morin has already learned to love dishing out crushing body checks. In addition to his nasty side, Morin seems to have more offensive upside than Tinordi, doubling his point production year over year in fewer games, and finishing the post-season above a point-per-game. However, he remains a defense-first player, and thus there remain questions around him given he is prone to sometimes chasing the play or getting beaten and off his angles in one-on-one play. Still, he’d add another top 4 blueliner prospect to the club’s back end.
2. Bo Horvat
Center – London (OHL)
6’0″, 195 lbs
McKeen’s: 1st-20th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 15th (North American Skaters)
Some rankings have Horvat as a top 10 pick thanks to a strong playoff run with the London Knights, while others have him falling outside the top 20, well within striking distance of Bergevin if he were willing to part with an asset or two. A scoring, hard-working forward who can play both center and wing, Horvat’s strong production (including 16 playoff goals) comes from his willingness to battle his way to the net and dominate the slot area. He’s blessed with a wicked wrist shot and doesn’t hesitate to get physical when the opportunity arises, with the only knocks against him being his speed and footwork in an awkward skating stride. That has held back players like Kyle Chipchura and Jason Ward before him, so the pick wouldn’t be without risk, but if Horvat should fall, he has significant upside.
1. Hunter Shinkaruk
Left Wing – Medicine Hat (WHL)
5’10″, 175 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 1st-20th | Central Scouting: 6th (North American Skaters)
Speaking of upside, if there is a player in this year’s draft that might earn the Teuvo Teravainen (18th overall, 2012) award for slipping in the first round, it could be Shinkaruk. Early projections had him just a step behind the Jonathan Drouins and Aleksander Barkovs of the world, but a lack of size combined with missing that explosive gear that allows some smaller, shiftier players to pull away from defenders has seen him plummet down some rankings. Still, Shinkaruk is a hard working, two-way forward blessed with a good shot and quick passing ability. Despite being smaller, he has a nose for the net and won’t back down from engaging physically on the forecheck. A high compete level means he should be a can’t-miss top 9 (at a minimum) NHL forward in the not-too-distant future, with homerun potential, and thus enough of a gamble to sacrifice some additional picks to select should he slip past #15.
ROUND 2, 34TH OVERALL
Pick Strategy: Simply put, best player available. If this pick isn’t coupled with pick 25 to move up higher in the first round, then the team’s goal should be to identify a first round talent who has slipped out of the top 30, as some inevitably do every year. That’s regardless of shape, size, or position. It’ll often be a guy who has all the tools but one to be a bluechipper, and is thus a second homerun swing.
5. Mike McCarron
Right Wing – US NTDP (U18)
6’5″, 225 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 41st-60th | Central Scouting: 35th (North American Skaters)
Already boasting NHL size (and then some…), McCarron plays a gritty two-way game that will see him develop into either a power forward or an ideal third or fourth line winger. He’s a good skater for a man of his size, though his puck skills aren’t exceptional. Instead, he works hard, finishing hits and even dropping the gloves as needed, but has to improve his consistency if he’s to be more than a fourth line plug. He is more likely to surprise a defender with the speed at which he can execute a play for such a big body rather than to beat someone one-on-one with any particular skill.
4. Jason Dickinson
Left Wing – Guelph (OHL)
6’1″, 170 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 41st-60th | Central Scouting: 30th (North American Skaters)
Dickinson’s frame – particularly his legs – still needs significant strengthening, but the offensive center’s quick and soft hands make him a constant scoring threat. He has good footspeed, but doesn’t always use it effectively, shying away from the heavier traffic areas of the rink and hesitating to engage physically. Consistency is also a question mark for his future, as he has a tendency to disappear at times, including in more important games. As such, his overall package makes him an option for an early second round pick, but perhaps not the ideal choice.
3. Ryan Hartman
Right Wing – Plymouth (OHL)
5’11″, 185 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 16th (North American Skaters)
Despite being undersized, Hartman is a quality energy player, fearlessly throwing his body around and not afraid of taking punishment to set up camp in front of a goal or in a corner. While he has a quick shot, he is better suited as a puckhandler and playmaker, and is likely only to escape the first round because of average skating ability. He has shown a knack for unleashing big body checks, though he’ll need to add some weight to be able to do that against older and larger competition.
2. Madison Bowey
Defenseman – Kelowna (WHL)
6’1″, 195 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 32nd (North American Skaters)
Bowey is a strong and quick blueliner playing in Josh Gorges‘s old haunt of Kelowna, and the two have comparable work ethics and attitudes. His skating is his biggest asset, while he occasionally makes poor decisions with the puck, but has a wide stance and long reach that help him recover. His hard shot allowed him to modestly improve his offensive numbers over his rookie campaign, though he’s much more at ease mucking it up physically than trying to produce in the attacking zone.
1. Laurent Dauphin
Center – Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
5’11″, 170 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 28th (North American Skaters)
Dauphin played for Charles Hudon‘s Chicoutimi Sagueneens as a QMJHL rookie this past season, finishing with 57 points in 62 games and producing 6 points in 7 games at the U18 Worlds. His 25 goals – second most among Q rookies – are attributable to his gritty work ethic and determination with the puck. His lack of size and average skating should see him slip out of the first round, but his tendency to elevate his play in big games will appeal to a lot of teams as a testament to his character.
ROUND 2, 36TH OVERALL
Pick Strategy: Best player available. This selection comes only two later than pick 34, so similar approach. I’d like to see at least one of each of a defenseman and a forward taken with these first three selections to add depth at every position, unless a player too good to pass up on is still on the board.
5. Justin Bailey
Center – Kitchener (OHL)
6’3″, 175 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 41st-60th | Central Scouting: 38th (North American Skaters)
Bailey possesses a big shot which he can fire off a quick release, but must improve the consistency in the rest of his game. His puck handling and skating technique are the main areas of concern that are likely to keep the large center out of the first round of the draft, as will his underuse of a large frame in a hesitancy to drive the net. Bailey’s production trended downwards later on in the season, but there’s no denying that all the raw tools are there for him to someday make an NHL scorer, with an uncanny ability to generate chances off the rush and the potential to fill out his frame and thus becoming harder to knock off the puck.
4. J.T. Compher
Center – U-18 USDP (USHL)
5’10″, 185 lbs
McKeen’s: 41st-60th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 34th (North American Skaters)
Compher captained the USDP U-18 team and managed 50 points in 52 games after returning from a concussion. He’s a versatile two-way center with deceptive skating ability and quick hands which he uses as a shoot-first, ask questions later type in front of the net. He has a high level of competitiveness and combativeness, working hard both with and without the puck. The lack of size, concussion history, and lack of top end offensive upside will scare some teams away early, but he’s a safe pick as a future locker room leader.
3. William Carrier
Left Wing / Center – Cape Breton (QMJHL)
6’1″, 205 lbs
McKeen’s: 41st-60th | Future Considerations: 41st-60th | Central Scouting: 18th (North American Skaters)
Carrier would likely have been a first round pick had an ankle injury not limited him to 34 games in his draft year, amassing an impressive 42 points for the weak Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, actually finishing second on the team in points despite having played half the games of most of his ‘mates. He’s an aggressive power forward type with a heavy shot, indicating that whoever nabs him is acquiring a potential steal. Like most players in his mold, his skating is the biggest concern outside of his injury troubles, with his defensive game also requiring improvement. As mentioned, however, we continue to seek a best player available homerun-type with this pick, and if Carrier is still on the board, his mix of size and skills would be welcome in the Montreal prospect pool. But he’ll go higher than where most are currently projecting him.
2. Tommy Vannelli
Defenseman – Minnetonka (USHS)
6’2″, 175 lbs
McKeen’s: 21st-40th | Future Considerations: 41st-60th | Central Scouting: 44th (North American Skaters)
Vannelli is a great skater, something he’ll need to maintain as he adds muscle to his lanky 6’2″ frame. He has a heavy slapshot and shows poise in remaining cool even in pressure situations in games. Defensively, he displays a high hockey IQ in playing an angling and positional game rather than a physical or aggressive one, and is quick at starting a break out with a hard an accurate pass. He should go early in the draft as he has already committed to getting an early start to his NCAA career with the University of Minnesota this Fall.
1. Morgan Klimchuk
Left Wing – Regina (WHL)
5’11″, 180 lbs
McKeen’s: 41st-60th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 25th (North American Skaters)
While many have him as a first rounder, Klimchuk’s undersized frame may see him slip to one of Montreal’s early second round choices. Klimchuk has been a quick riser, doubling his rookie output in his second season with Regina and finishing second in scoring on Team Canada at the U18s. He is a well-balanced offensive player, boasting quick skating, a potent shot, and creative stickhandling, making him a threat whenever the puck is on his stick. To reach his potential as a top six winger, he’ll need to bulk up and improve his physical play, while also rounding out his defensive game.
ROUND 2, 55TH OVERALL
Pick Strategy: Scoring forward depth. As you move later into the draft, there generally isn’t a single “best player available,” so you have the opportunity to add additional layers of queries to your search. In this case, my priority would be to add an offensive scoring forward, as pure scorers aren’t plentiful in the Montreal system.
5. Oliver Bjorkstrand
Left Wing – Portland (WHL)
5’11″, 170 lbs
McKeen’s: 41st-60th | Future Considerations: 61st-80th | Central Scouting: 36th (North American Skaters)
After a year of playing against men in Demark, Bjorkstrand made a seamless transition to North America, finishing just below a point-per-game in his rookie campaign with Portland, leading all of the league’s first year players. His most impressive feature is his shot, but he’ll need to improve his skating to compensate for his underaverage physique. Bjorkstrand is a responsible two-way player, but must improve his decision-making and the speed with which he does it in order to reach the next level.
4. Nicolas Petan
Center – Portland (WHL)
5’9″, 165 lbs
McKeen’s: 41st-60th | Future Considerations: 21st-40th | Central Scouting: 33rd (North American Skaters)
A dynamic offensive force who tied for the WHL lead with 120 points in 71 games, Petan is a fast and shifty skater who displays amazing puck control even in tight traffic. He is talented in all scoring areas, be it his quick release, squirmy maneuvers, or saucer passes, combining it all with elite hockey sense that would see him continue to score at a torrid pace into the post-season (28 points in 21 games). The only thing that will make teams pass is his size, which makes him a potentially poor fit for a Montreal organization bent on getting bigger.
3. Nick Sorensen
Right Wing – Quebec (QMJHL)
6’1″, 175 lbs
McKeen’s: 41st-60th | Future Considerations: 61st-80th | Central Scouting: 48th (North American Skaters)
Sorensen finished above the point-per-game mark in his first full season with the deep and talented Remparts squad, attributed mostly to great skating ability and quick hands. A two-way player with adequate passing and shooting ability, his injury history and possible lack of vision or hockey sense are question marks that may see him slip to Montreal’s third pick of the second round on Sunday. Naturally, the Danish-born Sorensen will need to fill out his frame to reach any professional potential.
2. Jordan Subban
Defenseman – Belleville (OHL)
5’9″, 170 lbs
McKeen’s: 41st-60th | Future Considerations: 41st-60th | Central Scouting: 55th (North American Skaters)
The final of three Subban brothers to be drafted, P.K.’s young sibling plays a game similar to the Norris winner. He is an offensive defenseman, but lacks P.K.’s size and strength which make the Canadiens rearguard such a threat in all three zones. Despite finishing third on the Bulls in scoring, he was often left off the top powerplay unit, which make his 51 points in 68 games all the more impressive. Ultimately, the knock on Subban will remain his small frame, though he does his best to compensate for it with strong skating ability. The Canadiens don’t need another small blueliner, but with many large-sized defensive prospects in the system, they could afford to add one with a talent level like Subban’s.
1. Zach Nastasiuk
Right Wing – Owen Sound (OHL)
6’1″, 185 lbs
McKeen’s: 41st-60th | Future Considerations: 41st-60th | Central Scouting: 13th (North American Skaters)
If Nastasiuk’s skating were slightly better, many would speak about him as a late first to early second round pick. An aggressive player with a heavy shot, he has a knack for positioning himself in the slot or at the top of the crease, and displays a high level of hockey sense in knowing how and when to maneuver around. His game trended upwards late in the season after getting off to a slow start following shoulder surgery, ultimately doubling his offensive outputs with Owen Sound from the year prior.
ROUND 3, 71ST OVERALL
Pick Strategy: I’d like to see one of the third rounders used on a goaltender if Montreal doesn’t select one earlier. Two options are provided below. I’d like to continue the theme of adding scoring depth with the other selection.
3. Anthony Duclair
Left Wing, Quebec (QMJHL)
5’11″, 180 lbs
McKeen’s: 61st-80th | Future Considerations: 81st-100th | Central Scouting: 57th (North American Skaters)
Duclair is an underaverage sized offensive force, whose quick and shift skill set has gamebreaker potential. He is a stickhandler and playmaker, best played as a set-up man for a linemate with a heavy shot. Despite his size, he is very willing to throw a hit or go to the net, though he needs to improve his overall consistency and confidence, which has some wondering about potential attitude or character concerns.
2. Spencer Martin
Goaltender – Mississauga (OHL)
6’2″, 185 lbs
McKeen’s: 61st-80th | Future Considerations: 81st-100th | Central Scouting: 5th (North American Goaltenders)
Perhaps I’m a little biased in favour of Martin for having seen him play live several times in Mississauga this season, but he rarely had a poor outing on nights I was there. A quick butterfly-style goaltender, he has some inconsistencies in his game – perhaps caused by mental lapses – that still need to be worked out, but he plays a confident aggressive style, backed by solid reflexes that give him future starter potential. He needs to improve rebound control, but has the ability to make those second saves to help himself out.
1. John Hayden
Right Wing – US NTDP (U18)
6’2″, 205 lbs
McKeen’s: 61st-80th | Future Considerations: 41st-60th | Central Scouting: 29th (North American Skaters)
Hayden’s offensive output and overall game improved over the course of the season which undoubtedly will have him trending upwards on draft day. He uses his size well to make himself tough for defenders to contain, but is more of a two-way character player than a pure scoring type. As he grows into his frame, he’ll need to continue to polish his skating, but he shows the mark of developing into a dump-and-chase power forward crease-crasher type.
ROUND 3, 86TH OVERALL
Pick Strategy: See pick 71.
3. Adam Tambellini
Center – Vernon (BCHL)
6’3″, 185 lbs
McKeen’s: 61st-80th | Future Considerations: 61st-80th | Central Scouting: 42nd (North American Skaters)
A tall scoring forward, Tambellini leverages his size through a long reach to get to loose pucks around the net. He needs to add significant muscle to his frame, however, or he will continue to be easily outmuscled, rendering his positioning and shooting game less effective. Tambellini has strong hockey bloodlines in father Steve and brother Jeff, factors not losses on the Canadiens’ brass.
2. Philippe Desrosiers
Goaltender – Rimouski (QMJHL)
6’1″, 185 lbs
McKeen’s: 61st-80th | Future Considerations: 61st-80th | Central Scouting: 7th (North American Goaltenders)
Desrosiers had a sparkling U18 World Championship leading Canada to gold, and is one of the younger players in this year’s draft, not turning 18 until mid-August. That gives the hybrid netminder plenty of time to develop, already having earned a starting role with Rimouski. He is considered a big-game goaltender, capable of getting to rebounds and bailing out his defenders thanks to a quick glove hand and strong flexibility.
1. J.C. Lipon
Right Wing – Kamloops (WHL)
6’0″, 180 lbs
McKeen’s: 81st-100th | Future Considerations: 81st-100th | Central Scouting: 83rd (North American Skaters)
Lipon is an overager who tore the WHL apart after going undrafted in 2012. He was near the top of the league for a good portion of the season, but ended up finishing a distant 11th in scoring due to time missed for the World Juniors and the Kamloops squad cooling off down the stretch, which has tempered his stock (though he bounced back with 21 points in his 10 first playoff games). Lipon turns 20 in July, meaning he would be eligible to join the Hamilton Bulldogs as early as this Fall, his puck possession style and willingness to battle in the corners or in front of the net should indicate he is ready to make that leap. Certainly the Canadiens will have seen plenty of him, a teammate of 2012 selection Tim Bozon.
ROUND 4, 116TH OVERALL
[Many believed this pick belonged to the New York Islanders, sent over in the James Wisniewski trade on the condition that the Canadiens made the playoffs that year with Wisniewski suiting up for at least half the games. Turns out the condition was for the team to not only make the playoffs, but further reach the Eastern Conference Final, which they failed to do.]
Pick Strategy: Positional. Looking to add at defense or center after using earlier picks on scoring wingers. These are areas of some organizational weakness (given the focus on forwards over defense earlier on in the draft) that could be addressed with a still-early pick in this deep talent pool.
3. Kurt Etchegary
Center – Quebec (QMJHL)
5’11″, 185 lbs
McKeen’s: 101st-120th | Future Considerations: 101st-120th | Central Scouting: 72nd (North American Skaters)
Etchegary is a wildcard in the draft given he missed considerable time with injury this past season. Considered a defensive center, he showed offensive upside in registering 25 points in 31 games, and doesn’t shy away from on-ice danger zones despite his small stature. His nose for the net combined with natural puck ability means that if he can move past the double hip surgeries he underwent this season, there is third line NHL potential in his game.
2. Lucas Wallmark
Center – Skelleftea (SWEDEN U20)
5’11″, 175 lbs
McKeen’s: 81st-100th | Future Considerations: 81st-100th | Central Scouting: 16th (European Skaters)
Marc Bergevin has never hid his love for Swedes, and Wallmark is a pretty typical one, not unlike 2012 selection Sebastian Collberg. While undersized, he plays a two-way complimentary game that allows him to slot in seamlessly anywhere in a team’s line-up. While Collberg’s strength is his shot, Wallmark is a pass-first player, with his playmaking ability allowing him to earn an impressive 10 points in his first 16 Allsvenskan games as a junior aged player. He isn’t blessed with Collberg’s natural skating ability, however, which is a definite red flag for a player who lacks a sizeable frame.
1. Anthony Florentino
Defenseman – South Kent (USHS)
6’1″, 225 lbs
McKeen’s: 101st-120th | Future Considerations: 81st-100th | Central Scouting: 75th (North American Skaters)
A tough defensive blueliner who uses his already well filled-out frame to lay big hits on opposing forwards. While playing at a low level, he showed some offense in his game courtesy of a powerful shot, allowing him to register 53 points in just 62 games, but it is unclear as to whether that can translate at a higher level. Florentino is a hard working, responsible blueliner who is a leader on his team and could be compared to a Josh Gorges type with more of a physical edge, though he of course remains raw and will need significant time and improvement to reach that level.
ROUND 6, 176TH OVERALL
Pick Strategy: Size and upside. I don’t like drafting “safe” players late. You can find those guys as undrafted free agents. Especially with the number of scouts the Canadiens have added. In rounds 6 and 7, we’re looking for rare physical specimens, or players who are still unproven but appear to have the potential to break out.
3. Jayden Hart
Center – Prince Albert (WHL)
6’2″, 190 lbs
McKeen’s: Not Ranked | Future Considerations: 141st-160th | Central Scouting: 134th (North American Skaters)
Hart is a two-way center with good size who doesn’t shy away from physical play. Injury limited his development over the course of this past season, though his production improved after being acquired by the Prince Albert Raiders. The description may remind some Hab fans of another center the team drafted from Prince Albert in Kyle Chipchura, who would be a lot more pallatable as a 6th round selection, and if Hart can put all injury concerns behind him, the team that nabs him may benefit from others having fewer opportunities to view his progress.
2. David Pope
Left Wing – West Kelowna (BCHL)
6’2″, 170 lbs
McKeen’s: 101st-120th | Future Considerations: 181st-200th | Central Scouting: 67th (North American Skaters)
Pope’s biggest weakness is a need to add muscle to his tall and lanky frame, and his less-competitive development plan is likely an ideal one to put in the needed extra hours in the gym. After two years of decent numbers in the BCHL, he will play for Waterloo of the USHL, and then join a strong hockey program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. If he can add muscle, he has power forward tendencies that he could leverage, adding to an already varied offensive weaponry of slick stickhandling and a hard shot.
1. Remi Elie
Left Wing – London (OHL)
6’0″, 200 lbs
McKeen’s: 81st-100th | Future Considerations: 161st-180th | Central Scouting: 71st (North American Skaters)
Elie was buried in the depth chart of a very deep London Knights team, but still managed to appear in 65 regular season games as a depth player, kicking his offense up a notch in the post-season. He is a hard-working energy player rather than a skilled type, and teams will be attracted to his potential to develop further playing for such a strong organization – provided he can earn greater ice time with experience. He is a project, but has the skating ability and character to eventually play at a professional level.
ROUND 7, 206TH OVERALL
Pick Strategy: See pick 176.
3. Liam Coughlin
Left Wing – Catholic Memorial (USHS)
6’3″, 185 lbs
McKeen’s: Not Ranked | Future Considerations: Not Ranked | Central Scouting: Not Ranked
Trevor Timmins wasn’t hiding his cards about Coughlin, proclaiming him as one of his sleepers for Sunday’s selection session. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee Montreal will take him, even if he remains on the board in the 7th round, but his combination of size and offensive dominance (of an admittedly low calibre league) earned him a look at Montreal’s recent combine. Coughlin is an aggressive player with strong hockey bloodlines, who has the character of a leader on and off the ice, captaining his high school squad. Coughlin was recently selected by the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, a team managed by former Canadien Jim Montgomery, but it seems he will opt to further his education, planning to join the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers instead prior to beginning a college career.
2. Justin Auger
Right Wing – Guelph (OHL)
6’7″, 223 lbs
McKeen’s: Honourable Mention | Future Considerations: Not Ranked | Central Scouting: Not Ranked
Auger is an overager who went undrafted a year ago, but a hot offensive stretch this past season may be enough to show he is more than just a big body and allow him to finally hear his name called by an NHL club. While his offense cooled down, he did show progression in his skating, allowing him to play his tenacious and hard working game more effectively. Despite his enormous frame, he isn’t the biggest hitter, and thus it is hard to identify exactly what kind of role he would fill at a higher level, which will see him be a late selection this year if he is in fact taken.
1. Maxime Gravel
Defenseman – Rimouski (QMJHL)
6’0″, 180 lbs
McKeen’s: Honourable Mention | Future Considerations: 141st-160th | Central Scouting: 115th (North American Skaters)
Gravel is a raw offensive blueliner with a quick outlet pass and deceptive, accurate point shot. With questionable futures in the organization for both Yannick Weber and Raphael Diaz, a late round flyer on a potential new undersized powerplay specialist isn’t out of the question, though Gravel still has a long way to go in working on his defensive zone play and adding muscle to his frame before he has a shot at making the jump to professional hockey.