Yannick Weber

Olivier Fortier

By Habster
Draft day is eerily similar to an engagement period that two individuals go through in order to get to know each other for the eventual wedding day. After the engagement, the couple decide to either make a commitment(get married) or go their separate ways (cold feet). The Canadiens have gone through the engagement period with most of the class of 2007 and have made a commitment to nine hockey prospects while getting “cold feet” with others. These nine prospects will have to make the same commitment towards their training, play on the ice and determination to make it to the NHL.

Bob Gainey and Trevor Timmins have addressed the lack of depth on the blue line within the organization, acquired offensively gifted defensemen as well as adding a power forward with a good skill set. There are some “projects” and raw potential in the group but we can say the same about each NHL team. The Canadiens have placed a high emphasis on a prospect’s character, commitment and determination before drafting them which could explain their reluctants to draft players like Alexei Cherepanov and to a lesser degree, Angelo Esposito. Players like Chris Higgins, Mike Komisarek, Maxim Lapierre and Tomas Pleckanec ( to name just a few) have these traits and have shown their potential in the NHL. It was no coincidence that these young players helped carry the team toward the end of the season when a playoff berth was on the line. We can say the same concerning the Hamilton Bulldogs who had a young/prospect filled roster which eventually won the Calder Cup.

Let us take a look at the players the Montreal Canadiens have selected in the 2007 draft:

1st round:

#12. Mcdonagh (D) , 6’1″ 200lbs Cretin-Derham high school

Mcdonagh was rated in the top 20 by most scouting services: McKeen (#9), ISS (#19) and CSS (#11) but was arguably considered a better all-round defense man than Karl Alzner or Keaton Ellerby by some NHL amateur scouts (his upside is considered higher). He is a very good skater with a very sound technique who plays a very steady two way game. Ryan is rarely beat one on one and is very good along the boards. His lateral agility is his biggest asset which helps him against speedier forwards. Last year , he concentrated more on his defensive zone coverage but still had 33 points in only 23 games. He makes good decisions with the puck and makes good outlet passes from the defensive zone. Will occasionally make giveaways when rushing the puck. Reminds scouts of a young Chris Chelios(we can only wish). I’m always a bit concerned with the level of competition and the lower number of games played at the U.S high school level so we’ll see how well Ryan Mcdonagh does at Wisconsin. If he has half the career that Chelios has then the Habs will be thrilled by their choice.

#22. Pacioretty (LW), 6’2″ 203lbs Sioux City – USHL

Pacioretty is a stereotypical skilled power forward: large frame, good skater with excellent first stride quickness who likes to finish his checks and goes up/down the wings with authority. Has a very good/quick wrist shot, he can release in tight areas. Strong in the face-off area and will drop down to block shots on the penalty kill. Needs to better anticipate plays on defensive back check. Is a team player who will come to the defense of teammates. Like most young players, needs to be more consistent especially around the net. The USHL is becoming a good feeder league for the NHL as 20 players were drafted in the 7 rounds this year( 3 in the first round alone). The U.S junior league is not the CHL but is comparable so Pacioretty is the real deal and would have done well in the CHL. Scouts like to compare Pacioretty to Keith Tkachuk or a better skating Latendresse.

GP-60 G- 21 A- 42 PTS- 63 PIM- 119

2nd round:

#43. P.K. Subban (D), 6′ 0″ 200lbs Belleville Bulls OHL

P.K Subban has unquestionable offensive skills which set him apart. He is an excellent skater with an extra gear who has a cannon for a slapshot and a very good wrist shot from the point. He can quarterback a powerplay and make excellent reads for pretty passing plays on the PP. Subban is very good with the puck on his stick but has difficulties without it. Needs to make better defensive zone reads but has shown improvement in this area. He can sometimes rely too much on his rushing skills and get caught out of position leaving his zone too early. Is the ideal powerplay specialist who will improve his defensive zone coverage with time( certainly has the skill set to get better). Is a very confident person with an outgoing personality whose favorite team is the Montreal Canadiens (his father loves the Habs). Subban opened a lot of eyes with an excellent 2007 OHL playoff(13 points in 15 games). OHL coaching legend, Brian Kilrea told NHL Network’s Dan Pollard before the draft that he thought Subban would move up the draft chart the most of any player.

68 games 15 goals 41 assists 56 points +13 89 PIM

2007 Playoffs: 15 games 5 goals 8 assists 13 points +11 26 PIM

3rd round:

#65. Olivier Fortier (C), 6’0″ 168lbs Rimouski Oceanic QMJHL

Olivier Fortier is a skilled forward that plays with energy. He has good quickness and mobility(good skater). Olivier has the ability to create offensive opportunities with his speed on the forecheck. Rarely take a shift off, works hard every game and is very effective on the penalty kill. Does need to improve his defensive positioning with 5 on 5 situations. Can be a very good two way forward on the third line in the NHL. Some scouts say he can be a Antoine Vermette / Todd Marchant type player. Could be a very useful NHL role player in a few years.

GP-69 G- 28 A-36 Pts- 64 PIM-28

#73. Yannick Weber (D), 5’11” 194lbs Kitchener Rangers OHL

Yannick Weber is a skilled playmaking defenseman who is a very good skater with quick feet and good mobility. He uses good body positioning and stick checking to strip opponents of the puck. Weber possesses high-end passing ability and has an accurate shot from the point. Does need to increase his physical presence and ability to use his body to separate the opponent from the puck. He was the strongest prospect at the combine for the bench press section so he has the strength/potential to take on bigger players. Plays a very similar game as his fellow countryman, Mark Streit and speaks french as well. Could be a decent #5-7 defenseman in the NHL.

5th Round:

# 133-(D), 6’2″ 186lbs Grand Rapids USHS- Minnesota

Joe Stejskal is a steady defenseman who is an above average skater with some offensive skill. He also likes to initiate contact and does not shy away from a physical game. His slap shots have been clocked on the radar gun in the 93-95 mph range and is a Minnesota state tennis champion. Stejskal will be attending Dartmouth next year.
GP-24 G-11 A-17 Pts-28 PIM-42

#142- Andrew Conboy (LW), 6’3″ 190lbs Omaha Lancers USHS

Another big left winger who likes to hit and punish opposing player. He is a gritty two way player with a developing offensive skill set. Has to show more consistency on a game to game basis. One scout stated: “he needs to round out his game and play a little more consistently”. Conboy will remian in the USHS for one more year and will attend Nebraska-Omaha University in 2008.
GP-56 G-25 A-25 Pts-50 PIM-105

6th Round:

Nichlas Torp (D), 5’11” 196lbs HV71-JR Sweden Junior

Nichlas Torp is a hard working defensman that likes to make the simple play and has a strong shot from the point. A heady player that makes good decisions with the puck. Likes to lead on the ice and is effective on the powerplay. He does need to improve his overall skating which is average. Central scouting ranked him 7th among European skaters. He missed most of the beginning of the season due to injury but was named captain of Team Sweden at the U-18 Five Nations Tounament in February, 2007. He also played well for Team Sweden at the 2007 U-18 World Championships. Some scouts see similarities to another Habs prospect, Alexei Emelin. Torp could be a steal as other teams passed on him with concerns about his knee injury which has fully recovered according to him and his doctor.

7th Round:

#192. Scott Kishel – (D), 5’11” 170lbs Virginia, Minnesota, USHL

Scott Kishel is a late bloomer who is a steady if unspectacular defenseman.”The best thing about defenseman Scott Kishel is that he’s a late-bloomer who’s getting better every week”, said Virginia-Mountain Iron-Buhl boys hockey coach Keith Hendrickson. He’ll play in the USHL next season and then go to Minnesota-Duluth in 2008. Kishel is considered a true project.