Wednesday, June 2, 2010

27th - Montréal Canadiens Draft Preview

Last year Montréal was celebrating their 100th Anniversary in existence and this was one of the many retro logos that they sported over the course of the season. It's definitely different from the seemingly timeless logo they use today which is considered one of the most recognizable emblems in professional sports. Plain to some, I find pleasing because of its simplicity. I wonder if using the maple leaf is a bit too Toronto-like for some Habs supporters though?

1st pick last year: Louis Leblanc (18th overall) – Leblanc led a relatively weak Harvard squad in scoring last season with 23 points in 31 games. A good freshman year which included ECAC All-Rookie team honours plus an invite to Canada’s WJC team camp in December. There are rumours that he’s about to leave Harvard and sign with the Canadiens.

The Good: P.K. Subban (43rd overall, 2007) – It’s hard to believe now that Subban wasn’t a 1st round selection in what has turned out to be a fairly average draft class. His performance in the AHL has been exemplary and he looked anything but out of place during his post season recall to Montréal. 53 points in 77 games with Hamilton and 8 in 14 playoff games with the Habs; definitely ready for the NHL.

The Bad: Kyle Chipchura (18th overall, 2004) – It’s difficult to declare Chipchura an outright bust without mentioning the serious injuries he has sustained since 2004 because unquestionably they played a role in his long term development. The former Prince Albert Raider was dealt to Anaheim earlier in the year where he played 55 games and collected 12 points.

The Unknown: David Fischer (20th overall, 2006) – The Golden Gopher defenceman has completed his NCAA career after 4 years at Minnesota. The last season saw him earn just 6 points through 39 games, an alarming drop off in production from his Sophomore and Junior campaigns. Now that his NCAA career is done, the Habs have until August 15th to sign Fischer to a contract.

Coming Down the Pipe: Beyond Subban the Canadiens have an array of interesting prospects in the system. Should Leblanc leave Harvard it would bring one of their top guys even closer to the NHL. Danny Kristo is performing as expected at North Dakota and blueliner Mac Bennett’s NCAA career is about to begin at Michigan (unless the Habs and/or Gatineau convince him to move to the QMJHL). The farm is stacked with help in the form of Ryan White, Ben Maxwell and Cedrick Desjardins. Undersized center David Desharnais has starred for the Bulldogs and might factor into more NHL games next year.

Draft Trends: The stereotype is that Montréal will select a French-Canadian but the last several years have shown that the NCAA is what has attracted Montréal the most. Their last four 1st round picks (two in 2007) all headed to college and Kristo, their earliest pick in 2008, was a 2nd rounder now playing at UND. In fact, 7 times since 2000 Montreal has taken a NCAA player with their first pick. Only 5 of their last 22 draft selections (3 years) have come from the CHL.

2010 Prediction 27th overall:

Dean Millard: Brock Nelson (Warroad, Minn HS) - Another big power forward who played high school hockey this year, Brock Nelson scored 39 times in 25 games this year. He drives hard to the net, but also back checks with intensity plus he's one of the best face off men in the draft. The Canadiens have been accused of being too small, and Nelson who will play at North Dakota next year, takes care of that.

Guy Flaming: Stanislav Galiev (Saint John) – The Habs are pretty deep at all positions but skilled forwards are always in demand. Galiev was a hit in Saint John with his coach and teammates and was nearly a point per game player as a QMJHL rookie. He’s raw but has a lot of upside and the Habs can afford to be patient while they wait for him to mature.

No comments: