Rabid Habs

2014 Draft Review – Habs

Habs Nikita Scherbak at 2014 NHL Entry Draft

This weekend, hundreds of talented teenagers were gathered at the Wells Fargo Center to have their fate as future professional players decided. Some of them were drafted where they were expected and others dropped. There is nothing more nerve wracking than being a player attending those drafts, especially if you’re not one of the top names! You spend hours anxiously waiting for your name to be called hoping that you get lucky enough for one NHL team to be willing to make you one step closer to your lifelong dream. This is a very deciding moment in a player’s career; they’ve sacrificed everything in their life to come to this and most of them have no back-up plan in case this hockey thing doesn’t work out for them… Some players wait the entire weekend only to come the sad realization that 30 teams felt that 210 guys deserved to be picked over them. Some players really get it rough on draft weekend, take Kurt Etchegary for example. He found out a few weeks before the draft that he had this rare heart condition that needed medical attention. Since he wasn’t a highly touted prospect and was expected in the 5th and 6th round, he never heard his name called last summer. That unexpected news was enough for scouts to look away and in just a moment, his biggest dream was crushed. Obviously not every case of players being passed up is like this but it happens every draft. That doesn’t mean that it’s something those players can’t overcome. It’s events like these that gave extra motivation to the likes of David Desharnais, Martin St. Louis, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, etc. to work that much harder to reach their lifelong dream of playing in the NHL.

I will do a write up on the draft that Montreal just had, I won’t give my opinion on how they did because you simply can’t judge a winner on draft day; too many factors come into the equation.

FIRST ROUND

26th overall

NIKITA SCHERBAK – RW – Saskatoon Blades, WHL

6’2, 190 lbs, Shoots Left

Statistics this season: 65 GP, 28 Goals & 50 Assists for 78 Points

RANKINGS

TSN: 21 Craig Button: 35 THN: 18 ISS: 27 hockeyprospects.com: 14 McKeen’s: 16 NHL CS: 15 NA Skaters

SCOUTING REPORTS

TSN: ‘’Excellent scoring instincts and he arrives at the right times to take full advantage. Awareness of how to exploit opportunities is very good and is vigilant and alert in this regard. A versatile player who can play off strengths of others.’’

Elite Prospects: ‘’Scherbak is a skilled but gritty forward who has a strong shot and offensive senses plus the ability to evade would be checkers by using his quick agility and slick hands. He puts pressure on opposing defenses every game. Has some work to do with regards to rounding out his defensive game and effort levels.’’ (November 2013)

McKeen’s: “Rail thin, he has a good frame to fill out. Mr. Everything for Saskatoon this year offensively as he produced at an alarming rate considering his supporting cast. Oozes skill and untapped potential.”

“Led the Blades in scoring while also being named the WHL Eastern
Conference Rookie-of-the-Year .. Scherbak was ‘Mr. Everything’
offensively for a young rebuilding Blades team .. plays with urgency
inside the offensive zone displaying push back and exploits open space
to manufacture scoring opportunities .. hands operate in sync with his
footwork and can control the puck and dance in all three zones before
settling on a premium option .. deft stick handler, soft in close finesse
ability .. deceptive explosiveness – uses his change of pace to get into
lanes in the neutral zone and then attack a defender .. dynamic lateral
acceleration speed on crossovers Scherbak is balanced and moves well
when cutting diagonally .. can get stronger all over owning a wispy
frame despite standing a firm 6’2 .. needs to do a better job protecting
himself to oncoming hits .. improvements also need to be made to his
stamina levels as he looked gassed and unable to withstand multiple
checks and was often targeted physically this year .. Scherbak showed
improvements in all facets of his game and was able to produce
impressive numbers with no supporting cast .. blessed with the natural
hand skills and offensive prowess to play within a top six capacity.”

Also ranked by them as the 5th best playmaker in the draft.

Blackbook: ‘’ Nikita’s game is built around his strong skating ability, creative vision, slick hands, and his offensive creativity. A left-shooting RW for the Blades, Nikita is offensively savvy and possesses a good hockey IQ. Scherbak skates very upright and uses his body exceptionally well to protect the puck. His lower-body strength and posture make him look quite large despite the fact he is actually smaller than listed. Nikita is an excellent skater who is very mobile with good agility.

While Nikita is a skilled Russian Import, he had no trouble accounting for the gritty WHL style of play. He is not easily deterred and isn’t afraid to play in the dirty areas of the ice. He shows an exceptional willingness to engage in physical play with a high compete level when battling for pucks at both ends of the ice. Nikita will use his quick agility to evade body contact along the boards combined with the slick hands and vision he is able to set up good scoring chances from all angles of the ice. He’s very clam and poised with the puck and does not falter under pressure. He possesses a strong shot with a quick release that drives netminders crazy.

Nikita has shown he can be very relentless on the forecheck when he wants to be. Nikita is a strong offensive played who’ll need to round out his defensive responsibilities and start to develop a defensive aspect to his game and play with a more consistent effort in the coming years.

The ability to operate in traffic using smarts, size and skill make Nikita very valuable and should result in him being a first round pick in the NHL Entry Draft.‘’

Red Line Report: ’’Russian emerged out of nowhere and, unlike most countrymen adjusting overseas, deserves full credit for engaging with teammates and coaches. Great skater with a very long stride that eats up a lot of ice. Deceptive speed, and once he unravels those long legs he easily gains a step and blows past everyone. Has another gear when he needs to use it. Uses big frame to absorb hits along the wall well. Extremely strong on his stick in the slot, bears down and it’s impossible to stop him from getting his shot off once he’s decided to let it go. First to pucks all over the ice. Needs to improve lateral agility and make a concerted effort to not get caught coasting in his own zone. Imaginative touch with the puck; perfectly placed passes always have draw weight finding teammates in motion. Confidence with the puck improves in tight situations. Great hand-eye coordination and deadly from the hashmarks in.’’
Projection: Big Moose of a first line scoring winger.

Player Comparable: Marian Hossa.

Ranked by them as the 8th best pure skater.

‘’ 8. Nikita Scherbak — Has such a deceptively long, gliding stride.
If he gets even a half step on a d-man, there’s no derailing that express.’’

WHL From Above: ‘’Scherbak is a gifted Russian winger that led the Saskatoon Blades and WHL rookies in scoring this past season. He’s got a full arsenal of offensive tools at his disposal including a “heavy” wrist shot with a quick release and some very adept vision and passing ability. He excelled all season at making the players around him better despite not having a ton of help offensively in Saskatoon, especially in the 2nd half of the year. His skating isn’t strength, but it’s not a huge weakness either. His top gear is just fine, but he does tend to be a bit slow out of the gate due to having a low and long stride. He has shown the ability to play physical, whether it being taking a hit to make a play or finishing his check when needed, although that part of his game does come with some inconsistency. He’s got a high hockey IQ and shows the ability to arrive at the right place at the right time in offensive situations. He comes from an athletic background as his father is a former soccer player, his mother a basketball player, while his sister plays tennis. Throughout the year I heard many rumblings that NHL teams liked him more than Draisaitl, but that was before Leon turned things up in a big way in the second half of the year. There’s still many things to like about this player and my jaw wouldn’t hit the floor if a team took a shot at him in the top 15 selections.’’

Last Word on Sports: ‘’ Nikita Scherbak is an excellent skater.  His stride may not be textbook, but he has great speed and acceleration despite this.  His first step is particularly fast and allows him to be first on many loose pucks.  Scherbak also has very good edgework and agility.  The acceleration and the edgework makes him very elusive off the rush with his quick cuts, and his ability to generate speed quickly to take advantage of any opening those cuts can create.  He has decent balance and is strong on the puck, especially given his frame.  This is one area where he can only improve as he adds muscle going forward.’’

(Full Report here)


COMMENTS

Due to his likeable personality, Nikita has already won the hearts of many Canadiens’ fans with his funny interviews on TSN/RDS (see here). Nikita Scherbak might be Russian but he already has the North American mentality. He’s said in the past that the KHL has never been an option and that his dream is to play in the NHL. In his eyes, the KHL is good money but they don’t respect you. He’s shown no struggle learning the English language despite the fact that he knew little English before coming over. He shared that he only knew a handful of words like cat, dog and wood (don’t ask why it’s those words specifically, nobody knows!). He’s shown no problems picking up the language and making Saskatoon his new home, despite being miles away from his actual home!

A vibrant personality who is known to talk a lot on road trips, Scherbak has been taking English classes and learning at an accelerated rate. Saskatoon head coach Dave Struch jokes: “On the five or six-hour bus trips he sits four seats behind us (coaches) and that’s all you can hear, him talking the whole way.”

But most importantly he’s shown no signs of struggle to getting acclimated to the North American brand of hockey. The winger, like his personality, isn’t shy when it comes to using his body to either body check players or crash the net. His situation is rather odd, he went from playing in the MHL in Russia where he wasn’t really producing, to joining the WHL and tearing it up right from the get go. Despite playing on a rather weak team, Scherbak ended with 78 points (which is double the amount of points of his closest teammate) and was the rookie with the most points in the Dub. As shocking as it may sound, due to constant progression shown from him this year, I don’t think this is the best we’ve seen from him and I wouldn’t be surprised if he eclipses his production next season. He’ll be stronger and will have a better idea of what to expect (and hopefully better teammates!).

‘’While we were in training camp and waiting for his papers to be finished so that he could join us on the ice, he sat in the players’ box and rode a stationary bike while we practiced and played,” Struch told NHL.com. “When he finally got his release, the coaching staff went to show him our systems and he showed us our systems. He picked up everything just from watching our practices and games.” (…) “The best thing about him is that he’s very coachable and teachable,” Struch said. “Because he can skate he can get on the puck. But when he’s not on it right away he’s not afraid to make or take a hit. When you’ve got that part of a game from a Russian player it’s exciting.” (Full link)

Marc Bergevin admitted that if Scherbak was picked by the time Montreal’s selection came, they were going to trade down. There are concerns about his skating, his defensive game and obviously (and in ignorant fashion) the KHL since he’s Russian which explains why he fell to Montreal’s lap. Timmins was ecstatic to pick him and rightfully so. Scherbak fills the void created by the departure of Sebastian Collberg (who was part of the Vanek trade) and becomes automatically our top prospect on the RW. His skating is a lot similar to Alex Galchenyuk which I think will turn into a nice Russian duo for the Habs in the future.

Fun thing to know about Scherbak is that his favorite player is Pavel Datsyuk and he wears the #27 in homage of Alex Kovalev, a name that Canadiens’ fans are definitely familiar with. The fact that Montreal already have Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin and to a certain extent Alex Galchenyuk will definitely help him in the upcoming months. He said in an interview that he models his game after Ryan Nugent Hopkins and after watching his highlights from this season, I can definitely see that. Scherbak will play another year in the WHL and will most likely spend some time in the AHL before being on the team (like Nathan Beaulieu, his birthday is a late one so he’s eligible to play in the AHL after next season), similar to the same path that Brendan Gallagher followed.

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THIRD ROUND

73rd overall

BRETT LERNOUT – D – Swift Current Broncos, WHL

6’4, 205 lbs, Shoots Right

Statistics this season: 72 GP, 8 Goals & 14 Assists for 22 Points. 103 PIM

SCOUTING REPORTS

Yahoo: “At the beginning of the season I wouldn’t have expected to get much notice, but I think I’ve earned it as the season has went on,” says Lernout, who scored eight goals and 22 points in 72 games while racking up 103 penalty minutes. “I’ve worked hard to take steps forward and I think I’ve made big steps forward with my defensive game and stuff like making the first pass to get out of the defensive zone.”

NHL Central Scoring via B.J. MacDonald: “He’s a big kid, tough and nasty. He’s hard to play against and a good physical presence. He just needs to keep his game simple and safe to be effective at this point. His puck movement is safe and adequate, and he’s able to box out forwards well in front of his own goal.”

WHL From Above: ‘’A raw and powerful human. Doesn’t do anything that will wow you, just very solid all around. Skating has improved, but still not too much above average. He’s very rugged and mean. Makes an ok first pass. Has a hard shot. I know some teams really, really like him, enough for him to earn an invite to the draft combine. Probably ends up as a 4th or 5th round pick.’’

Blackbook: “Brett showed good improvement through the course of the season. A toolsy player with great size, strength, and skating abilities. He’s still raw, but if given time to develop, he should become the type of physical defenseman, that teams love to have and hate to play against.”

Mitch Brown from All About the Habs: ‘’ Lernout is a physical specimen and he knows it. Few players can match his brute strength and he’s got tons of room to grow. He can lay absolutely massive hits and is extremely aggressive along the boards. He clears the crease with a purpose and doesn’t back down from anyone. He’s also a more than willing pugilist. He’s a very hard player to play against, because of his natural aggressiveness. He owns good hockey sense, but his decision making must continue to improve.

For a player of his stature, Lernout’s skating ability is quite impressive. Both lateral movement and top-end speed are surprisingly good. Additionally, Lernout’s first few steps are solid and he can use his long, powerful stride to out-skate fast forwards. There’s still room to improve, but no doubt his skating well above-average. Using his mobility, he’s able to close the gap quickly on forwards. He’s aggressive in his gap control and doesn’t leave much room for players to beat him.

Lernout offensive ability mainly stems from his shot. He owns a rocket from the point, but his accuracy needs works. It’s a similar story for his outlet pass–crisp, but can be erratic. He’s shown some quality offensive instincts, but in that regard there hasn’t been much consistency.’’

COMMENTS

Montreal moved up by completing a trade with the Coyotes (they traded the 87th pick & the 117th pick for the 73rd pick) to make sure that the Habs could get their hands on the rugged defenseman. Considering that Buffalo drafted his defensive partner the NEXT pick (Brycen Martin) there are good chances that many teams could have taken him before Montreal’s next pick (87th pick). Lernout is your prototypical defenseman from the West of Canada: he’s big, tough and he can kick your ass! The Hockey News had a pretty unique look on the 2014 draft and he was 3rd in their books for best fighter in entire draft.

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He had great results at the draft combine:

5th in Bench Press
4th in Standing Long Jump
4th in Vertical Jump (with pause)
3rd in Vertical Jump (no pauses)
2nd in Pull Ups

It’s nice to hear that he’s a total badass but can the kid play hockey? That’s a good question. There are definitely aspects of his game that he can work on (skating and puck skills for example). He’s stated in an interview with TSN radio that his main focus this summer will be to work on those elements of his game. His role model is Chris Pronger because he’s always liked to punish guys. He’s at his best when he’s being physical. He comes from a French background and his whole family is formed of Canadiens’ fans. He can’t wait to show Montreal his physical game and work ethic. He’s definitely a project. He was behind a pretty stacked defense in Swift Current (Dillon Heatherington, Bryce Martin & Julius Honka) so it could be interesting to see how he’d do with more responsibilities. The kid definitely has character and loves to lighten up the mood in the dressing room with his sense of humor.

“We made that trade to move up. We wanted to make sure that we got a chance to draft Brett. He’s a big, strong, strapping, defenseman. He’s tough–tough as nails–and has a heavy shot . . . We wanted to added some size on defense, players of his type, and he was a good fit for us there.” – Trevor Timmins

FIFTH ROUND

125th overall

NIKOLAS KOBERSTEIN – D – Olds Grizzlys, AJHL

6’2, 201 lbs, Shoots Right

Statistics this season: 51 GP, 5 Goals & 13 Assists for 18 Points. 153 PIM

Committed to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the Regina Pats have his WHL rights.

QUOTES

“With Nik’s skill set and work ethic I would not be surprised to see him playing at the professional level when his time with UAF is done,” – Nikolas Koberstein’s Head Coach.

“Koberstein was a guy we went under the radar . . . We spent some time with him after the season the season and I think this guy has good upside and long range projection. He’s a great kid and tons of character, but he’s a good hockey player, too . . . He’s a five-year player. The plan in right now that he will go back to [the Olds Grizzlys]. He’ll be the captain, he’ll be the leader, he’ll play there another year then go to the NCAA route, where he will be for four years.” – Trevor Timmins

147th overall

DANIEL AUDETTE – C – Sherbrooke Phoenix, QMJHL

5’9, 176 lbs, Shoots Left

Statistics this season: 68 GP, 21 Goals & 55 Assists for 76 Points.

SCOUTING REPORTS

Future Considerations: “Audette is a speedy scorer with plenty of offensive upside. Still, his explosive nature and puck handling ability make Audette a very intriguing prospect in 2014. The smallish pivot, however, lacks the size, strength and physical maturity desired in a center.”

LWOS: ‘’The son of former Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, and Montreal Canadiens winger Donald Audette, Daniel Audette is proving that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.  The first overall pick in the 2012 QMJHL draft, Audette is a natural sniper blessed with the fantastic wrist shot and quick release that was his father’s best asset as well. He’s also a very good stickhandler and is able to beat goalies with an array of shootout moves. Audette is a little undersized,  but makes up for it with his strong skating and outstanding hockey sense.  Scored 21 goals and 76 points in 68 games this season.  The only knock here is size.’’

NHL Central Scouting via Dan Marr: “He’s a skilled offensive player with good awareness and smarts distributing the puck,” Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. “He’s poised and clever and can create scoring chances; he’s quick to take advantage of opportunities. He’s got a very good shot, and is able to handle himself well in battles and can skate the puck through traffic.”

Hockey Prospect: “A pretty explosive skater, Audette is easy to recognize on the ice, as he never stops skating and is in control of the puck more often than not. He is a great playmaker as he can dish out some nice saucer passes through traffic rather easily at top speed. Offensively, it’s pretty tough to find a weakness in his game with the puck. He has great offensive hockey sense as he always gets in a good position to accept a pass or to take a shot at the net.”

Mitch Brown: ‘’(…)Daniel, is an absolute speedster. The QMJHL’s former first overall pick can flat out fly. He gets up to top speed in a hurry and owns an explosive first few steps. His top-end speed is excellent and he always keeps his feet moving–making his skating ability dynamic. At full speed, Audette appears to have the puck on a string. His hands are lightning quick, allowing him to make beating even the best defenders look easy. He’s a flashy, electrifying talent.

Audette is a terrific playmaker. His saucer pass is quite special. The situation doesn’t matter, Audette can seemingly always make a beautiful tape-to-tape pass. Down low, he’s a great as well as sneaky passer. His head is always up, evaluating all of his options.

Additionally, Audette knows how to score. Owns an accurate shot with a quick release, which he doesn’t use enough. He’s also good at scoring down low, as he sneaks away from defenders with ease and can make them pay.

Defensively, Audette has improved. He’s a solid penalty killer, mainly due to his speed. At five-on-five, he doesn’t particularly shine. He plays solid positional hockey, but he looks disengaged far too often.

Don’t be fooled by his penalty minutes–he’s not a particularly tough player. He clearly doesn’t like being hit and can often shy away from the hard areas depending on the game. He gets pushed off the puck easily and can be extremely undisciplined. Along the boards, he loses more battles than he wins. Clearly, that will never be his strong suit, but he has to improve his body positioning and willingness to engage.’’

COMMENTS

Similarly to Scherbak, Audette played on a terrible team this year (he had 32 more points than the 2nd highest scorer on his team). His 76 points in the Q rank him at 15th in scoring among the league. The son of Donald Audette was ranked as high as the 2nd round during the season but he was still available in the 5th round. The main reason why he dropped is his lack of size, Montreal has rolled the dice in the past with small skilled forwards (Gallagher, Reway and Hudon come to mind) so it’s not a surprise that they decided to take a chance on the Quebecer this late in the draft. His father, who’s a scout for the Canadiens, has given some tips over the years on what he has to do to make it to the Big League.“He told me that you always have to work harder than everyone if you want to have a career in hockey because everyone wants to play hockey, but not everyone gives all the effort. He taught me that you have to give it your all every night.” Once again, character seems to be a quality that Audette possesses.

“We took Donald right out the equation in all our draft meetings, any discussions, we asked Donald to leave the room. On Thursday I talked about us wanting to get bigger, stronger, faster, but at the same time, if there’s a player that’s undersized there and he’s a good hockey then it’s hard to pass. That’s the situation with Daniel. He’s a similar to a Brendan Gallagher in his draft year. You simply can’t go by a player with that much ability . . . He’s very passionate, he’s driven. He’s an undersized but he’s thick, and strong, and he’s got that tenacity and grit that it takes for an undersized player to succeed.” – Trevor Timmins

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SIXTH ROUND

177th overall

Hayden Hawkey – G – Omaha Lancers, USHL

6’2, 174 lbs

Statistics this season: 33 GP, 22 Wins. 1.99 GAA & .926%

SCOUTING REPORTS

Blackbook: ‘’The rare time he does give up a rebound that leads to a quality second chance, he shuts the door much more often than not. He’s able to make adjustments and move in order to make a rebound save as good as anyone. Exceptionally difficult to beat down low. He’s quick with his legs, and has both a strong blocker and glove. All in all, his USHL Goaltender of the Year honor was well, well earned.’’

COMMENTS

Hawkey was named USHL Goalie of the Year and will be going to Providence College next season. Their current starter, Jon Gillies (who’s property of the Calgary Flames), will be back next season so this pick appears to be another long term one. He might be the starter for Providence in two years and will turn pro in 2018.

“The stellar numbers for Hayden Hawkey speak for themselves as he produced one of the most impressive performances over a single season in League history. A number of goaltenders had outstanding years for their clubs, and in a league loaded with offensive talent, Hayden raised the bar for his position to a whole new level. Congrats to him and the Omaha Lancers on this honor.” Skip Prince (President of the USHL)

“[Hawkey’s] another five-year player . . . Committed to Providence. He’s like money in the bank.” – Trevor Timmins

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SEVENTH ROUND

207th overall

JACK EVANS – C/RW – St. Michael’s Buzzers, OJHL

6’0, 174 lbs, Shoots Right

Statistics this season: 49 GP, 16 Goals & 47 Assists for 63 Points

Committed to the University of Notre Dame next season.

SCOUTING REPORTS

SBN College Hockey via Jeff Cox: ‘’Notre Dame’s puck possession style fits Evans’ game well. He is responsible in all three zones and makes smart decisions with the puck. He also can play a grinding style and muck it up physically.

Evans, who scored 16 goals and 47 assists this past winter for the Buzzers, will likely go somewhere in the fourth or fifth round. He is the type of player that should stay in college throughout his four-year career before signing a pro deal.

Strengths: Great vision, ability to find seams, smart decisions with the puck

Weakness: Sometimes criticized for not shooting enough.’’

Blackbook: ’’Evans has a strong wrist shot with a quick release coming off the half wall on the powerplay that is very effective. Jake is also a good playmaker and uses his vision well to set up teammates with crisp cross ice passes or threads the needle through traffic for backdoor opportunities. He stands up for himself after whistles and is not afraid to use his stick for cross checks or slashes when pushed. Jake can disappear at times when games get to physical and needs to work at bringing a consistent effort every shift. There are some games when he is an absolute game changer while others he looks like he does not even want to be on the ice.’’

Mitch Brown:’Evans is certainly a skilled player. He’s a tremendous skater, especially technique-wise. He owns a powerful stride and fantastic top-end speed. He moves well laterally and owns solid balance despite his average frame. He loves to lug the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone.

More of a passer than a shooter. He has the ability to complete difficult passes with ease and makes great passes under pressure. He’s a strong passer off the cycle, too. Don’t be mislead by his lack of goals; he’s a quality finisher. He possesses an accurate shot and owns great hands around the goal. Despite owning a quality shot, he doesn’t use it often enough. He protects the puck quite well and certainly is a puck possession player.

Evans owns a fairly solid defensive game. He’s smart and backchecks quite well; however, he’s prone to leaving the zone early and can get lazy. His compete level comes and goes. Sometimes he will show you a power-type of game and then the next he will look like a perimeter player. He’s prone to taking soft shifts and doesn’t seem consistently engaged.’’

COMMENTS

The OJHL isn’t really a league known for creating NHL talent. I recall only one player from the Canadiens’ organization coming out of that league: Dustin Walsh. If you have no clue who that is, that’s perfectly normal; Montreal never gave him a contract and he no longer plays professional hockey. This is your typical Timmins late round gamble on a kid going the College route (Patrick Johnson, Mike Cichy, Colin Sullivan, Scott Kishel). His scouting reports are intriguing and considering where he was drafted there’s no point complaining.

“Evans is at Notre Dame right now, taking school and training there. We would have four years on him. He’s a centreman from [the St. Michael’s Buzzers] of [the OJHL]. A tremendous under-age last year. We really liked what we saw in him. He’s a skilled centre, with great playmaking ability.” – Trevor Timmins

CONCLUSION

This draft may not seem ‘sexy’ for some but I’m more than satisfied with it. I recall the 2012 draft looking like the best draft in years for Montreal. Every player seemed to drop to our lap and everybody claimed that Montreal was the clear winner on draft day. Two years later, it feels a lot like waking up after a night of heavy drinking beside a chick that seemed a lot hotter the night before… Considering that Brady Vail and Erik Nystrom are no longer prospects in our organization, Sebastian Collberg (who’s development was rather disappointing in Frolunda) is gone too and that Tim Bozon had an unfortunate illness that delayed his career. Hudon and Thrower are our best shots at being NHL regulars and they’re both longshots at this point. It’s a tad early but looking at it now, Alex Galchenyuk might be the only NHL regular from that draft…

The 2013 draft on the other hand was underwhelming at first but it’s turning out to be a solid one. The reason that some hated it was mostly based on how much people raved about how deep it was, comparing it to the famous 2003 draft in terms of depth. Michael McCarron is and has always been a project so we will have to wait more than just a year to evaluate this selection properly. Jacob De La Rose seems to be a lock for the NHL in the upcoming seasons, Connor Crisp just had a solid season and is the type of player Montreal needs. Jeremy Gregoire appears to be a steal (Timmins mentioned this week that he was a gem) and Sven Andrighetto plus Martin Reway had excellent seasons in their respective leagues. That’s without mentioning Zachary Fucale and Artturi Lehkonen who both showed nice progression this year.

I am very happy with the Scherbak pick, I think he’ll play in the NHL one day and is excellent value at #26. I’m happy with the Audette pick considering where we picked him; I’d rather roll the dice on a guy with his talent than a coke machine with zero talent. The Lernout pick was a head scratcher but so was the Crisp selection last year. With insight, that looked like a good move and I will put my faith in Trevor Timmins on this one. If he felt the need to convince Bergevin to move up to get him, he must be a diamond in the rough (Note: Crisp was also selected way earlier than expected, partly due to Timmins feeling that teams would pick him before they did, so kudos to him again). Koberstein is the most puzzling pick since Jason Missiaen in 2008. Timmins has emphasized that he’s a project and for him it’s a 5 year plan. Hopefully unlike Missiaen, they give him the time to develop (Missiaen wasn’t given a contract two years after being chosen by the Canadiens). I like the Hawkey and the Evans picks, they’re good value and they might pan out for us. I would have liked having a second round pick in this draft but I’ll gladly sacrifice those picks if it means playoffs runs like the one we just had.

I think Bergevin since taking over in 2012 has done a tremendous job at diversifying our prospect pool with a solid mix of different prospects. It doesn’t hurt either that we had multiple second round picks in 2012 & 2013. With this weekend’s draft, we have depth at all positions. We have potential bottom 6 players in Connor Crisp, Michael McCarron and Jeremy Gregoire. Forwards with a combination of size, skills and speed in Nikita Scherbak, Jacob de la Rose and Tim Bozon. Tough defensemen with the likes of Jarred Tinordi, Dalton Thrower, Josiah Didier, Brett Lernout, Nikolas Koberstein and Morgan Ellis. Two way defenders like Darren Dietz, Greg Pateryn and Mac Bennett. Names like Nathan Beaulieu and Magnus Nygren as puck moving defensemen. Rugged guys like Jack Nevins and Stefan Fournier as potential 4th liners. Small but talented forwards such as Martin Reway, Arturri Lehkonen and Christian Thomas. Zachary Fucale, Dustin Tokarski, Mike Condon and Hayden Hawkey in net. Then you have guys who could potentially play in a top 9 role: Charles Hudon, Mark MacMillan, Daniel Carr, Daniel Audette and Patrick Holland.

The future is bright in Montreal ladies and gentlemen! (In Timmins and Bergevin we trust)