Rabid Habs

Brown: Why Montreal’s Prospect Development is a Problem

With the absolutely abysmal trade of Nathan Beaulieu yesterday afternoon, it seems to be the case that there is a definite developmental issue with Canadiens prospects in the ‘Bergevin Era’. Too many times we have seen Montreal flip former first round selections for pennies.

Truthfully, it’s disappointing when you look at what Montreal has garnered throughout the years with their failed draft picks.

If you want an example of what a tragedy is, this list may re-shape the way you think of the Canadiens developmental process:

It’s also dreadful to think when you consider what Montreal got in return for Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Louis Leblanc.

Montreal sends: Louis Leblanc (2009), Jarred Tinordi (2010) and Nathan Beaulieu (2011)                                 Montreal recieves: John Scott, Victor Bartley, a 2013 5th round pick and a 2017 3rd round pick

This is a gruesome obstacle that Montreal has to overcome to improve the organization. The Habs cannot continuously swap their failed 1st round draft picks for a bag of pucks. It’s certainly plausible that one or two players will never fulfill their expectations, but when you have three or more 1st round draft picks who barely made an impact on the Canadiens roster, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to be a Stanley Cup contender.

With that in mind, it’s essential to restructure their developing process. We can still be hopeful that our 2013 1st round draft selection, Michael McCarron, and our 2014 1st round draft selection, Nikita Scherbak, can potentially contribute to our roster in the near future, but it’s just as likely that they get traded for pennies if they continue to face the current development process.

Change Behind the Bench

Through Sylavin Lefebvre’s tenure as coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs and the St. John’s IceCaps, all but 1 player on Montreal’s current day roster has successfully graduated from Lefebvre’s tenure; Brendan Gallagher. I don’t think we can even count Gallagher as a player who graduated from Lefebrve’s regimen, as he only played 36 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs  during the 2012-13 season as he waited for the NHL lockout to end.

That’s it. Just one player, and even he’s a technicality. When you have a dilemma such as that to tackle, maybe it’s time Marc Bergevin take action and find a new bench boss for the Habs’ new farm team in Laval.

Since it’s mandatory to have a French coach behind the bench, our options are slim. Despite that, we do have some intriguing options at our disposal. Dominique Ducharme, former Memorial Cup winner with the Halifax Mooseheads back in 2013 and current coach of team Canada in the World Junior Championship, seems to be a good fit for the job. Ducharme maintains a winning pedigree and the experience to transform a bottom feeder to a tremendous team. It certainly helps that he has groomed some brilliant players like, Nathan Mackinnon and Jonathan Drouin. There would also be some familiarity through the line up as Ducharme has coached former Halifax Moosehead netminder, Zachary Fucale. Fucale was a key piece with Halifax’s run to the Memorial Cup,  backstopping the star studded team to a Memorial Cup.

Another enticing option may be current Halifax Moosehead coach, Andre Tourigny. Tourigny has an impressive pedigree serving as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 season and with the Ottawa Senators in 2015-16.

A minor league coaching change is a good start, but the Canadiens should think about changing the way they approach their prospects.

A Change in Philosophy

Countless Canadiens’ prospects have succumbed to the ‘defense first’ effect. Since Bergevin took over, an emphasis has been placed on young players being defensively responsible, and if they have a hard time adjusting, they’re considered failures.

Players like, Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi and Charles Hudon are a few significant names that have suffered under the hands of the ‘defense first’ movement. There is a sense of urgency throughout the Canadiens front office that their prospects should play a defense first style of play. Despite that, the Habs brass has to realize that the game of hockey is not all about defense. It may be one of the more important parts of the game, but it may not necessarily be the deciding factor of a win or loss. You need to score goals to win, after all, and that seems to be the Canadiens biggest problem as of late.

Habs management has been heavily reluctant to integrate their offensive lineup with young, scoring talent. It’s certainly feasible that Habs management won’t trust their prospects defensive situations, but that’s not their problem. As their time comes, prospects will improve defensively under the right developmental process.

From top to bottom, Montreal needs to deeply re-evaluate on how they develop their prospects. Hopefully,  a change in city comes with change that completely revolutionizes the Habs farm system.

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One Comment

  1. Bart Van Eyk

    June 20, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Totally agree! And now, Marc Bergevin is trying to re-up Sylvain Lefebvre!! Montreal has drafted good players, or at least, good potential; but the coaching staff has not been able to develop that potential….either on tge farm, or with the parent club. All too often, we have seen regression, in both places. Young players are not trusted, and are all too often used as grinders if they get a look in Montreal. We have seen many ruined, discouraged, or misused by the coaching staff(read Therrien and, yes, Julien) – Leblanc,Tinordi,Bournival, Carr,Beaulieu, McCarron, and now, Galchenyuk. Bergevin says it’s on the players. No, Marc, it’s on you, the coaching staff, and your stifling system. It isn’t just Lefebvre and his subordinates who need to go, but Bergevin as well. Institute a system that allows a player to play to his strengthes. Encourage the young players, and starting giving them a real chance (not like the “chance” they gave Chucky!)