NHL Player Comparisons for Montreal Canadiens' Top Prospects
The organization has done a good job in acquiring draft picks and then using them wisely over the past few seasons. This has led to a revamped prospect pool that generally gets rave reviews.
Comparing these youngsters to NHL pros is a difficult thing to do seeing as they are still in the midst of their development. A lot can, and will, happen over the next few years. It's still interesting to see where their games are now, however, and how they compare to some of the best players in the game today.
Read on to see some NHL comparisons for the Montreal Canadiens' top prospects.
NHL Comparison: Carey Price
Zachary Fucale was being compared to Carey Price long before he was drafted by Montreal. Now that Fucale is in the Canadiens organization, the comparisons continue to get stronger.
Fucale is like Price on many levels.
Physically, Fucale has good size at 6'1", 180 lbs. Like Price, he uses his size to his advantage in the crease.
Their style of play is also quite similar. Fucale is calm in goal and has very strong positioning. He "uses quick, strong lateral movement and near flawless technique to make sure he's always in the best position to make a save," at least according to TheScore.com.
Fucale also has a long history of winning, just like Price did when he entered the pro ranks.
The Rosemere, Quebec native has already backstopped the Halifax Mooseheads to a Memorial Cup championship and Canada's Under-18 squad to the Ivan Hlinka Memorial championship.
He'll also have the chance to add a World Junior gold medal to his trophy case in a few weeks, as it's widely expected that Fucale will be Canada's starting goaltender in Malmo, Sweden. Price won the gold back in 2007.
Isn't it fitting that Montreal's goalie of the future compares so well to its goalie of the present?
NHL Comparison: Brian Boyle
Comparing Michael McCarron's game to an established NHLer is quite difficult seeing as his development is still in its infancy. In fact, the only thing scouts tend to agree on about McCarron is that if his skill level develops, he could be a dominant power forward in the league.
But that's a big if.
McCarron is having a rough year after being drafted in the first round in June. Playing with the London Knights in the OHL, he has just 12 points in 29 games this season.
His mediocre play so far in 2013-14 has cost him a spot on the USA's World Junior squad, a team he was expected to make given his strong play last year at the World Under-18 Championships.
Maybe this will be the wake-up call the youngster needs.
Assuming he is able to get his development back on track, Brian Boyle of the New York Rangers seems like a reasonable NHL comparison.
Like McCarron, Boyle was a late first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings (26th overall) back in 2003.
Both players are huge, with Boyle at 6'7", 244 lbs and McCarron at 6'5", 228 lbs.
Entering his draft year, Boyle was known as a strong skater for someone of his size. HockeysFuture.com says McCarron's "skating is very good for a big man but still needs improvement with his balance, agility and acceleration."
Brian Boyle is not an NHL superstar, but he is a good checking-line center that most NHL teams would love to roster. Habs fans can hope for more, but seeing McCarron develop into a player like Boyle certainly wouldn't be the end of the world.
For his part, McCarron compares himself to a couple of pretty elite NHL players, via Neate Sager from Yahoo! Sports' Buzzing the Net blog:
I have two guys: Milan Lucic and Rick Nash. Nash, the way he protects the puck and takes pucks to the net, I think I can have. The toughness of Lucic, I think I can have. That goes back to the idea that I can play on any line. Lucic, he can play on the third line and grind, or play on the first line.
McCarron's NHL comparisons of himself are certainly a lot more exciting than that of most scouts. Let's hope he knows his game better than they do.
Jacob De La Rose
NHL Comparison: Patrik Berglund
Jacob de la Rose, the 34th overall pick in the 2013 draft, is having a great season as an 18-year-old in the Swedish Hockey League. Because of this, his name gets mentioned more and more in discussions about Montreal's top prospects.
De la Rose is currently playing for Leksand in the top division of Sweden's professional hockey league. He is currently sixth in team scoring with 10 points in 30 games. As Robert Rice at Habs Eyes on the Prize points out, de la Rose is coming off one of his best weeks as a pro, where he had a short-handed goal and a game-winning goal over the course of two games.
As far as comparisons go, de la Rose seems to be following a similar career path as country-mate Patrik Berglund.
Like Berglund, de la Rose has size at 6'2", 190 lbs. Berglund also played in the SHL for three seasons before making the move to North America.
Berglund has developed into a solid two-way center with a bit of offensive upside. He centers the third line for the St. Louis Blues and scores from time to time, with 198 points in 384 games.
De la Rose plays a similar game.
Even though he is one of the youngest players in the league, de la Rose is already trusted on his team's checking line and kills penalties. He is also expected to lead Sweden's shutdown line at the upcoming World Juniors.
He is a physical forward who can skate and is very responsible defensively. Hockey Prospectus notes that "scouts are divided on De La Rose's offensive upside". Some think think he could develop a top-six offensive touch while others say he's destined for a third-line role.
NHL Comparison: Mike Green
As an offensive defenseman who runs into trouble in his own zone, comparing Nathan Beaulieu to Mike Green seems fitting.
Green is, of course, a talented offensive defenseman who racks up points for the Washington Capitals. He "often plays like a fourth forward on the ice, as he places constant pressure on opposing defenses", according to his report at TheHockeyNews.com.
Beaulieu possesses a very similar skill set to Green's. He skates very well, has a very good shot and has above-average vision on the ice. He has the ability to quarterback a No. 1 power play.
The 21-year-old is nearing NHL readiness but still has some work to do on his defensive-zone play. Assuming he continues to improve this season in Hamilton, he'll likely be given a shot at cracking Montreal's 2014-15 roster.
NHL Comparison: Hal Gill
Now, before any Canadiens fans take this comparison the wrong way, let's start by saying that Jarred Tinordi compares to a Hal Gill who can skate. There is no doubt that Tinordi's skating trumps that of Gill's, but when comparing styles of play, the two are similar.
The most obvious comparison is their size. Both are mountain of men, with Tinordi standing 6'7" and weighing 212 lbs, while Gill is 6'7", 244 lbs. They use this to their advantage, both for physical play and shot-blocking.
As HockeysFuture.com points out, Tinordi "thrives when protecting the area around his net and in the corners." Canadiens fans will remember that Gill did that kind of dirty work very efficiently in his two-plus years in Montreal.
Tinordi actually skates quite well for a big man. Unlike Gill, Tinordi has the quickness and stride to keep up with the speed of NHL forwards. This, combined with his size and defensive awareness, should help him become an NHL mainstay sometime in the next year or two.