NHL ETAs for Montreal Canadiens' 2014 Draft Picks
General manager Marc Bergevin and his team had a solid draft. They added both size and skill to their already-deep pool of prospects. As an added bonus, they even got the guy with the best name in the draft.
But when will these newest additions to the organization make it to Montreal, assuming they make it there at all?
Here's an estimated time of arrival to the NHL for each of the Montreal Canadiens' 2014 draft picks.
Round 1: Nikita Scherbak, RW
Earliest NHL ETA: 2016-17
The Montreal Canadiens made forward Nikita Scherbak their first-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft. This was a kid the Habs targeted, and Bergevin was able to nab him at No. 26 overall.
The Canadiens were so set on Scherbak that, according to Pat Hickey of The Gazette, Bergevin was ready to send this pick to Los Angeles, Anaheim or St. Louis had he not been available. The Saskatoon Blades winger was still there, however, and now he's a Canadien.
Scherbak just finished his first season in North America, where he scored 28 goals and added 50 assists on a very weak Saskatoon team. He led his team in scoring by 35 points, and his 50 helpers were more than the second-leading scorer's total points.
The native of Moscow, Russia, stands 6'1" and weighs 175 pounds, so he obviously has some filling out to do before he gets to the NHL.
But when can fans expect to see Scherbak in Montreal? Bergevin wasn't dropping any hints after the draft.
"That's going to be up to him," Montreal's GM told The Canadian Press (via TSN.ca).
Scherbak, who turns 19 in December, will presumably play out the 2014-15 season in the WHL. He should also get the chance to represent Russia at the World Junior Championship.
He will then likely turn pro in 2015-16, but unless he has a phenomenal training camp, Hamilton will likely be his first destination. His earliest NHL ETA is probably the 2016-17 season.
Round 3: Brett Lernout, D
Earliest NHL ETA: 2017-18
The Canadiens selected Brett Lernout with the 73rd overall pick, and in doing so, they received a big, physical defenseman.
Lernout stands 6'4", weighs 206 pounds and plays to his size. B.J. MacDonald, of NHL Central Scouting, says Lernout "is a big kid, tough and nasty. He's hard to play against and a good physical presence."
The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native played the 2013-14 season with the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. He had 22 points and 103 penalty minutes in 72 games while finishing the season a plus-seven.
Lernout will return to the WHL for at least one more season before possibly turning pro. He could report to Hamilton for the 2015-16 season, at which point he'll likely need at least two seasons before being ready for Montreal.
Round 5: Nikolas Koberstein, D
Earliest NHL ETA: 2022-23
Bergevin and his scouting team went under the radar in selecting Nikolas Koberstein early in the fifth round—way under the radar.
That isn't to say that Koberstein isn't a good hockey player or that he won't develop into a solid prospect. That could very well happen. But from where he was ranked before the draft, it seems like Montreal could have easily gotten him in the seventh round.
NHL Central Scouting had Koberstein as the 205th-ranked North American skater in its final rankings. Most players ranked that low don't even get drafted. They also don't tend to have scouting profiles written about them, making it hard to find out what kind of hockey player he really is.
But the Canadiens obviously see something they like in Koberstein.
The 18-year-old defenseman from Barrhead, Alberta, stands a solid 6'2" and weighs 180 pounds. In 2013-14, he played for Olds of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). In 51 games, he had 18 points (5 G, 13 A) and 153 penalty minutes.
Koberstein will play one more year at Olds before heading to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks for the 2015-16 season, according to Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press (via Yahoo Sports).
Assuming he plays out his four years of NCAA eligibility, he won't turn pro until the 2019-20 season. After a couple of seasons in the AHL, we could see him in the NHL by 2022-23.
Round 5: Daniel Audette, C
Earliest NHL ETA: 2017-18
With their second pick in the fifth round, the Canadiens selected Daniel Audette, son of former NHLer Donald Audette.
Audette was selected 147th overall, which, coincidentally, happens to be the exact pick that Brendan Gallagher was taken at. Audette's birthday is May 6, which also happens to be Gallagher's birthday. And they happen to play a very similar game, both being small, skilled forwards.
That's a lot of coincidences, as pointed out by Matt Drake at Habs Eyes on the Prize. And if Audette can have anywhere near the success that Gallagher is having early in his career, Bergevin will have found yet another late-draft gem.
If Gallagher has taught us anything, it's that you don't necessarily need to be huge to succeed in the NHL. A strong work ethic and a willingness to do whatever it takes will take you a long way.
Scouts tend to agree that Audette has the offensive skill to make it to the NHL. Elite Prospects calls him "a speedy scorer with plenty of offensive upside," while Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, says "he's a skilled offensive player" with "a very good shot."
But to make it to the NHL at just 5'8", 177 pounds, Audette will have to overcome the challenges that come with being a small forward. He'll need to develop a similar work ethic to that of Gallagher.
Next season, Audette will head back to Sherbrooke of the QMJHL, where he put up 76 points in 68 games last year. After that, he will probably need some AHL seasoning before getting the chance to debut in Montreal.
The 2017-18 season seems like the earliest we'd see him in the red, white and blue.
Round 6: Hayden Hawkey, G
Earliest NHL ETA: 2020-21
Hayden Hawkey. Yes, his name is pronounced "hockey." That in itself is almost enough to justify nabbing this guy in the sixth round, but he also happens to be a pretty good goalie prospect.
Hawkey is a 6'1", 180-pound native of Parker, Colorado, who was named the USHL's Goaltender of the Year last season. Playing for the Omaha Lancers, he recorded a 1.99 goals-against average and a 0.926 save percentage in 33 games.
Mark Black of Habs Eyes on the Prize reports that Hawkey is expected to return to Omaha next season before heading to Providence College of the NCAA. This will allow him a lot of time to develop, which is a positive, as Montreal's goalie pipeline is currently very crowded with the likes of Carey Price, Dustin Tokarski, Peter Budaj, Mike Condon, Zachary Fucale and Joey MacDonald.
Assuming Hawkey plays out his full NCAA eligibility, he'll be with Providence through the 2018-19 season. After allowing for one season in Hamilton, the earliest we could see Hawkey in Montreal would be the 2020-21 season.
Round 7: Jake Evans, F
Earliest NHL ETA: 2021-22
With their final selection in the 2014 draft, the Canadiens selected Jake Evans 207th overall. Most players taken this late don't even get a sniff of the NHL, but Evans could be different.
Evans, who hails from Toronto, is a 6'0", 174-pound center. He spent the 2013-14 season with St. Michael's of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL), where he collected 63 points (16 G, 47 A) in 49 games.
Jeff Cox at SB Nation's College Hockey calls Evans "more of a setup guy than a goal scorer" and says that he "has tremendous ability to see the ice and make smart decisions with the puck." Cox also had him ranked as a fourth- or fifth-round prospect, meaning Evans could have been a bit of a steal in the seventh.
Evans is committed to Notre Dame next season, meaning he'll likely spend the next four years at the NCAA level. He'll probably turn pro for the 2018-19 season, but it's doubtful he'll make the jump directly to the NHL.
After college hockey and two or three seasons in the minors, Evans might surface in the NHL by 2021-22.