A day before the draft and all the Montreal Canadiens could use is some size up front. Trading playoff hero netminder Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis has helped with acquiring two 6' plus forwards in Lars Eller (6'0) and Ian Schultz (6'2)
But the draft has many big players who could make the impact the Canadiens need in the future.
Not known for their shrewd drafting in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Canadiens have moved up the ladder of success with top picks including Carey Price, Danny Kristo, and Louis Leblanc.
The success of these players in the future will truly tell if the Canadiens have bumped up the scouting in Montreal.
For the 2010 Draft Montreal has the 27th, 57th, 117th, 147th, and the 207th overall picks.
As for this year's draft, here are the top five players on the Montreal Canadiens' wish list. These players bring size, skill, and ruggedness that the Canadiens will need to compete with the beasts in the East.
#5: Brandon McNally
Rated #155 by Central Scouting, 6'1", 186 lb Brandon McNally seems to be ready to take his game to another level.
After finishing the 2009-10 season with Belmont Hill high school with 42 points (18 G, 24 A) in 30 games, including 45 PIMs, McNally could be seen as a potential third line centre or second line centre.
His size may be a welcome addition, but his development is a question.
Not a bad 147th pick.
#4: Christopher Wagner
Rated #136 by Central Scouting, it may take some patience and some luck to find gems in the later rounds. But Walpole, Massachusetts native Christopher Wagner seems to be scoring goals and putting up points in the Eastern Junior Hockey League at a rapid pace.
After his sophomore year with the South Shore Kings of the EJHL, in which Wagner put up 83 points (34 G, 49 A) along with 70 PIMs and league MVP honours, Wagner seems to have the scoring touch and grittiness.
His playoff stats speak to his big game prowess with 7 goals and 12 assists in 9 playoff games, while he led the playoffs in scoring in both the EJHL and nationally.
The only question is whether the 6', 200 lb winger can continue to improve as he moves up the ranks. His point-per-game scoring in the EJHL seems to say so, but time will tell.
Wouldn't be a bad #117th pick.
#3: Jerome Gautheir-Leduc
With the warm welcome Louis Leblanc got as the Canadiens' first pick, 18th overall, in Montreal at the 2009 Entry Draft, it would only make sense for Habs fans if they picked another French player in the draft.
Rated at #50, the smooth skating defenseman from Quebec City, played with Royun-Noranda in the QMJHL and netted 46 points (20 G, 26 A) in 68 games in his sophomore year.
Gauthier-Leduc was invited to the training camp for Team Canada at the World Juniors but failed to make the cut. He also played in the 2010 CHL Top Prospects Game.
At 6'1", 178 lbs, the one thing that Gauthier-Leduc may want to work on is bulking up some for the NHL as well as his defensive positioning. He has great offensive upsides and can play a good defensive game.
Well worth a second round pick.
#2: Bradley Ross
Add to this list the #59 rated player by Central Scouting and you have one tough player to play against.
Bradley Ross completed his second season with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL and his numbers prove his toughness. With 203 PIMs in 71 games, Ross' offensive upside was also impressive, adding 27 goals and 41 assists for 68 points in 71 games.
With an offensive upside and a gritty demeanour, the 6', 175 lb Ross played bigger than his frame may suggest.
As a feisty, two-way player, Ross may one day excel as a Maxim Lapierre or a Jarko Ruutu without the chatter. Instead, he would rather drop the gloves and settle matters with fisticuffs.
His scouting report also includes a hard work ethic combined with a high-energy, hard-working, in-your-face player who has worked on rounding out his game offensively.
If the Canadiens opt to go for the big forward body instead of a smooth-skating defenseman in Gautheir-Leduc, Ross would not be a bad pick. He is still improving and has another year or two in junior play.
#1: Dylan McIlrath
Maybe an impossible pick since the Winnipeg, MB native is rated 17th by Central Scouting, but was rated at 27th during the mid-season ranks.
Known as "The Undertaker," McIlarth's defensive game and his want to drop the gloves makes him a very valuable addition to any franchise.
His 169 PIMs in 65 games with the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors in 2009-10 saw McIlrath not afraid to stand up for his teammates and drop the gloves to settle the score. In two years with Moose Jaw, McIlrath has racked up over 271 PIMs, including 19 fighting majors.
His 24 points (7 G, 17 A) provides some offense from a hard hitting defenseman.
McIlrath was Moose Jaw's most improved player in 2009-10, raising his plus/minus from -22 in 2008-09 to +19 in 2009-10.
His physicality goes so far that he fought in the CHL Top Prospects Game with Alex Petrovic of the Red Deer Rebels.
The only question would be: Is he too physical, or can he be physical when the situation counts for it—like a Chris Pronger?
There is definitely the potential in McIlrath for a mean, nasty defenseman.
A long-shot for the 27th pick, but a good pick, nonetheless.