The 2010 NHL amateur draft is upon us. All Habs wants to help you get ready, starting with a brief overview, player previews, and prospects currently in the system.
It's fair to say that Bob Gainey and Trevor Timmins have done a very good job re-stocking the Canadiens talent pool that had been depleted prior to their arrival. The Gainey/Timmins team has not always followed popular opinion, but their selections have often received praise from experts.
The Hockey News ranks the Canadiens fourth in the NHL in terms of draft success since 2006. THN's handicapping system takes into account draft position and future watch grades.
The Canadiens also rank high, second overall in the NHL, in terms of the number of drafted players still active in the NHL. Development of those draft picks may be an issue with the Habs being in the middle of the pack, 13th overall, when calculating number of players drafted who are still with the team.
But there is a new man at the helm for the Canadiens. It will be interesting to see how Pierre Gauthier handles the draft, having recently dismissed five of his amateur scouts.
The Canadiens playoff success dropped their draft pick all the way down to 27th overall. What will Gauthier do with the pick?
Below, we have included eight players who have been mentioned in mock drafts or by experts as potential selections for the Canadiens. You will find statistics and our brief commentary on each player to help you get to know them.
Following the player preview, we have listed the top current Canadiens' prospects for comparison.
Do we have a favorite? There seems to be less consensus this year on where players will be selected, especially beyond the top ten. Will a physical defenseman like Jarred Tinordi be available at No. 27? Unlikely, but there are bound to be some off-the-board selections this year, so who knows?
Tyler Pitlick is the All Habs pick for the 2010 NHL amateur draft. Pitlick could bring an excellent combination of size, skill and grit to a Canadiens' lineup. Brock Nelson would be a fine substitute if Pitlick is not available.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C/LW, Chelyabinsk Traktor (KHL)
Height: 6-0 Weight: 174 lbs
2009-10: 35 GP, 2 G, 7 A, 9 PTS, 10 PIM
ISS No. 19 THN No. 18 TSN No. 24
According to the pre-draft rankings, Evgeny Kuznetsov should be off the board before the Habs pick. However, given the lack of a transfer agreement with Russia, NHL teams will be reluctant to pull the trigger. Also hurting his value is the "enigma" label.
For the team who can find his motivation button, they will get a highly-skilled, dominant forward. He was described by one scout as "so far ahead of everybody else it was scary" at the under-18 Six Nations Tournament.
But do the Habs want to roll the dice on a player who can just as easily be invisible in the wrong environment? TSN's Pierre McGuire says yes, and projects that Pierre Gauthier will select Kuznetzov with the 27th overall pick.
Tyler Pitlick, C, Minnesota State (WCHA)
Height: 6-2 Weight: 194 lbs.
2009-10: 38 GP, 11 G, 8 A, 27 PIM
ISS No. 20 THN No. 21 TSN No. 25
Tyler Pitlick is probably the most popular Habs pick in mock drafts. And why not? Pitlick has good size, plays a north-south grinding style, and he can hit. The Habs scouting department has strong links to players from Minnesota, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him don the bleu, blanc et rouge.
Pitlick has some maturing to do and will benefit from an increased schedule and a game better suited to his style if he makes the jump to the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Probably the biggest reason that the Habs will not take this select player is that he will be snapped up a few places earlier in the draft.
Jaden Schwartz, C, Tri-City (USHL)
Height: 5-10 Weight: 180 lbs.
2009-10: 60 GP, 33 G, 50 A, 18 PIM
ISS No. 23 THN No. 30 TSN No. 29
Jaden Schwartz is another name that you see in the Habs slot when looking at mock drafts. One might think that the Habs have a divine right to a player like Schwartz.
Scwartz is a Canadian kid playing in the US College system. His points total was the most in the USHL since 2001-02.
He is small, with speed and skill to burn. Schwartz is described as one of the smartest players in the draft. One scout said, "There's nothing missing from his game other than height."
But raise your hand if you've seen this movie before. Schwartz may be able to create offense but the Habs don't need to add another player in this mould to their organization.
Jarred Tinordi, D, Under-18 (USHL)
Height: 6-5 Weight: 205 lbs.
2009-10: 26 GP, 4 G, 5 A, 68 PIM
ISS No. 25 THN No. 22 TSN No. 23
Jarred Tinordi is a big, tough defenseman who plays with an edge. What he lacks in puck skills is made up in his physical game, character, and leadership.
The Habs defensive prospect cupboard is somewhat bare with the exit of McDonagh, Valentenko and the uncertainty surrounding Yemelin and Fischer.
In the unlikely event that Tinordi was to fall into the lap of the Habs, they would be smart to add him to complement a potential future blueline of O'Byrne, Subban, Weber, Bennett, and Carle.
Brock Nelson, C, Warroad (MN High School)
Height: 6-3 Weight: 205 lbs
2009-10: 31 GP, 53 G, 42 A, 46 PIM
ISS No. 26 THN No. 29 TSN No. 34
Brock Nelson has good size, is a skilled-player, and posts impressive offensive numbers. But given that Nelson plays high school hockey, comparing him to college or junior players is tricky matter. Fortunately, the Habs scouting presence is strong in Minnesota.
Nelson has bloodlines to two US hockey gold medal winners, including Miracle on Ice team member Dave Christian (1980) and his grandfather Bill Christian (1960).
The Habs may be able to trade down a few spots, pick up an extra pick and still be able to draft Nelson if he is high on their list. Gauthier has been quoted saying that he knows little about Nelson.
Dylan McIlrath, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)
Height: 6-4 Weight: 212 lbs
2009-10: 65 GP, 7 G, 17 A, 169 PIM
ISS No. 31 THN No. 26 TSN No. 15
For Dylan McIlrath, just check out his penalty minutes (including 19 fighting majors) to understand why he will go much higher than his ISS ranking and be gone by the time the Habs pick.
McIlrath is big and nasty. He is described as the toughest player in this year's draft. Skating and puck skills are not his strength but McIlrath does possess a good shot.
John McFarland, C, Sudbury, (OHL)
Height: 6-0 Weight: 192 lbs.
2009-10: 64 GP, 20 G, 30 A, 70 PIM
ISS No. 39 THN No. 20 TSN No. 28
Talent-wise, John McFarland's name has been spoken in the same breath as Hall and Seguin at times. But this season has seen McFarland's draft ranking plummet from the top six due to questions about his attitude, work ethic, and selfish play on the ice.
McFarland is one of the fastest skaters in the draft with a great shot. Will a team be willing to take a chance on him in the first round?
This is not the type of player that I expect the Gauthier-Timmins team to select.
Alex Petrovic, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Height: 6-4 Weight: 193 lbs.
2009-10: 57 GP, 8 G, 19 A, 87 PIM
ISS No. 42 THN No. 24 TSN No. 36
Alex Petrovic has good size, hockey sense, and puck skills. He is a good skater and can be a solid defenseman, but won't contribute much offensively.
Petrovic had a setback this season, being cut from Canada's summer under-18 team after making the squad last year. Some see it as a temporary loss of confidence after losing a fight to Dylan McIlrath.
Petrovic may be seen as more of a project than others on the list but has drawn comparisons to Brent Seabrook.
ISS = International Scouting Service
TSN = TSN's Bob McKenzie
THN = The Hockey News
P.K. Subban, D, Hamilton (AHL)
Height: 6-0 Weight: 206 lbs
2007 draft, 43rd overall
Dany Kristo, RW, North Dakota (WCHA)
Height: 5-11 Weight: 180 lbs
2008 draft, 56th overall
Louis Leblanc, C, Harvard (ECAC)
Height: 6-0 Weight: 172 lbs
2009 draft, 18th overall
Lars Eller, C, Peoria (AHL)
Height: 6-1 Weight: 198 lbs
2007 draft, 13th overall (acquired via Jaroslav Halak trade)
Yannick Weber, D, Hamilton (AHL)
Height: 5-11 Weight: 193 lbs
2007 draft, 73rd overall
Joonas Nattinen, C, Espoo (Finland Jr.)
Height: 6-2 Weight: 187 lbs
2009 draft, 65th overall
Ben Maxwell, C, Hamilton (AHL)
Height: 6-1 Weight: 195 lbs
2006 draft, 49th overall
Aaron Palushaj, RW, Hamilton (AHL)
Height: 6-0 Weight: 185 lbs
2007 draft, 44th overall (acquired via Matt D'Agostini trade)
Ryan White, C, Hamilton (AHL)
Height: 6-0 Weight: 200 lbs
2006 draft, 66th overall
Mathieu Carle, D, Hamilton (AHL)
Height: 6-0 Weight: 203 lbs
2006 draft, 53rd overall
Mac Bennett, D, Cedar Rapids (USHL)
Height: 5-11 Weight: 170 lbs
2009 draft, 79th overall
Cedrick Desjardins, G, Hamilton (AHL)
Height: 6-0 Weight: 182 lbs
undrafted (signed as a free agent 2008)
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