As the ravages of 82-game seasons, playoff runs, injuries and the irreversible march of time take their toll on the veteran defensemen who have held the fort for the Montreal Canadiens in recent years, there comes a time for rejuvenation.
That time is the NHL draft.
As members of the Habs' defensive corps edge ever closer to the twilight, there will be a need to replace the outgoing stalwarts with fresh blood. A quick look at the depth chart finds six defenders in their 30s, all of whom are on the downside of their careers.
Their younger counterparts are by no means without their own issues. P.K. Subban lacks experience, Josh Gorges has health questions and James Wisniewski is a one-dimensional defender.
We can be fairly certain that Subban will develop into a high-caliber defender, but beyond him lies a degree of uncertainty. The recent signing of Alexei Yemelin does little to answer questions concerning the future of the Candiens defense, and though Jared Tinordi has fans tingling with anticipation, he is likely still a couple of years off.
That being said, as the older players pass the torch to their younger counterparts, it would be nice to see management have the forethought to have a stable of good young prospects ready to step in over the next few years.
Which brings me to the 6’7” behemoth out of Northeastern University.
According to scouts, Jamieson Oleksiak, while not likely to contribute much on the offensive side of the ice, has the potential to become a very good shut-down defenseman in the mold of a Hal Gill. However, unlike Gill, Oleksiak has shown reasonably good mobility for his size and a greater willingness to use his physicality to his advantage.
Oleksiak still needs a bit of polish, must work on his athleticism and is unlikely to develop beyond a solid second-pairing player.
As the adage goes, however, you can’t teach size.
The thought of Tinordi (6’6”) and Oleksiak someday physically anchoring the back end in Montreal is a tantalizing prospect, and pundits have Oleksiak falling somewhere between the 15th and 20th picks.
This would be serendipitous for the Canadiens, as they currently hold the 17th pick.
The continual knock against the Habs is their lack of physicality and size. The addition of this young man would go a long way to giving the team a guy who could knock back.
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