There wasn't a lot of room for optimism going into the weekend draft for fans of the Montreal Canadiens. Once again, they were sitting with a pick in the latter half of the draft, without even the satisfaction of having come off a successful season.
Trevor Timmins' track record with first-round picks has been abysmal over the years, beginning with Andrei Kostitsyn, who was taken ahead of a couple dozen current franchise players around the league. To be fair, the team has made up for the first-round boners to some degree with subsequent picks. But I think that may be more do to the support staff than Timmins himself. This year looks to be more of the same, from my perspective.
1. Nathan Beaulieau
Seems like too much of a tweener type defenseman for me to get excited over. His numbers don't indicate much offensive potential, considering how explosive his team was this year. Seems to be solid defensively, but at 175 pounds you can't expect him to be a shutdown defender. He will probably be lucky to be 200 pounds when he makes it to the NHL. Still, he was highly rated by Central Scouting at No. 5 overall among North American skaters. That would put him at no worse than the 10th rated player, overall.
2. Josiah Didier
Pure project defender, who seems to have adequate raw tools and is highly regarded from a character perspective. Scheduled for another USHL campaign, then four years of NCAA hockey. Similar to Greg Pateryn who is entering his senior year at Michigan.
3. Olivier Archambeault
It seems like the Habs have to get this deep into their draft before they start making inspired picks. Archambeault gets a lot of crap for underachieving, but he was rated much higher than players like Huberdeau, Panet and Phillips, coming into the Q.
As the top pick, he went to the worst team and it seems to have dragged him down to some extent. Perhaps a change of scenery will revitalize him. He isn't as tall as those three, who all went in the first round, but is as heavy and more solidly built. I think he has offensive upside greater than any of them.
4. Magnus Nygren
My favorite pick along with Archambeault. Shares the same high skill level, also tempered by marginal size and questionable two-way game. But you can teach an offensively skilled player to check, while you cannot teach a two-way player to become productive point wise. Very similar to Yannik Weber, which may hold him back from winning a spot with the team.