As rumors of immanent contracts for Josh Gorges and Andrei Markov swirl in Montreal, there is a little matter of the entry draft for Pierre Gauthier et al to deal with. With so many prospects making the jump to the Canadiens over the course of the last season, there is much work to do to re-stock the Habs farm system. While most Habs fans are looking to add that home-run Sidney Crosby-type prospect who will take the league by storm, the reality is that Montreal will use their 17th pick to attempt to bolster their long-term plans. That doesn’t mean that Habs fans shouldn’t get excited for the draft however, as there are more than a few interesting candidates out there that many Habs fans should be interested in having in the system.
The Habs do not have a 2nd round pick (yet?) this season. This will put added pressure on Trevor Timmins to find a “diamond in the rough” type first round pick. Still, I have my eyes on a few players that could be a huge benefit to the Habs – that are slated to be available around the 17th pick.
I doubt that Montreal will pick a defenseman in the first round. Stranger things have happened but I believe that with the move to pick Tinordi last season, Montreal will want to replace the likes of Max Pacioretti, David Desharnais, Ryan White, Nigel Dawes and Dustin Boyd in Hamilton. While there are a few faces like Aaron Pulshaj and the returning Brock Trotter to contend with, Montreal’s organizational depth at forward is starting to get a little thin.
Knowing this here is a list of players that could potentially still be on the board when Montreal picks at 17:
Mark McNeill – 6’2″ 210 – C – Prince Albert Raiders – 70GA 32G 49A 81P
Brandon Saad – 6’2″ 210 – LW – Saginaw Spirit – 59GA 27G 28A 47P
Matt Peumpel – 6’0″ 190 – LW – Peterborough Petes – 55GA 34G 35A 69P
Joel Armia – 6’3″ 187 – RW – Assat (FIN) – 48GA 18G 11A 29P
Tyler Biggs – 6’2″ 200 – US National Team – 20GA 4G 7A 11P (2008-2009 Toronto Jr Canadiens 72GA 40G 46A 86P)
As we have all seen over the past few years, Habs fans are unanimous that future Habs teams will be complimented by big offensive players. This line of thinking is a little flawed when you think of the amazingly talented players (Datsyuk and Zetterberg anyone?) who do not possess the prototypical big forward body. Still, despite the fact that players drafted this season will not have any impact on the 2011-12 lineup, fans will want to see the Dustin Byfuglien/ Milan Lucic/ Johan Franzen types being added to our system. I’m not necessarily against the idea personally, though I do think that stocking the system with the best player possible is the more sustainable way to building a franchise that is a perennial contender.
I digress. It is highly likely that one of the names listed above is a member of the Montreal Canadiens by the end of the weekend. Cerainly with the unpredictable nature of the Draft there are plenty of opportunities to change gears. We’ve already seen that Gauthier is willing to make a move if he thinks he can select a better player.