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Game 65: Habs/Wild

  • A busy work day means a mailed-in Game Blog. There are so many interesting things to consider about this season that I’m sure we’ll continue to look at as this season winds down.

    The ever-excellent Eric Engels gets way ahead of himself asking who the Habs might target in Free Agency. In my opinion its going to be hard to convince any Free Agents of note to join a lottery-pick team. That said, he does have a couple interesting options listed such as Cory Sarich and Brad Stuart. These are guys who aren’t the types who would be on the top of your list, but who ultimately could have the biggest impact in terms of allowing your other players who be more effective.

    I’m loathe to link to hockeybuzz.. let alone do it twice.. but Steven Hindle has done a very good job of looking at the Canadiens draft picture. Its a topic that will become issue #1 as the season winds down. Read his piece – you won’t regret it.

    Dave Stubbs gives us the low down on Blake “Baby Boom” Geoffrion’s debut in Montreal tonight. How loud do you think that crowd will be if he is able to pot one? Kind of gives you chills even thinking about it.

    Justin Bourne writes for an incredible blog over at the Score called Backhand Shelf. I love his insight into the game as a guy who played extensively in the lower levels of hockey and knows intimately of the struggles that a hockey player goes through trying to get to the NHL. As someone who’s career peaked with 16 games in the AHL I can tell you this guy knows all about the grind of hockey and gives you details you never thought about from a player’s perspective. His piece about the Toronto Maple Leafs and their current losing streak is entirely applicable to the Habs. Read it. Get Smarter. You’re Welcome.

    Alright, back to work. Go Habs Go!!!

  1. #1 Avatar37 says:
    March 2, 2012 at 8:47 am

    For me, if we wind up with 2 picks in the top 10, you pick either Yakupov or Forsberg, and take Galchenyuk with the second pick as the centre.

    “…despite being immensely talented, Grigorenko hasn’t assured the world he will be a sure thing. Noted to float at times or perform better against weaker clubs, there seems to be a higher risk tagged to choosing Grigorenko…”

    Seen too many Russians like this to gamble with a high draft choice on one who is likely to turn out like Yashin or Kovalev. All the talent in the world, no desire to use it consistently. Not saying he’ll turn out that way for sure, but the risk is alot higher than my comfort zone.

  2. #2 Mats Naslund says:
    March 3, 2012 at 11:06 am

    So one scouting report is bad on Grigorenko and you move on elsewhere. The same things were said about Stamkos, Malkin, and Kane.. I’d still rather have them on my team than not. That was the exact book on Wayne Gretzky.. He turned out ok. Elite offensive talent focus on offense. The Sedins do it, Giroux, Kessel, Tavares.. the list goes on. The question you need to ask is – do we want our first line to play like our third line? Or do we prefer the Tomas plekanec’s of the world who have middling offensive seasons but are very reliable defensively. For once we have the inside track on a big, and offensively gifted Centre. I pray we don’t pass him up for a guy who projects to be a medium sized winger.

    I would far prefer high end offensive talent to play in offensive situations, with offensive zone starts and on the powerplay than to always try to be wondering whether or not our third liners can break out and have offensive seasons.

  3. #3 Avatar37 says:
    March 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    The reports on Stamkos in 2008:

    “Stamkos is Yzerman like in the way he handles himself, he is well spoken and looks like a lock to be a captain on his NHL team at some point. He talks about playing a team game and not changing the way he plays in front of scouts.

    As for his game, well he has not let anyone down with his play. His vision is outstanding, quickness is unmatched. His value on the PP can not be overstated. The one timer setting up on the left point or back door hashmarks is as good as anyone in the game. He is a leader and will be a captain very quickly into his NHL career.”

    “His passes are quick, crisp, accurate and usualy very creative. The poise he shows when he has the puck is a joy to watch. He is not a huge player but is very strong and does a great job fighting through checks.”

    “Steve Stamkos was taken first overall in the 2006 OHL Priority Selection by the Sarnia Sting. He played for the Markham Waxers who have built some players like Sean Avery, Peter Ing, Adam Oates and Steve Thomas. TSN had him pinned as the #1 guy for the NHL 2008 Entry Draft. He had a slow start to the year but has finally started to start racking up some points.”

    “Stamkos is a complete player gaining comparisons to Joe Sakic. Stamkos has explosive speed, and good agile movement. Stamkos owns a huge wrist shot with a quick release, Stamkos is not a physical player, but doesn’t shy away from going into the corners when needed.. Decent on the Cycle game.. Is usually the first forward back in the defensive zone on any given play.. after a slow first few games he leads John Tavares in goal scoring in the OHL with 31.. Stamkos is considered by many scouts to actually be a better prospect than John Tavares based on his ability to play a better overall game, and shows no weaknesses in any point of the game, and his ability to make everyone around him better.”

    Not seeing anything being said that remotely resembles what was said about Grigorenko. In fact, I’d much rather have a player being compared to Yzerman than one being compared to Malkin.

    Patrick Kane:

    “A skilled playmaking forward with great hockey
    sense… high-end passing skill with excellent use of the saucer pass to move the puck… able to fight through checks and protect the puck… is not afraid to take the puck into traffic and can be very elusive… very good at anticipating the play and has a good wrist shot.


    Knights’ captain Rob Drummond has seen many top players pass through the Knights system. And as an overager in the OHL, he’s had the chance to see some of the league’s top talent in action. Kane, he explained, is comfortably amongst that group of players.

    “I’d say he’s right up there with one of the best players I’ve ever played with. He’s so gifted offensively. There’s really nothing wrong with him,” Drummond said. “Some people say he’s too small, but that doesn’t really matter. The game’s changing and he’s quick, he’s got great hands, and he can finish. He’s a complete player in my mind.

    “I think he’s so strong on the puck and he’s got great vision as well. He spots guys that other players wouldn’t see. He’s a great set-up guy and he can finish.”


    Gagner said. “You always have to be ready for a pass because he’ll hit you when you’re not expecting it and it’s usually an awesome play. Having the chance to play with him all year has been really beneficial for me. He’s so skilled with the puck and he’s got such a drive to be a better player that’s just fun to be on the ice with him every day and learn new things for him and get a chance to play with a guy that’s so determined to be the best.

    “Obviously his skill level is unbelievable, but his vision out there and his scoring touch are something you don’t see very often. But mostly it’s his constant want to be the best and I think that’s why he’ll be good at every level because he accepts every challenge and be better than everyone else, but at the same time he doesn’t bring other people down in the process.”


    Couldn’t find a scouting report on Gretzky, all I could find was this article written when he was 20:

    Nothing in it that says anything similar to Grigorenko’s report, though.


    Nope, definitely not the same things being said about Grigorenko that were said about Stamkos or Kane. Malkin I’ll grant you, because the current reports consistently compare Grigorenko with Malkin. This isn’t a plus in my books, I consider Malkin to be overrated. He’s not the kind of player that will lead the Penguins to a cup. How’s Ovechkin working out for Washington? Think they’d rather have Crosby? I know I would, even with his injury. There’s no denying the talent that players like Malkin and Ovechkin have, but it’s the drive to compete every game, every shift, the drive to compete through the hard times, to be able to dig down deep when it counts, that’s what I question. I’ve just seen it happen too many times where these highly talented players simply don’t have that burning drive to win. Hey, since Pittsburg already has Malkin, do you think if we drafted Girgorenko they’d be willing to pull off a Crosby for Grigorenko trade? Then they could have Grigorenko and Malkin on the same team. Crosby’s favourite team growin up were the Habs, his motivation to win for us would be unquestionable.

    While you see a big, offensive center who is the answer to our prayers (I still say we should have gone after Carter), I see another Alexei Yashin in the making. Yashin was 6’2, 189, said to play well in traffic because of his size. Or, if you’d prefer me to compare him to a Canadian bust: Eric Lindros. Wouldn’t have drafted him, either, ironically drafted in the same draft as Alexei Kovalev. Available instead of Lindros: Scott Neidermeyer and Peter Forsberg. Wait, isn’t there a Forsberg available in this draft? =)

    I, unfortunately, lived through the Yashin era in Ottawa. I remember all the hype around him, I remember the whole saga. This had made me gun-shy on certain types of players. Grigorenko may turn out to be a great player. Or he may turn out to be another overrated, highly skilled player that never has the level of compete required to win in today’s NHL. The warning bells are already being sounded by others. I’m not questioning his talent, but I am saying he’s too high risk for my tastes. I understand you disagree. You hope we don’t bypass him to pick Forsberg or Galchenyuk. I hope we don’t pass up a Peter Forsberg to draft an Eric Lindros.

    Yakupov is a different matter, I think he’s just too talented to pass on, if we had the chance to draft him, we’d have to (and pray for the best). In fact, if we had a chance to get Yakupov, I’d like to (as was suggested by Steve Hindle) see us trade some of our picks and assets to move up and draft Galchenyuk with him, simply because they have already played together, and Galchenyuk seems to project into the kind of player I’m more comfortable having (although if we were able to get Ville Pokka and Andrei Vasilevski in the second round, I wouldn’t cry about that either). We have no organizational depth at the goaltending position, drafting Vasilevski would solve this problem. He’s 6’3, has a great skill set, and is 18. But back to Galchenyuk, I think it would be a mistake not to trade up and pick this kid on top of whoever else we take in the first round, be it Yakupov or (I hope) Forsberg. Keep in mind, Plekanec is slated to drop to third line center, with Desharnais our first line center and Eller our second. Plekanec is a great third line center, capable of playing in both zones. Eller is listed as 6’2, 202 lbs and is quietly developing into a really good player (I think we got great value with him in the Halak trade). With Desharnais, Eller, and Plekanec, we’re not all that desperate for a centre. We just need to teach our current centres how to win more faceoffs, and we’l be golden.

  4. #4 Mats Naslund says:
    March 6, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Stamkos was benched for almost half of his first year because he couldn’t play defense.

    Patrick Kane still doesn’t play defense. He lit up junior scoring though.. just like Grigorenko.

    Gretzky didn’t really play defense either, but more than made up for that offensively.

    Malkin doesn’t do it for you – but you give no reason why. You say the Pens won’t win a cup with him, but they already have. He also happens to have 81 points in 58 games. How you can possibly ignore that is beyond me. How do you say a player doesn’t have the drive to compete in every game when they have BY FAR the most points per game in the league. If he’s lazy then what is the rest of the league? He’s also got 8 game winning goals. In 13% of the games Malkin has played this season, he’s scored the game-winning goal.

    So ya, Malkin is a good player to be compared to. If you can say you wished we signed Jeff Carter (a party boy who has been traded twice in the last 12 months, and has been called lazy at every level of hockey he played) then I really don’t understand the hesitation to draft Grigorenko who is by most people’s judgement a more talented player.

    Also – here is Bob Mackenzie’s take on Grigorenko:
    Mikhail Grigorenko, F, Quebec Remparts – Grigorenko started the season as a one-dimensional player, and Patrick Roy has turned him into a well rounded player, says MacKenzie. MacKenzie compared Grigorenko to Evgeni Malkin & Pavel Datsyuk. He called him a “200 foot player”. He also said some scouts might rather Grigorenko as he’s a big center. He noted that Grigorenko hasn’t played well since high ankle sprain. He said that if the team with the first overall pick thinks they’re close they might take him over Nail Yakupov, because of his two way play.
    He also noted that most scouts said they would take Yakupov, but he has talked to some that would rather take Grigorenko. His biggest asset is that he’s a big, two-way center, a hot comodity in today’s NHL.”

    Comparisons to Malkin and Datsyuk are fine with me.

  5. #5 Avatar37 says:
    March 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Actually, I never said that the Penguins wouldn’t win a cup with him, I said that he would never lead the Penguins to a cup. Malkin doesn’t impress me because I’ve never seen in him any desire to win. Frankly, Desharnais has a higher compete level than anything I’ve ever seen with Malkin. Granted, my exposure to him is limited in that I don’t follow penguin games, so maybe Malkin just goes to sleep against the Habs and lights it up against the rest of the league when I’m not looking.

    Two years ago in a 7 game series against the Habs, Malkin had 1 goal 2 assists and was -2. More importantly, games 6 and 7, when they had an opportunity to win the series, he had 0 goals 0 assists and was -1. You need your big players to step up when it counts, he sure didn’t, he was invisible most of the series and certainly when it counted most. Crosby, in that same series, had 1 g 4 a -1. In game 6, he had 1g 1a and was +1. In game 7, he had 0g 0a and was -2. Cammalleri, in that same game (game 7) had 1g 1a and was +1 (in game 6, Cammalleri had 2g and was +2). Cammalleri had a huge playoff year for us, and did so again the following season. When we needed him to deliver, he did, which is why I was sad to see him leave.

    All of that is why Malkin doesn’t do it for me. Datsyuk does, he competes hard and is probably one of, if not the most, all around player currently in the NHL. Datsyuk is the kind of player every team would love to have on its roster. Sure, Malkin may light it up during the regular season, so what. It’s all about the playoffs and the cup. Malkin’s playoff numbers in 08 and 09 were great, so again, maybe it’s just when I’m watching he’s dogging it and when I’m not he’s on fire, I don’t know. I just haven’t been impressed by what I’ve seen from him.

    Good report by Bob Mackenzie, I find him fairly reliable and his opinions usually good ones. Datsyuk and Malkin are two very different types of players, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Grigorenko, to me, still carries a higher risk than I’d like, from what I’ve been reading, I would prefer to gamble on Galchenyuk. I think the odds are higher he’ll turn out to be a more valuable contributor to the team. However, I am by no means a pro scout with access to being able to see these players play or watch tape of these players to be able to make a really informed opinion, I readily admit my opinion is based upon limited media information and is simply my “best guess”.

    What I’d love to see happen in this draft is us taking Yakupov and trading assets to get Galchenyuk to go with him. Montreal has a great group of young corps players that, if Yakupov and Galchenyuk aren’t 100% ready, a year or two isn’t going to make a difference. They already have experience playing together, which is beneficial. Montreal is, admittedly, a really tough town for a player to earn his NHL chops, so regardless of who we take, it might be best for them to spend at least a year in Hamilton where they can learn strategy, learn what’s expected of them, and practice away from the media spolight and the expectations of all the fans and media in Montreal to be instantly lead to a cup.

    The one thing we can agree on is that finishing second last is the best thing that can happen for this club. Whether we get Yakupov or Grigorenko, we’ll at least have good odds at having aquired a young player that will provide us with some benefit, maybe enough that we can seriously compete for the cup in the next few years. We have what, 16 games remaining? I really hope our coach uses the time to play our younger players and give them NHL experience.

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