Montreal Canadiens group of CHL prospects headlined by two former first-rounders

By Ian Bross
Photo: Louis Leblanc opted to leave Harvard and join the Montreal Juniors of the QMJHL during the summer of 2010. The decision has appeared to pay early dividends as Leblanc is leading the team in both goals and points through 19 games. (Photo Courtesy of the QMHL

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The Montreal Canadiens have a total of six prospects playing in major junior — four forwards and two defensemen. Most reside in the QMJHL, while two others are playing out the 2010-11 season in the OHL and WHL respectively.

OHL

Jarred Tinordi – D, London Knights
Acquired: 1st round (22nd overall) in 2010
Feb. 20th, 1992. Ht: 6’7, Wt: 212 lbs

After passing up on an opportunity to play in the NCAA with Notre Dame, Tinordi became the Canadiens’ one and only OHL prospect this year. In the early going, the 2010 first-round selection has simply been trying to adjust to his new locale.

The Canadiens thought highly enough of Tinordi to trade up for him during the draft last June. The 18-year-old — then an impressive 6’6 tall and 205 lbs — has been measured this season at a staggering 6’7 and 212 lbs. With his size at his disposal, Tinordi is effective policing high traffic areas of his own zone, ably overpowering opposition players in the slot and around the net.

Even so, while towering over much of his junior competition, he has played thus far with a considerable amount of restraint. A defense-first defender, and go-to penalty killer, Tinordi has two assists, along with a minus-4 rating and 28 penalty minutes in 17 games this season.

QMJHL

Louis Leblanc – C, Montreal Juniors
Acquired: 1st round (18th overall) in 2009
Jan. 26, 1991. Ht: 6’0, Wt: 180 lbs

Like Tinordi, Leblanc forwent playing in the NCAA in order to enter CHL competition. After a noteworthy freshman campaign with Harvard University, the Canadiens’ 2009 first-round selection is now a member of the Montreal Juniors. The team owns one of the best winning percentages in the QMJHL, thanks in part to Leblanc’s play.

Leblanc leads his team in points, and is among the league leaders in scoring. His 12 goals and 15 assists through 19 games place him 15th in scoring overall. The 19-year-old has toiled in the faceoff circle thus far, winning 50 percent of his draws or better in only five games this season. Named to the Team QMJHL 2010 Subway Super Series roster, Leblanc possesses a willingness to work hard, particularly to create chances on the offense, and a great deal of maturity.

Philippe Lefebvre – LW, Montreal Juniors
Acquired: Free Agent (September 2009)
Feb. 28th, 1991. Ht: 6’0, Wt: 192 lbs

Also a member of the Montreal Juniors is the undrafted Philippe Lefebvre. The 19-year-old, in his fourth QMJHL season, joined the Canadiens organization not long after his new teammate Louis Leblanc. Though not as highly touted, Lefebvre has made a definite impact.

Lefebvre is second only to Leblanc in team scoring, and joined him in being named to the QMJHL 2010 Subway Super Series roster. While not the most consistent point producer, Lefebvre has scored in bunches this season, on course to set new career highs. To date, he has tallied 11 goals and 12 assists in 21 games. Lefebvre has matured physically since last season. Still, he best excels playing a two-way game — he has only been charged with a minus rating twice this season, in each case, a minus-1.

Michael Bournival – C, Shawinigan Cataractes
Acquired: via trade (November 2010)
May, 31st, 1992. Ht: 6’0, Wt: 187 lbs

A recent trade acquisition, Bournival was swapped from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Ryan O’Byrne. Bournival is noted for his versatility — his ability to play at both ends of the ice — as well as a tireless work ethic and intense competitive drive. These traits have put the 18-year-old, a third-round pick this past June, in a strong position early on this season. He is the third Canadiens prospect to be named to the Team QMJHL roster for the 2010 Subway Super Series. Bournival holds a narrow advantage over Leblanc in production to date, situated one spot above him in points league-wide. He is currently the Hab’s highest scoring QMJHL prospect, with 11 goals and 17 assists in 19 games for Shawinigan.

Morgan Ellis – D, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Acquired: 4th round (117th overall) in 2010
Apr. 30th, 1992. Ht: 6’2, Wt: 196 lbs

The 2010-11 season is Ellis’ third in the QMJHL, having spent each year of his junior career thus far with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Ellis entered the season as the team’s captain, though things have not gone according to plan. The Screaming Eagles have been kept silent on the scoresheets, currently the lowest scoring team in the league, sitting in fourth-to-last place. On a team where the highest individual plus/minus rating is a plus-2, and most dwell in the negative range, Ellis is a minus-11 thus far. Ellis has more goals and total points than any of his defensive Cape Breton counterparts, having registered three goals and 10 assists in 23 games.

WHL

Brendan Gallagher – RW, Vancouver Giants
Acquired: 5th round, (147th overall) in 2010
Jun. 5th, 1992. Ht: 5’8, Wt: 170 lbs

The Canadiens’ lone WHL prospect, the 18-year-old Gallagher is for the first time in a key role in the Vancouver Giants lineup. The playoff hopes for a team that has been left out of postseason play only once — in 2001-02, its inaugural season — will rest heavily on the diminutive Gallagher’s shoulders. Thus far, the Edmonton, Alberta native has done his part. With 18 goals and 14 assists in 23 games, Gallagher is situated among the league leaders in scoring. He is sixth in points (32), and second in goals. Gallagher is never passive on a shift. Always active, he possesses quick hands and a quicker release. Standing 5’8 tall and 170 lbs, he is fearless entering traffic despite his smaller stature.