Montreal Canadiens 2015 NHL Draft preview

By Chris Roberts
Photo: Montreal's 1st round pick in 2014 (26th overall), Nikita Scherbak had 82 points in 65 WHL games this season. (Courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis/Icon Sportswire)

Photo: Montreal’s 1st round pick in 2014 (26th overall), Nikita Scherbak had 82 points in 65 WHL games this season. (Courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

Montreal Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin has been able to maintain a strong system in terms of prospects while continually improving the big league team. He recently re-signed Jeff Petry, who was acquired at the deadline, ensuring that the two draft picks given up in the deal (2015 2nd and 4th) won’t be for naught.

In total, the Canadiens have five picks in the 2015 NHL Draft. In addition to losing their own 2nd and 4th in the Petry deal, they will be without their 5th round selection, which was dealt to the Florida Panthers last season in exchange for Mike Weaver. They did, however, recoup a 5th round pick in the Daniel Briere and PA Parenteau swap prior to the 2014-15 season. They have their own first, third, sixth and seventh round picks and will pick 26th overall in the first round.

Top 10 Prospects

1. Jarred Tinordi, D
2. Nikita Scherbak, RW
3. Charles Hudon, C
4. Mike McCarron, RW
5. Sven Andrighetto, RW
6. Jacob de la Rose, C
7. Zach Fucale, G
8. Martin Reway, LW
9. Tim Bozon, LW
10. Darren Dietz, D

Team Needs

While the second round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning might have exposed Montreal’s need for a goal-scoring winger, the team must not overreact when making decisions this offseason. With Carey Price between the pipes and more than $27 million tied up in five defensemen, the Habs are built as a defense-first, shutdown style of team. That said, if the opportunity to pick up a scoring winger at the right price presents itself, then the team should, at the very least, listen to offers. Going the free agency route might be difficult with the team still needing to re-sign Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu.

Organizational Strengths

The Montreal Canadiens have an abundance of young, skilled wingers in the organization. Former first round pick Nikita Scherbak is likely to turn pro next season, as is Memorial Cup winner Mike McCarron. Charles Hudon, meanwhile, had a tremendous rookie season for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL, while Sven Adrighetto and Christian Thomas have NHL potential. In terms of goaltending, while the team has nothing to worry about with Carey Price, Zach Fucale carries an impressive pedigree and could be a future starter in the NHL. 

Organizational Weaknesses

Outside of Jarred Tinordi, who is soon to graduate from prospect status, the Canadiens do not have much in the way of NHL-ready defensemen. Darren Deitz was the top young defender in Hamilton last season; the second-year pro had 17 points in 71 games and finished 11th in team scoring. Former second round pick Dalton Thrower spent his first pro season in the ECHL and struggled. Next season the Bulldogs will likely welcome 2014 third round pick Brett Lernout and former University of Denver defenseman Josiah Didier into the fold, but both players are far from pro-ready. Drafting defensemen should be a priority heading into the draft.

Draft Tendencies

Marc Bergevin is entering his fourth draft as Montreal Canadiens General Manager, and while tangible results from the first three drafts haven’t quite come into full view yet, it’s looking promising. Despite the long-held view that the team is undersized, Bergevin has continued to select skill over size, with the one exception being Michael McCarron in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft. Bergevin has drafted 5’9-and-under forwards Martin Reway, Andrighetto and Daniel Audette, while Artturi Lehkonen and Sebastian Collberg are by no means power forwards.

One-third of the team’s 21 picks in the past three years have been Europeans. Going back further, the organization has showed a preference to selecting either USNDTP or USHL players heading to college. Of the three Canadian major junior leagues, Bergevin has selected four players from the WHL, three from the OHL and six out of the QMJHL.

Hockey’s Future Staff Mock Draft Results:

26. Jacob Larsson, D, Frolunda (SHL)

6’2, 190 pound defenseman Jacob Larsson just turned 18 and has been climbing up draft boards since the end of his season in Sweden. He spent the first half of the 2014-15 season with Frolunda’s U20 team, and, despite playing just 30 games, finished second amongst the team’s defensemen in scoring with eight goals and 19 assists. He made the move to the SHL in 2015, and played 20 games with the team, scoring once and adding two assists.

Larsson, who is ranked third amongst all European skaters by Central Scouting, has the size and skating that makes him an attractive option for a team that lacks young top-end talent on the blue line. The Canadiens have depth at defense, but outside of Jarred Tinordi, lack a potential top-four player.