First round picks highlight CHL prospect pool for Montreal Canadiens

By Ian Bross
Photo: In his first season of CHL hockey Jarred Tinordi has raised a lot of eyebrows with his impressive size and physical style of play. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

The Canadiens have seven junior prospects, including six who called the CHL home in 2010-11, and another in Junior-A.

QMJHL

Louis Leblanc, C, Montreal Juniors
Acquired: 1st round, 18th overall, 2009

In his first QMJHL season, Leblanc immediately became an integral part of the Montreal Juniors. He finished third for Montreal in points during the regular season with 26 goals and 32 assists, despite time away from the team while participating in his first World Junior Championship. His performance for the Juniors earned him a spot on the Team QMJHL 2010 Subway Super Series roster. Leblanc has a calm demeanor and plays a well-rounded, two-way game. With an affinity for play on the boards and in the corners, Leblanc is suited to play both at center and on the wing.

After a swift defeat of the Halifax Mooseheads in round one, the Juniors were ousted in their second-round series against Lewiston. Leblanc scored six goals and three assists in 10 postseason games.


Michael Bournival, C, Shawinigan Cataractes
Acquired: Trade with Colorado, November 2010

A third-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche this past June, the Shawinigan, Quebec product enjoyed a noteworthy season for his home club in the QMJHL. Named to the Team QMJHL roster for the 2010 Subway Super Series, the new arrival in the Montreal organization had more points this season than any of his fellow Canadiens prospects playing in the junior ranks. With 28 goals and 36 assists, Bournival edged Leblanc’s total of 58 points.

Still, Bournival is best characterized by his tireless work ethic and intense competitive drive. Even while not scoring, he is easily noticed when on the ice. Recently, the Cataractes lost a tight second-round series to the Quebec Remparts. Bournival has scored five goals and eight assists in 12 postseason games.


Philippe Lefebvre, LW, Montreal Juniors
Acquired: Free Agent, September 2009

Lefebvre’s fourth QMJHL season was his first with the Montreal Juniors, where he was a teammate of Louis Leblanc. The 20-year-old Lefebvre had 19 goals and 27 assists with Montreal. He was the third Montreal Canadiens prospect in the league named to the QMJHL 2010 Subway Super Series roster.

Lefebvre’s best asset is his two-way game. He is not a great threat offensively, scoring in bunches in the earlier portions of the season. His production trailed off significantly since. Lefebvre has matured physically this year, which will help prepare him for a transition to the pros in the near future.

Lefebvre and his Montreal teammates were defeated by the Lewiston MAINEiacs in six games. He had three goals and five assists in 10 games.


Morgan Ellis, D, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Acquired: 4th round, 117th overall, 2010

Ellis’ third season in the QMJHL, his first donning the captain’s ‘C’ for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, came to an unceremonious end. The Screaming Eagles squeaked into the last available postseason slot with an 18-win season before being trounced by top-seeded Saint John in round one. Cape Breton was outscored 26-2 in a four-game sweep.

During the regular season, despite an unsightly minus-27 rating, Ellis was likely his team’s most dependable defender. As well, on the offensively challenged club — which totaled a mere three goals more than league-worst Baie-Comeau and Rouyn Noranda — Ellis was the team-leader at his position in goals, assists, and points at season’s end. He finished with eight goals and 28 assists.


WHL

Brendan Gallagher, RW, Vancouver Giants
Acquired: 5th round, 147th overall, 2010

Gallagher played a pivotal role for the Vancouver Giants this season. Finishing eighth in the WHL in scoring, the fifth-round pick was a leader for the Giants and their go-to offensive player. Through 66 games, Gallagher scored 44 goals and 47 assists, new career highs and team bests in 2010-11. He was also among the league leaders in plus/minus (with plus-30), and amassed 108 penalty minutes. Gallagher’s quick release makes him a dangerous scorer. He is also an intense, cerebral player with good overall skills. He utilizes his smaller size to his advantage at the WHL level.

Gallagher and the Giants were handily defeated in their first-round matchup against Tri-City. The 18-year-old had two goals in four postseason games.


OHL

Jarred Tinordi, D, London Knights
Acquired: 1st round, 22nd overall, 2010

The highly-touted first-round pick certainly did not play a pretty style in his first season of OHL competition, a member of the London Knights. With his comparatively gargantuan stature, when at his best, Tinordi made a habit of overpowering his opponents. The 6’7 212-pounder thrived protecting the area around his net and in the corners. With a focus on stay-at-home play, the American defender was a go-to penalty killer — that is, when not in the box himself. Tinordi led his team with a total of 140 penalty minutes, good enough for seventh-most leaguewide. He dropped the gloves on ten separate occassions.

As difficult a transition Tinordi had early on, he made strides toward the conclusion of the season. In addition to his whopping PIM total, the 19-year-old had a goal and thirteen assists in 63 games. Nevertheless, Tinordi, as a premiere prospect, fell somewhat short of expectations.

Tinordi and the Knights made it to the postseason in the hard-fought Western Conference, but were bested in the first round by the number one seed, Owen Sound.

BCHL

Mark MacMillan, F, Penticton Vees
Acquired: 4th round, 113th overall, 2010

MacMillan is the only Montreal prospect playing in Junior-A, a member of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. MacMillan is the team’s first selection from the league since Ryan O’Byrne in 2003.

The 19-year-old’s numbers are down from a year ago, when only 2010 first-round pick Beau Bennett (PIT) recorded better figures as a BCHL rookie that season. This season, MacMillan missed time due to a broken wrist. Playing in 40 games, he scored 21 goals and 36 assists. Of paramount importance for MacMillan will be to add bulk to his 6’0 frame. The University of North Dakota recruit, weighing in at 160 pounds, is a capable two-way forward who likes to play a physical game. He will join the Fighting Sioux in the fall.