Canadiens rookie camp preview

By Dan Linn

The Montreal Canadiens invited 24 prospects to attend their annual rookie camp, which is starting on the 9th and runs till the 14th of September at Pierrefonds, Quebec. Similar to the development camp, the rookie camp will be made up mostly of prospects from the two most recent drafts, with four players from the two prior drafts and seven players invited on a try-out basis. Of the 24 players that were invited, 14 are forwards, seven are defensemen and three are goalies, with 12 players making their first appearance at this camp and tournament.

In this camp the Canadiens prospects will take part in a tournament against the Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs prospects, with games getting under way this Saturday the 11th of September. The first two days of camp will be spent in practice running one and a half hours on ice, mostly doing drills and getting a look at who will be paired with whom, in what will be a big treat for fans of the Canadiens/Leafs rivalry.

Canadiens Roster

Goalies

Yann Danis (2004 FA) Danis makes his first appearance at the rookie camp, after recently being signed by GM Bob Gainey when his NCAA career ended. He was very solid at the mid-summer camp. Expect him to end up at the Hamilton training camp at some point, as he should play a major role for them this season.

Jaroslav Halak (2003 9th round, 271st) Halak will be looking to get familiar with some of the Quebec league players, as he has changed leagues this year going from the Slovakian leagues to play for Lewiston of the QMJHL. At 19 years of age, Halak will get a chance to likely be the starter for Lewiston and at the same time get himself acclimated to the North American game which should benefit him down the road.

Loic Lacasse (2004 6th round, 181st) Lacasse will be making his first appearance at this camp, as the most recent goalie added to the organization looks to learn a few things to take back to Drakkar of the QMJHL. This year will be an important one for Lacasse, as he could end up being the starter, which would be a great experience for him.

Defensemen

Andrew Archer (2001 7th round, 203rd) Archer was hampered this past season by injury and the defensive depth in Hamilton, but he looks to be fully healed from his hernia surgery and there should be a few open spots in Hamilton this season which should help his development.

Mark Flood (2003 6th round, 188th) Flood will be looking to make a solid impression on management, as a solid performance at camp could get him an early contract to play in Hamilton or the ECHL with Long Beach. The soon to be 20-year-old will need to show he can handle the bigger, stronger, faster players of the AHL, but if he plays like he did this past season, he stands a chance of getting a contract even though he doesn’t need to be signed till next summer.

Alex Dulac-Lemelin (2004 9th round, 278th) Dulac-Lemelin is making his first appearance to the rookie camp, as he looks to learn a few things before going back to Baie Comeau of the QMJHL where he should see an increased role with his team.

Francois Caron (tryout) A former pick of the Mighty Ducks, Caron was a late round pick of the 2002 draft, but was not signed by the June first deadline, thus reentered the draft where he was not picked. Caron is one of three players from the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL where he was one of the team’s top defensemen.

James Sanford (tryout) Sanford is a teammate of Charon’s, but due to his lack of size, he was never drafted. It’s not for lack of skill, as he led his team in scoring for defensemen and was much more productive offensively then Charon.

Jonathan Jolette (tryout) Jolette is coming off a very solid year for Shawingian of the QMJHL where he was an over aged player, but learned to stay out of the penalty box and focus on being more productive as finished third on the team in scoring.

Derrick Martin (tryout) Martin is making his second trip to the rookie camp, as he was invited to last year’s camp as well, but was unable to land a contract and ended up playing in the CIS for St. Mary’s. Martin is known for his physical style of hockey and decent puck moving skills, hopefully he has gotten physically stronger and a better idea of when to go for a hit and when not to or he will have trouble getting a contract this time around as well.

Forwards

Andrei Kostitsyn, RW (2003 1st round, 10th) Kostitsyn will be making his first appearance at this camp, but should be one of the more interesting players to watch, as Hab fans get a close look at one of their first round picks in game action.

Kyle Chipchura, C (2004 1st round, 18th) Chipchura, the most recent first round pick, is also making his debut at the rookie camp. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Chipchura and Kostitsyn on a line together, as it was Chipchura who seemed to help explain some of the drills to Kostitsyn at the development camp.

Corey Locke, C (2003 4th round, 113th) Locke is another player who will be looking to have a very good camp, as he has a chance to play in Hamilton of the AHL, after being a two-time OHL player of the year, the 20-year-old seems to have nothing more to learn in the junior league.

Cory Urquhart, C (2003 2nd round, 40th) Urquhart is in the same boat as Locke as he can be signed and play in the AHL or ECHL instead of returning to the QMJHL as an over aged player. It’s been reported by Urquhart’s junior team that he has been offered a contract by the Canadiens, but the official word has not yet come, although it does make sense as he is coming off a career year and likely won’t learn much more in the Q.

Michael Lambert, LW (2002 4th round, 99th) Lambert will be looking to show management they made a good choice in signing him over the summer, as he will likely be fighting for a roster spot in Hamilton, although the ECHL and QMJHL are not out of the question, a good showing at this camp and Hamilton’s camp could go a long way in getting him a spot in the AHL. One could think that Lambert may play with Urquhart in camp, as they have a considerable amount of chemistry, after playing all season on the same line in PEI.

Maxime Lapierre, C (2003 2nd round, 61st) Lapierre is another teammate of Urquhart’s and Lambert’s and even played parts of the season on the same line with both players this past season with PEI. Lapierre has shown a solid improvement in his offensive game and should see major ice time with PEI this year to make up for the likely loss of Lambert and Urquhart.

Jimmy Bonneau, LW (2003 8th round, 241st) Bonneau is the fourth prospect from PEI, and played parts of the season on a line with Lapierre, as the well known fighter looked to improve the rest of his game and was able to contribute some offense in his second season in the QMJHL. Look for Bonneau to see an increased role with PEI next season, as he will continue to be relied upon to keep players honest, he will also be looked upon to play a more productive role with the team.

Duncan Milroy, RW (2001 2nd round, 37th) Milroy was not at the development camp, after having a somewhat difficult rookie season in the AHL, as injury and lack of ice time got in the way of his development. Milroy should see an increased role with Hamilton due to the loss of a few key players.

Jonathan Ferland, RW (2002 7th round, 212th) Ferland was able to dress in most of the Bulldogs games this past season, but struggled to find his offensive game, although he also should see an increased role with Hamilton next season.

Danny Stewart, LW (2003 4th round, 123rd) Stewart will be attending his second camp, and after a much better season for Rimouski of the QMJHL, will look to show some solid improvement over last year’s camp. Stewart will be headed back to Rimouski this year, where he will be looking to rack up the points on what is looking like a very solid team this year.

Greg Stewart, RW (2004 8th round, 246th) Stewart makes his first appearance to the rookie camp, as he is coming off his rookie season in the OHL, and will be returning to Peterborough this season where he will try to use what he learned at the development and rookie camp.

Kevin Glode, C (tryout) Glode is the third player from Moncton of the QMJHL. All three are looking to earn a contract with the Canadiens. Look for Glode to do his best at this camp in order to get a look at Hamilton’s camp later this month.

Olivier Labelle, RW (tryout) Labelle will be looking to earn a contract before he heads back to Gatineau of the QMJHL, as he was also at the development camp over the summer and showed some very hard work and consistent effort.

Kevin Petit, RW (tryout) Petit like Labelle is also a product of Gatineau and also was at the Canadiens development camp over the summer, but the depth at right wing will make it tough for the teammates to both get a contract, but if he continues to work hard as he did in the last camp, he will have a shot.

Schedule – Rookie Camp and Tournament (Sportplexe 4 Glaces Pierrefonds)

September 9 Practice – Canadiens 2:30 – 4:00 Rink 1

September 10 Practice – Canadiens 2:30 – 4:00 Rink 2

September 11 Practice – Canadiens 10:30 – 11:15 Rink 2

Game – Ottawa vs. Canadiens 7:30 Rink 1

September 12 Practice – Canadiens 10:30 – 11:15 Rink 1

Game – Canadiens vs. Florida 4:00 Rink 1

September 13 Practice – Canadiens 11:30 – 12:15 Rink 2

Game – Toronto vs. Canadiens 7:30 Rink 1

September 14 Practice – Consolation final (home team) 9:30 – 10:15 Rink 1

Practice – Consolation final (visiting team) 10:30 – 11:15 Rink 1

Practice – Final (home team) 10:30 – 11:15 Rink 2

Practice – Final (visiting team) 11:30 – 12:15 Rink 2

Game – Consolation final 4:00 Rink 1

Game – Final 7:30 Rink 1

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