Montreal Canadiens prospects making do with limited playoff action

By David Thicke

Brady Vail - Montreal Canadiens

Photo: Brady Vail and the Windsor Spitfires failed to make the playoffs in 2012-13. Vail posted 55 points in 68 regular games with Windsor. (Terry Wilson / OHL Images.)

The Montreal Canadiens prospects at the lower professional levels were unable to gain any post-season playing experience as the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) and the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) failed to qualify for their respective playoffs.

In the NCAA, there were no Montreal prospects whose teams made it to the Frozen Four Championship in Pittsburgh this April.

In Europe, all the Canadiens' prospects failed to reach the finals in their respective leagues. Sebastian Collberg was signed to a Professional try-out contract by the Hamilton Bulldogs but would only play two games due to lingering effects of a concussion suffered in the SEL playoffs. Despite being held pointless, he did show flashes of his speed and offensive talent in the small sampling of North American Pro-style hockey.

NHL

The organization decided to re-assign Michael Bournival, Louis Leblanc, Greg Pateryn, Nathan Beaulieu, Dustin Tokarski, and Robert Mayer to the NHL level as the Canadiens' black aces group, joining the already called-up Gabriel Dumont. Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, and Jarred Tinordi were regular members of the starting lineup in the Canadians first round match against the Ottawa Senators. Dumont also made it into three games.

OHL

Brady Vail and his Windsor Spitfires failed to make the OHL playoffs this season. The big centerman impressed the Canadiens' management group enough with his versatile play this year that they decided to sign him to an amateur try-out contract with the Hamilton Bulldogs. He would score his first professional goal along with three assists and a solid plus three rating in 12 AHL games. The 19-year-old forward's experience at the AHL level will only help his overall development and show him what aspects of his game need to be improved over the off-season.

QMJHL

Olivier Archambault and his Drummondville Voltigeurs were knocked out in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs, losing 4-1 against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in a close scoring series. In the five games, the 20-year-old winger scored two goals along four assists and a plus-one rating. He was brought to the Hamilton Bulldogs under a try-out contract where he would collect both his first pro level goal and assist along with a minus-three rating in 10 AHL games.

Charles Hudon and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens bowed out 4-2 in a hard-fought first round series against their rivals, the Quebec Remparts. The captain of the Sagueneens was outstanding, leading his team by scoring five goals (one on the power play) along with five assists and a minus-two rating in six games. The 18-year-old was then assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs under a try-out contract where he scored his first pro level goal and added two assists but struggled defensively with a minus-five rating in nine AHL games. The Canadiens signed Hudon to a three-year NHL entry-level contract on May 5th, 2013.

WHL

Tim Bozon and his Kamloops Blazers had a deep run into the WHL semi-finals where the team lost 4-1 to last year's finalists, the Portland Winterhawks. He suffered a hand injury in the third game of the opening round series against the Victoria Royals and did not return to action until the Portland series. After missing seven playoff games, the 19-year-old was only able to show his offensive skills when he put up four points in his team's one win against the Winterhawks. In total, he collected four goals along, two assists, and an even rating in eight playoff games. Bozon played for Team France in the IIHF World Championships, where he posted an assist through five games.

Darren Dietz, Dalton Thrower and the Saskatoon Blades were swept 4-0 in their WHL first round playoff series against the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Blades scored only four goals in the series and Dietz contributed one goal along with an assist and a minus-two rating in the four games. Thrower struggled on the second defense pairing and failed to contribute any points while having a minus-four rating for the series. Both of the defensemen however have time to work hard and practice on their overall games while waiting for the CHL playoffs to finish up. The Blades will be the WHL host team for the 2013 Memorial Cup and the team hopes to have a much better showing than their playoff series.

Notes and Signings

Montreal chose to lock up Dietz to a three year NHL entry level contract on March 17th, 2013. After Danny Kristo's North Dakota lost in the NCAA tournament, the organization quickly signed the talented winger to a two-year NHL entry-level contract on April 3rd and assigned him to the AHL to finish out the regular season. He contributed three assists and sported a minus-one rating in nine AHL games. The American-born forward was selected to represent his country from May 3rd-17th at the IIHF 2013 World Championships in Sweden and Finland.

The Canadiens have some difficult decisions to make about whether to offer NHL entry level contracts to Archambault, Magnus Nygren, Daniel Pribyl, and Dustin Walsh before this year's deadline or release their rights.