The Montreal Canadiens arrived at the 2013 NHL Draft with nine selections. Management was looking to fill some holes in their talent pool and were willing to pay a high price to move up in the draft to get a specific player. However, the only trade Montreal made was late in the draft, when they traded their 2013 seventh round selection to the Florida Panthers for a seventh round pick in the 2014 NHL draft.
In the end, the Canadiens came away with players that both address needs and add balance to the organization depth chart.
Mike McCarron, RW, USNDTP
1st Round, 25th Overall
Height: 6'5 Weight: 231
The Canadiens made a statement with their first pick of the draft by selecting Mike McCarron. The big forward has the hockey sense, work ethic, character, and offensive skills to be player that could fit anywhere in the team's lineup. His skating is very good for a big man but he still needs to improve his balance, agility, and acceleration.
McCarron has good offensive upside and has shown steady improvement over the past two seasons in the US development system. He has excellent puck protection skills down low and good hands around the opposition's net. He also loves crashing and banging on the forecheck and playing in the dirty areas of the ice. He has also shown a willingness to drop the gloves when necessary.
The 18-year-old will face a difficult decision over the next few weeks on whether to take the NCAA route with the Western Michigan Broncos or play major junior in the OHL for the London Knights, who will host the 2014 Memorial Cup. The Canadiens will express their opinion but have decided to leave the final choice up to McCarren.
Jacob de la Rose, C/W, Leksand IF (Allsvenskan)
2nd Round, 34rd Overall
Height: 6'2 Weight: 190
Jacob de la Rose is a big forward who has played the last two seasons against men in Sweden. Known as a leader on his team, de la Rose is a 200-foot player that is physical in both ends of the rink and does not shy away from contact. The big forward can play all the forward positions and competes hard every shift of every game.
His offensive skills are above-average but he needs to work on his finish around the net. He has the potential to be a power forward and the large frame needed to add more muscle mass. De la Rose already has a solid defensive game which could allow him to play at the NHL level should his offensive upside never fully materialize. The young Swede is a glue type player that teams covet and could play anywhere through the lineup.
De la Rose is under contract for another year with Leksand, who are moving into the first division of the SEL, but he was also selected by the Windsor Spitfires at the 2013 OHL Draft. It is possible he returns to play another year in Europe or an arrangement could be made with Leksand's GM Tommy Salo to allow him to play in the OHL.
The Canadiens had to be both surprised and happy that Zachary Fucale, the top ranked goalie of the 2013 NHL draft, was still available early in the second round. He fits a big hole in the organization's prospect pool and should have plenty of time to improve his overall game over the next several years. The team does not need to rush his development with Carey Price as their starting goalie.
At 18 years old, Fucale has all of the tools to be an elite NHL goaltender. He has excellent technique and lateral movement but his greatest attributes are his poise, mental toughness, rebound control, and the ability to make the key saves at the important times in a game. Fucale was the backbone of the Mooseheads and his steadying presence allowed them to play a high-octane style of game. Like all young prospects, he will need to work on his consistency and add more muscle mass to his lanky frame.
With two seasons as the Mooseheads starting goaltender and a Memorial Cup Championship already under his belt, Fucale will have to play another two season in the QMJHL but on a much less talented Mooseheads' team. He has the opportunity to show the Canadiens and others that it was not just the highly skilled team in front of him which contributed to his success.
Artturi Lehkonen, LW, Kalpa Kuopio (SM-liiga)
2nd Round, 55th Overall
Height: 5'10 Weight: 165
The Canadiens added a high-end offensive talent when they selected Atturi Lehkonen, the SM-liiga Rookie of the year in Finland. He is a slick stick-handler that possesses excellent hockey sense and is always a threat to score. Despite being undersized, the 18-year-old is highly competitive and is not afraid to play in the high traffic areas.
Lehkonen is a smooth skater with very good technique but he still needs to work on his top end acceleration and gain more power in his stride. He has plenty of time to bulk up and gain strength before coming to North America. The young sniper will return to play for Kalpa in the SM-liiga this coming season and should play for Team Finland at the 2014 WJC Tournament.
Hockey's Future shot video of McCarron, Fucale, and Lehkonen at the NHL Draft. You can view their extended remarks in this HF video.
Connor Crisp, LW, Erie Otters (OHL)
3rd round, 71th Overall
Height: 6'4 Weight: 225
With their first of two picks in the third round, Montreal decided to add another missing piece in their talent pool by selecting Connor Crisp. He is a big, tough, physical player that can play all the forward positions and will not hesitate to drop the gloves in order to protect his teammates. The 19-year-old missed all but six games in his draft year due to a severely dislocated shoulder.
Crisp is pretty athletic for a big man and possesses pretty good hands in tight. He can cause havoc for the opposition defensemen in the corners and is difficult to move once he has planted himself in front of the net. His skating is average for his height and he will need to add more power to his stride, and work on his acceleration to have a chance at the NHL level. Crisp projects as a bottom six-forward in the NHL.
Sven Andrighetto, RW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
3rd Round, 86th Overall
Height: 5'10 Weight: 188
After being passed over in the last two drafts, Sven Andrighetto caught the Canadiens' attention by putting up excellent offensive numbers in the QMJHL this year. The 20-year-old is a high-end talent that has excellent vision, creativity, and extremely quick hands. A slick playmaker, Andrighetto operates the power play by using his unpredictability and a natural ability to disguise what he will do with the puck.
Andrighetto is an excellent skater with explosive acceleration and excellent lateral movement at full speed. The stocky winger is difficult to knock off the puck and possesses a quick release with good power on his shots. He has added more bulk to his small frame, but will need more to play at the higher levels. He has top-six potential and is likely to start his pro career at the AHL level this coming season.
Martin Reway, LW, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
4th Round, 116th Overall
Height: 5'9 Weight: 174
Director of Amateur Scouting Trevor Timmins and his staff were clearly swinging for the fences on this one. The Slovakian-born winger is a water bug on skates that has quick enough hands to stick-handle in the tightest of locations. His excellent vision, hockey sense, and playmaking skills make him a high end offensive talent. He seems to have adjusted well to North America in his first season in the QMJHL.
Reway is a fiery player that has grit and a good work ethic. He reads the play well defensively and his solid positioning allows him to use his stick to break up passes in his end of the rink. The small forward will need to gain more strength, size, and physicality to his game in order to play at the pro levels. The 18-year-old is a high-risk prospect with top-six potential and has another two years of development at the junior level. He will likely represent his country at the 2014 WJC tournament.
Jeremy Gregoire, C, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
6th Round, 176th Overall
Height: 6'0 Weight: 190
Jeremy Gregoire is the long-term project selection by the Montreal Canadiens in this year's draft. He is a natural leader that is tough, physical, and will drop the gloves to stand up for his teammates. The 17-year-old has always played against older players and already has played two full seasons in the QMJHL. Gregoire is a big-game player that comes to compete every night as shown by his playoff performance this past season.
A two-way centerman, Gregoire excels on the forecheck and gets most of his offensive production in the dirty areas around the opposition's net. He will need to work on his skating stride, edge work, and acceleration in order to play at the pro levels. His defensive game is strong enough but he will need to improve his overall offensive skills. He has bottom-six potential in the NHL if everything goes well with his development over the next few years.