Welcome to the February 2014 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various levels of competition who are either exceeding expectations or falling a little behind.
The Montreal Canadiens have a diverse mix of prospects playing at the junior level. They have a large group of forwards with a good mix of speed, skill, and physicality. Along the blue line, the team has two puck-moving defensive prospects with distinctly different styles of play. The Canadiens have also have a strong goaltending prospect in Zachary Fucale.
The Montreal Canadiens spent the 2013 off-season addressing various holes in their organizational depth chart and now have good balance throughout their system. Montreal's management philosophy is to give their prospects every opportunity to seize a spot on the NHL roster. The organization is not afraid to put rookies into regular season NHL games for evaluation purposes and the approach has worked very well so far.
Over the summer, Connor Crisp added a couple more jerseys to his collection, being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and being part of an early September trade to Sudbury. But far from being thrown to the Wolves, Crisp said the transition has been more positive than he could have imagined.
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.