2010 NHL Draft: Montreal Canadiens draft class short on NHL-caliber talent

By Pat Paeplow
Brendan Gallagher - Montreal Canadiens

Photo: Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher took his game to another level in 2014-15, scoring 24 goals and 47 points in 82 games (courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis/Icon Sportswire)



The Montreal Canadiens traded away several positions in the 2010 draft. Of the five players selected, only Brendan Gallagher has managed to stick in the NHL. At this point, the draft class has to be considered a disappointment.

Entering the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles, the Canadiens were coming off their most successful season since they won the Stanley Cup in 1993. Although they turned in a mediocre regular season performance, the Habs turned it on in the playoffs, upsetting the top-seeded Washington Capitals and defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins en route to the Eastern Conference Finals. The clock struck midnight against the Philadelphia Flyers, who dispatched them in five games.

Despite the magical run, there were clear holes in Montreal’s roster. Coming out of the 2004 lockout, the Canadiens organization had relied on an abundance of small speedy players, a strategy meant to exploit the NHL’s new suite of rules limiting clutch-and-grab tactics. By this draft in 2010, it was evident that they had overreached with this approach. Montreal was consistently outmuscled by bigger and grittier teams such as the Flyers and their archrival Boston Bruins.

The Habs traded away their 1st and 2nd round picks in exchange for Arizona’s 1st round selection and Buffalo’s 4th round position. They also gave up their 3rd round pick, the remaining balance due for acquiring Mathieu Schneider in 2008-09. In hindsight, trading away draft picks for an aging defenseman to bolster a suspect team which barely made the playoffs before getting unceremoniously swept out of the first round was questionable asset management. The team had also traded away their 6th round selection for the right to draft Petteri Simila with the final selection of the 2009 draft.

Jarred Tinordi, D, USNDP (USHL) – 1st round, 22nd overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 43

The 2010 draft should always be evaluated solely on the progression of Tinordi. It seems unfair, but Montreal moved up in the first round for the right to draft this big rugged defenseman whose presence could enhance the entire roster. They were so set on him that they traded their first and second round selections to Arizona. Basically, Pierre Gauthier put all his chips in the middle of the table with this move.

Tinordi’s development has been a winding road. Following his draft year, he signed on to play for the London Knights. The OHL club has a stellar track record of developing NHL talent, but the rangy defender struggled in his rookie season.

However, he rebounded in 2011-12, serving as London’s captain and playing key minutes throughout the season. He was also a core piece of the United States World Junior team. His following three seasons in professional hockey all played out in similar fashion. Tinordi looks comfortable and plays assertively in the AHL yet seems nervous and hesitant when he steps up to play against NHL competition. 2014-15 held the potential to be a breakout season for him. Yet instead of an extended audition, he was demoted early in the season and injuries prevented any chance of a recall down the stretch.

It is too early to label Tinordi a bust. Few defensemen from his draft year have broken out. Those who have all benefitted from playing for bottom-dwelling franchises that were forced to fast-track their prospects into the NHL. Defensemen require more seasoning, especially oversized ones. These truths have conspired with Montreal’s depth and competiveness the last few seasons to keep him on the outside looking in.

Despite this reasoning, it’s safe to say that Tinordi needs to find a way to play himself onto the roster in the upcoming campaign.

Watch this 2010 NHL Draft Look Back video featuring the Canadiens’ first round pick, Jarred Tinordi.

Mark MacMillan, LW, Alberni Valley Bulldogs (BCHL), 4th round, 113th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

As an unknown 150 pound winger coming out of the BCHL, MacMillan was drafted as a long-term project. After four seasons of progression at the University of North Dakota, he appears to have been a sound investment.

North Dakota is widely regarded as one of most successful NCAA programs when it comes to preparing student-athletes for the transition into professional hockey. MacMillan entered the program as a dangler who looked flashy in space but was inevitably swallowed up in the corners. Four years later, he came out a dependable two-way forward with the playmaking ability to exploit lapses by the opposition. He also filled out to a sturdy 6’1, 181 pounds.

Marc Bergevin wasted little time signing MacMillan. Just two days after North Dakota was eliminated from the Frozen Four, he was inked to a two-year entry level contract. The 23 year-old will most likely start next season with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL.

Morgan Ellis, D, Cape Breton Screaming Eagle (QMJHL), 4th round, 117th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Just four selections after MacMillan, Montreal went into their backyard to grab Ellis out of Cape Breton. At the time, he was advertised as one of the more solid all-around defensemen available in the QMJHL.

Ellis developed steadily following his draft year. He captained Cape Breton for two seasons. In 2011-12, he was dealt to Shawinigan down the stretch and put in a strong showing at the Memorial Cup. However, he has had difficulty adapting to professional hockey. Following an understandably trying rookie season, he played solid but sheltered hockey in 2013-14 with Hamilton. He struggled in 2014-15 and the numbers game banished him to the ECHL for 39 games with the Wheeling Nailers.

Ellis may benefit from roster moves in 2015-16. Greg Pateryn played big minutes with Montreal down the stretch and his contract converts to a one-way deal next season. Magnus Nygren signed a contract with Farjestad in the SHL. With these two right-handed defensemen off the depth chart, Ellis may benefit from the opportunity to play without the looming threat of a benching on the other side of every turnover.

Brendan Gallagher, RW, Vancouver Giants (WHL), 5th round, 147th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 207

Gallagher’s selection in the fifth round salvaged what could have been a disastrous draft. Although he was a prolific scorer in the WHL, uncertainty about the diminutive winger’s chances of surviving the NHL’s physicality scared away most teams.

Following the draft, he returned to Vancouver, becoming their all-time leading scorer. Gallagher also skated on Canada’s World Junior team in 2012. He began 2012-13 playing AHL hockey with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Showing little need for a transitional period, he was called up to the Canadiens as soon as that season’s lockout ended and has never looked back.

Despite the doubts of several scouting departments, Gallagher has thrived in the NHL. He makes his living down low, especially in the goalmouth area. Other than a concussion in his rookie season, injuries have not been a factor in his career thus far. Despite a small frame, he has developed world-class lower-body strength. This makes him strong on the puck and explains why it’s nearly impossible for defenders to cave him in on the wall and in front of the net. His main weakness is killing offensive possession because of a tendency to shoot the puck from anywhere and everywhere.

Having recently signed a 6-year contract extension, Gallagher looks to be a fixture on the Habs’ top-six for years to come.

John Westin, LW, MODO Jr (Sweden), 7th round, 207th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Westin was never a serious threat to pan out. On draft day in 2010, the 7th round selection was touted as a tenacious forward who could potentially carve out a role as a 4th liner in the NHL. At the time he was playing for MODO in the depths of Sweden’s SuperElit division.

In the years following the draft, Westin was never able to successfully make the jump into the SHL. He played in 1 game in 2010-11 and 38 in 2011-12. Despite the extended audition, the 5’11 196 lb forward was unable to produce. In the following years he wallowed in Sweden’s second division.

Because of Westin’s lack of progression, Montreal never extended him a contract offer.

Notable Playoff Performances

Due to Montreal’s early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Hamilton’s failure to even qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs, there are few prospects even eligible for consideration. The most notable are those who have led their teams on deep runs in the CHL playoffs: Zachary Fucale and Prospect of the Month, Mike McCarron. Both of these players appeared in the Memorial Cup.

As the host city for the Memorial Cup, the Quebec Remparts acquired Fucale in order to bolster their lineup. His play has been up and down throughout the season, but he stepped up in the QMJHL playoffs. He turned in a 2.56 goals-against and .913 save percentage as the Remparts rode all the way to the final, losing to Rimouski in 7 games.

Prospect Of The Month: Mike McCarron

Mike McCarron - Montreal Canadiens Prospect of the Month, October, 2014In their run to the Memorial Cup Championship, the Oshawa Generals have fired on all cylinders, receiving key contributions from their entire lineup. Since being traded to Oshawa, McCarron has completely bought into the Generals suffocating defensive tactics. His defensive presence and physicality were omnipresent throughout the playoffs.

He was also the 9th leading scorer in the playoffs, contributing 18 points in 21 games and flashing deft playmaking ability in some of the most high leverage moments of his career. The Generals contained Connor McDavid and ousted the Erie Otters in five games to capture the OHL Championship, later winning the Memorial Cup.