Canadiens ECHL season review

By Dan Linn

This year the Montreal Canadiens sent six players to the ECHL, five to<br />affiliate Columbus Cottonmouths, and one loaned to the

This year the Montreal Canadiens sent six players to the ECHL, five to
affiliate Columbus Cottonmouths, and one loaned to the Long Beach Ice Dogs,
Jerome Marois.
Neither team was able to secure a spot in the
playoffs this season, but Columbus came close as they fought to the very end of
the season. Joining Columbus this year
were Matt Shasby, Christian Larrivee, Olivier Michaud and Marc-Andre Thinel,
with all of these players being first year pros except Thinel, who was in his
third season. Shasby, Larrivee, Thinel
and Michaud have all been recalled to Hamilton to work out with the team as
they get ready for their playoff run.
=s a look at how they all performed
this season and a look at what next season may bring.


Shasby, D —
back in the 1999 draft in the fifth round, 150th overall, Shasby was
signed over the summer to a two-year deal after finishing his four seasons at
Alaska -Anchorage of the WCHA. Shasby
played in 127 games while at AAU and even added 92 games in the USHL where he won
a championship. With the deep blueline
in Hamilton this season, veterans Karl Dykhuis and Patrick Traverse forced
Shasby to the ECHL where he would get much more ice time as he learns to adapt
to the rigors of professional hockey.


A late
season injury did cost him to miss a few games, but Shasby still found a way to
lead the team in scoring for defensemen, an impressive way to finish the
season. While he may have been
disappointed in not getting to play for Hamilton this season, it may have
benefited him in the long run, as he was able to get a large chunk of ice time
while playing in all game situations.
Not only was he the leading scorer for defensemen on his team, he also
was second on the team in power play points with 12 points. Next season Shasby should get a shot with
Hamilton if he works hard this summer and has a solid camp, but the unknown
factor is Ron Hainsey and Francois Beauchemin, who may or may not get a shot in
the NHL if there is a season. If one of
them makes the Habs, this should open a spot for Shasby, if not, it
=s back to the ECHL.

Thinel, RW —
back in the 1999 draft, in the fifth round, 145th overall, Thinel
entered this season in the final year of his three year rookie contract. Thinel had to know that he needed a big
season to get management’s attention, or he could face not being re-signed, as
he has been moved around quite a bit since being signed over two years
ago. Thinel will be remembered for his
impressive scoring display while with the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL
where he put up an astounding 385 points over three seasons. But Thinel learned that scoring in the Quebec
league does not mean success in the AHL, as he had a very hard time getting ice
time with the Quebec Citadelles, as he played on the fourth line on a team that
used mostly three lines.


The next
season didn
=t start off
any better as Quebec folded and moved to Hamilton, where the team was splitting
time with the Oilers organization. Since
Hamilton had such a deep team, Thinel was loaned to Utah of the AHL, where he
again had a tough time to get ice time, as he was moved in and out of the
lineup and spent different parts of the season in Lexington of the ECHL. But this year he came back to Hamilton, and
although he again couldn
=t get much ice time with another
strong team, he was sent down to Columbus of the ECHL.


players may have given up by then, but Thinel went on to be one of the top
players on his team as he finished fourth in team scoring overall, and first in
points per game. Even though he only dressed in 47 games for the Cottonmouths,
he was second on the team in game winning goals and had an impressive 183
shots. This must have caught the eye of
Hamilton GM Andre Savard who recalled Thinel towards the end of the season to
help Hamilton in their playoff drive.
Next year is still very unknown for Thinel, as he will be a restricted
free agent this summer, so if he
=s re-signed he should get a shot with Hamilton, if not he
will be forced to find a team to play for.


Larrivee, LW/C

Taken in the 2000 draft, in the fourth round, 114th overall,
Larrivee entered his first professional season after having a disappointing
overage season with Chicoutimi of the QMJHL, where an injury forced his season
to end early. This year Larrivee did not
get much of a look in Hamilton, so he was sent down to Columbus of the ECHL,
where he was able to get a regular shift and receive a large amount of ice
time. While Larrivee did have problems
in his own end, he was able to show improvement in this area as the season went
on, and was eighth on the team in scoring while seeing time on the power play
and penalty kill. For his efforts he did
receive a two-game call up to Hamilton this year, where he picked up an assist
in his first game, and an empty net goal in the second game, even though his
ice time was limited. Next season
Larrivee should get some time in with Hamilton. He can play both left wing and
center, which should increase his chances to secure a spot.


Archer, D —
in the 2001 draft, in the seventh round, 203rd overall, Archer spent
most of the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL, but did get sent down
for a two-game stint at the end of the season. He had trouble getting ice time
in Hamilton coming back after injury.
While he only played in two games, Archer did pick up 15 minutes in
penalties and had five shots on goal as he was placed on the Cottonmouths power
play. Next year Archer should get a full
time spot with Hamilton, as he may have the most potential of all the Habs
prospects that saw time in the ECHL this year.


Michaud, G

Signed as a free agent in the fall of 2001, Michaud finished his final season
in the QMJHL playing for Shawinigan and later Baie-Comeau Drakkar. While putting up solid numbers in the QMJHL,
Michaud had the chance to even dress and play in one period of NHL hockey, as
he got his chance against the Oilers two years ago due to injuries. With that on his resume, Michaud still had to
work on some things, so he was sent to Columbus this year in his first pro
season. While starting off the season
with highs and lows, Michaud continued to work hard and was later paid off for
his efforts, as he was recalled to Hamilton around mid season due to
injuries. There again he hit some highs
and lows, as he had the longest shutout streak of any Hamilton goaltender, but
also had a few rough outings as well.
Michaud will be a restricted free agent this summer, and with the
addition of Yann Danis, it
=s unclear what will happen to the
young Michaud, but he could end up in the ECHL again next year.


Marois, LW –
is another player taken in the 1999 draft, in the ninth round 253rd
overall. Like Thinel, he entered this
season as the final year of his contract, and after a very disappointing season
last year which saw him get sent from the ECHL to the Odessa Jackalopes of the
CHL. But Marois came to camp ready to
play and did end up getting a brief look in Hamilton, but after two games was
loaned to the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the ECHL.
Playing in his third season in the ECHL, he had a career year, even
though he missed a large chunk of time due to injury. Playing on the last place Ice Dogs, Marois
was fourth on the team in scoring, despite playing in only 50 games, and was
second on the team in goals scored, one goal behind the team leader who had 22
goals this season. Next year will depend
on what management wants to do with Marois in terms of re-signing him or
letting him walk, but having a strong season only improves his chances of being
back next year either with Hamilton or back in the ECHL again.



















Matt Shasby














M-A Thinel














Chrsitian Larrivee














Andrew Archer










































Olivier Michaud