All Habs Mailbag: Galchenyuk, Thrower, Collberg, World Juniors, Officiating


By Robert Rice, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

TORONTO, ON — The All Habs Mailbag is as popular as ever! This is the place to send in your questions about all things Montreal Canadiens.

Then check every Thursday to read the answers to the most popular or poignant questions about the Habs. Keep in mind that we will discuss the entire Canadiens organization so questions about prospects and roster players are equally welcome!

Submissions can be mailed directly to [email protected]

Three Guidelines for Submissions:

  • This is not for hate mail or complaints. If you have an issue with what you read on these pages, this is not the place to bring it up. The mailbag is for questions about the Montreal Canadiens organization and the NHL.
  • As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.  Therefore I will not engage in discussion of the validity of rumours — frankly I consider them a waste of time anyway.  For every rumour that was close to accurate, there have been about a thousand duds.
  • Nothing of essay-length please. There will be other people who will have questions and it is a bit unfair if I have to dedicate the Mailbag to answering one very large question or someone who’s asking five questions at once.
So, let’s open the All Habs mailbag!



Will Hudon, Vail and Nystrom at least be invited to their World Junior Camps?

From what I have been reading, Charles Hudon is already considered a favourite for a spot on Team Canada due to his strong skill and two-way ability that make him a very versatile forward able to perform a number of roles for Team Canada. He was a favourite at both the Summer Summit series with Team Russia and again during the Subway Super Series when he represented the QMJHL Team against Russia.

Brady Vail is a bit more up in the air at present, his early push in points production helped him garner attention as a potential two-way forward with scoring upside for Team USA to start. The issue is Vail has slowed his production, while he likely did this to be a more a defensive-oriented forward for the Windsor Spitfires, Team USA may be looking at more experienced candidates who can provide defensive coverage and deliver offensively. Vail I believe has done enough to gain an invite, but would likely need to make a notable impression at the camp to make the team.

Erik Nyström is likely the outsider here, I haven’t read anything suggesting he is a favourite for the camp and he was left out of an earlier Under-20 Tournament by Sweden this year. It’s possible a member of the group planning the tournament likes him, but I’ve not read anything suggesting he will be a sought-after player for an invite.


Will Galchenyuk be traded from Sarnia to a contender? Would be better for his development?

Galchenyuk’s development path is what I consider the most loaded question when it comes to the Canadiens farm system at present. He is a Top-5 player in the league and arguably the best if natural talent was the singular measure. This makes him an incredibly valuable commodity, even if he’s going to be leaving the league at the end of the season. You also have the notable risk factor of the NHL season starting up and with Galchenyuk now having his legs under him, earning a spot with the Habs as they’re a bit short on scoring talent. Teams may be hesitant to trade for Galchenyuk knowing they could lose him to the NHL and be without both him and the very expensive trade package that brought him to their team. Galchenyuk’s development could potentially move ahead at the NHL level.

As per Galchenyuk’s development in junior hockey, if he is going to spend his season in the OHL, playing more games in the OHL would be preferable, he missed a season so any extra experience he can get in a high quality of competition setting like the OHL playoffs would be to his benefit. It’s possible if he were to join a strong enough team, he could even push them to a Memorial Cup berth and further improve his opportunities to match his talents against the best in junior hockey. Alternatively, should the Hamilton Bulldogs make the post-season in the AHL, a shorter playoff run for Galchenyuk in the OHL would leave him the opportunity to move up to the AHL and test his mettle against professionals.



What is  your favorite Habs conspiracy?

I normally don’t deal in rumours and the supposed intrigue, but what never fails to give me a kick is people believing that the NHL is out to get the Montreal Canadiens.

Referees aren’t making bad calls because they don’t like the Montreal Canadiens, they make bad calls because they are bad at their jobs. There is always an officiating controversy somewhere in the NHL. A non-call, a lopsided penalty count or the ever-popular goal that should or shouldn’t have been and was obvious to anyone who wasn’t named Stevie Wonder. Chris Lee isn’t just despised in Montreal, what we’ve said about him, it’s actually quite polite compared to what I’ve read about him during some of the playoff series he’s called. Stephen Walkom calls games like the NHL never instituted rules about obstruction. Chris Rooney, well if he makes a right call, it’s the law of averages kicking in and that’s about anywhere he is calling a game. The NHL’s problem is they don’t train their officials well and when they perform poorly, there’s never any notable sanctions. Montreal isn’t a victim of evil officiating conspiracies, it’s just a generally 2nd and 3rd-rate group of officials.



What is the potential for Dalton Thrower? Up side, down side etc.

Dalton Thrower is potentially a 2nd-pairing two-way defencemen in his prime years, but he has a ways to go yet. He’s not having a very good post-draft season at present and while the Saskatoon Blades are themselves struggling, one must always consider a prospect overachieved in his draft year or peaked early. There’s also the issue that he isn’t a very big man, maybe 6’ but more likely the 5’11” he was reported as when he was drafted. Thrower does bring a fair bit of physical presence to the game, but his style may bring trouble on the injury front as he moves up the ranks to professional competition and faces off against much bigger opponents than he currently faces in junior hockey. Thrower does have plenty more to bring to a game though, he is a good skater who can move the puck, generate offence and flashes a powerful slapshot. If Thrower can balance his physical nature with his puck-moving abilities he could be a good NHL defencemen in the future.


Jacob Perez

Starting to get worried about Collberg. Who has a better shot at being an NHL’er (ceiling aside), Vail or Collberg?

It is much, much too early to worry about Sebastian Collberg. The first rule of an NHL team’s draft class is that it can’t properly be evaluated for at least five years.

To examine where Collberg is right now though, one should start with the consideration playing in a far more different environment than other 2012 Canadiens picks Alex Galchenyuk, Tim Bozon, Brady Vail or Charles Hudon. The Swedish Allsvenskan where Collberg is currently playing is a professional league, mostly composed of physically mature men and veterans of professional hockey. Collberg is still an 18-year old with a rather skinny frame that is still working on adding the strength that will let him compete better in professional hockey. Collberg has 4 goals and 1 assist in 11 Allsvenskan games so far after basically being chilled for 16 games on the bench of Frölunda in the top Swedish League, the Elitserien. Collberg has come into the Allsvenskan essentially “Cold” against the competition who have really played more than twice as many games as he has due to his almost non-existent ice time with Frölunda. While Collberg notably trails Washington Capitals 1st-round pick Filip Forsberg in assists (1 to Forsberg’s 7), he is only three goals behind Forsberg with eight fewer games played, and that isn’t much of a gap in goals production. Collberg is playing in men’s league competition and learning how to match against professionals which isn’t a bad way to develop in hockey. While the argument of where a player develops best is always ongoing, I’d add that Loui Erikkson played two seasons after being drafted in Sweden without truly notable production and he’s a pretty good player today.

I would give the edge to Collberg for becoming an NHL player, he’s a gifted scoring forward and with his natural talent level it gives him the better chance as he’ll simply be able to compete better against the higher levels of competition when it comes to skill. Vail has some solid defensive aspects, but so do many other prospects and when their offensive talent doesn’t translate to the professional level, they can find themselves unable to break through.



  1. would like to know who would be the best canditate for the habs to draft if they get a top 5 pick
    i think habs should draft jonathan drouin
    1st his the best winger in the draft
    2nd his from quebec habs fan will be exited and will all come back even if the habs sucked last year

    i dream of a line

    drouin-galchenyuk-pacioretty would be one of the best in the nhl

    but their is also players like mackinon, barkov, lindholm, monahan that are great

    id like to know whos your pick?

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