All Habs Mailbag: World Juniors, Kristo, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Ellis, Desjardins, Bozon


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  • As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.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!



Who do you think will be the best player during the World Junior Hockey Championships?

That title pretty much belongs to Canada’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He’s a 19-year old 1st overall pick who was a Calder Trophy finalist in his first NHL season. It is very hard to argue there is a player at the Tournament who can match him based on his experience and how far advanced he is compared to just about anyone else involved.  There are a lot of good players around, but Nugent-Hopkins is a player who just wouldn’t be there if the NHL was being played, which can’t be conclusively said for any of his opposition.



Do you think the Habs will offer an entry-level contract to Danny Kristo finally or UFA next summer ?

It would be pretty foolish for Montreal to essentially turn down scoring talent by not tendering an entry-level deal to Danny Kristo, he remains near the top of the team’s depth chart for talented wingers. While it has occurred on a few occasions in the past where a player will essentially spurn the team that has drafted them to test free agency and pick their own destination, it’s not a big concern in my view. Kristo is simply too talented for Montreal to overlook his impressive skating and puck skills to not try him out in Hamilton and see if he can make the club as a scoring forward.

While I know Kristo’s had some comparisons of his situation to what Justin Schulz did it is important to consider Kristo has far less leverage as a hockey prospect compared to Schultz if you measure where they rate as NHL prospects. I think Kristo is better off signing on with his drafting team as he is essentially not well-rated enough to spurn his drafting team, sign elsewhere and than not produce in a respectable time frame. Players who are outrageously talented can be a little more rebellious in their behaviour as they have the ability to generally back it up but Kristo simply isn’t in that grade and needs to be careful about going pro and proving he’s more than a good college player.



Many people say that Beaulieu and Tinordi are the future top pairing for the Habs but so far this year Ellis has seemed to impress more. Do you think Ellis has a better shot at an NHL career than those two?

To start with, I’d mention that Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi would have to usurp P.K. Subban out of the top pairing before they could be running it together. As good as Beaulieu and Tinordi look as prospects, this is still a team defence that will be built around Subban. As for the trio of CHL defencemen who are now rookies in Hamilton, I would give the edge to Tinordi and Beaulieu over Morgan Ellis. While Ellis has shown excellent growth since being picked up as a 4th-round pick in 2010, he is up against a pair of players who were strong 1st-round selections and have so far, played up or exceeded expectations of performance in their rookie campaign. Morgan Ellis has a potential NHL future, but it’s likely as a 3rd-pair defencemen. Ellis does a lot of things very well, but he doesn’t do anything exceptional at present to rank him higher as a defensive prospect.


I was recently looking at Hamilton’s roster and it has Delmas, Desjardins, and Mayer listed. Which of these goaltenders are highest on the depth chart and has the best chance to backup Price in the future? (Assuming Budaj doesn’t continue.)

This easily goes to Cedrick Desjardins, as he’s far ahead of either Peter Delmas or Robert Mayer as a stable force in nets for the Hamilton Bulldogs and has been one of the better goalies in the AHL in the past while. I’m still not sold on Desjardins, as he has had some injury troubles and he is approaching 30 without any NHL experience under his belt. Delmas and Mayer are what I would term fringe prospects, they would have to have remarkable jumps in their play to get any real consideration beyond an AHL posting in their careers. I believe Montreal needs to add better goaltending talent to their farm system in the long term for a prudent insurance policy against possible ill health befalling Price in the future.



Give us your World Junior predictions for gold, silver and bronze

I would name Canada a favourite for Gold since they are looking to benefit the most from the lockout as far as it fueling their roster as they have access to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau, Dougie Hamilton, Mark Scheifele and Ryan Strome. Canada’s odds improve as well since they finally seem to be bringing a solid 1-2 combination in nets with Malcolm Subban and Jordan Binnington.

For the Silver, I’ll give a nod to the host country and say Team Russia, who is enjoying a solid talent infusion as well, being able to access the talents of Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko for this tournament, as well as a very skilled goaltender in Andrey Vasilevskiy. Russia’s had good success at the World Junior tournament in the past 2 years, taking Gold and Silver successively and on home ice will be well-motivated to keep going.

For Bronze, I’ll give a  nod to last year’s Gold Medal team in Sweden, but I think that with their being short Mika Zibanejad and their two best defencemen in Oscar Klefblom and Jonas Brodin they will find themselves hard-pressed to exact the same results. They do still enjoy the advantage of talented forwards like Elias Lindholm and Filip Forsberg, which should help them deliver the offence needed to play their way into Medal Contention.



Is Bozon playing in the WJHC for the Swiss?

Unfortunately, no. In what is an understandable choice, Tim Bozon has in the past chosen to represent France in International Hockey because his father is French and Bozon likes to pay homage to the hockey legacy his father passed on to him. France is currently playing in the Division 1 Tournament of the World Juniors, not the Championship group. It is a bit disappointing from an evaluation perspective, as it would have been good to see Bozon play against the top competition as part of the Swiss team and see how he handles the level of play.


  1. Like to disagree with your answers RR, but cant and agree 100%.

    Comrie-Jarry are 2 super looking young goalies and Timmins is overdue to fit one in, by either trading up/down to pick one tender prospect.
    Would be almost too wierd to draft another Tri-City goalie in another lost season, but Comrie’s play is only thing even keeping the Americans in most games, they say.
    Jarry has wicked numbers, but still a back-up and has strong defense in front of him.

    Hudon and Galchenyuk played very well today and both stood out. Colberg was solid but not a stand out (but are just exibition/practice games).

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