Day 1 Report from 2012 Habs Development Camp (Part 1)

Habs 2012 Development Camp - Part 1. (Photo by Rick Stephens | All Habs)

by Rick Stephens, Editor-in-Chief,

MONTREAL, QC. — The last time players with a CH on their chest took to the ice was on April 7.  That night Brad Staubitz scored his first goal of the season, an empty-netter.  Max Pacioretty was the first star with a two-point night, while Erik Cole potted his 35th of the season. The Canadiens beat the Maple Leafs 4-1.

If you’re like me, that all seems like it happened about 100 years ago.  Or perhaps it is just a coping mechanism to push the memories of a terrible season way back into the recesses of the mind.

(Photo courtesy of LaPresse)

Without game action to focus on, the void was filled by daily rumors and a steady stream of management hirings as the Canadiens begin to re-tool.  In a complete reversal from the regimes of the past, each appointment has been leaked in advance.  On Wednesday it was announced that Martin Lapointe, Patrice Brisebois and Sylvain Lefebvre were brought on board in various positions. The news about Lefebvre and Brisebois had been out for days — Lapointe’s appointment was reported back when the Rangers and the Canucks were favorites to meet for the Stanley Cup.

The murmurs Wednesday night were all about Gerald Gallant.

The leaks seemed to provide a jolt of adrenaline to the so-called hockey insiders who ramped up production from their rumour-making Easy-Bake ovens.  The mainstreamers, wanting in on the sensational attention, cranked out their own bits of nonsense.

One granny set Twitter ablaze gossiping that Alex Kovalev wanted to return to the Canadiens — it was his way of pimping an upcoming article.  He added “Path of ex #Habs Kovy and GM Bergevin likely won’t ever intersect. But what the hell. It’s fun to discuss.”  Translation: ‘It won’t ever happen but I needed hits to my column. If I have misled you, what the hell!’

Not familiar with the concept of hypocrisy, the same gent later tweeted “Who wants to see all #Habs insiders booked on a Just For Laughs gala?”

Uh, huh. These days, fake insiders, MSM, sometimes the lines become blurred.

You already know that All Habs hasn’t joined the rumour-mongering bandwagon.  Yet you continue to visit our pages in record numbers.  We are a digital magazine that provides a wide variety of information, analysis and entertainment for you — and we are very grateful that you like what we do.

I must say that I was smiling today as I escaped the swirling silliness and headed out to the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard for the first day of Habs 2012 Development Camp ( Part 1.)  Evaluating a group of talented prospects is all about the future of the Canadiens organization — the past was no where to be found.  Oh sure, three of the prospects were actually in the lineup for the April 7 game — Louis Leblanc, Gabriel Dumont and Robert Mayer — but I can safely wager that none of them was thinking about last season.

Habs brass evaluate prospects (Photo by Rick Stephens | All Habs)

It was clear that a new set of sheriffs were in town as Marc Bergevin, Michel Therrien, Rick Dudley, Trevor Timmins, Larry Carriere and Scott Mellanby surveyed their charges from above. The prospects were put through their paces by Tim Turk (skills consultant), Paul Lawson (skating consultant), Gordie Dwyer (head coach of P.E.I. Rocket), and J.F. Houle (head coach of Blainville-Boisbriand Armada). Goalies were ably led by Canadiens goaltending coach Pierre Groulx.

The two hour and 15 minute session was little more than a warm-up for what will be a heavy schedule to round out the week.  It’s too early to draw any conclusions from what was on display today.

There was confirmation of things we already knew:

  • Daniel Pribyl and Alexander Avtsin are magicians with the puck.
  • Danny Kristo has explosive acceleration.
  • Nathan Beaulieu is very smooth.
  • Brendan Gallagher‘s switch goes ‘ON’ the moment his skates touch the ice.

And there were a few initial impressions that we will keep our eyes on:

  • Patrick Holland may be a better skater than advertised.
  • Darren Dietz looks much more confident this year.
  • Aaron Dell turned heads with his goaltending at least year’s camp but may be challenged this year by Brandon Maxwell.
  • Cody Reichard looked competent in goal with a good glove hand despite his try-out status.
  • If this team had a captain, it would be Jarred Tinordi, hands down. Solid leadership qualities.

The group of missing players included Collin Sullivan, Peter Delmas, Morgan Ellis and Dustin Walsh.  They did not participate in Wednesday’s practise.

All in all, it was a positive opening to the first of two June development camps. Most certainly it was a refreshing change to what we have endured since early April.  Stay tuned, the real work begins on Thursday with a morning and afternoon session.

Check out the photos below. Your comments and questions are most welcome.


  1. Rick, great to have someone breakdwon prospects and camp, much appreciated for those who cant attend.

    But who ever told you Holland wasnt a great skater? He was voted as one of top in WHL, but also one of most underrated i suppose.
    I liked Holland’s play better than Kristo’s last year, and every game he was a standout, whereas Kristo
    was usually overshowded by a couple of other NHL teams top prospects/picks. Not that he wont be a top six guy down the road, is good defensively and too bad he isnt turnig pro this year.
    Holland was great on the PK last year and his speed really showed when backchecking and stripping pucks and even good playing defense on PP and breaking up 2-on-1s.

    I bet he will be a hard working fan favorite down the road and a great 3rd liner. Not sure if will ever be a 20 goal guy, but he should do well in Hamilton, if paired with a Gallagher or other scorer.

    Just hope Pribyl develops better than Avtsin has. Avtsin’s 1st pro year can write off to a few things, but last year he showed dick-all improvment did he?

    • Thanks Don, glad to provide the information on prospects from the Development camp. Many scouting reports on Patrick Holland raise concerns about his skating. On the other hand, Team Canada scout Kevin Prendergast was quoted as saying that Holland is a strong skater. I’ve closely watched him the past two days and can see how one can arrive at both determinations. Skating in a straight line, Holland is fine — he can get where he wants to go, and with a little speed. But his stride is deliberate, not fluid at all so hasn’t looked good in some of the drills.

      It may be hard to compare the games of Kristo and Holland from last season. Holland was playing on a team who spent most of the game carrying the play. That certainly helped and I think you would admit that his stats are somewhat inflated by the team and his linemates. He is an interesting prospect, and one that can perhaps play a two-way role in a bottom six spot for the Habs.

      Kristo will be fine. He has soft hands and blazing speed. He just needs to play regularly against better competition.

      There is no one at camp with more pure skill than Avtsin. There has been a major failure by the Canadiens in easing his transition to North America. Jodoin with all his promise as a teacher was a huge disappointment last season — few of the prime prospects developed as they should have.

      Closest to skill level of Avtsin at camp is Pribyl. If managed properly this player will turn out to be a major steal for Timmins.

      • In watching Holland play, i never paid alot of attention to bad aspects, especially when every shift, he was like Gallagher is and all over the ice making stuff happen, but end to end and carrying puck he was pretty slick (reminded me of Eller, shorter but similar).
        I disregard the high point total and like i said, Holland wil be a hard working 3rd liner, with OK hands and nose for net and super defensively; but will he ever get 20 goals in NHL? maybe a few years down the road, but will never be a 35-40 goal guy, i dont think.
        But he and Bournival could be a nice fast shut down pair of checking forwards.

        Pateryn is another player i have high expectations for, as strictly a defensive d-man, but as a bigger Gorges type. I would almost guess he should be more NHL ready than Ellis/Beaulieu/Tinordi, given age and size as well as being a smart kid.

        Too bad Kristo is so keen on winning NCAA frozen four. But give him mmore time in weight room anyways. He still look quite slim out there?

        Will need to wait 1 more year for Pribyl to develop in Czech.

  2. Just wondering about Lous Leblancs skating. I have only seen him on the screen and he seems to move around well enough but his mechanics look very awkwardness, any comment?

    • You’re correct Steve. Leblanc is able to mask his below-average skating skills by being a smart player. He is good at anticipating where the play and the puck will be. I understand that he has been at the Brossard complex regularly since the season ended. Let’s hope that his focus this summer is all about improve his skating technique.

  3. I think you’re reading into Stubb’s tweet too much. Kovalev told him he’d love to return to Montreal to play. Stubbs never said more than that and I don’t see how any of this is relevant to the development camp.
    I’m not a fan of the out of context cheap shot at MSM and “rumour mongering”. Stubbs never even implied Kovalev was going to sign.

    Seems pretty childish from my perspective.

    • Thanks for your comment shut. Had the information about Kovalev simply been revealed when the column was printed, you might have a case. The reporter knew exactly what would happen when tweeting about Kovalev provocatively — he got his desired result. The feigned innocence and self-righteousness that followed demanded a response.

      The incident had nothing to do with development camp, and nothing to do with the fine set of players in the Habs organization. That was my point, and it provided a stark contrast of different approaches to covering the Canadiens. While some choose to focus on rumours and start fires of speculation, I was grateful to be evaluating prospects who are the future of the Habs.

      • Nice to read some thoughtful observations on the kids at camp. Thanks! The Stubbs slagging seemed irrelevant and out of context though.

        • Thanks for the compliment B. Regarding the reporter who started the Kovalev rumour, the context is simply that he made the choice to cross that line. It seemed relevant given that he didn’t attend any of the Development Camp sessions. It was a simple exercise of compare and contrast.

    • Stubbs is practising tabloid journalism and should be called out for it.

      Wildly fabricated speculations are irresponsible. I’m sure that the 14 year old female sect of the Habs nation would love to have Justin and Selena buy the team from the Molsons and move it to Stratford. It’s not going to happen, but “what the hell. It’s fun to discuss.”

      There is information out there to be gathered, but one has to spend time at places like development camp to do it. Stubbs and the rest of the Montreal MSM should get their asses out to the rink and LEARN. Then they should stick to reporting the facts, not fiction, and stop taking advantage of those who cannot distinguish the difference.

    • Good question Jerry. I have watched Michael Cichy for a number of years at these camps. He seems to be a good team guy, was great work ethic and stands out for his aggressive pursuit of the puck in game action. He has good vision and is a terrific passer. But his size has always been an issue — he’s much too easy to be knocked off the puck. His skating is not very strong — that’s what seems to prevent him from being considered as a pro prospect.

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