Draft day decisions

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Jonathon Blum

Angelo Esposito
Written by Habster
With the 2007 NHL draft just around the corner (June 22nd and 23rd in Columbus), let us take a look at some potential decisions the Montreal Canadiens might make on the draft floor.
Bob Gainey, Trevor Timmins and the scouting staff will have two 1st round picks (12th and 22nd) and a total of 6 picks in the next 6 rounds which will make for a very interesting draft day. The Habs brass have to be absolutely thrilled by the performance of their prospects in the NHL, AHL, ECHL and the CHL. With the organization having so many talented young player in their system, they can concentrate on adding more detailed depth to the center and defense positions.
The Canadiens have an abundance of talented fowards (Andrei Kostitsyn, Mikhail Grabovski, Matt D’Agostini, Sergei Kostitsyn and Kyle Chipchura to name just a few) and are just starting to develop NHL caliber defensemen (Ryan O’Byrne, Alexei Emelin, Dave Fischer, Jon Gleed and Pavel Valentenko). Their goaltending situation is possibly the strongest of any organization in the NHL with the likes of Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, Yann Danis and Cedric Desjardin.

If there are areas where the Canadiens need further depth, it would be to add a highly skilled offensive defenseman who could rush the puck, make a good breakout pass to neutralize the trap and man the point on the power play (similar to Andrei Markov). They also need to add “skilled” size to the group of prospects in the system as the present group of forwards are talented but on the small size. Trevor Timmins has been known to make “off the board” or “risky” selections on past draft days (ie-Andrei Kostitsyn(2003), Carey Price(2005) and David Fischer(2006) ) so it will be interesting and somewhat unpredictable this year as well (certainly Price was a great pick and Kostitsyn could be as well). Bob Gainey also has not been shy about improving his draft position if Trevor Timmins wants a certain prospect (ie-Latendresse in 2005, Mathieu Carle and Ryan White in 2006). Here are some possible prospects the Habs will consider drafting in the first two rounds (if the draft selection order remains the same) :

The following players will most likely be gone before the #12 pick: Kane, Turris, Van Riemsdyk, Voracek, Gagner, Alzner, Cherepanov, Eller, Ellerby.
I honestly feel that a team will take a chance with Lars Eller in the top 10. He really came on strong as the year progressed with his junior team at Frolunda and he has an excellent skill set at both ends of the ice. Alexei Cherepanov could possibly drop below the top 10 due the lack of an agreement with the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, his average performance at the U20 and a perceived bad attitude/ poor work ethic. After the afore mentioned 9 players, the next 21 selections will be unpredictable and hotly debated by hockey experts and fans. There will definitely be surprises in this area of the 1st round.

At the #12 selection(6 prospects in no particular order):

  1. Mikael Backlund,center; Ranking:10(ISS), (6’0 198lb): a very good two way center with excellent skill set. He is a strong skater, excellent passer and is solid in every aspect of the game. Will be a solid pro one day.
  2. Angelo Esposito, center; Ranking:11(ISS), (6’1″ 180lb): excellent skater with an extra gear who is a good stickhandler and passer. Needs to work on his defensive zone work and is a perimeter type player who occasionally ventures inside.He has dropped out of the top 10 ranking with some scouting services. Desire and work ethic have been questioned this past season.
  3. Maxim Mayorov, LW; Ranking:8(ISS), (6’2″ 187lb): Excellent speed and is constantly on the move. Is a very good fore checker who is developing a solid two way game. Backs off defenders with his speed but needs some work on his puckhandling skills. His size and skill set will attract a lot of attention but will the lack of a transfer agreement deter teams from drafting him in the top 15.
  4. David Perron, RW; Ranking:15(ISS), (6’0″ 190lb): a magician with the puck who can make defenders look foolish at times. A solid skater who has an extra gear when needed and is responsible in his own zone(solid fore cecker). Tends to get tired at the end of his shifts.
  5. Colton Gillies, center; Ranking:12(ISS), (6’4″ 189lb): a very good skater who is effortless in his stride. A solid two way player who likes to hit and is solid along the boards. An excellent penalty killer who is still developing his offensive game. Played part of the season as a defense man. Size and skill will attract attention but will he develop better touch around the net?
  6. William Sweatt, LW; Ranking:27(CSS North Ameria), (6″0″ 180lb): probably the fastest skater in this years draft. Hard working player who backs defenders off with his great speed. Handles puck very well and anticipates plays well. Has to work better at fighting through checks.His skating ability will be his greatest asset in the new NHL.

I did not list any defense men for the 12th pick as this years’ first round is top heavy with forwards with the exceptions of Karl Alzner and Keaton Ellerby who will be taken prior to the Canadiens 12th pick.

At the 22nd pick(from San Jose):

If Bob Gainey does not trade this pick then he will probably use it to draft a defense man with some offensive skills. Here are some possible player options:

  1. Kevin Shattenkirk RD; Ranking:26(ISS), (5’11” 193lb): Is a very gifted puck moving defense man who enjoys joining the rush. A very good skater with quick feet who read the play well. Is capable in the defensive zone but needs improvement against bigger forwards.
  2. John Blum RD; Ranking:20(ISS), (6’1″ 160lb): Effortless skater with a beautiful stride who makes smart decisions with the puck. Rarely get bet one on one regardless of his lack of muscled frame. Extremely patience with the puck but does need to improve his play along the boards. Good shot from the point on the powerplay.
  3. Ryan McDonagh LD; Ranking:19(ISS), (6’1″ 200lb): A offensive defenseman who rushes the puck well and is solid in his own zone. Good one on one containment and solid along the board. Makes crisp passes to his forwards but can be caught out of position occasionally when rushing the puck. A Trevor Timmins type of selection (remember David Fischer last year from a Minnesota high school as well).

The Canadiens also have a second round selection (#43) that I would use to add a power forward with skill. The following players might still be available when the 43rd selection is called:

  1. Akim Aliu, C/RW; Ranking:41(CSS-North America), (6’2″ 200lb): A power forward with good speed who likes to hit and plays a decent two way game. Has a strong/quick shot and fights through his checks. Needs to show more consistency on a nightly basis. Off ice issues have caused some teams to be hesitant about Aliu. Speaks Russian fluently and was used as a translator at the draft combine this year. Is a real sleeper choice if a team is willing to take a chance on him. Below is a recent interview Aliu did with Hockey’s Future:
    http://hockeysfuture.com/articles/9781

  1. Logan MacMillian, C; Ranking:42(CSS-North America), (6’1″ 172lb): Plays with an edge and is considered a power forward with good aceleration and quickness. Solid in the defensive zone but needs to add weight. Goes hard to the net and protects the puck fairly well. His offensive game is still developing but is a very smart positional player.
  2. Maxime Tanguay, C; Ranking:60(CSS-North America), (6’0″ 175lb): Very skilled forward with very good speed who has a nice touch around the net and has an excellent shot. Needs work on his defensive zone coverage. His production was hampered by injury problems last year and a very young Rimouski team which dropped his ranking. Could be a sleeper pick.Needs to add some bulk to his frame. Also needs to use his linemates more often.

Here are the remaining selections that the Montreal Canadiens have for the next five rounds:

3rd round:

#65- obtained from Washington Capitals for the Richard Zednik trade
#73

4th round

0 picks- traded to Phoenix Coyotes for Mike Johnson (#103)

5th round
#133
#142- obtained from Dallas Stars for the Janne Niinima/ Mike Ribeiro trade.
6th round
#163
7th round
0 picks -#193- traded to NY Ranger for Kris Russell
Here are some interesting websites to evaluate the prospects or watch their play via video (Edmonton Oiler and the Philadelphia Flyers know how to inform their fans and generate interest in the NHL draft unlike the Canadiens, unfortunately):