In less then two short days the 2004 NHL Entry Draft will get underway, with the Montreal Canadiens looking to add more quality prospects, to an already stacked farm system which can boast impressive 1st rounders, Mike Komisarek, Alex Perezhogin, Chris Higgins, and Andrei Kastsitsyn. Hopefully another top notched prospect can be added to that impressive list of 1st round picks, when the Habs select 18th overall this on June 26th. With this years draft considered one that’s very wide open in terms of who will be picked where, it’s tough to really say who the Canadiens staff will be looking at, but if you look over the last three drafts, we can get an idea of just who the Habs might be looking at.
Here’s a mock draft of all 9 picks the Canadiens have this year, excluding any trades of course. Also the actual number of each pick after the 2nd round will change, as compensation picks are handed out. I chose one player for each of the nine picks, and I also chose two other players as other possibilities in case the first player is already chosen.
18th overall– Lauri Korpikoski– LW/C 6’1 180. TPS Turku Jrs. Ranked 12th by CSB (Euro), Korpikoski has many traits the Canadiens like to see in a player, skating, speed, hard work, an impressive showing in international tournaments, and rising up the charts. Although Korpikoski has yet to play in the sm-liiga, hopefully next season he will get some time in the mens league, giving the Habs a few years to watch his progression.
Bruce Graham– C 6’6 217. Moncton Wildcats. Ranked 14th by CSB (NA), and a nice backup plan, Graham gives the Habs size down the middle, soft hands, good skating and play making abilities. Not exactly the physical kind of player the Canadiens lack, but very big and offensively gifted.
Lukas Kaspar– RW 6’2 191 Litvinov Cze league. Ranked 14th by CSB (Euro), Kaspar brings size and a physically aggressive game. Kaspar had a strong showing at the WJC tournament this year, and he would fill a void for a big strong physical winger.
At 18th overall the Habs will have many, many choices to make, so it’s impossible to say who will get the call, but these players all fill different needs while being highly skilled. Mike Green and Kyle Chipchura were other players that came to mind as well.
84th overall– Julien Sprunger– RW 6’3 194 Fribourg Swiss league. Ranked 27th by CSB (Euro) would bring the much needed size and physical play to the Habs, if they could get lucky enough to see Sprunger fall to 80th, but playing in the Swiss league, hopefully he didn’t get as much attention, and a lack of offensive production in the mens league, plus a wide open draft could see him fall a bit, and hopefully the Habs will be there to grab him.
Raymond Sawada– RW 6’2 195 Nanaimo BCJHL. Ranked 33rd by CSB (NA) Sawada is headed to Cornell next year, and would be another big strong winger that would hopefully fall due to playing in the BCJHL.
Alex Mikhailishin– RD 6’4 207 Spartak-2 1st league. Ranked 37th by CSB (Euro) Mikhailishin is a big tough stay at home defensemen, and as an added bonus he’s a right handed defensemen that the Habs could use more of.
At 84th overall, the Habs will start a trio of picks with a 14 picks range thanks to the trade with the Sharks and Hawks, giving us the 90th and 94th picks as well. There should still be some very interesting picks available in this range. Sergi Shirokov would have been my pick if he opted in, but I don’t think he has. Janick Hansen and Mike Lundin also come to mind as well.
95th overall– Jordan Smith– RD 6’1 207 SSM OHL. Ranked 51st by CSB (NA) Smith gives the Habs a big strong physical right handed defensemen. And if CSB is correct, he should be available when the Habs pick. He was the leader on defense for SSM, and should have a big year next season.
Kevin Porter– C 5’11 190 USA U-18. Not ranked by CSB, Potter is headed to Michigan next season and after his performance for Team USA at the U-18’s, he will be on many scouts lists, for his soft hands, and excellent speed. While at Michigan he will learn a lot under Red Berenson while having a few years to get bigger/stronger as well. Might not be available by 90th with so many scouts at the U-18’s though.
Tyler Haskins– C 6’1 177 St Mike’s Majors OHL. Ranked 46th by CSB (NA) Haskins is on the skinny side by plays a good two-way game, works hard every night and has good wheels. The Habs should take a hard look at him for sure to fill in the lower lines.
At 95th overall the Habs will be one of the last teams to pick on day 1, hopefully landing their 1st defensemen, as one things for sure they will be picking up some defensive help at some point. One of Smith, Potter or Haskins would make for a great pick late in the 3rd round. Brain Ihnacak Stanislav Lascek and David Laliberte come to mind as well.
100th overall- Fredrick Cabana– C/LW 6.0’5 182 Halifax QMJHL. Ranked 63rd by CSB (NA), Cabana would bring a good hard working, 2-way game to fill the lower lines someday. Decent size, skating, physical play and a true team player, Cabana would make a solid pick early on day 2.
Kyle Klubertanz– RD 6.0’5 178 Green Bay USHL. Ranked 98th by CSB (NA), Klubertanz might be considered a bit of a reach due to his size for a defensemen, but he’s headed to Wisconsin next season, where he will bring his strong offensive game as he can move the puck well and is dangerous on the PP.
Fredrick Naslund– LW 6’4 207 Vasteras Sweden tier-2. Ranked 32nd by CSB (Euro), Naslund may see his stock slip as he had a disappointing U-18 tournament, and has been called for his inconsistent play. But the big winger has good hands and if he falls this late should get a look for his size and goal scoring abilities.
At 100th overall, it’s the last time the Habs pick till 140th , so if they want a player that’s ranked later then around 94th they may just pick him here since they don’t pick till 46 spots later. Robbie Earl and Ryan Callahan come to mind.
150th overall- Kyle Wilson– C 6’0 200 Colgate ECAC. Ranked 78th by CSB (NA), Wilson had a strong freshman year in the NCAA, and was one of Colgate’s top players, should have a great year next season. Put up a point a game this year and is a right handed center with size, something the Habs could use for sure.
Casey Borer– LD 6’2 197 St. Cloud St. WCHA. Ranked 52nd by CSB (NA), Borer also had a strong freshman season and was solid in his own end all year long. His lack of offensive production may see him drop this low, as he has yet to score a goal this year, but his size and defensive play may see him get picked earlier then 140th.
Nick Fugere– LW 6’2 230 Gatineau QMJHL. Ranked 118th by CSB (NA), Fugere will catch many gm/scouts eye due to his size and physical play. The Habs sorely lack this kind of big physical player, so hopefully they take a long hard look at him.
At 150th overall, the Habs would be well off if they could land one of Wilson, Borer or Fugere. Matt Auffery would be another good pick from the USA U-18 program, and Mark Tobin.
181th overall- Scott Lehman– LD 6’1 195 St Mike’s Majors OHL. Ranked 87th by CSB (NA), Lehman became the top defensemen for St Mike’s, as he plays a solid all round game and is a physical player that would add depth to the blueline for the Habs.
Matt Christie– LW 5’10 185 Miami Ohio CCHA. Ranked 109th by CSB (NA), Christie had a very good freshmen year, and scored an impressive 21 goals in 38 games, but his size could drop him to the later rounds, which would be a bonus for the Habs who should be happy to have an offensively gifted winger with good speed, skating and hands.
Jim McKenzie– RW 6’1 209 Siox Falls USHL. Ranked 104th by CSB (NA), McKenzie is headed to Michigan State next year. He’s a big power forward winger, that plays physical, has good hands (over a point a game average) and will drop the gloves as well.
At 181th overall the Habs would be lucky to get Lehman, as he really came on as the season went on, but hopefully Christie or McKenize will still be on board. Konstantin Markorov also comes to mind.
212th overall- Clayton Stoner– LD 6’3 225 Tri City WHL. Ranked 111th by CSB (NA), Stoner will most likely not be on board this late, but if so he should get a long hard look due to his size. The Habs could certainly use another big strong defensemen for added depth.
Valdamir Kubas– C 5’11 176 Poprad Slovakian juniors. Ranked 85th by CSB (Euro), Kubas hopefully falls a bit due to the lack of coverage from the svk juniors and his size. Kubas is also a right handed center that scored over a goal a game this year.
Mikka Tuomainen– W 6’3 207 Tuto Finland juniors. Ranked 104th by CSB (Euro), Tuomainen has the size that will interest gms, but had a lack of offensive production which may cause him to drop a bit on day 2.
At 212th overall, the Habs will hopefully have some good players drop a bit in the rankings. Patrick Bordeleau (Val D Or) and Marek Ulehla might be worth a shot as well.
246th overall- Tommy Enstrom– LW 5’10 174 Modo jrs. Ranked 131st by CSB (Euro), Enstrom may slip due to his size, but his skating and speed might be worth taking a shot on. Enstrom is the brother of Tobais (thrashers) and is coming off a strong U-18 showing, and playoff run. Put up good numbers this year, won’t be 18 till after the draft.
Mikko Kuukka– LD 6’2.5 186 Red Deer WHL. Ranked 141st by CSB (NA), Kuukka has decent size, but is not known for his physical play or offensive production which may leave many scouts passing.
Ladislav Sikorcin– C 6’0 176 Trencin Slovakian juniors. Ranked 134th by CSB (Euro) Sikorcin is another right handed center who put up over a point a game this year. Hopefully his size drops him a bit on day 2.
At 246th overall, the Habs will be looking for a longshot, Enstrom could certainly turn out to be a good one. Mike Card and Greg Park come to mind. Park was named defensemen of the year in the SJHL, and is headed to Providence (NCAA) next year.
278th overall- Vincent Goulet– C 6’0 185 Texas NAHL. Ranked 168th by CSB (NA), Goulet is headed to Providence as well. The son of the former NHLer, Goulet most likely will be long gone by 260th, but hopefully the fact that he played in the NAHL will lower his draft stock enough for us to grab him. Goulet put up over a point a game while also getting an impressive 200 pims.
Josh Soares– W 6’0 202 Maine HE. Not ranked by CSB, Soares was a scoring star in the OPJHL last year as he led the league in scoring with 124 points. His freshman year did not go that well, as ice time was hard to come by, but Soares has good hands and can handle the physical game. With the loss of Aquino next year, Soares should see an increase in his ice time.
Trevor Ludwig– LD 6’1 200 Texas NAHL. Ranked 188th by CSB (NA), Ludwig is the son of former Hab Craig, that will also be headed to Providence next season. Might not be a bad idea to grab the former Hab’s son, who had a decent year and helped his team win a championship this year.
At 278th, the Habs will roll the dice, and Goulet would be a great player to gamble on if he’s still on board. Ludwig would also make a nice addition and Soares while not on many depth charts was somewhat impressive in the game I saw him, plus he had a heck of a year in the OPJHL. Also worth consideration is Sasha Grenier-Pokulk from the SJHL, who is headed to Cornell, is not ranked by CSB but is 6’5 220 and played for Team Quebec’s U-17 team last year.