On Wednesday, just hours before the NHL CBA expires, the Canadiens announced the signing of young centre Corey Locke to a 3 year, entry-level contract. As per team policy, financial terms were not disclosed.
The Habs drafted Locke last season (2002-03) in the 4th round, 113th overall, a surprise to some given his scoring prowess. However, at just 5’9, his size was a concern to many, and that’s why he slipped so far.
For the past 2 seasons, Locke has led the OHL in scoring. Last season, he potted 51 goals and 67 assists (51-67-118) in just 65 games, while in 2002-03, he netted 63 goals and 88 assists (63-88-151) in just 66 games. He also led the entire CHL (OHL, WHL, and QMJHL combined) in scoring. During those 2 seasons, Locke also led the Ottawa 67’s in playoff scoring, averaging roughly 2 points per game in the postseason.
This past week, Locke, along with many other Hab prospects, took place in a 4 team rookie tournament, with the Canadiens finishing 2nd overall. In that competition, he notched a goal and 3 assists in 4 games, and had a +5 rating, good for 2nd on the team.
By signing a deal now, Locke will be foregoing his overage year with Ottawa of the OHL. He will now be assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs training camp, and will likely be able to crack that squad. If not though, he can be assigned to the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the ECHL.