Finally the 2005 NHL Entry Draft is within a few days, after being put on hold for the past four weeks due to the lockout that is not thankfully over. With the new deal some changes have been made, the NHL will drop the number of rounds from nine to seven, meaning sixty less players or more will not get the chance to be selected on one of the most exciting days of the entire year.
For the Montreal Canadiens, luck was shining down on the organization when they heard their name called out as the fifth overall pick of the snake draft during the NHL lottery. This is great news for Hab fans as the team will add a top notch prospect to an already solid and impressive group of young players. So for the next few days fans will try and guess who the team might be considering for each of the seven picks that the team currently holds.
Here’s a looks at where the picks might end up being, as the draft order will likely be changed a bit when compensation picks are handed out and also a look at some of the players that GM Bob Gainey, assistant GM Andre Savard and director of player personal Trevor Timmins, as well as the rest of the scouting staff might be interested in selecting.
Canadiens Unofficial 2005 Draft Order
1st round- 5th overall
2nd round- 56th overall
3rd round- 65th overall
4th round- 116th overall
5th round- 125th overall
6th round- 166th overall
7th round- 175th overall
|1st Round- 5th Overall|
After Crosby it will be interesting to see how the next three picks end up, but you can be sure that Jack Johnson will be a part of the three, leaving the Canadiens in great shape to pick from a host of impressive prospects.
Gilbert Brule– C (5’10 175) Not the biggest player but highly skilled and hard working player who makes playing against him not very fun. Brule also has impressive speed and skating while also being known for dropping the gloves if need be. Gainey would likely be very interested in a player like Brule if he drops to the 5th spot.
Anze Kopitar– C (6’4 220) More of an unknown player since he spent most of this past season playing in the Swedish junior league, where he led the league in scoring. A big boy that is still learning how to adapt to his large frame, Kopitar could spend the season in the SEL next year despite not turning 18 for another month. Like another wild card pick, Andrei Kostitsyn, Kopitar made a big splash at the international scene when he racked up ten goals at the WJC B pool as well as the six goals he scored at the U-18’s and one goal at the World Championships.
Bobby Ryan- RW (6’1 213) Not a powerforward as he is often labeled, Ryan can play a power game in that he has a lot of natural strength which makes him a force to deal with in front of the net and at times very hard to knock off the puck but he’s not really known for crashing and banging. His lack of foot speed will likely be a concern, but with his frame and great set of hands, whatever team lands him will have an interesting and highly skilled prospect on their hands.
Benoit Pouliot– LW (6’3 179) Pouliot got overlooked at the Midget draft due to his lack of size, which seems to have forced teams to pass over him at the time, but now they are kicking themselves for not taking a chance on this past seasons OHL Rookie of the Year. While Pouliot does not seem to play a physical game and seems to lack body strength, he is a treat to watch as he can dazzle with speed, skating, deke, passes, and shot as well. Whatever team ends up with Pouliot come draft day with be thrilled to have such a highly skilled offensive player.
With the Habs picking 5th overall, they know that after Crobsy and Johnson, one or more of these players will still be on board when it’s their time to select. This alone puts them in great shape, as well as putting them in a great spot to trade up if one of the teams in front of them aren’t sure what direction to go in. If the Habs try and trade down or make a surprise pick, some players they might consider would be, Kenndal McArdle, Marc Staal, Jack Skille, Alex Bourret, or Guillaume Latendresse. McArdle is a Gainey type player that is skilled plus always working hard. Staal could be the second defensemen picked in this draft as his frame and skating could see him go top ten. Skille is one of the top American prospects, bringing both size and skill. Bourret is a nasty player to play against as he hits like a truck and hits often, and in addition also has a good base of offensive skills. Latendresse is more of a powerforward, when he gets going he can be very hard to stop but his lack of speed will be a concern as well as his health.
|2nd Round- 56th Overall|
Joe Finley– LD (6’7 229) Finley could be the top pick out of the USHL as he is a huge and very physical defensemen that enjoys taking the body and is considered a defensemen that forwards don’t want to play against.
Michael Sauer– RD (6’2 198) A gamble of sorts as Sauer missed most of the season due to a hip injury, but the 17 year old was on his teams top defensive pairing where he did show solid defensive play and some offensive abilities as well.
Tyler Plante– G (6’2 191) With the shaky play of Lacasse, perhaps management will look to add some depth in nets, as you can never have enough goalies in your system and Plante is coming off a great rookie season for the Wheat Kings. He may not be on board at this point in the draft, but if he is the Habs should take a long hard look at him.
Mathieu Roy– LW (5’11 190) After playing on such a bad team it is easy to over look the gifted offensive winger, but I wouldn’t expect too many gm’s to pass up on Roy, although perhaps he could fall into the 3rd round. Roy’s speed, stickhandling and offensive skills should get him drafted in the top three rounds assuming gm’s don’t fall asleep at the wheel.
Keith Yandle– LD (6’2 195) Yandle chose to opt out of the 2004 but it remains to be seen if this was a good move or not as it came to the surprise of many. Yandle didn’t stop there as he committed to play for UNH to join his brothers team next season but at the last minute chose to head over to Maine instead. Yandle has to be one of the top players out of the USHS this year, as he brings an impressive set of offensive skills as well as strong play in his own end.
|3rd Round- 65th Overall|
Jordan Lavallee– LW (6’3 210) A big boy that can play a power game, Lavallee was mistakenly passed over in the last draft, but that clearly won’t happen again as his recent 40 goal season and NHL size will get GM’s attention this time around. Could use some work on his foot speed, but could fit in well on the Canadiens prospect depth chart as he brings a needed mixture of size and skill and strength.
Niklaus Hjalmarsson– LD (6’1 190) Hjalmarsson might be more of a wild card pick here, but he is coming off a strong U-18 tournament where he displayed an impressive two way game. Not overly physical, Hjalmarsson should be one of the top Swedes selected at the entry draft, as he can move the puck well while also playing solid in his own end.
Adam McQuaid– RD (6’3 197) McQuaid is often overlooked as the partner to Marc Staal, but his impressive size and defensive play should make him an interesting pick, especially for the Canadiens who would likely hope to add a few defensemen come draft day.
Tom Pyatt– C (5’11 190) Not the biggest guy or the most skilled but Pyatt works hard and with his speed can play very solid defensive hockey. The biggest concern is his offensive upside, but he’s a Begin type player which every team needs to have.
Ben Bishop– G (6’5 205) Bishop is a huge goalie that could go under the radar as he played in the NAHL but he was nominated for USA hockey’s junior player of the year, as he helped his team win the NAHL title putting up impressive numbers.
|4th Round- 116th Overall|
Chad Denny– LD (6’2 214) Denny might not fall this far, as his size will clearly get him some notice as well as his heavy point shot and strong play in his own end. With the recent trend of the Canadiens scouting staff of selecting teammates of previous draft picks, Denny could have gotten their attention throughout the season.
Andrew Thomas– RD (6’2 196) The freshman defensemen enjoyed a strong year as he helped his team win another National title. Thomas seems to enjoy the physical side of the game as he is not shy to throw his body around although he still has work to do on his decision making skills.
Vladimir Sobotka– C (5’10 180) Sobotka call fall in the rankings as he’s lacking in size but scouts claim he does not let his lack of size get in the way as he will play in high traffic areas and he also has a good deal of offensive abilities as well. Hopefully his size will scare off some teams if the Canadiens scouting staff is interested in the Slovak.
Robby Dee– C (6’2 185) Coming out of the USHS, Dee might get looked over, but likely not for too long as he showed he wasn’t just a product of Blake Wheeler, in his senior year he racked up an impressive 49 goals in 28 games. But the fact that he’s headed to the USHL next year and Maine the year after could force teams to hold off on selecting him too early.
Joe Fallon– G (6’3 195) Another big goalie, Fallon enjoyed a great freshman year putting up stellar numbers. Fallon may not fall this far but if he does, management should take a good look at him as he should be one of the top goalies in the NCAA with another year or so.
|5th Round- 125th Overall|
Marc-Edouard Vlasic– LD (6’1 190) Vlasic enjoyed a strong sophomore season as he was the top scoring defensemen on his team and also played very well during this years QMJHL playoffs. Vlasic has decent size and skates well although he may be long gone by the time our sixth round pick is on the clock.
Jonathan Matsumoto– C (6’0 184) Matsumoto is on the small side but skates well with good speed and he has lots of offensive abilities, as he led his team in goals, points, game winning goals, and pp goals despite being one of the youngest players on the team. Matsumoto is also a very hard working player as well as a solid two way forward.
Ryan Wilson– LD (6’1 212) Wilson enjoyed a solid offensive season but at times his defensive play got him in trouble with the coaching staff. Overall Wilson has the size and skating to play pro hockey just needs to round out other areas of his game. Had an up and down series against the Petes in the OHL playoffs this year, which could send his draft stock down.
Steve Birnstill– LD (6’2 185) Birnstill opted out of last years draft, but this move might not end up working too well as he had a strong season but likely didn’t push his draft stock much higher. That doesn’t’ change the fact that Birnstill is a solid two way defensemen that is always working hard, skates well, and has some offensive upside as well.
Alexi Sopin– RW (5’11 198) Sopin has speed to burn and is a strong skater that will drive to the net as he is more of a sniper then playmaker but can still setup plays. Not overly physical and also could use some added strength in both upper and lower body, but his offensive skills should get him noticed come draft day.
|6th Round- 166th Overall|
Jason Bailey– RW (6’0 205) Bailey plays a hard nose game as he racked up a ton of pims while playing for the USNDTP, getting 172 pims in 47 games. His offensive upside is his big question mark, but he’ll be attending Michigan next year under famed coach Red Berenson.
Igor Antosik- C (6’3 185) Antosik played on a line with Sopin, but doesn’t have the speed, skating or offensive skills of Sopin. What Antosik does have is size, grit, defensive play and strong in the face-off circle.
Jeff Caron– LD (6’1 180) Caron is coming off a very strong sophomore season for the lowly Merrimack Warriors, as he was third on the team in scoring. Recently Caron has jumped ship and has left the NCAA to head to the QMJHL to play for his hometown Moncton Wildcats. Still needs to fill out his frame a bit, Caron is a good skating two way defensemen that should have a strong year in the QMJHL.
Tyler Hawes– LW (6’3 210) Hawes is a big boy but he needs to learn how to use his size to his advantage more and also pick up his offensive game, but his size will likely get a few looks from gm’s come draft day and the Canadiens seem to have a thing for drafting players from the PEI Rocket.
Adam Hobson- C (6’0 195) Hobson is a solid two way player that skates well with good speed, while always working hard in both ends of the rink. His offensive upside is more of a question mark at this point but he’s a character player with good work ethic.
|7th Round- 175th Overall|
Peter Franchin– C (6’4 198) Franchin is a big boy who is still learning how to use his size but the fact that he was passed over last year and that he’s played on three different teams in two years could force him to drop to the late rounds.
Patrick Bernier– RW (5’11 200) Bernier may end up not getting picked at all, but if he is picked, hopefully the Habs will at least consider taking a shot on the hard working gritty player who didn’t rack up the points in his rookie year but showed he’s a character player.
Paul Szczechura– C (5’11 185) Szczechura’s playmaking abilities stand out as he can setup plays well with hard crisp passes and is a very smart, hard working player. Does need some work on his skating, but it should not be a major concern for him to play at the next level.
Andrew Andricopoulos– RD (6’0 183) Andricopoulos could fall in the draft as he did not have the season that many expected of him, showing a lack of consistency at times but still has some raw skills that could make him an interesting late round pick assuming he’s still on board.
Egor Zharkov– RW (6’3 209) Seems doubtful that Zkarkov would fall this far, but after leaving Cape Breton early on this year and an injury during the year that forced him to miss some time as well as a lack of skating could see him slip although it’s more of a reach that he would fall this far, if he did, management should take a long hard look at him as he has impressive size and a great shot.