Say what you want about happened at today’s NHL Draft, but Bob Gainey, Trevor Timmons, and company made things interesting for us. While Carey Price may be not so nice in the minds of some, the draft spans beyond one round for a reason. The Habs work today was proof of just what can happen in the later rounds.
Guillaume Latendresse, a big, hulking winger out of Drummondville projects to be an absolute steal for the Habs, who selected the 6’1″, 215 lb right-winger 45th overall. The CH sent their second rounder, 56th overall, along with the 66th pick to get their hands on the 45th selection, which had belonged to the New York Rangers.
Latendresse was a guy who some people had projected to go in the earlier half of the first round. The knock on him is his skating. However, the native of Ste-Catherine has a nice set of hands in around the blue ice, leaving him with the label of a flat out sniper. But before you start to cry in despair, this is not a Pierre Dagenais clone we’re talking about. Latendresse brings with him a mega mean streak, enjoys crashing the net, and likes to hit people. Sounds like a nice little second rounder, doesn’t he?
Back to Carey Price. When Trevor Timmins took the microphone and announced that the Habs would be selecting from the WHL, many probably expected that the player they would be adding to the organization would be a small, feisty forward from the Vancouver Giants. Instead, many were shocked to hear that a team with Jose Theodore, Cristobal Huet (though injured), Yann Danis, and even Jaroslav Halak (who the club hopes to sign soon), would select a goalie. Even one as highly touted as Price.
However, once you get over the initial shock of the Habs failing to use their highest pick in years on a gamebreaking, big name forward, the move really isn’t all that bad.
Jose Theodore will be a free agent next year, and will probably test the market if he’s not locked up long term. Yann Danis will probably start the year as Theodore’s backup, but noone really can be totally sold on him to this point, can they? Danis looks like he’s got the tools, but like Price, he hasn’t made the NHL yet.
So, how can it really hurt to add a very good goaltending prospect, especially a 6’2″, 225 pounder? Considering the decrease in equipment size for goaltenders, size and athleticism, two things Price carries a lot of, could be very valuable. Also worth mentioning is that the man from Vancouver is said to be very good under pressure situations, making key saves at crucial times. Another necessity for playing in Montreal.
Elsewhere, the Habs picked up what could be a big time sleeper in the fourth round. Juraj Mikus, a 6’1″ Slovakian is a forward who possesses wicked speed and is skilled in many offensive aspects. He was a big time riser in the draft, someone who came out of practically nowhere. He had 49 points in 39 games for Skalica Jr. in Slovakia.
Next up, with the 130th selection, Gainey opted not to select a defenceman, but another forward. Mathieu Aubin, a 6’2″, 190 lb forward from Lewiston. Aubin, a righthanded centreman, is an offensive minded player. At first glance he appears similiar to Habs prospect Cory Urqhuart. The knock on Aubin is that he seems to shy away from physical play.
As the day began to come to an end, at least on the draft boards, the Canadiens selected Matt D’Ogostini, a right winger from the OHL, with the 190th selection. Standing 5’11” and weighing 170 lbs, he registered 46 points in 59 OHL games, eighth among rookie scorers.
The Habs looked to a familiar family in the seventh round, choosing Siarhei Kastitstyn, brother of 2003 first rounder Andrei, with the 200th pick. Kastitstyn is also a draft pick of the OHL’s London Knights. I’m sure the Habs would have no problem with him developing alongside many of this year’s Memorial Cup Winners in London. Though just 5’11” and 183 pounds, he is skilled. His game tends to be more centered around playmaking rather than scoring.
With their final pick in the draft the Canadiens finally took a d-man by taking Philippe Paquet with the 229th pick of the 7th round. Paquet is 6’3 200lb and from St Agustin, Quebec, he’s expected to play at Clarkson University next season.