The Montreal Canadiens held their annual Prospect Camp this past week from July 8th to July 15th. The players took part in numerous activities including daily practices starting Monday, July 9th and ending Saturday, July 15th.
The practices would take place every morning at the Martin Lapointe Arena in Lachine from 9am to 11:30am. Each afternoon the players would take part in a different activity, including a nutrition class, a history of the Montreal Canadiens, yoga classes, and they even attended the Bon Jovi concert at Parc Jean Drapeau. They were also given the opportunity to work with strength and conditioning coach Scott Livingston.
GM Bob Gainey was present at practices for two of the days, while Head Coach Guy Carbonneau was there most of the week. Carbonneau, and his assistants Doug Jarvis and Kirk Muller even took to the ice with the prospects during the second day of practice.
The camps aim was to educate all of the Habs’ prospects on various subjects. Thus almost each day of practice concentrated on a different form of skill. There were some very interesting drills used by the coaches that had players somewhat embarrassing themselves. For example, they were doing things like feeding their stick through their skate while skating forward on one leg or skating with one skate blade on the puck.
Most of the drills exposed certain players’ weaknesses while for others the drills helped him shine. There were many mini-scrimmages, but none as exciting and entertaining as the mini game the prospects played on the final day of camp. This was the first and only time that the players had jerseys that donned their names and numbers.
The game itself saw both goaltenders, Carey Price and Loic Locasse, get lit up, with a final score of 11-10 in Laccasse’s favor. Most of the game was played either 3-on-3 or 4-on-4. This mini-game allowed certain players to show-case their scoring and playmaking skills.
Mathieu Aubin, Kyle Chipchura, Sergei Kostitsyn, Guillaume Latendresse, Ryan O’Byrne, and Gregory Stewart were clearly the best prospects at the camp. The only player listed not likely to get NHL or AHL consideration being Sergei Kostitsyn, as he’ll likely find himself back in the OHL with the London Knights for at least another season.
Other players at the camp were RD Mathieu Carle, RW Matthew D’Agostini, LD Martin Frechette, RD Jon Gleed, LD Oskari Korpikari, C Benjamin Maxwell, RW Juraj Mikus, RD Philippe Paquet, C Ryan White, and RW James Wyman.
So without further delay, here is my look at each of the prospects who attended the camp, presented in alphabetical order.
C/RW Mathieu Aubin – Ht: 6’3”, Wt: 204lbs, Sh: R, Age: 19
Drafted: 5th Round, (130th OA), 2005
05-06 Season: Lewiston, QMJHL
GP: 70, G: 47, A: 56, P: 103, PIM: 63, +/-: 10
Evaluation: Along with Kyle Chipchura and Guillaume Latendresse, Mathieu Aubin was the best player throughout camp. Aubin has great size and uses it to win battles all over the rink and is not afraid to challenge defenders by using his body. Possessed one of the best shots at camp and scored several goals. Aubin also skates quite well and uses his speed to his advantage. He has the potential to be a solid power forward. Aubin showed some good chemistry with LW Guillaume Latendresse, the two could be a powerful tandem for years to come. Aubin is known for training hard all year long, and this has helped him develop much quicker and into a much better player than expected.
Outlook: He has recently signed a new 3-year deal with the Habs, while expressing his desire to crack the Hamilton Bulldogs team this season. However, if he does not get a regular spot on the Bulldogs roster, don’t be surprised to see him back in the QMJHL where he’d get a ton of ice time.
Stats: Aubin has played 3 seasons for the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the QMJHL, collecting 85 goals, 105 assists for 190 points in 187 games while collecting 121 PIM.
RD Mathieu Carle – Ht: 6’0”, Wt: 208lbs, Sh: R, Age: 18
Drafted: 2nd Round (53rd OA), 2006
05-06 Season: Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL
GP: 67, G: 18, A: 51, P: 69, PIM: 122, +/-: 20
Evaluation: Carle is a very smooth skater who likes to have the puck. Lets off a good shot, and makes some good passes. When challenged by an opponent, he’ll use his skating ability to sneak by or spin away from him. His defensive game may need some simplifying, as he does tend to get too fancy.
Outlook: Carle will be back in the QMJHL where the Montreal Canadiens will likely encourage him to improve his defensive game.
Stats: In 3 seasons, Mathieu Carle played 195 games with the Acadie-Bathurst Titans of the QMJHL putting up 33 goals, 92 assists for 125 while obtaining 232 PIM.
RD Cameron Cepek – Ht: 6’1”, Wt: 187lbs, Sh: R, Age: 18
Drafted: 7th Round, (199th OA), 2006
05-06 Season: Portland, WHL
GP: 21, G: 2, A: 8, P: 10, PIM: 71, +/-: 5
Outlook: Was on pace for a great season before suffering an injury. Cepek will look to carry that early success into next season with the Portland Winter Hawks of the WHL.
Stats: In 87 games over 2 seasons with the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks, Cameron Cepek has collected 4 goals and 10 assists for 14 points as well as 175 PIM.
C Kyle Chipchura – Ht: 6’2”, Wt: 197lbs, Sh: L, Age: 20
Drafted: 1st Round, (18th OA), 2004
05-06 Season: Prince Albert, WHL
GP: 59, G: 21, A: 34, P: 55, PIM: 82, +/-: -7
Evaluation: Kyle Chipchura only arrived to the camp for days 3 through 6, but immediately showed that he was one of the best players there. He seems to be very mature and even looks considerably older than the other players at the camp. He’s quite strong and wins most of the battles he’s in. He’s also a hard skater, and even though he doesn’t possess the best offensive skills, he still finds ways of making things happen, whether it’s scoring a garbage goal or using his body to make room for teammates.
Outlook: Kyle Chipchura is one of the several young players knocking on the Montreal Canadiens dressing room door. However, look for him to continue where he left off in Hamilton and likely get a call up to the Habs’ roster during the season.
Stats: Chipchura played 214 games with the Prince Albert Raiders over the past 4 seasons, registering 59 goals, 106 assists for 165 points while receiving 320 PIM. Upon the completion of his season with Prince Albert, Chipchura was promoted to the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) where he played 8 games scoring 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points and 6 PIM. Chipchura also captained Team Canada to a World Junior Gold Medal, scoring 4 goals and 1 assist for 5 points in 6 games.
RW Matthew D’Agostini – Ht: 6’0”, Wt: 181lbs, Sh: R, Age: 19
Drafted: 6th Round, (190th OA), 2005
05-06 Season: Guelph, OHL
GP: 66, G: 25, A: 54, P: 79, PIM: 81, +/-: 18
Evaluation: He was one of the smallest players at the camp. I found that he tends to skate with his head down, which is a habit he’ll need to shake if he hopes to avoid injury. However, he is a good skater, a skill that is very valuable in the “new” NHL. He’s also a very good stick handler and uses along with his skating ability to get by defenders. Has a knack for finding the back of the net, and is an even better playmaker.
Outlook: Signed a 3-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens on July 10th. However, expect him to be back in the OHL next season to try once again help the Guelph Storm into the playoffs. The Canadiens will likely want D’Agostini to add some bulk and get stronger throughout the year.
Stats: In 2 seasons with the Guelph Storm, Matthew D’Agostini has put up 49 goals, 76 assists, 125 points, and 110 PIM in 125 games. Meanwhile, in the 14 playoff games he played last season, he scored 8 goals and added 19 assists for 27 points, almost 2 points a game.
RD David Fischer – Ht: 6’4”, Wt: 187lbs, Sh: R, Age: 18
Drafted: 1st Round, (20th OA), 2006
05-06 Season: Apple Valley, USHSW
GP: 25, G: 8, A: 30, P: 38, PIM: 34
Evaluation: Fischer was slower than the rest of the skaters, but this is to be expected from one of the youngest players at camp. However, his backwards skating was much better as it was to par or better than the others. He was a bit of a joker on the ice, but in all seemed to be having fun. He seems to slow down his skating when stick-handling in order to concentrate on it. Fischer did show some strong skating with and without the puck as he gained his confidence through the week. I found that he would hook opponents when trying to strip them of the puck, a move that will only lead to a penalty in the new NHL.
Outlook: The young defenseman will be heading to the University of Minnesota Duluth where he’ll play alongside defenseman Erik Johnson, the 1st OA pick in this year’s draft by the St. Louis Blues. Also on the team will be Phil Kessel, who was selected 5th OA by the Boston Bruins.
Stats: In 2 seasons with the Apple Valley High School, David Fischer scored 16 goals and added 53 assists for 69 points while getting 66 PIM.
RD Jon Gleed – Ht: 6’2”, Wt: 210lbs, Sh: R, Age: 22
Drafted: 7th Round, (212th OA), 2004
05-06 Season: Cornell University, NCAA
GP: 28, G: 1, A: 7, P: 8, PIM: 26
Outlook: Has completed his 4 years at Cornell University where he played with D Ryan O’Byrne for the past 3 seasons. Has signed an AHL contract with the Hamilton Bulldogs and will look to play a regular shift or the team next season.
Stats: Jon Gleed collected 5 goals and 16 assists for 21 points in 98 games with Cornell University over the past 4 seasons. He also put up 97 PIM during this time.
LD Oskari Korpikari – Ht: 6’2”, Wt: 208lbs, Sh: L, Age: 22
Drafted: 7th Round, (217th OA), 2003
05-06 Season: Kärpät Oulu, Finland
GP: 56, G: 1, A: 1, P: 2, PIM: 62, +/-: 2
Evaluation: Korpikari seems to be strong defensively and sturdy on his skates. He’s an above average skater and seems to have worked a bit on his offensive game. He’s got a hard shot, but it’s not extremely accurate. He’s quite comfortable playing the body, and would much rather sit back and play defensively than jump into the play and lose his position.
Outlook: It remains to be seen if the Montreal Canadiens organization has plans for Korpikari to come to North America this year. However, I think he’s AHL ready, having added a lot of weight and muscle, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him signed soon. However, Korpikari signing may be put off if the Habs come to terms with some other defensemen, such as Ryan O’Byrne.
Stats: Korpikari put up 1 goal, 3 assists, and 4 points in 135 games over the past 4 seasons with Kärpät Oulu in Finland.
LW Sergei Kostitsyn – Ht: 6’0”, Wt: 197lbs, Sh: L, Age: 19
Drafted: 7th Round, (200th OA), 2005
05-06 Season: London Knights, OHL
GP: 63, G: 26, A: 52, P: 78, PIM: 78, +/-: -5
Evaluation: Sergei Kostitsyn is a shifty winger who packs a great shot and even better playmaking skills. When he’s got the puck, he seems to slow things down and find holes in which to get through and take a shot off or make a pass. He’s a sharp skater and uses his skating skill to try and get by defenders. Had a hard time getting through the 6’5′, 234 pound Ryan O’Byrne in practice, but showed resilience and eventually got through to get a shot off during one of the drills. His size and strength is an issue, but he still has plenty time to work on that.
Outlook: It will be back to the OHL for Kostitsyn where he’ll play his second season as a London Knight. He will be looked upon to carry a lot of the load in London next season, which will be quite good for his development because he’ll see a lot of ice time.
Stats: In 19 playoff games with the London Knights last season, Sergei Kostitsyn put up 13 goals and 24 assists for 37 points while collection 44 PIM.
G Loic Locasse – Ht: 6’3”, Wt: 175lbs, Sh: L, Age: 20
Drafted: 6th Round, (181st OA), 2004
05-06 Season: Baie-Comeau/Drummondville, QMJHL
GP: 33, W: 12, L: 15, T: 0, GAA: 4.03, Svs%: 0.882
Evaluation: Locasse looked better as the week went on. He seemed to stop more of the shots he faced than did Carey Price. However, he had trouble with rebounds and looked quite bad when handling the puck around his net. Several time Locasse tried to pass the puck out to a defenseman at the blue-line only to have the puck land on the oppositions stick. He often looked slower and less smooth than Price. During the scrimmage on the final day of camp, Locasse had let in 4 goals within the first couple minutes. However, he regained his composure and gave his team the chance to get back into the game.
Outlook: Loic Locasse will be joining Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL next season. This move should be great for his development.
Stats: Lacasse has played 3 seasons in the QMJHL, where he played 138 games with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and his last 6 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. During these three seasons, he went 31-52-6 while posting a goals-against-average of 4.06 and a 0.885 save-percentage. In the 5 playoff games he played last season, Locasse went 3-2-0, with a 2.78 goals-against-average and a 0.900 save-percentage.
LW Guillaume Latendresse – Ht: 6’1”, Wt: 225lbs, Sh: L, Age: 19
Drafted: 2nd Round, (45th OA), 2005
05-06 Season: Drummondville, QMJHL
GP: 51, G: 43, A: 40, P: 84, PIM: 105, +/-: 20
Evaluation: Latendresse was injured and missed most of the camp, so I really did not get much time to look at him. However, during the scrimmage on the final day of camp, Latendresse was clearly one of the best players on the ice. He netted a couple goals and threw his body around. He also through an open ice hit that sent the Habs’ most recent first rounder, David Fischer, to the ice. It was easily a highlight of the week, and more importantly, led to a goal by Mathieu Aubin.
Outlook: Along with Kyle Chipchura, Guillaume Latendresse will be given an opportunity to land himself a spot in the Habs line-up this upcoming training camp. However, should he not be able to, he’ll be back with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL where he’ll look to have a solid season. He’ll also likely want play a much larger role at the next Under-20 World Junior tournament than he did last time around.
Stats: Through three seasons with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Latendresse has put up 96 goals, 114 assists, and 210 points in 169 games while being assessed 247 PIM. In 4 playoff games last season, he scored 3 goals and added 2 assists for 5 points, while receiving 8 PIM.
C Benjamin Maxwell – Ht: 6’1”, Wt: 183lbs, Sh: L, Age: 18
Drafted: 2nd Round, (49th OA), 2006
05-06 Season: Kootenay, WHL
GP: 69, G: 28, A: 32, P: 60, PIM: 52, +/-: 17
Evaluation: Maxwell was one of the best skaters at the camp. However, other than for his skating, he didn’t really stick out too much from any of the others at the camp. He seemed a bit small out there, but made up for it with his speed and good puck movement. Has a pretty decent shot, scoring one of the goals during the scrimmage.
Outlook: Maxwell will likely be back in the WHL next season playing for the Kootenay Ice. He’ll look to build on his recent success and look to improve his overall game next season.
Stats: In the two complete seasons Maxwell has played for the Kootenay Ice, he has scored 36 goals and assisted on 42 for 78 points in 137 games while collecting 91 PIM.
RW Juraj Mikus – Ht: 6’1”, Wt: 198lbs, Sh: R, Age: 19
Drafted: 4th Round, (121st OA), 2005
05-06 Season: HK 36 Skalica, Slovakia
GP: 47, G: 4, A: 7, P: 11, PIM: 56
Evaluation: Mikus did not stand out during the camp. He did Score a very nice goal during the shoot-out on the last day of camp, but other than that I did not get a very good look at the winger.
Outlook: Unless Mikus decides to remain another year in Slovakia, he’ll be playing in North America next season for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the CHL. The stability should be good for the young winger, as he’s moved around a few different league-levels over the past few seasons in Slovakia. Mikus will be looking to put up better offensive numbers than he did last season.
Stats: In Mikus’ past three seasons in Slovakia, he has played 95 games, putting up 11 goals, 13 assists, 24 points, and 72 PIM. In the 6 games he played for Slovakia at the 2006 World Junior Championships, he registered no points but had 6 PIM.
RD Ryan O’Byrne – Ht: 6’5”, Wt: 234lbs, Sh: R, Age: 21
Drafted: 3rd Round, (49th OA), 2003
05-06 Season: Cornell University, NCAA
GP: 28, G: 7, A: 6, P: 13, PIM: 69
Evaluation: O’Byrne was one of the first players to catch my eye at the prospect camp for several reasons. The first thing was obviously his size, as he was easily the largest player on the ice. I was also surprised to see that he was a pretty good skater for such a large player. He turns on his skates quite well, even when he’s skating quickly. He’s so strong that opponents have a difficult time knocking him off of the puck. He uses his body quite well and was very physical during the scrimmages the coaches set up. His strength gives him a very hard slap shot, and even his wristers/snap-shots looked like they could leave some bruises. His offensive game is something he’ll likely develop over time, like Craig Rivet has done, for example.
Outlook: Ryan O’Byrne is both physically and technically ready to make the jump from University to the AHL. However, there remains a year in his education that may prevent him from moving up to the next level. The Montreal Canadiens have shown interest in signing the big defender, but the decision is ultimately up to O’Byrne. Should he choose to finish his final year, he’ll be heading back to Cornell University. If the Habs can convince him to sign a contract, expect him to play a large role with the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Stats: Ryan O’Byrne has played 92 games over three seasons with Cornell University, scoring 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points. He has also put up 208 PIM during that same span.
RD Philippe Paquet – Ht: 6’3”, Wt: 205lbs, Sh: R, Age: 19
Drafted: 7th Round, (229th OA), 2005
05-06 Season: Clarkson University, NCAA
GP: 37, G: 2, A: 5, P: 7, PIM: 91
Evaluation: Paquet seems to be a fast skater, but looks to be a bit clumsy at times. This could be due to his need to add some more weight in muscle to fill his tall frame. He looks to be a more offensive defenseman, but hasn’t put up the numbers yet to prove it. He’s a fairly fast and agile backwards skater. Philippe Paquet will need to have some very good seasons with his University as well as add some bulk if he plans on getting any NHL consideration.
Outlook: Paquet will likely play the next 3 years for Clarkson University as he completes his education. He’ll need to improve his overall game during this time.
Stats: Apart from the season at Clarkson University, Paquet played 26 games for the Salisbury Crimson Knights of the USHS where he scored 1 goal and added 4 assists for 5 points while getting 9 PIM.
G Carey Price – Ht: 6’3”, Wt: 212lbs, Sh: L, Age: 18
Drafted: 1st Round, (5th OA), 2005
05-06 Season: Tri-City Americans, WHL
GP: 55, W: 21, L: 25, T: 6, GAA: 2.87, Svs%: 0.906
Evaluation: Price looks big in the net, taking up a lot of the room. However, it seems like he’ll have to adapt to his size a bit, as it’s almost working against him. He looked like a very good skater, and handled the puck quite confidently. He didn’t look to nervous out there and was very good at bringing himself to a calm state even after he had let in some bad goals. Price’s glove hand was very good as well, very quick and accurate.
Outlook: Price will be back with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL next season, as he still has some work to due. The team hasn’t been very good, and Price has been the player looked upon to carry the team. Hopefully they’ll have built a stronger team around Price for next season so he can get some valuable playoff experience.
Stats: Carey Price has played in 147 games with the Tri-City Americans. During this span he has 53 wins, 65 losses, and 17 OTL while posting a 2.56 goals-against-average and a 0.913 save-percentage. In 5 playoff games last season, Price went 1-3-1 with a goals-against-average of 2.59 and a save-percentage of 0.888.
LW Gregory Stewart – Ht: 6’2”, Wt: 197lbs, Sh: L, Age: 20
Drafted: 8th Round, (246th OA), 2004
05-06 Season: Peterborough Petes, OHL
GP: 60, G: 24, A: 15, P: 39, PIM: 83, +/-: 18
Evaluation: Stewart seems to be a versatile player who can play in most situations. He’s got a great shot and can skate quite well. He’s also not afraid to muck it up in the corners or challenge a defender physically in order to get through to the net.
Outlook: He has a legitimate shot at making the Hamilton Bulldogs this season because of his versatility. If he doesn’t crack the line-up, it will be back to the OHL for Stewart, where he’d likely rejoin the Peterborough Petes.
Stats: Gregory Stewart has completed three seasons in the OHL, playing 186 games where he collected 44 goals, 39 assists, 83 points and 270 PIM. During the OHL playoffs, he scored 1 goal and added 6 assists for 7 points in 19 games. Meanwhile, his OHL-winning Peterborough Petes played 4 Memorial Cup games in which Stewart scored 1 goal and received 4 PIM.
C/RW Ryan White – Ht: 6’0”, Wt: 195lbs, Sh: R, Age: 18
Drafted: 3rd Round, (66th OA), 2006
05-06 Season: Calgary Hitmen, WHL
GP: 72, G: 20, A: 33, P: 53, PIM: 121, +/-: 10
Evaluation: White seems to be a gritty, energy forward with a scoring touch. He has a quick wrist shot that he likes to use from anywhere, even in traffic. His quick release reminds me of Michael Ryder a bit. However, White will need to work on his skating as he was easily the worst skater at camp. Still he makes up for this by playing hard and is not afraid to challenge defenders.
Outlook: Ryan White will return to the WHL for at least another season with the Calgary Hitmen. However, should White make it in the NHL, he’ll likely be a Steve Begin type of player, and become a very solid third or fourth line player.
Stats: White scored 29 goals, 47 assists, and 76 points while earning 216 PIM in 135 games with the Calgary Hitmen over the past two seasons.
RW James Wyman – Ht: 6’2”, Wt: 206lbs, Sh: R, Age: 20
Drafted: 4th Round, (100th OA), 2004
05-06 Season: Dartmouth College, NCAA
GP: 28, G: 8, A: 12, P: 20, PIM: 6
Evaluation: I did not get a good look at Wyman until the final day of camp during the scrimmage game. He was clearly one of the best players on the ice, scoring several goals and making things happening by winning battles in the corners and around the boards.
Outlook: Wyman has two years left at Dartmouth College before he completes his education. I suspect he will complete his remaining 2 years there unless he is seriously wanted for the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Stats: In two seasons with Dartmouth College, James Wyman has played 61 games scoring 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points, while adding 10 PIM.