After a dismal 2011-12 campaign, this past weekend’s draft was hailed as the
first potential bright spot for the Habs in quite a while. Having a top
three selection plus a pair of picks in the second round gave hope that the club
could pick up a few NHL’ers to help down the road. Were they able to do
that and even more? Our writers offer up their thoughts.
Truthfully, it would have been enough for me to deem the 2012 Entry Draft a
success when the Canadiens took Alex Galchenyuk. In the days leading up to
the draft, I had been afraid that a) Columbus would take him, or b) GM Marc
Bergevin would go with a "safer" choice, such as Filip Forsberg or Ryan
Murray. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when neither situation occurred, and
the Canadiens instead drafted a potential game-breaking, franchise centre.
And the Habs didn’t stop there, taking Dalton Thrower and Sebastian Collberg
in the second round, when many had them ranked as first round material.
Bergevin and Trevor Timmins then replenished their prospect pool with highly
touted players that had slipped in the draft, and could very well prove to be
gems in a few years. To acquire so many skilled players with such high
potential has been almost a foreign concept in past years, that I was almost
left with a sense of astonishment at the draft’s conclusion. My sole
criticism is that the Canadiens weren’t able to add any goaltending depth, but
this isn’t an immediate need, and will likely be addressed sooner than later.
This small issue aside, I have no choice but to call this year’s draft a
success. Although the players taken are unlikely to make the jump to the NHL
next year, save perhaps Galchenyuk, Montreal’s future is certainly looking a
lot brighter after this draft.
Brian La Rose: Never in my wildest dreams did I think the Habs
would wind up with the players they did. Galchenyuk was the pick I think
most fans were hoping for although I’m already getting worried that people have
unrealistic expectations for him. He’s going to be a solid player for sure
although I hope they give him one more year in junior; with Nail Yakupov likely
staying with Edmonton, Galchenyuk would be the bonafide go-to guy in Sarnia
which is a role I think most envision for him with Montreal. Day two is
where Timmins and company really succeeded in my books though.
Although I was hoping for a defenceman with the 33rd pick, Collberg is an
exciting selection. He has top-six potential which can’t be said for too
many of Montreal’s prospects. Bozon and Hudon both have some offensive
upside although I prefer the formers’ all around game and size at the moment.
That said, Hudon in the 5th round is a worthwhile gamble. Brady Vail seems
like the type of ‘hustle forward’ that every team covets for their bottom six.
If he can keep up his offensive pace from the end of the year, he could be a
pretty good third liner in the NHL. Dalton Thrower is the gem of this
bunch in my opinion. His scouting report reminds me so much of P.K. Subban
– high energy defenceman who loves to throw the big hit and can run the
powerplay while having some head scratching moments in the defensive zone.
I don’t think he’s going to become the next Subban by any stretch but if the
coaches can reign him in a bit and get him playing better in his own end, he can
become the type of versatile defenceman that can be very valuable to a team.
Norm Szcyrek: I have to say, overall I’m very pleased with the
Habs selections this year. The players drafted all seem to possess a healthy
amount of both skill and character, which is a good combination for a pro
player’s base. Bergevin said after the Habs first pick was made, that he’s seen
many NHL players that had more talent than he did, but his character helped him
get farther and play longer than many of them. Whether their top pick,
Galchenyuk, ready to play in the NHL this fall remains to be seen, but I believe
it’s possible that if he can have a good training camp, score a few points in
the preseason games while showing a good two way game, he may just surprise many
of us by making the team as a 4th line centre, to start.
As for the picks from day two, Timmins likens Collberg to a young Daniel
Alfredsson in terms of his style of play. That’s a high ceiling, but I think
he has the tools to do it. Thrower is an interesting player, with more
of an old fashioned tough-as-nails approach on defence, and a healthy amount
of scoring and skating ability for a blueliner. Tim Bozon is a highly
talented forward, who stands an excellent chance at making the NHL in a few
seasons while Brady Vail could end up as a bottom 6 forward in the pros.
Charles Hudon is a player that needs more seasoning before he’s close to pro
ready, but his skill set is very impressive while Erik Nystrom is a wildcard
at this point.