It has been a long standing theme with the Montreal Canadiens of trying to
add size and get bigger, particularly at the forward positions. While size alone
does not trump all other hockey virtues, the Habs seemed to prioritize it more
than normal last season when they drafted 6’5 Michael McCarron and they will
likely not opt for a player with size concerns in this year’s draft.
One player that many have projected to go in the bottom third of the first round
that fits the criteria of grit and character that Marc Bergevin seems to covet
is Connor Bleackley.
Born: February 7, 1996 – High River, Alberta
Height: 6’1” Weight: 195 lbs Shoots: Right
ISS Rank: 26 THN Rank: 30 McKeens Rank: 32
Having never seen him play in person, my analysis is based off the culmination
of scouting reports I have read.
Having read a multitude of reports,
the reviews of Bleackley are overwhelmingly positive with very few criticisms of
his game. Bleackley is known as a hard working forward with good hockey IQ who
plays a gritty, responsible, well rounded game and is willing to do anything to
help his team win. He was named captain of Brent Sutter’s Red Deer Rebels 17 years old; this is a testament to his maturity and
Bleackley is strong on the puck and able to beat defenders one-on-one as well as put the puck past goaltenders with a hard accurate wrist shot
while he positions himself well in order to bury rebound opportunities. His reputation as a physical and defensively responsible forward can at
times overshadow his offensive skills which could shine through further with
more skilled teammates. If Bleackley can improve his explosiveness and top end
speed it would really help push his offensive game to the next level.
is considered one of the safer picks in this year’s draft because whether it is
in a third line checking role or as a strong second liner, he will almost surely
have a long career in the NHL. I see his combination of character, grit, work
ethic and skill as something that Marc Bergevin will value as Bleackley has all
the attributes of a player who helps you win in the playoffs.