Montreal’s rookie camp is set to begin later this week. Not only does
this mean that training camp and the preseason are right around the corner but
for several prospects, it means they have a chance to make an impression and
perhaps earn a contract with the Canadiens. Here is a look at some of the
undrafted/unsigned prospects that will be trying to impress Montreal’s
management once camp gets underway.
The Habs have not yet officially released their rookie camp invite list
(that may come as early as Monday) but we’ve already learned most of the
D David Makowski: The 25 year old finished his college career at
Denver (where he was teammates with Montreal prospect Josiah Didier) last year
and signed a one year AHL contract in the offseason. Makowski has been one
of the better offensive defencemen in the NCAA in the last two years with
nineteen goals in that stretch. He’ll be looking to crack the Bulldogs’
roster this year or get a regular job in ECHL Wheeling.
F Nick Sorkin: His contract status is one of confusion. When he
first signed, Hamilton announced that he had inked an ATO to finish last year
where he played nine games. However, another report said that he signed a
two year deal that also covered 2014-15. Additionally, on the Habs’
development camp invite list, Sorkin was listed as having an AHL contract and
not as a tryout. Nonetheless, he’ll be vying for a regular spot in
Hamilton and given the lack of forward depth they currently have, he has a real
chance to make the Bulldogs.
These players are not able to play in the minors but can still earn an
D Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin (Gatineau, QMJHL): The 18 year old
blueliner was passed over in June’s entry draft after a decent rookie season
with the Olympiques where he was teammates with Martin Reway. Provided
he’s healthy (a back issue could prevent him from participating), a strong
performance could earn him a contract given how thin Montreal’s junior/college
defence prospect pool is (one CHL prospect, one USHL-bound player, and two NCAA
blueliners). [Added September 9th]
F Alexandre Goulet (Charlottetown, QMJHL): NHL’s Central Scouting
thought Goulet was worthy of a mid-round selection (he was ranked 65th amongst
North American skaters) but NHL teams felt differently. He’s a quality
offensive player (with a shoot-first mentality) but his overall game needs some
work. He’s a little undersized at 5’11 which likely hurt his draft stock.
He’ll be a key forward for the Islanders but I’m not sure the time to sign him
F Matthew Highmore (Saint John, QMJHL): Another slightly undersized
player, Highmore is an all-around centre who showed some improvement in his
offensive game last season. He’s not afraid to get in opponents’ faces and
has a nose for the net. His offensive game is still rather basic though
and his skating needs some work; I expect he’ll need to demonstrate improvements
in those two areas over the course of a full junior season before a team is
willing to commit to him. He’s the type of player that management likes
and will probably keep an eye on.
F Tyler Hill (Ottawa, OHL): Hill seems to be the invite that caught
the most attention out of the ones we’ve posted on our Twitter page thus far.
At 6’6, he’s a potential power forward in the making that is still getting used
to his size after having a substantial growth spurt recently but he hasn’t used
that to his advantage in junior yet. Of the junior invites, he might be
the one to sign if they sense there’s some raw potential. If he goes back
into the draft and has a strong year in 2014-15, there’s no doubt he’ll get
picked this time around. He is one of only two reported invites that
wasn’t at July’s camp and was recently added to their reserve list on an ATO.
F Bokondji Imama (Baie-Comeau, QMJHL): The recent draft picks
(particularly Connor Crisp and Brett Lernout) and undrafted free agent signings
(Stefan Fournier and Jack Nevins) suggest the Habs are trying to unearth some
young tough guys. Imama is another that fits this type of mould.
He’s a strong physical player and fighter while the rest of his game needs a lot
of work. I don’t see there being a lot of teams trying to sign him right
now so the Habs would be wise to leave him unsigned unless he has shown some
substantial improvement since he last skated at development camp.
G Jordan Papirny (Brandon, WHL): Papirny was one of five goalies at
July’s development camp and I believe the fact that two of them aren’t coming
back for this one (for NCAA eligibility reasons) helped earn him another look
here. He had a decent year as a starter last season and the fact that he
was a #1 goalie in his draft-eligible season is worth noting. Given the
glut of goalies either at or soon to be at the minor pro level though, he’ll
need a huge camp to warrant a contract.
Other potential but unconfirmed invite: F Matt Schmalz (Sudbury, OHL) –
He was at July’s development camp and apparently has not formally been released
from his ATO contract yet.
Minor Pro tryouts
These players are AHL-aged and accordingly, are likely looking to earn an
invite to Hamilton’s training camp.
F Tanner Eberle (Moose Jaw, WHL): The lone non-drafted returnee from
last year’s rookie camp, Eberle is coming off his best junior year, one that saw
him set career bests in goals, assists, points, and penalty minutes (he led the
team in that category). Working against him is the fact he’s just 5’10 but
he isn’t afraid to drop the gloves and play a physical game. Considering
they’ve brought him back a year later, clearly the Habs like Eberle and I’d
expect that if he has even a decent camp that he’ll move on to the main camp and
eventually onto Hamilton’s.
F Stefano Momesso (Smiths Falls, CCHL): Momesso is the son of former
Hab Sergio Momesso, who also does colour commentary on the Habs’ English radio
broadcasts. Stefano became a go-to threat for the Bears last year, leading
their team in scoring and tallying more points than he did in his first three
years combined. I don’t see him earning an NHL deal but I wouldn’t be
surprised to see his name among the invites when Hamilton’s training camp opens
D Evan Wardley (Seattle, WHL): With three goals in three WHL seasons,
no one expects Wardley to bring much of anything offensively to the table.
He’s a physically punishing hitter who is more than capable of dropping the
gloves and it’s safe to suggest that it’s those skills that have him returning
after being at July’s camp. Hamilton is looking like they’ll have decent
depth defensively as things stand but given the lack of toughness in the system,
the Habs will make room for him if he proves worthy of a contract.
Other potential but unconfirmed invites: D Gianluca Curcuruto
(Plymouth, OHL) and F Phillipe Gadoury (Halifax, QMJHL) – like the other two
from above, they were at July’s development camp and reportedly have not
formally been released from their ATO contracts yet.
There are also many undrafted tryouts from July’s camp that will not (or are
not expected to) be back. Here’s a listing of those players.
Forwards: Sam Anas, Dylan Corson, Brandon McNally, Pavel Padakin, Alexandre
Ranger, Michael Szmatula
Defencemen: Justin Agosta, Colton Bobyk, Danny Federico, Vincent Muto, Reggie
Goalies: C.J. Motte
Rookie camp will take place from September 12th through the 16th.