Day 2 of the 2016 draft was a much quieter one for the Habs thanks to Friday’s trade for Andrew Shaw. The Habs had five picks and opted for speed and help on the blue line.
70) Will Bitten, C/RW, Flint (OHL)
Flint was the leading scorer on a Firebirds team that was absolutely mired in controversy for most of the season to the point where the league installed their own people to run the team. He’s on the small side at just 5’10 but plays a very feisty game.
HP Blackbook: Bitten is an offensive threat in the OHL and is likely to be one of the best players in the league over the next few seasons. As far as projecting him at the next level, he’s a bit of a boom or bust prospect due to his size and lack of elite skill. He has the tremendous work ethic which will help him earn extra ice time, but will need to play bigger than he did at times this season to reach the NHL.
TSN: Can play anywhere in the lineup, in any situations and excel. Makes others around him better and helps teams win. Skills are good, sense is exceptional and his versatility alone is valuable.
Future Considerations: Bitten is always around the puck; he possesses incredible work ethic, undeniable hockey sense and determination. He is always in the mix and looking to make an impact on the game. Bitten is the kid you want to take if you want a player who will go to war every shift, play both ends of the ice and make you look like a genius down the road.
The Hockey News: “He’s a high-character guy, plays hard in all three zones and has sneaky offensive upside. He wasn’t playing with a lot of support and produced. He’ll find a way and be a good value pick.” (From a quoted scout.)
McKeens: “You wonder how many points he’d have scored on a good junior team,” said a scout. “Yet he still had a 30-goal season. You’d love to have him on your junior team, but where will he slot into an NHL lineup? Maybe he’s only a bottom-line guy.”
Elite Prospects: A smart offensive catalyst that consistently displays outstanding work ethic, elite hockey sense, and an ability to stay ahead of the play in all three zones. Very naturally gifted skater who moves around the ice with ease. Excels in pressure situations and uses his vision to predict where the puck is going to be, and proactively gets his body into a position where he can either take it away or take off up the ice.
Red Line Report: Comes in a smaller package, but is one of the biggest competitors in this draft class. Top notch quickness. His outstanding speed and acceleration generate numerous opportunities. Great anticipation. Great attitude; never quit despite horrific situation being surrounded by an organization of near criminal ineptitude.
LWOS: William Bitten has the potential to be a top six centre in the NHL. He will need to continue to work on his game, and having a full season without any drama or coaching issues can only help his development going forward. He sometimes needs to town down the aggressiveness at times as it can lead to some bad penalties. Bitten plays a game that is similar to Brad Marchand, but without the extra-curriculars (chirping) that make Marchand such a hated player.
DraftBuzz: Bitten is a charged, high octane, offense generator who would have done unthinkable things with actual talent around him. His skating is turbo charged; he may have led the league in breakaways and penalty shots from breakaways – that’s how ridiculously fast he was. He’s an efficient handler who doesn’t overthink things and nails the right movements at Mach speed.
HP Blackbook: 39
Future Considerations: 28
Hockey News: 48
CSB: 43 (NA Skaters)
100) Victor Mete, D, London (OHL)
The Habs go with another smaller player here as Mete is just 5’9. He is one of the faster blueliners in the draft and certainly comes from a winning environment as London is the reigning Memorial Cup champions.
HP Blackbook: Mete possesses elite level skating ability, which is the lifeblood of his talent. His ability to move laterally is probably faster than some players can skate forward. This creates unique opportunities for Mete, in partially open ice to exploit lanes and take the puck into the offensive zone.
Future Considerations: He is a tireless worker who will work hard to win puck battles on the wall or positioning in front of his net, albeit often with less than successful results due to his lack of size even though his effort is there. Mete manages the gap well and controls the space to his liking. Defensively, he runs around a bit, but reads the play well and is quick to adapt to it, getting on loose pucks and/or his man in the corner with no hesitation.
The Hockey News: “Very good skater, lots of power play time,” said one scout. “Plays in all situations. Not big, but he’s fast.” Mete’s flashiness often makes him the most noticeable defender on London’s back end, which is saying something since top-ranked defender Olli Juolevi is part of that cohort as well. But Mete is not strictly a one-way player.
McKeens: “If he’s 6-0 he’s a first-round pick,” said one scout, who nevertheless slots him as a solid second-round selection. “His coach played him in all situations on junior hockey’s best team. He’s a warrior, and one of the best skaters in the draft.”
LWOS: Victor Mete has the potential to be a top four defender in the NHL. He will have several challenges to overcome, not the least of which is his height, and developing the strength to be able to effectively defend against the cycle and clear the crease. If he can develop those areas, he has the type of puck moving ability that teams are looking for. Mete’s style is comparable to Sami Vatanen of the Anaheim Ducks, but this is a stylistic comparison only, and not one based on talent or ability
DraftBuzz: Mete is an unconventionally wired talent who is fearless and physically capable in his own zone unlike most his size. The ridiculously deep London lineup put an offensive cap on him at unfortunately the wrong time, but he was a steady competitor who helped stabilize the D unit. Odds are Mete breaks out with London at some point, but he will still be a boom or bust pick with a small #4D window.
HP Blackbook: 108
Future Considerations: 54
Hockey News: 44
CSB: 74 (NA Skaters)
124) Casey Staum, D, Hill-Murray (USHS)
Staum will be a very long-term project. The 5’11 rearguard isn’t going to college until 2017-18 (with Nebraska-Omaha) and will likely be in the USHL next year. He missed a big chunk of action this year with a leg injury.
Hockey Prospect: His hockey sense is probably just average but he can push the pace with his skating and quick puck moving ability or show good poise to slow things down. Staum can bring a physical element and uses his strong lower body to win battles and force the opponent off the puck. He possesses a good shot and his skating and footwork allows him to find lanes to get pucks to the net. Staum was impressive in the Minnesota Elite League last fall as well as in his games for Hill Murray and finished as a Mr. Hockey Finalist in the State of Minnesota.
Future Considerations: Staum is a complete defenseman, though we’d call him an offensive-defenseman before a defensive guy. He loves to carry the puck from behind his own goal through neutral ice into the attacking zone. While that won’t always work at the next level, he does have the smarts to make a strong tape-to-tape breakout pass when coverage dictates. He’s an excellent skater with a smooth stride and moves well in all four directions.
HP Blackbook: NR
Future Considerations: 149
Hockey News: NR
CSB: 159 (NA Skaters)
160) Michael Pezzetta, C, Sudbury (OHL)
The Habs continued to raid the OHL with their picks, selecting a physical bottom six forward in Pezzetta. He spent a lot of time killing penalties with the Wolves.
Hockey Prospect: Michael has limited upside, but if he can continue to improve on his skills, he could become a depth player at the NHL level, getting some action in the bottom six. His skills are very well suited for a checking/twoway role as he does both very well already. However, he does not possess the skill to project as a top six forward at the NHL level and thus his stock should drop a little going into the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Future Considerations: Pezzetta is a solidly built, playmaking center with strong defensive awareness and high effort level each and every shift. He is an intelligent center who thinks the game well and knows what he needs to do and where he needs to be to find success. Pezzetta is a potential sleeper pick that an NHL team might look highly upon due to his effort level and untapped offensive upside.
HP Blackbook: 106
Future Considerations: 158
Hockey News: NR
CSB: 197 (NA Skaters)
The Habs were supposed to be finished after this pick but traded their 2017 7th round pick to Winnipeg to acquire the Jets’ 7th round pick.
187) Arvid Henrikson, D, AIK J18 (J18Elit)
Henrikson is another project as he spent most of the season at the Swedish U-18 level. At 6’3, he winds up as the tallest of Montreal’s selections.
Hockey Prospect: Henrikson has good size and gets around the ice reasonably well for his frame. We liked his competitiveness and the physical game in his own zone. His positioning in front of his own net is quite good as he consistently looks to clear the crease-area. He knows how to position his body to push and keep forwards to the outside and is good at tying up their sticks. He tracks the play well and keeps good gaps in his own zone. He has played well on PK utilizing those same assets and also clears the zone with authority, making himself quite useful there. In our limited viewings his first pass was rather average and he didn’t exhibit a lot of offensive upside.
HP Blackbook: NR
Future Considerations: NR
Hockey News: NR
CSB: 86 (EU Skaters)