The Habs were busy early on in the second day of the 2017 draft as they made two picks in both the second and third rounds. They had six picks in total after making a late trade with Philadelphia. Here is a breakdown of their selections.
#56 – Josh Brook, D, Moose Jaw WHL
Montreal’s defence depth at the prospect level is an area of concern on both sides so it’s no surprise that they turned to add a blueliner with some speed and offensive upside. As an aside, we had Brook to the Habs at this spot in our Mock Draft.
DOB: June 17, 1999 – Yorkton, Saskatchewan
Weight: 185 lbs
Future Considerations: In the offensive zone he quickly creates chances off touch passes and readjusting his position to stay open. He has decent shot velocity but often hesitates. Defensively he wasn’t a hard guy to maneuver around as he had a lot of push back at the net front and could spot opportunity to swat pucks down with his stick. He has potential to be a steady and durable two-way defender who may not have to blow the doors off offensively to be an effective professional.
HP Blackbook: Brook plays an aggressive offensive game and is not afraid to jump into the play. In recent viewings at the U18s, he showed no lack of confidence in pinching at the offensive blue line. This risky play tends to pay-off for him in regards to production because he is comfortable playing below the dots in the offensive zone.
ISS: He has very good mobility and foot speed. He has a good shot from the point. Sees the ice well and distributes the puck effectively. He covers a lot of space in the corners and has a very active stick. Brook is a player that has room to grow and improve over the next couple of seasons.
McKeen’s: He is a solid skater who is able to carry the pace. He enjoys pinching, but does not get too carried away by visions of offensive glory. His shot is roughly average from the point, but plays up when he steps up higher into the offensive zone and as a bonus, comes from the ever-coveted right side. He handles the puck nicely and can execute difficult passes at a distance.
The Hockey News: Scouts said Brook looks smaller than he is because he skates hunched over. He has decent size and can defend his end adequately. He’s more of a puck-moving traditional D-man than a pure offensive catalyst, but his forte is creating pace and flow.
ESPN – Pronman: He’s able to evade pressure fine, and often shows the ability to be effective leading a rush. His skill level isn’t fantastic, but he’s a competent puck mover with decent stick skills. His point totals this season are a little higher than his true talent, but I think he can put up some points in the pro ranks. He’s solid defensively, with good gap control, a physical edge and the ability to disrupt plays.
LWOS: Brook has the skills to be an effective two-way defender at the NHL level. While there is some offensive game there, it is unclear if this is high end skill. It is more likely that Brook brings some offense to chip in on a secondary power play unit. His defensive game is very good, though he still makes some mistakes that are due to a desire to push play, and some youthful immaturity.
HP Blackbook: 50
Future Considerations: 57
TSN (McKenzie): 47
Hockey News: 49
CSB: 47 (NA Skaters)
#58 – Joni Ikonen, C, Frolunda Jr., Swe. Jr.
The Habs had good luck with a Finnish forward developing in Frolunda in Artturi Lehkonen and will hope that they can do so here with Ikonen, a highly skilled but undersized centre.
DOB: April 14, 1999 – Espoo, Finland
Weight: 176 lbs
Future Considerations: Aside from having strong hand-eye-coordination he also has good foot-coordination as well, as he loves to bring the puck along with his skate and makes it look smooth and effortless. That’s not going to fly at the next level and it’s a part of his game he’ll have to rein in. All-in-all, Ikonen has the speed, the playmaking, the shooting ability and the puck skills to potentially grow into a dynamic offensive player at the next level.
HP Blackbook: Joni is a highly skilled forward with great skating and creativity. He has a good top speed and can change speeds when entering the offensive zone throwing off opponents. He prefers to go wide, but will occasionally cut through the middle with the puck and take the puck to the net. He does a great job of mixing up his puck decisions, not being labelled as a player who leans towards passing or shooting, making him a little more unpredictable. He has excellent creativity and vision and processes the game extremely fast.
ISS: Small and skilled with exceptional vision and soft hands. Elevated his game and was one of Finland’s best players throughout the U18 World Championships. Dangerous whenever he is on the ice with high end speed, skills and play making ability. Has a chance to be a top two-line NHL player but size may be a factor.
McKeen’s: If he were either stockier or taller (much less both) he would be talked about more often as a potential first rounder, but his diminutive stature may keep him on the board until the back half of the second round. Further working against him is his inconsistent play in his own end. He does get involved in all areas of the ice, but he can be impatient, causing him to rush plays. That said, when he is in a position to create offense, he can be thrilling to behold.
The Hockey News: “He’s a smaller, skilled center,” said another scout. “He was Finland’s best player at the Five Nations with the big guns gone. He makes moves on guys in the neutral zone – very dynamic. He’s a boom-bust guy. I like him.”
ESPN – Pronman: He skates more than fine but doesn’t have the sixth gear in his feet, which isn’t ideal for a 5-foot-10 player. He’s decent defensively and certainly not a world-killer in that aspect of the game, but I’ve seen him competently kill penalties; I think he can stick at center at the higher levels. I also see him as a player who can dictate puck possession and be a quarterback on a team’s power play.
LWOS: Joni Ikonen has the potential to be a top six NHL forward. He will need to improve his strength, as well as his defensive game. He may need to move to the wing, in order to take best advantage of strengths while minimizing his weaknesses. Ikonen could be a centre if his development goes well, but moving to right wing is a good back-up plan here.
HP Blackbook: 32
Future Considerations: 62
TSN (McKenzie): 45
TSN (Button): 36
Hockey News: 49
CSB: 17 (Euro Skaters)
#68 – Scott Walford, D, Victoria (WHL)
Left side defence is a huge area of need for the Canadiens who have tried to help address that with Walford’s selection.
DOB: April 4, 1999 – Coquitlam, BC
Weight: 190 lbs
Future Considerations: Walford is a defenseman who is at his best when he goes unnoticed for much of the game. He is able to be an efficient and effective defender by doing the little things of the game well. All in all, he’s a player who will be a solid defensive prospect who can chip in on the back-end but is best served at being a cornerstone in his own end. Once he grows and increases speed, he will be a good middle rung defender that should get a look as a pro.
HP Blackbook: He is a powerful player that’s capable of big hits and uses his low body well to stay in front of speedy players, covering substantial ground and can be a physical force in front of the net. Walford is a sturdy player that is built thick and has good size already. He can play a punishing game along the wall, trapping players along the boards and beats then down really limiting the cycle against his team.
Recrutes: Victoria’s first-round bantam pick from 2015 rose the charts at season’s end. A thick, strong blueliner with some aggressiveness in his defending along with impressive mobility, Walford was given an expanded offensive role after Chaz Reddekopp was injured, and he ended the season scoring 14 points in his final 13 contests.
HP Blackbook: 125
Future Considerations: 165
CSB: 90 (NA Skaters)
#87 – Cale Fleury, D, Kootenay (WHL)
Fleury has a woeful +/- over the past two seasons after being on a terrible Kootenay team. He is eligible to turn pro after one more junior season as he is a late 1998 birthdate.
DOB: November 19, 1998 – Carlyle, Saskatchewan
Weight: 201 lbs
Future Considerations: Fleury plays a pass-first, defensively accountable style that also features some offensive upside. He isn’t an overly enthusiastic skater but excels in the quickness aspects of the game rather than the puck-rushing straight line stretches. After liking Fleury’s game as a rookie and sophomore, he struggled and showed very little progression in his first year as being the true No. 1 defender on Kootenay. We are not writing him off, he still hold potential as a solid NHL prospect.
HP Blackbook: A consistent asset for Fleury is his decision-making with the puck. He has his head up when making plays and limits his turnovers when he had time to make decisions. While he is strong at rushing pucks, he has also shown the ability to play a calm and composed game. Given an opportunity on a stronger team, his production and defensive efficiency would increase as most of his minutes were logged in his own end. He has decent size, reach, mobility and has shown the vision and composure to be a puck-mover at the next level.
ISS: You can tell right away he’s a late birthday kid who’s playing in his 3rd year, as he has veteran composure and he’s supremely confident in skating the puck up, perhaps to a fault, as he could use his team mates more. He plays with a bit of an edge in the D-zone. Doesn’t go looking for hits but he’s willing to dish out punishment.
Recrutes: “It’s not easy scouting him because that team is horrible,” said one scout who didn’t think Fleury’s -61 rating would affect him on draft day. “Good size, skates well for his size, he shoots it okay. There’s something there. He tries to make a difference even though they were horrible. “He seems to move the puck pretty well, he gets a little bit caught up in watching the puck and sometimes drifts a little bit, some turnovers in the transition game, some little things he needs to work on. He’s competitive. But it’s not easy to rank him. One more year of junior and that team isn’t very good…how much more will he develop before he turns pro?”
ESPN – Pronman: I like Fleury’s two-way play. He’s strong for his age and doesn’t shy from playing the body. As a result, he wins a lot of puck battles. His IQ is decent, and overall he’s a reliable defender. Fleury won’t wow you, but he does a lot well every night.
LWOS: Cale Fleury has the potential to be a top four defenceman, playing a solid two-way game. He will likely never be a top offensive producer, but can contribute some points on a second power play unit. He will be a bit of a project, and requires refinement of his game at the WHL and then AHL level before being ready to make the jump. Fleury’s game is reminiscent of Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks, but this is a stylistic comparison only, not a talent based one.
HP Blackbook: 69
Future Considerations: 86
TSN (Button): 60
CSB: 74 (NA Skaters)
#149 – Jarret Tyszka, D, Seattle (WHL)
The run on defenders continued as another lefty was added to the mix. Tyszka was on the WHL champion Thunderbirds, recording seven points in 20 postseason games.
DOB: March 15, 1999 – Langley, BC
Weight: 187 lbs
Future Considerations: Tyszka is a big and mobile blueliner with strong two-way instincts. He is a strong skater, who uses his long strides to make up ground lost, when forwards get behind him. He has quickness and good edge work, although he needs to fill out to generate more power. Tyszka is a big, rangy left-shot defenseman who shows glimpses of skills that should translate as a solid NHL blueliner with a little time and patience.
HP Blackbook: Jarret Tyszka is a hard working defenseman with good size and is an impactful Junior Hockey player despite his limited offensive upside. That said, his play with the puck and decision making is not strong enough to warrant consideration as a potential top-4 defenseman at the next level. He is a lower end defensive prospect for the 2017 NHL Draft.
ISS: Moves very well for a big d man, skates well both backwards and forwards and good lateral movement. Like his game a lot, he will fill out more and could land in late first round due to his skating, size, puck movement and hockey IQ.
Recrutes: The former first-round Seattle draft pick got lots of opportunity on a veteran Thunderbirds’ blueline, playing top-four minutes on many nights and power-play time. He brings good size and mobility even if there are some concerns with his puck decisions and positioning in the defensive zone. Needs to keep it simple and get stronger.
ESPN – Pronman: A careful observation of Tyszka will reveal the skills he possesses and show a player with a lot of upside despite just OK point totals this season. He skates well, with a great jump in his first step, dangerous top gear and ability to move quickly in all directions.
LWOS: Tyszka is very strong defensively. His positioning and gap control are very good and make him extremely tough to beat in one-on-one situations. While Tyszka is not the type to look for huge hits, he is willing to play physical. He battles hard in the corners, and clears the front of the net effectively. Tyszka will need to get stronger to play this way at higher levels. He also has good positioning and an active stick that cuts down passing lanes. Tyszka is not afraid to put his body out there to block shots.
HP Blackbook: 121
Future Considerations: 61
TSN (Button): 89
CSB: 41 (NA Skaters)
The Hockey News: 84
#199 – Cayden Primeau, G, Lincoln (USHL)
For the second straight year, the Habs dealt a future 7th rounder to get one this year and used it to select the son of long-time NHL forward Keith Primeau. The netminder is off to Northeastern of the NCAA for 2017-18.
DOB: August 11, 1999 – Voorhees, New Jersey
Weight: 179 lbs
Future Considerations: Has an odd stance on plays behind the net, almost settling in on his knees like a road hockey goaltender. Bit of a quirky stylistic game, but nonetheless I think there is a lot of potential to be a gamer with his explosiveness and general IQ of the position. NHL teams that need a goalie should look at this big project who will need some time to develop.
ISS: Tall lanky goalie with long limbs – has trouble catching with his glove. Strong post to post while playing paddle down he maintains good size and positioning. Rebound control was poor on his blocker side with both blocker and pads. Good balance in both the stand-up and butterfly positions. Plays at the top of his crease. Plays angles well and good overall positioning. Lots of upside.
Recrutes: Keith’s son has been on the scouting radar the past couple of seasons and highly regarded going into last summer’s U-18s, where he disappointed those who had him penciled in as a top 40 prospect. He hasn’t been lights out this season either, but given his size, natural abilities and bloodlines, many are willing to give him some leeway.
ESPN – Pronman: He’s a methodical goaltender in his movements, lacking real explosive bursts, but being agile enough for his size to make quick-twitch movements and get himself across the crease. He also plays the puck quite competently. I’ve seen him give up a lot of soft/low-percentage goals, however, and whether it’s a matter of focus or technique, he has shown he has a long way to go before he’s a pro-level goalie.
Future Considerations: 100
ISS: 6th G
TSN (McKenzie): 84
TSN (Button): 50
CSB: 7 (NA Goalies)