Although they weren’t able to burn the first year of his contract last week, the Habs were still able to get Jake Evans under contract, inking him to a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Evans was Montreal’s seventh-round pick (207th overall) back in 2014 and has certainly outperformed his draft status. He has shown progressive improvement in each of his four years at Notre Dame and is now considered to have NHL upside.
This season, he played in 40 games with the Fighting Irish, posting career highs in assists (33) and points (46) while matching his best mark in goals (13). He also suited up with Team Canada at the Spengler Cup, averaging nearly nine minutes per night in four games split between the fourth line and being the 13th forward.
Speculation was that had Notre Dame been eliminated earlier in the Frozen Four tournament, the plan was to have Evans sign right away and play a game or two with Montreal (despite battling a groin issue). However, they made it to the championship game before falling to Minnesota-Duluth.
Although he is eligible to play the final two games of the season with Laval, he is not expected to suit up because of that groin injury. Instead, he will be evaluated by Montreal’s team doctors.
Looking ahead to next season, Evans may be looked at to push for a roster spot right away after being a productive college player for a while now but he may be asked to start at the AHL level to get acclimated to the professional game. One element that might help his chances is his performance at the faceoff dot as he won 550 draws this year, the second-most in the NCAA with a success rate of 55.6%. Considering Montreal’s deficiencies in that area, that type of success rate certainly has to be encouraging.