During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, GM Marc Bergevin confirmed that the Habs would not be signing any of their remaining CHL prospects that have to be signed by June 1st. This means that Allan McShane, Cole Fonstad, and Samuel Houde will re-enter the draft and won’t be property of the Habs after Monday.
The decision doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. Shortly after the trade deadline, Bergevin suggested that they were likely only going to sign one of the four that needed deals and Cam Hillis recently signed his entry-level deal to get the spot.
McShane was a fourth-round pick of the Habs (97th overall) back in 2018 after a solid sophomore OHL season, his first full year with Oshawa. Unfortunately for him (and Montreal), he didn’t really progress too much. Statistically, his next two years were identical and some of the flaws in his game (skating, consistent compete level, and defensive awareness) didn’t improve enough to move him up Montreal’s depth chart. That was enough to make my prediction about his future right after that draft wrong already.
Fonstad, the 128th pick in 2018, is the most offensively skilled of this group of players being let go but like McShane, there was a lot of stagnation. There were games where he was dominant but others where he was barely noticeable. That can happen from time to time but I suspect it happened a little too frequently for Montreal’s liking.
Houde, selected five spots after Fonstad, was in the midst of what was by far his best season in the QMJHL before a wrist injury put an end to that momentum. While he was a high pick in the ‘Q’ draft, it took a long time for his offensive game to really come around. He entered this season as a long-shot to get a deal and while he played well, it evidently wasn’t enough.
All three players are eligible to turn pro next season so conceivably if the Habs still have interest in any of them, they could offer an AHL deal if they go through the draft unpicked.
In years past, Montreal has signed quite a few junior players whose upside isn’t as high as what these three bring to the table. However, with all of the picks they’ve made lately (plus many more on the horizon), this is going to become more of a regular occurrence over the next few years as with a limited number of contract slots to work with, the bar for meriting a contract should get a lot higher.
Arvid Henrikson (187th overall in 2016) technically is also in need of a contract by June 1st but considering he is barely a regular at Lake Superior State and wasn’t even invited to the most recent Development Camp, it’s all but a foregone conclusion that he’d be let go.