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- With a $5 M cap hit, Sergei Gonchar is one of the most expensive d-men in franchise history. The only ones higher are P.K. Subban ($9 M), Andrei Markov ($5.75 M), Mathieu Schneider ($5.75 M), and Roman Hamrlik ($5.5 M).
Stefan Fournier turned a great overage year with QMJHL and Memorial Cup victories as a member of the Halifax Mooseheads into a three year, entry level contract with the Montreal Canadiens back on July 6th. The 6'3, 192 lb winger has the size and heart to one day play at the NHL level.
Shooting: B- (hard, accurate, with a fairly
Hockey Sense: A
Fournier has to work on his skating, shooting, and stickhandling in order to take the final step towards becoming an NHL'er. He has the desire to go to the hard-to-get areas to score his goals, works hard in the corners, and does not shy away from the physical aspects of the game. Fournier also has a great hockey mind combined with tremendous leadership qualities. He is very responsible at both ends of the ice, understanding the value of the defensive side of the game. He was well coached in Halifax by Dominque Ducharme who knew that for Fournier to succeed at the next level he had to totally buy into the two way game; to his credit, he bought in.
In his first year with Hamilton, I believe Fournier will be a top-9 forward with some second line powerplay chances. The first year for any young player is to learn the system of his new team. Smart, successful organizations sign players that fit into their game plan and have the same concepts in their minor league systems so that when the young players make it to the NHL they can adapt much quicker, providing an easier transition; the Canadiens now have this system in place at Hamilton. If all goes well his second year, he should be a top-6 winger while seeing some first unit powerplay minutes followed by his third year having a similar role in Hamilton while being a possible midseason call up to the big club, playing some fourth line minutes, perhaps as a top-9 forward.
Stefan is a very coachable player which will make his chances of success greater while having the heart of a lion that teammates respect and he is willing to stand up for them by dropping the gloves. If I were grading his heart 'skill,' it would be an A+. These elements, coupled with his anticipated improvement skill-wise, should give him a chance to one day play in the NHL.
The Canadiens have seen the qualities that Fournier processes and it fits into their tough hard to play against team that they want to put on the ice. His work ethic, competitive spirit, and leadership ability will push his teammates to be better players as well, something that all teams look for in young players to help improve organizational depth. I believe he will get the much needed guidance that every young player needs to succeed in Hamilton and I would not be surprised to see this kid one day live out his dream and play for the Montreal Canadiens. Keep your eye on this kid, Hamilton, you could very well be looking at a future NHL player.