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Well, it’s almost that exciting time of year, the NHL Entry Draft. And as you already know by now, the Montreal Canadiens draft 18th overall in the first round. This means that the Habs won’t have the opportunity to draft a potential star such as Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, or Cam Barker, but there will still be plenty of talent from Bob Gainey and Co. to pick from. In this article, we’ll examine some of these players, the ones who could still be around when Montreal approaches the podium. To cover the possibility that the Canadiens will trade up or down, we’ll examine players who may go earlier than 18, and some after. We’ll start with the lone goalie who is expected to go in this range, Devan Dubnyk.

Name:  Devan Dubnyk
Position: Goalie
Team: Kamloops (WHL)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 194
CSB-mid: No. 3 NA Goalie
CSB-final: No. 2 NA Goalie
Statistics: 20-18-5 record, .917 save percentage, 2.51 GAA

A virtual unknown before this season, Dubnyk not only turned scouts’ heads with his play, but with his size as well. At 6-6, he is the tallest goalie in the CHL, and would also be the tallest in the NHL, along with the Rangers’ Stephen Valiquette. Scouts say he has good lateral movement, and very quick hands. Other scouts are quick to point out that there are no real “flaws” to speak of, his overall game is fairly solid. However, given the Canadiens depth in goal, don’t expect them to look for a goalie with their top pick.


Now, we’ll look at the wingers, starting with Russian Alexander Radulov.

Name: Alexander Radulov
Position: Right Wing
Team: Tver (Rus. 1)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 178
CSB-mid: No. 7 Eur. Skater
CSB-final: No. 9 Eur. Skater
Statistics: 42 GP, 15 G, 16 A, 31 pts, 102 PIMS

Based on scouting reports, it is difficult to see how Radulov actually dropped in the rankings. He, like many Russians, are very fast, and extremely slippery in 1-on-1 battles. Scouts also say Radulov plays with intensity regularly, rarely taking a shift off. There are a few knocks against him though, the first being his slender frame. Some say Radulov backs off in traffic at times, and he is also considered to be a hot-head. Radulov would likely be a good fit for the Habs, but odds being odds, he will be gone by then.

Name: Lauri Korpikoski
Position: Left Wing
Team: Turku (Fin. Jr.)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 183
CSB-mid: NR
CSB-final: No. 12 Eur. Skater
Statistics: 36 GP, 12 G, 8 A, 20 pts, 26 PIMS

Korpikoski literally came out of nowhere, as shown by the fact that at mid-season, he wasn’t even ranked by CSB. Scouts say that he plays a “Canadian” game, using speed and toughness together to blossom along Lauri Tukonen and Petteri Nokelainen. The big question scouts have is whether he can produce without those two, he wasn’t able to this season. Don’t expect the Habs to take him at #18, there will be better players available, but if they trade down, he is certainly a viable option.

Name: Enver Lisin
Position: Right Wing
Team: Saratov (Rus. 1)
Height: 6-2
Weight: 190
CSB-mid:  No. 19 Eur. Skater
CSB-final: No. 13 Eur. Skater
Statistics: 30 GP, 9 G, 5 A, 14 pts, 20 PIMS

If scouts could sum up Lisin’s game in one word, it would be this: “speed.” Lisin is arguably the fastest skater in the draft, and because of this, he is very hard to catch and to hit. Some scouts question his thinking on the ice, and everyone agrees his defensive game is highly suspect. Like Korpikoski above, he should be available at #18, but there should be some players who could fill a bigger need for the Habs remaining at this time.

Name: Alexandre Picard
Position: Left Wing
Team: Lewiston (QMJHL)
Height: 6-2
Weight: 190
CSB-mid:  No. 4 NA Skater
CSB-final: No. 3 NA Skater
Statistics: 69 GP, 39 G, 41 A, 80 pts, 88 PIMS

Picard had a breakout season in the ‘Q’ this year, almost tripling his offensive production from last year. He has also made improvements in his defensive play, but there’s still plenty of room to improve in that regard. Scouts say his skating is fairly suspect, and that he possesses a blue-collar work ethic, shown by his increased effort to learn the English language this season. Picard is a player that the Montreal scouts should take a long look at in the event that he passes through the top 15, he may be worth trading up for.

Name: Wojtek Wolski
Position: Left Wing
Team: Brampton (OHL)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 200
CSB-mid:  No. 3 NA Skater
CSB-final: No. 5 NA Skater
Statistics: 66 GP, 29 G, 41 A, 70 pts, 30 PIMS

Wolski was one of the few bright spots on a surprisingly weak Battalion squad this season. He is very strong along the boards, and uses his size effectively in front of the net. He is prone to having a few off-nights every now and then, but the same can be said for most players in this draft. Being from Poland, he has had a rough transition to the CHL, but has overcome that splendidly, which is a tribute to his work ethic. Wolski addresses a few issues the Canadiens have going into the draft, so don’t be surprised if they take him if he’s still available at #18.

Now, let’s move on to the centres, a position that is surprisingly weak in this draft. We’ll start with Kyle Chipchura.

Name: Kyle Chipchura
Position: Centre
Team: Prince Albert (WHL)
Height: 6-2
Weight: 197
CSB-mid:  No. 1 NA Skater
CSB-final: No. 4 NA Skater
Statistics: 64 GP, 15 G, 33 A, 48 pts, 118 PIMS

Chipchura has the unfortunate distinction of being the player who lost #1 status during the season, slipping to 4th in the CSB rankings. Despite this, there is plenty of upsides to his game. He is fairly good in faceoffs, is a strong skater, checks well, and is a very good penalty killer. However, his offensive game is lacking, a trait that is expected to carry over into the professional ranks. He will be an effective 3rd liner in the NHL, something the Canadiens currently desire in their prospect ranks. He will garner strong consideration on draft day, and Gainey may consider moving up to get him.

Name: Dave Bolland
Position: Centre
Team: London (OHL)
Height: 5-11
Weight: 171
CSB-mid:  No. 6 NA Skater
CSB-final: No. 8 NA Skater
Statistics: 65 GP, 37 G, 30 A, 67 pts, 58 PIMS

Bolland is considered to be one of those “safe picks,” in that he doesn’t do anything great, but there are no deficiencies in his game either. Scouts say Bolland plays bigger than he truly is, always going hard toward the net, and fighting hard to stay there. Despite the drop in his CSB ranking, many feel that Bolland improved during the course of the season. It’s hard to see the Habs drafting him, given his size, as there are currently too many smallish centres in the organization, but he will play in the NHL one day.


Now, onto the final position, defencemen. We start with A.J. Thelen.

Name: A.J. Thelen
Position: Defence
Team: Michigan State (CCHA)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 205
CSB-mid:  No. 16 NA Skater
CSB-final: No. 11 NA Skater
Statistics: 42 GP, 11 G, 18 A, 29 ps, 46 PIMS

Scouts have nothing but good things to say about this freshman defenceman, which is why it’s puzzling to see him out of the top-10 in the CSB North American skater rankings. He is good at making the first pass out of the zone, and he can just skate it out as well. He was the powerplay quarterback at Michigan State and has a booming shot from the point. He possesses not only this, but he has a strong physical game to boot. Given the Canadiens fairly recent draft tendencies, it would not be surprising to see the Habs draft this blueliner.

Name: Boris Valabik
Position: Defence
Team: Kitchener (OHL)
Height: 6-7
Weight: 212
CSB-mid:  No. 13 NA Skater
CSB-final: No. 6 NA Skater
Statistics: 68 GP, 3 G, 12 A, 15 pts, 278 PIMS

Valabik is considered to be a player similar to Ottawa defenceman Zdeno Chara. Now that I have your attention, we can look at his attributes. He’s big, and he can hit – HARD. He was the biggest individual physical force in the OHL this season, which has left many scouts foaming at the mouth. Unfortunately, his skating is highly suspect, and he is not the greatest threat offensively, but he can hit. Given the Canadiens need for big and tough players, Bob Gainey will surely consider this player, even if it takes trading up to get him. By the way, did I mention Valabik can hit?


So there you have it, a shortlist of 10 players who the Montreal Canadiens will likely have to pick from on June 26th in Carolina. Most of these players fill a certain need (or needs) on the team, so the question is: Which need needs (no pun intended) to be addressed first? The answer will come on draft day, and not before.

Questions/comments?  E-mail me at [email protected].