The 2004 NHL Entry Draft has just recently come to an end, here’s a look back at how they fared with the ten picks they had, and what fans can expect from these players next season. With this draft being considered not a very deep draft in terms of talent, general manager Bob Gainey and staff will have their hands full trying to select the right player that fits the team’s needs.
Here’s an overall look at how the Canadiens fared,
18th overall Kyle Chipchura -C (WHL)
84th overall Alexei Yemelin – D (RSL)
100th overall James Wyman – RW (USHS/NCAA)
150th overall Mikhail Grabovski – W (RSL)
181st overall Loic Lacasse – G (QMJHL)
212th overall Jon Gleed – RD (NCAA)
246th overall Gregory Stewart – RW (OHL)
262nd overall Mark Streit – D (Swiss)
278th overall Alex Dulac-Lemelin – D (QMJHL)
And here’s some brief information on each player,
Kyle Chipchura– Not the most offensively gifted, Chipchura is a solid prospect in that he works hard on the ice and does what it takes to win. He will need some work on his skating and foot speed, and to develop more of an offensive game to advance to the next level. Also considered to be strong on face-offs and in his defensive play, and has been invited to take part in Team Canada’s U-20 selection camp this summer.
Alexi Yemelin– Known for his aggressive physical game, Yemelin also is said to have a solid point shot, that will need more work. He was likely drafted due to his defensive play and physical play, although not the biggest player, he is considered one of the hardest hitting Russian defensemen in this draft. Played for the U-18 for Team Russia on the 3rd pairing, and all accounts seem to say he performed very well as steady yet physical force in his own end.
James Wyman– TJ is one of the rare players to be picked by the Habs out of the USHS system. Wyman led his team in scoring this year as a senior, and helped his team go far in the playoffs, only to lose to Breck HS for the state championship. Wyman has put up an impressive 95 points in his final 2 seasons in the USHS, in 55 games, and will head to Dartmouth next season of the ECAC. Dartmouth is getting early consideration for the top team in the ECAC along with rivals Cornell, as the Habs once again look to the ECAC to develop another prospect. Wyman is considered to have considerable offensive upside, and could play a big role with the team next year if Dartmouth’s top player Hugh Jessimen does in fact leave school early.
Mikhail Grabovski– The 20 year old was selected after being 5th on his team in scoring in the RSL, an impressive feat for the native Belarussian. Grabovski was a teammate of the Canadiens 1st round pick of 2003, Andrei Kastsitsyn on both the U-18 National Team in 2002 and the World Championships of 2004.
Loic Locasse– Locasse is the 1st goalie drafted from the QMJHL since Mathieu Garon was taken 44th overall in ’96. Locasse doesn’t have the best numbers, but he also played on a defensively weak Drakkar team, much similar to Habs free agent signee of ’01 Olivier Michaud who also played for Drakkar. Locasse has good size, moves well, and seems to control his rebounds well.
Jon Gleed– Gleed comes from a excellent defensive program at Cornell, as they are a defense first organization, and while Gleed doesn’t get much ice time yet, as he plays on the bottom pairing, he does bring size and depth to the Canadiens defense. Gleed will be a junior next season, so he will have only two more years at Cornell, which may or may not have influenced management.
Gregory Stewart– Stewart is fourth player taken by the Habs that came from a team they already had a prospect on. With Stewart they get a physical winger who isn’t afraid to take the body, but not a known goon, as he can skate well and has good speed. Has yet to show any real offensive game, but he has gotten time on the top line on a weak Peterbrough team.
Mark Streit– An overage Euro out of the Swiss league, Streit may have been picked for his offensive upside, as he was able to produce offensively this season. In addition Hamilton is in need of some defensive help which could have also been a factor in selecting him, although hopefully he fares better in North America this time around, as he had trouble making a name for himself in the AHL a few years prior.
Alex Dulac-Lemelin– Another solid late round pick by the Habs, who have gotten Jaroslav Halak and Konstantin Korneev with their last picks in the two previous drafts. Dulac-Lemelin is a big strong right handed defensemen that plays in all situations for the Drakkar, and although they dress seven defensemen, Alex is considered one of their top defensemen and gets a fair amount of ice time, which should help his development down the road.