HabsWorld.net -- 

Article written by Michael Bitton.

At the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, General Manager
Bob Gainey chose to deal his first round draft pick in a move for Alex Tanguay.
This resulted in a weak draft for Montreal, with the Habs needing to wait until
the late second round to select speedy RW Danny Kristo. With the 2009 draft
taking place in Montreal this year, Habs fans can expect to see Gainey actually
using his first round selection. Entering the draft with a respectable 18th
overall pick, the Canadiens have the ability to fill a team need and restock the
prospect pool that has been drained in recent years. 

The Habs go into the draft with one crucial need: a high-potential offensive
center. The situation at C has become desperate enough that the Canadiens may
have to consider scrapping the BPA rule and drafting based on position.
Fortunately enough, there may be centers available at 18th overall, good enough
to justify the pick. With it being so hard to predict the events of a draft, it
is impossible to know who will be left on the board when it is the Canadiens’s
turn to pick, but here are a few possibilities. 

Louis Leblanc

Shoots Right
6.00, 180 lbs
Omaha, USHL 

Leblanc is perhaps the favourite to be picked by Montreal. He is a right-handed
center with reasonable size, who happens to be both a hometown boy and a player
willing to go through the US collegiate system that Trevor Timmins likes. He has
limited top-line potential but seems to be a safe pick, with the ability to
become a solid two-way second line center. Leblanc has the skills and speed to
play on an offensive line but also the hustle, grit and defensive awareness to
play on a third line. Leblanc needs to gain a bit more muscle but he will have
plenty of time to do it. Knocks on him are his average size and the length of
time it takes to go through the US system. 

Peter Holland

Shoots Left
6.02, 188 lbs
Guelph, OHL 

Holland has higher offensive potential than Leblanc, with good skating and puck
skills, a good shot and the ability to make quick, accurate passes, but still
does not seem likely to ever be a first line center in the National Hockey
League. His size is nice but he could still add a few pounds of muscle to his
frame. Despite his skills, he is often predicted to go in the bottom third of
the first round do to an alleged unwillingness to put in a consistent effort or
go into the corners. Holland’s defensive game could also use some work. He is a
raw talent and will need to get his act together if he wants to reach his

Jordan Caron

Shoots Left
6.02.5, 202 lbs
Rimouski, QMJHL 

Caron is another hometown boy but he has the size that Leblanc does not. He
plays like a power forward, going into the corners, driving to the net and
scoring garbage goals. He does not, however, have the offensive skills of the
other candidates and it is questionable whether or not he will ever be a top 2
center on an NHL team. Caron’s skating is not the best, nor is his defensive
game, but these are typical weaknesses of big, teenaged forwards. His drive and
work ethic is said to be tremendous and he is a great big-game player. He
appears to be a poor man’s Jordan Staal. 

Chris Kreider

Left Wing
Shoots Left
6.02, 201 lbs
Andover, MA-HS 

From Montreal’s standpoint, the first knock that comes to mind is that he is not
a center. He will however, perhaps be the best player available. Kreider has
great size and skating ability, and uses these assets to play a power forward’s
game. His offensive skills are great and he could certainly be a top 6 forward
someday. The knock that is putting some scouts off him is the fact that he has
been playing high school hockey against weaker competition than the other
prospects. Scouts are not sure whether he will be able to adjust his game to a
higher level of competition, against players that are more defensively

Jacob Josefson

Shoots Left
6.00, 187 lbs
Djurgarden, SEL 

Josefson is slated to go before Montreal’s turn to draft but he may drop to the
bottom half of the round. He draws up memories of another Habs pick that dropped
to 18th overall, Kyle Chipchura. Josefson is a defensively responsible, average
sized two-way center with decent offensive potential. Unfortunately, like
Chipchura, he may not have the offensive skills to be more than a great third
line center. Josefson plays a smart, safe and sound game; he is the type of
player coaches love. He is a hard worker and provides certain intangibles to a
team. Given the presence of players like Plekanec, Lapierre and Chipchura in the
system, Gainey and Timmins might be better served picking a player with more
offensive upside. 

Any one of these players would be a solid pick, but none of them would
single-handedly solve the problem at C. It will, however, be a starting point at
which the Habs can finally get the ball rolling with the search for a number one
center of the future. With enough picks, the law of averages dictates that one
will be a hit eventually. Until then, a Leblanc or Holland will have to do.