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As is commonly known by now, the Montreal Canadiens will select 27th overall
in this year’s entry draft, and as has widely been reported, after the top five
picks or so, how the rest of the draft goes is anybody’s guess. Which players
are still available by the time the Canadiens pick is largely dependent on
whether selections 1-26 are based on need, or on the Canadiens’ “best player
available” approach. Regardless, here is a quick rundown on some players the Habs
might potentially pick 27th overall.

Dylan McIlrath, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)
Height: 6-4 2009-10 Stats: 65 GP, 7 G, 24 PTS Weight: 215 lbs
Ranking: International Scouting Service (ISS): #31; The Hockey News (THN): #26;
TSN: 15

Dylan McIlrath was singled out by the Gazette’s Mike Boone as his preferred
choice for the Canadiens. Listed as 6’4” (and some places as 6’5”) and 215
pounds, size is clearly one of his greatest assets. Words like “mean” and
“nasty” often seem to be tossed around when discussing McIlrath, as he likes to
drop the gloves and rack up the PIMS in general. His strengths, are size,
physicality, a mean streak (seeing a trend here?), and defensive positioning.
Weaknesses are reportedly speed, skating and offensive play.

Why the Habs will pick him
: They need his size and physical play on the blueline,
particularly if Jacques Martin’s apparent dislike and mistrust of Ryan O’Byrne

Why the Habs won’t pick him
: Mean, nasty and physical? Doesn’t exactly sound
like the type of player Montreal tends to draft. Besides, even though thy pick
before Philadelphia, someone else is likely to grab him first, ISS ranking

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, D, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
Height: 6-1 2009-10 Stats: 68 GP, 20 G, 46 PTS Weight: 176 lbs
Ranking: ISS: #84; THN: #78; TSN: #55

Jerome Gauthier-Leduc is from Quebec and plays in the Q. For this reason,
someone at nhl.com thinks the Habs will pick him. I find this assertion asinine
and maybe even a bit offensive, and that is really the only reason I decided to
include him here. In fact, I had trouble finding much info on him, other than
the “Skinny” offered by nhl.com, which is that he is “A good defensemen (sic)
right from the province”. A bit more digging and I also learned that he has a
strong shot from the point and is a great puck mover. I am sure Jerome is a good
player and a lovely person, and will probably get drafted, but based on his
rankings, it is just silly to think he will go in the first round.

Why the Habs will pick him
: They won’t. But he is from Quebec.

Why the Habs won’t pick him
: Who knows, they just might. But not in the first

John McFarland, C, Sudbury, (OHL)
Height: 6-0 2009-10 Stats: 64 GP, 20 A, 50 PTS Weight: 192 lbs.
Ranking: ISS: #39; THN: #20; TSN: #28

Let me know if any of this sounds familiar… At one point, he was considered
potentially the most talented forward in his draft class, but questions
regarding his work ethic have lowered expectations and dropped his ranking.
McFarland appears to be brimming with potential. He has a great shot, he is a
great skater, he can play on the power play, penalty kill, and top three
minutes. He could be a late first round or even an early second round steal. He
could also be a bust like so many players before him who had similar things
being said about them.

Why the Habs will pick him
: With the right development and training, his
versatility and talent could be a real asset.

Why the Habs won’t pick him
: Trevor Timmins in the past seems to have shied away
from the type of player for whom work ethic might be an issue.

Tyler Pitlick, C, Minnesota State (WCHA)
Height: 6-2 2009-10 Stats: 38 GP, 11 G, 19 PTS Weight: 194 lbs.
Ranking: ISS: #20; THN: #21; TSN: #25

Maybe not can’t-miss top three potential, but certainly top six potential, Tyler
Pitlick is a player who has shown steady development so far throughout his young
career. Playing college hockey against players who can be five to six years
older than him, Pitlick has been able to compete physically. Rumor has it
Pitlick might not return to Minnesota next season in favour of playing for
Medicine Hat in the WHL. This move could prove to be a confidence booster if
playing against smaller junior players in Canada allows Tyler’s offensive game
to flourish under his college-seasoned frame.

Why the Habs will pick him
: He is a big centre. Did I mention he is from

Why the Habs won’t pick him
: He probably will not be available by the time the
Habs pick, despite certain online mock drafts saying otherwise.

Jaden Schwartz, C, Tri-City (USHL)
Height: 5-10 2009-10 Stats: 60 GP, 33 G, 83 PTS Weight: 180 lbs.
Ranking: ISS: #23; THN: #30; TSN: #29.

At 5’10”, Jaden Schwartz might still considered a small centre by NHL standards,
but he is a small centre who led the USHL in scoring at the age of 17. He is
speedy, skilled and offensively creative. Schwartz will be attending Colorado
College in the fall, where he can spend time trying to develop the strength that
will help him survive in the NHL. Every indication is that he will end up there

Why the Habs will pick him
: Small? Speedy? Offensively gifted? Going to college
in the US? Sounds like a Hab to me.

Why the Habs won’t pick him
: Small? Speedy? Offensively gifted? Going to college
in the US? The Habs need another one of these like they need a hole in the head.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, C/LW, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Height: 6-0 2009-10 Stats: 35 GP, 2 G, 9 PTS Weight: 174 lbs
Ranking: ISS: #19; THN: #18; TSN: #24.

So why would a player ranked anywhere from 18th to 24th still be available when
the Habs pick at 27th? Well did you see where he plays? Kuznetsov is typically
described as “highly-skilled” and “offensively gifted”. Unfortunately, he is
also often described as “inconsistent” and “an enigma”. TSN’s Bob McKenzie says
he “can be the dominant force in one game and then invisible the next”. Habs
fans, and truthfully fans of most teams in the NHL these days, are all too
familiar with this type of player. Do you throw the dice on a gifted player
learning how to compete every night and every shift, or do you pass on a player
who seemingly shows up when he feels like it?

Why the Habs will pick him
: Because he is an extremely talented player who might
still be available long after he should be, based on where he currently plays.

Why the Habs won’t pick him
: Seeing as the Habs seem to be favouring
consistency, work ethic and fierce competitiveness these days over raw talent,
Kuznetsov might be too big a gamble for a team looking to stock the cupboard.

Brock Nelson, C, Warrod (High School, MN)
Height: 6-3 2009-10 Stats: 31 GP, 53 G, 95 PTS Weight: 205 lbs
Ranking: ISS: #26; THN: #29; TSN: #34.

Why lookie here, it’s another Minnesota High School player! Kidding aside, Brock
Nelson is a big, skilled player with a pedigree. As everyone is quick to point
out, Brock’s uncle Dave Christian was a member of the US 1980 Miracle on Ice
team. All the knocks against him are the standard arguments against players of
his background; he does well, but against underwhelming competition. Despite
this, his stock appears to be trending upward. Nelson likes to shoot, does so
well, and is also good in the faceoff circle. He also is capable of “filling out
his frame” some more, and given that he is already over 200 lbs, that size would
look really good in the CH, especially if he retains his offensive gifts. Plays
well in all three zones.

Why the Habs will pick him
: He could be the big, scoring centre the Canadiens
have been needing for years. Coming from Minnesota and playing college hockey
doesn’t hurt either.

Why the Habs won’t pick him
: Maybe the Habs have finally soured on US College
players? Every era has an end.

Alexander Petrovic, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Height: 6-4 2009-10 Stats: 57 GP, 8 G, 27 PTS Weight: 193 lbs.
Ranking: ISS: #42; THN: 24; TSN: #36

At 6’4”, Petrovic could certainly stand to add some weight to his current 193
lbs, but at the age of 18, there is no reason to beleive he won’t. He definitely
has the size to mature into a solid, physical defenseman with enough hard work
and good coaching and development. On the downside, Petrovic did not make the
final cut on Canada’s U18 team this year after making the team last year. How he
responds after what was probably a disappointing season might be an indicator of
what is to come in Petrovic’s future. Petrovic plays with the puck well and
could develop into an offensive threat.

Why the Habs will pick him
: Good size and skill with the puck are always
attractive traits in a defenseman.

Why the Habs won’t pick him
: Probably needs too long to develop into an NHL
player. Depends on Montreal’s patience.