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The 2013 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone and the Habs have a total of eight new prospects in their system.  Size and skill seemed to be the focus with each selection although it seemed like the team was getting one or the other with every prospect selected.  Here are my thoughts on each pick and my grade for the draft…even if it is far too early to truly assess it.

25th overall – Michael McCarron, RW

A few weeks ago it seemed he was a likely late first rounder before dropping out of the discussion, so much so in fact that we dropped him from our ‘Assessing the Options’ series.  There’s no denying that if he pans out, he could be a huge asset to this team and he’s the only player of his kind in the draft.  However, there certainly are questions about whether McCarron’s skills can advance to the level of a top six forward.  Fortunately, if he doesn’t, his size and toughness alone may be enough to carve out a career as a bottom six grinder.  That eliminates some of the risk associated with the pick but given that a few other projected first round talents were still on the board, it’s certainly somewhat of a high risk/reward selection.

Grade: C – I have reservations about him being able to become the offensive threat that the team obviously believes he can be but he should make the NHL in a lower role at the very least.

34th overall – Jacob De la Rose, C/W

Safe picks rarely draw a lot of positive attention but that doesn’t make them any less important.  De la Rose isn’t going to win any scoring titles or wow anyone on the highlight reel but he’s a steady, physical, and versatile two-way player.  A lot of top teams have a player or two like this, ones that can be a checker but move up onto a scoring line and not look out of place when the need arises.

Grade: B – Ideally, he’s a third liner in the future for the Habs but he could be a very important piece of the secondary core moving forward.

36th overall – Zach Fucale, G

I know I’m in the minority here but I wouldn’t have been upset at all had Fucale been the selection at #25.  The Habs have been bereft of any sort of promising goalie prospect since Carey Price and sooner than later, they needed to get one in the system.  He was the consensus top goalie in this draft and already has a winning pedigree.  With Price under contract for a while yet, Fucale should have the luxury of being able to develop without being rushed to the NHL, something a lot of us wish had have been the case with Price.

Grade: A+ – The selection fills a glaring need and may very well have been the BPA at this point as well.  It’s nice when it plays out that way.

55th overall – Artturi Lekhonen, LW/RW

Size certainly wasn’t a concern here but had the Finnish winger even had average size, it’s safe to assume there was no way he’d have been available at 55.  This pick reminds me in some ways of the Sebastian Collberg selection, a first round skill set who dropped for other reasons.  The concussion issues are a little concerning but on the flip side, I’m particularly impressed that he was able to play in a top six role in Finland’s top league as a 17 year old and not only hold his own, but be one of their top forwards.

Grade: A- – At a point in the draft where bottom six forwards and role players start to get a lot of attention, picking up a player with legitimate top six upside is a very nice addition at this juncture.

71st overall – Connor Crisp, LW/C

I was surprised when McCarron was the 1st round pick; that paled in comparison to the shock I had here.  Even if you overlook the fact he
wasn’t drafted in his first year of eligibility (and admittedly, injuries played a huge role in that), it’s hard to believe that the team felt a potential future fourth line type of player wouldn’t be available later on.  To his credit, Crisp was one of the few offensive threats a terrible Erie team had and if I had to guess what Trevor Timmins’ justification here was, it’s that they think he can take enough of a step forward this year to have more upside than a fourth liner.

Grade: D+ – There were a lot of skilled players that were beginning to slide at this point (Kujawinski, Buchnevich, and Hayden to name a few), I’d have preferred they went with one of those there and look for Crisp (or a similar player) come the fourth round.  It’s a safe pick in that he isn’t likely to completely bust (his physicality will get him to the next level on its own) but the upside here is quite low.

86th overall – Sven Andrighetto, RW/LW

Skill was the focus with this selection (which made me feel a little bit better with the previous choice) as the Swiss winger is a gifted offensive winger.  Unfortunately, he’s quite tiny which is why he fell this far…and why he was passed up in the two previous drafts.  I’m hopeful that he can come to terms on a contract quickly as the Bulldogs are in dire need of some offensive forwards; he should get every chance to be an impact player right away.

Grade: B – If he gets to Hamilton and does well early – and I think he can – there’s a decent chance that he could be the first pick from Montreal’s draft class to make it to the NHL (as a callup).  That alone makes it hard to not like the pick.  At the very least, he could be an important piece in Hamilton for a few years so there’s not a ton of downside despite his diminutive stature.

116th overall – Martin Reway, LW/RW

With regards to his size, at least he wasn’t the smallest player drafted (there were two smaller players picked).  I don’t think the Gallagher-type comparisons are warranted but there are some similarities with regards to their doggedness and willingness to get involved physically.  His playoff performance, where he outscored 1st round teammate Emile Poirier, likely gave him a nice bump up the Habs’ rankings.  For him to even be able to succeed at the AHL level, he’ll need to put on some weight.

Grade: B- – He has some offensive upside but I fear that he may be a bit too small to play successfully in the pros.  With a late 4th though, it’s not a bad gamble to take.

176th overall – Jeremy Gregoire, C/LW

His scouting report reminds me a bit of Gabriel Dumont – except Gregoire is taller.  His offensive game took a step forward when he was dealt in the Quebec league mid-season, providing some hope that there’s room to grow in that element.  Even if it doesn’t improve much, he could be a decent third or fourth line forward in the minors and in the sixth round, getting a player who at the very least should be able to help the farm team is pretty good value.

Grade: B+ – There’s little risk here (there rarely is with a late sixth rounder) and his offensive progression with Baie-Comeau suggests he has some upside in him.  I’ll take that at this stage of the draft any day.

Final Grade: B – I considered the Canadiens’ 2012 draft class to be
worthy of an ‘A’ and the early returns on it (even excluding Alex Galchenyuk) are impressive.  I’m not as high on this group of players compared to them but it’s a solid gathering of players nonetheless.  The Habs filled some needs while still adding some skilled forwards in the later rounds, an element we’ve come to expect in recent years.  To be considered a successful draft, teams usually want to see two players progress to regular NHL’ers.  I don’t think there should be too much difficulty in achieving that with the Class of 2013 and I’d say getting three regulars isn’t entirely unrealistic although obviously a lot can change about prospects in a short period of time.  Was this a ‘home run’ draft for the Canadiens?  My early thought would be that it’s not but it’s a solid one nonetheless.