Saturday was a busy day for the Habs who made five several trades involving draft picks while adding ten more prospects to the organization. Here is a closer look at all of their selections.
35th Overall – Jesse Ylonen, RW, Espoo United, Mestis
With their first pick of the day, the Habs picked someone with NHL bloodlines in Ylonen, the son of Juha. As the league trends more and more towards quickness, Ylonen will fit in well as he has speed to burn.
DOB: October 3, 1999 – Scottsdale, Arizona
Weight: 167 lbs
McKeens: Although his goals outnumbered his assists this year, he is more a playmaker than a pure scorer as his shot is not nearly as much of a weapon as is his ability to stickhandle through defenses with creative dekes at multiple speeds. He showed some maturation this season by being more comfortable in using his teammates more regularly instead of essentially hot-dogging. Some see him as a first round talent, but he offers better value in the early second round.
Future Considerations: A skilled forward, he’s shown lots of upside, lots of talent. When he challenges opponents, he shows a wonderful array of puck skills. Which makes him a truly entertaining player. Really speedy, and boasts plenty of skill. He operates with talent and with great vision. He knows where to pass and he reads the game well. He’s got a knack for singlehandedly creating fantastic scoring sequences,but he isn’t a natural finisher. He misses a lot of chances. And while it’s great that he gets lots of opportunities, his wrist shot is neither hard nor accurate. His hockey smarts, at least while attacking, are very good. So his positioning is typically good, even if the physical part of the game is completely absent, especially compared to the top prospects in this draft class.
ISS: Excellent puckhandler that is very creative with the puck and makes quick plays. Lacks size and strength but is very quick with the puck. Keeps his head up all the time and does a good job getting away from or around opponents. He is hard to contain as he has very good edge control and makes quick turns.
Hockey Prospect: He’s a very different player than his father, as Jesse is winger that likes to play the game with a lot of speed and pace. His top speed is good and his acceleration really helps him challenge defenders one-on-one. He’s very agile, and his stickhandling skills are close to elite as well. He’s a very fun player to watch with the puck on his stick. With his combination of speed and puck skills, he’s really tough to defend against for opposing defensemen. He’s a scorer and his vision and playmaking abilities are decent. There’s some concern with his overall hockey sense and his play selection at times.
Recrutes: Ylonen is this year’s (Elias) Pettersson in that regard; perhaps 160 pounds soaking wet, and a late birthday, some worry about him being able to handle the physical nature of the NHL any time soon. He’s a little behind physically, I guess,” noted one North American scout who made a special trip to scout him. “He’s skilled and he’s a great skater; he just gets pushed around because he’s so skinny. “He’s not as skilled as Pettersson, but not far off. He’s one of the better skaters in the draft. He skates better than Pettersson did at the same age, just not quite as crafty.”
Hockey Prospector: The most impressive facet of Jesse Ylonen’s game is how he is able to think the game at a high level while playing at high speeds. He’s a dynamic player who is an excellent skater with great stickhandling abilities and strong puck control. He’s a smart and creative player; a solid playmaker with a high offensive acumen. He is dangerous off the rush as he boasts excellent acceleration and has a game-breaking dimension to his game.
LWOS: Ylonen has the potential to be a top-six scorer in the NHL, but there are certainly areas of his game that need to be refined. He will likely play another year or two in Europe before coming to North America. Ylonen needs to get stronger, and to work on his defensive game to make it in the league. Ylonen is the classic boom-or-bust style prospect. His game is reminiscent of T.J. Oshie but this is a stylistic comparison only, and not one based on talent or ability.
HP Blackbook: 35
Future Considerations: 58
TSN (McKenzie): 37
Hockey News: 47
CSB: 28 (Euro Skaters)
38th Overall – Alexander Romanov, D, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva , MHL
The Habs went off the board (compared to the rankings at least) with their second selection of the day with the selection of Romanov. He stepped up his performance in his various junior tournaments this past season which likely influenced them picking him here.
DOB: January 6, 2000 – Moscow, Russia
Weight: 185 lbs
Future Considerations: His elite passing allows his teams to be aggressive on the breakout because they are confident in his ability. His shooting skills are wicked and he’s not afraid to unleash either his slapper or wrister from anywhere in the attacking zone. He displays good mobility along the blue line, able to discover clean shooting lanes and then make a quick decision to shoot. His release is considering to be lightning-quick and his one-timer from the point is advanced. Offensive upside alone makes him an interesting prospect.
Hockey Prospect: Romanov has some untapped offensive potential and a well-rounded defensive game, however he’s undersized, doesn’t possess any dynamic qualities, and lacks the high-end puck distribution skills that you want to see out of an offensive-minded defenseman. He’s a defender who’s in a tough spot, he doesn’t have a lot of physical tools and he’s most likely not going to be a big time point contributor so he’s going to need to continue to develop his defensive game and rely on his aggressive yet energetic style of play in order to be an effective pro.
Recrutes: The 5-11 blueliner made scouts stand up and take notice with his eye-opening offensive performance at the World Junior Challenge where he scored four goals in just four games. In later U-18 events he also showed that he could take care of his own end with decent smarts and mobility.
HP Blackbook: 179
Future Considerations: 58
TSN (McKenzie): 83
Hockey News: N/R
CSB: 115 (Euro Skaters)
56th Overall – Jacob Olofsson, C, Timra, Allsvenskan
After what many would call a risky selection in Romanov, Montreal followed it up with a safer pick with Olofsson. If he can develop his offensive game, he could have top-six potential but the expectation at this point is that he becomes more of a checking centre.
DOB: February 8, 2000 – Pitea, Sweden
Weight: 189 lbs
Future Considerations: A big smooth forward, he can skate well enough – and owns good enough hands – to carry the puck through the neutral zone and into enemy territory. An impressively powerful stride, but he’s still agile for his size. Working from the point on the power play, he can unload his heavy slapper. And, at even strength, he’s often operating as the trailer. Then, down low, he can handle and protect the puck, shielding defenders. But his prime asset is his ability to manage the game on the rush. Not exactly a dynamic player, Olofsson can nevertheless position himself wisely to get the most out of any attacking sequence.
Hockey Prospect: Olofsson is a physically mature, multi-faceted center, with a lot of tools at his disposal. He’s got a pro-frame, soft-hands which he can use effortlessly to go around players in one-on-one situations and can skate. We have seen him keep up with some of the faster players in this draft class when aggressively backchecking and he’s good at transitioning the puck from the neutral zone over the offensive-end. He does some of his best work when applying pressure on his opponents in the neutral zone, turning pucks over and then making efficient passing plays to move the puck back up the ice.
ISS: Plays mature and takes care of his defensive responsibilities. Possesses solid playmaking ability but is more likely to develop into a defensive center at pro level. There’s room for improvement both in offensive creativity and he also needs to be more consistent.
McKeens: A smart, complete 200 foot center, Jacob Olofsson does everything well. Outside of his hockey IQ though, none of his attributes project as anything better than well. His skating, shot, puck handling, physical game all work well in unison to make him a fine prospect, but none of the above sticks out in such a way that would make an NHL GM gush over him as a potential first round selection.
Recrutes: As is often the case with Swedish forwards, the hard-working pivot is already strong defensively and given his size and smarts is likely not too far away from earning an NHL position if he can pick up his intensity, albeit in a bottom-line role.
Hockey Prospector: My comparable for Olofsson is a similar player that a number of people had high expectations for in the 2013 draft, Jacob de la Rose. I think they are similarly skilled. Olofsson could still end up a good option as a two-way 3rd line center with size.
LWOS: Olofsson projects as a second or third line centre in the NHL, if he can continue his development. He could be the type of player that coaches trust in all situations, and play big minutes. He will need some time to be NHL ready, and it is likely that he spends at least one more season overseas. Olofsson is still growing and putting muscle on his frame. Once he makes his way to North America, he likely needs a bit of AHL time as well. Olofsson’s game is comparable to Ryan O’Reilly, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on talent or ability.
HP Blackbook: 34
Future Considerations: 34
TSN (McKenzie): 40
Hockey News: 23
CSB: 9 (Euro Skaters)
The Habs initially had the 62nd overall pick but traded it to Edmonton for the 71st and 133rd selections.
66th Overall – Cameron Hillis, C, Guelph, OHL
After picking four international players to start the draft, the Habs went closer to home with this selection. Hillis is a bit of a later bloomer as he just completed his first major season but he is viewed as one of the better competitors in this draft class.
DOB: June 24, 2000 – Oshawa, Ontario
Weight: 168 lbs
Future Considerations: Lots of giddy-up, Hillis competes and battles hard. At times, however, it does look like he’s easy to knock down. Meaning he could be stronger on his skates – and just stronger in general. Occasionally, he looks to be over-thinking, which leads to sloppy plays and turnovers. A playmaking centerman, he’s very active and very energetic, all over the ice and involved in a lot of the play, to the stage that he seems a little frantic. Through the neutral zone and the offensive zone, he can appear wild. Could use some poise.
Hockey Prospect: Hillis is an interesting player to rank. He’s had a successful year and has shown a good degree of skill and intelligence, but he’s got an underdeveloped base, is undersized for a center and lacks any elite skill, so even with his impressive play, it’s difficult to see him translating the success he’s having in juniors to the NHL, though that could change if he becomes a more powerful and explosive player which are traits that can be developed.
ISS: Undersized playmaking forward. Shows high end smarts and commitment to both sides of the puck. Creative playmaker played most of the year with two bigger wingers but didn’t sit back and was able to push pace and drive to net. Good edges. Can get pushed around but shows good escapability along the wall. Tools to develop into a two-way skill forward at NHL level.
McKeens: He is a talented playmaker who always gives good effort even if it may sometimes be misplaced, such as overcommitting to a certain direction and needing to work harder to recover to the team structure. He has very good vision and excels at helping teammates generate scoring chances. Although he is somewhat undersized, he plays with a high compete level and does not hesitate to take on much bigger defenders.
Hockey Prospector: I think a player like Jordan Weal is an excellent comparable for Hillis. Very talented, a great playmaker but undersized and took a while to get to the NHL. I think if Hillis is able to improve certain areas of his game, he could turn out to be a player in that mold.
LWOS: Hillis has the potential to be a top-six forward in the NHL, but will need some time to improve his strength and clean up his defensive game. He should be back in Guelph next year. Expect to see a jump in his offensive numbers with a year of experience under his belt and a solid off-season strength program. While he is a centre in the OHL, he is likely a winger at the pro level.
HP Blackbook: 144
Future Considerations: 48
TSN (McKenzie): 61
Hockey News: 66
CSB: 67 (NA Skaters)
71st Overall – Jordan Harris, D, Kimball Union Academy, USHS
The Habs took their first true project of the draft class in Harris, a fleet-footed blueliner that could be four years away from really making an impact at the professional level. He is committed to Northeastern University.
DOB: July 7, 2000 – Haverville, Massachusetts
Weight: 179 lbs
Future Considerations: A puck-moving blueliner, he is an elite skater, smoothly flying from zone to zone – even with the puck. He owns excellent end-to-end speed and isn’t shy about using it. He always keeps his feet moving. Speed, clearly, is his biggest asset. His stickhandling skills are that good. He transitions the puck extremely well – and fast. He’s able to poke pucks away from encroaching forwards with ease. He always seems to be a great position on the backend. And when he does pinch into the offensive zone, he exhibits a strong recovery game when he need to get back on defense.
Hockey Prospect: Harris is a smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman with limited offensive upside. At the prep level, Harris was able to dominate puck possession. He does a terrific job retrieving pucks. What makes him so good is his long, fluid stride to get back to pucks quickly. He then has the hockey sense and footwork to make quick decisions and start the transition back to offense. He can sidestep oncoming forecheckers to skate it out of trouble and he can also make a good pass up ice on the first touch.
ISS: Small, two-way defender, mobile and solid on his skates. Very smart with the puck and remains very reliable by showing the full extent of his vision. Rarely causes turnovers against his team. His speed is good and is very good at rushing with the puck on high speed.
McKeens: A strong skater who plays a physical game despite is lack of size, Harris is one of the few high school players in a down year for that particular strand of talent. He seems to read the game well, although that could be a trick of the low level of competition he has faced. More a puck mover than a force in the offensive zone.
Recrutes: Scouts appear to be split on the New Hampshire high schooler’s NHL upside as some raise concerns about his overall hockey sense, but none are arguing over just how talented he is when it comes to his skating. The ‘Kimball Wizard’ will play in the USHL for one season before enrolling at Northeastern.
HP Blackbook: 168
Future Considerations: 74
TSN (McKenzie): 76
Hockey News: 72
CSB: 44 (NA Skaters)
97th Overall – Allan McShane, C, Oshawa, OHL
With their first fourth-round selection, the Habs once again turned to Ontario with McShane’s selection. He’s another feisty but undersized pivot that has slid down the rankings throughout the season but finished up strong with a good showing at the Under-18’s.
DOB: February 14, 2000 – Collingwood, Ontario
Weight: 185 lbs
Future Considerations: His skating is considered below average. Very little acceleration. Not helping matters is his tendency to not keep his feet moving. On the attack, he manages to be positionally sound. Always a smart player, he possesses elite vision on the ice. With the man advantage, he knows how to distribute the puck, mixing short dishes with cross-ice feeds. But there is a habit of trying to be too cute. McShane’s release is lightning quick – he can propel the puck on net with just a flick of the wrist. In fact, he could stand to use this high-end weapon more often, but he is a pass first player.
Hockey Prospect: McShane is a slightly undersized, playmaking forward. Allan is at his best in possession were he is able to utilize his vision and passing skills to generate offensively. He’s player who is able to find space and anticipate well. McShane possesses a versatility in the offensive zone with the ability to create with his playmaking and shooting abilities. Allan would however benefit from becoming more assertive with his shot, as he displays a quick release and good accuracy. Defensively his anticipation and quick stick help elevate his abilities, however his lack of size and strength can limit him when defending against bigger bodied opponents.
ISS: A stocky build allows McShane to shield the puck well, but lacks the strength in one-on-one battles to be effective along the wall consistently. Shows good energy and willing to battle to earn his space, good with his stick. Doesn’t quit on play and willing to battle. While good on faceoffs, he saw a lot of time as a winger this season. He’ll need to improve his skating to be a center at the NHL level where he projects as a third line forward that can be matched against opponent’s skill forwards.
McKeens: While McShane does not have an abundance of physical tools at his disposal, he uses what he has exceptionally well to get results. He is not a very fast skater but he is quite shifty, so he uses an approach that highlights those edges and subtle movements when he carries the puck up the ice. More a playmaker than a shooter, he lacks a cannon of a shot but his wrister is dangerous between the hashmarks, so most of his shots are from that region of the ice, with a few wrap arounds thrown in for good measure.
Recrutes: One of the better playmakers in the draft, McShane collected 45 assists this season in a second-line center role behind 2017 NHL second-round Jack Studnicka. By no means a great skater for his size, the hard-working pivot relies on above-average hockey sense and a strong work ethic to outwit opponents on a nightly basis.
Hockey Prospector: I liked his game at the U18 tournament and I thought that he was one of Canada’s most consistent players. McShane is a good all-around player and does a lot of the little things well. He’s strong on faceoffs, a good passer and has good patience and awareness on the PK. I don’t think he has Top-6 upside but he could end up be a solid depth player.
LWOS: McShane could develop into a second or third line centre at the NHL level. He is defensively responsible. He is the type of player that coaches will trust and continue to give opportunities to. The question here is how high his offensive upside can be. If McShane can be more explosive in his first few steps, he can really take his game to the next level.
HP Blackbook: 101
Future Considerations: 47
TSN (McKenzie): 71
Hockey News: 46
CSB: 50 (NA Skaters)
The Habs originally had the 102nd pick but once again traded down, acquiring picks 123 and 139 from San Jose. They then dealt the 122nd pick to Calgary in exchange for their 2019 fourth-round pick.
123rd Overall – Jack Gorniak, LW/C, West Salem High, USHS
The Habs went back to the high school route with Gorniak and he continued the trend of drafting for speed. He is committed to the University of Wisconsin.
DOB: September 15, 1999 – West Salem, Wisconsin
Weight: 181 lbs
Hockey Prospect: Gorniak is a speedy, opportunistic center that does a good job in harnessing his speed to use as a weapon. While his playmaking ability is not high end, he is able to create offensive chances by getting himself and the puck to key areas of the ice. Gorniak has a ways to go physically but shows good first and second effort for pucks and as he gets stronger he should become a serviceable fore-checker and someone that can win important battles at both ends of the ice. Gorniak is a good two-way center that executes his assignments in his own end efficiently and is good in the faceoff circle.
HP Blackbook: 179
Future Considerations: 264
TSN (McKenzie): N/R
Hockey News: N/R
CSB: 87 (NA Skaters)
128th Overall – Cole Fonstad, C/LW, Prince Albert, WHL
The Habs went back to the junior ranks, taking one of the better playmakers in this draft class from the WHL in Fonstad but like McShane earlier, his skating needs some work.
DOB: April 24, 2000 – Estevan, Saskatchewan
Weight: 159 lbs
Future Considerations: A smallish winger, he is a sound skater who owns an extra gear that can burn blue-liners. Fonstad is known for his cerebral approach – smart reads and creative puck distribution. Not only is he a great passer – from both sides of his stick – Fonstad possesses a patience with the puck that draws defenders out of position and creates offensive opportunity for his teammates. On the power play, with that poise under pressure and his awareness of open ice, he becomes an even more dangerous element. Not surprisingly, he is a pass-first player. His shot, always a last resort for him, could use an upgrade in power and that would certainly put more weapons in his arsenal.
Hockey Prospect: Cole’s best quality is his vision and ability to find the open man. He quarterbacked the Raiders power play all season. He makes the passes that you don’t expect him to make. Cole has the ability to seeming gain the offensive blue line at will. In the new NHL zone entries are a key stat and Cole is dominant at it. His hockey IQ is far ahead of his age. Whenever he carries the puck overt the blue line he can create a scoring chance. Cole is calm with the puck, he allows the play to develop and doesn’t force things. He can finish if he needs to but his shot is still below average. His down fall is his defensive ability and aggressiveness. He got pushed around at times down low and had a tendency to lose puck battles. Skating is also average.
ISS: Very good on the PP where he works the half wall – has good vision and passing ability. Skating is fine, but he doesn’t have exceptional quickness and yet he gets around the ice fine. Good with the puck in tight. Very good junior but not sure his game translates to the next level.
McKeens: He lacks any true standout traits, but he does enough well to suggest that he can ascend to a middle six role at the highest level after completing the process of physical maturity. While he lacks elite top speed, Fonstad is agile and evasive while his first few steps give him a head start on opponents. He is a good passer and his ability to change speeds while skating with possession helps him to create and find ephemeral passing lanes. His lack of stature impacts his defensive game negatively, although to his credit, he positions himself very well and keeps his feet moving, allowing him to be effective in his own zone even without being able to physically overpower anyone.
Recrutes: As was readily apparent at both the CHL Top Prospects Game and the U-18’s, Fonstad is going to have to work diligently on increasing his skating speed. There will need to be significant improvements before he can keep up to the NHL pace. No shortage of offensive skills, though, and he’ll likely go in the top three rounds.
Hockey Prospector: I think that the thing with him is that he plays a lot better when he’s playing center and when he’s shifted to the wing, he doesn’t get to play his game. He’s an excellent skater and a great playmaker but I found that he played too much on the perimeter to be effective. He could be a good gamble for a team that maybe sees him a bit differently.
LWOS: Fonstad’s defensive game is very inconsistent. There are times that he shows a high effort level, cuts down passing lanes, and creates turnovers. There are other games where he seems disinterested in his own end. He can fly the zone looking to create offence. He also can get into the bad habit of puck watching, and leaving his man open. Further coaching in his own end will be needed. One area of particular concern is Fonstad’s work along the boards. This is another area where he needs more upper-body strength.
HP Blackbook: 108
Future Considerations: 62
TSN (McKenzie): 82
Hockey News: 91
CSB: 65 (NA Skaters)
133rd Overall – Samuel Houde, C, Chicoutimi, QMJHL
The Habs then turned to their own backyard with the selection of Houle, a gritty but undersized centre who didn’t progress as much offensively as some would have liked this past season.
DOB: March 6, 2000 – Blainville, Quebec
Weight: 160 lbs
Hockey Prospect: A reason why he went high in the QMJHL Draft was mainly his potential, but also his great hockey sense and vision. At a young age, he was already very comfortable playing the point on the power play. He was a great playmaker, with great puck poise and excellent vision. He was also a player who had slight frame; a lot of projection with him was once he would mature physically, he would even more dangerous on the ice. Now almost two years later, Houde has grown a bit, but he is still undersized and still has a slight frame, weighing around 160 pounds. Another issue with him two years ago was his skating abilities. Not much improvement has been made there, and playing on a big ice surface in Chicoutimi has not been helpful.
HP Blackbook: N/R
Future Considerations: 290
TSN (McKenzie): N/R
Hockey News: N/R
CSB: 132 (NA Skaters)
After acquiring pick 139 earlier in the day, the Habs then turned around and dealt it to Chicago for a 2019 fifth-round pick. However, their day wasn’t done just yet as for the second straight year, they dealt their next seventh round pick to the Flyers in exchange for their seventh this year.
190th Overall – Brett Stapley, C, Vernon, BCHL
Stop me if you’ve heard this before – Stapley is an undersized centre with good speed. He’s another college-bound player and has committed to the University of Denver.
DOB: February 23, 1999 – Campbell River, BC
Weight: 173 lbs
Future Considerations: Overlooked at last year’s draft, he’s a guy with the tools to drive an offense. He’s got the skills and the smarts to pick apart defenders with his quick hands and feet. A heady player. He is able to finish himself or set up a chance for a teammate. Equal opportunist. With the puck he has tremendous confidence. He’s happy to fake out opponents, then use his powerful and agile skating to avoid checks. And he always has two options – to pass, to shoot. His puck distribution is excellent, either working a pass into white space or putting it right on the tape. Arguably, one of the best players in the BCHL.
HP Blackbook: N/R
Future Considerations: 159
TSN (McKenzie): N/R
Hockey News: N/R
CSB: 177 (NA Skaters)