The Habs released their list of players that will be taking part in the upcoming Rookie Tournament. There are several notable prospects participating but also quite a few invites which we’ll take a closer look at here.
Alexis Shank (Chicoutimi, QMJHL): His second season as a starter yielded some significant improvements as he cut his GAA down by 47 points and improved his save percentage from .896 to .913 which had him tied for third among netminders with at least 40 appearances. He’s undersized which is a big red flag nowadays but he could be a candidate for an AHL deal next season (Shank is too young for one in 2019-20).
Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin (Wichita, ECHL): If the name sounds familiar, this is his second stint at Montreal’s rookie camp with the first one coming back in 2014. Not a whole lot has changed since then. He was a stay-at-home defender in the QMJHL with Gatineau and that has been the case in his two seasons with Wichita. Clearly, there isn’t room for in Laval but perhaps they view him as capable depth except for the fact that they don’t have their own affiliate down there. Crevier-Morin was not included on Wichita’s protected list at the end of the season.
Dylan Plouffe (Vancouver, WHL) – The Habs have clearly been prioritizing mobility on the back end over the last couple of drafts and this invite falls into that class. Plouffe is a very strong skater who has improved his offensive game considerably the last couple of seasons. While he’s eligible to turn pro, he’s likely not someone that Montreal will want to burn a remaining contract slot on (nor is there room for him in Laval either). I like him as a prospect but right now, there just isn’t a fit.
Jack York (Barrie, OHL) – A midseason trade to the Colts gave him a chance to play a much larger role and he showed that there is some offence to his game. It also highlighted how he struggles in his own end. I see a scenario where it makes sense to try to sign him now if they think he’s in line for a breakout year but having seen him with Barrie, I don’t think he’ll get to that level.
Morgan Adams-Moisan (Maine, ECHL) – He was one of the first signings after the Habs hired Joel Bouchard to coach in Laval. He did very little with the Rocket and was only a little better with the Mariners but they wasted little time in signing him to another one-year AHL deal. He’s a passable AHL fourth liner if injuries strike but in terms of prospect status, it’s non-existent.
Joe Cox (Florida, ECHL) – Cox was a late-season signing to a PTO by the Rocket and found himself in the top six quickly where he made the most of it. While he was released to go back to the Everblades for the playoffs, he also was given an AHL deal shortly thereafter. I’m a little surprised to see him here as he’s already 25 which is old for a camp like this. Worth noting, the Everblades had him on their protected and season-ending roster so if he’s sent back to the ECHL, that’s where he’ll go.
Nicolas Guay (Saint John, QMJHL) – For me, Guay is arguably the most intriguing invite. He’s coming off a much-improved season in the Q (with Drummondville who has since traded him) that saw him finish in the top-ten in league scoring. That alone is interesting. But back in 2016, he opted not to report to his then-junior team in Chicoutimi and instead went to Austria for part of that season. That’s not a common path to take. He’s eligible for an AHL contract but I think he’ll ultimately return to junior for his overage season.
Liam Hawel (Guelph, OHL) – Guay may be the most interesting in terms of the back story but Hawel is the invite that should have the best chance at actually landing some sort of contract. The former Dallas prospect (fourth-rounder in 2017) has battled inconsistency at the junior level but at 6’4, he has the size that a lot of players in the system don’t have. An entry-level deal isn’t going to happen but if he wants to turn pro, I think he could hold his own on the fourth line.
Vincent Marleau (Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL) – The Habs got enough viewing time of him when they were following Joel Teasdale and Rafael Harvey-Pinard so clearly, they saw something they liked. However, he was a depth player as a 19-year-old and those players don’t tend to become good prospects even with an offensive breakthrough. Marleau probably will have one of those seasons (he won’t turn pro even though he’s now 20) so perhaps this invite is with an eye for later on.
Matthew Struthers (North Bay, OHL) – After a decent season in junior that saw him emerge as a top line threat for the Battalion, Laval gave him a look at the end of the season. He started on the fourth line but was bumped up for top-six duty at multiple times during his five games. A late December birthday means that he can turn pro but he’d be one of the youngest players in the league. He might nonetheless have a reasonable shot at an AHL deal.
In terms of actual prospects for the Habs that will be participating, they are as follows:
Goalie: Cayden Primeau
Defence: Josh Brook, Gianni Fairbrother, Cale Fleury, Jacob LeGuerrier, Otto Leskinen
Forwards: Alexandre Alain, Jake Evans, Cole Fonstad, Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Cam Hillis, Samuel Houde, Allan McShane, Michael Pezzetta, Ryan Poehling, Nick Suzuki, Joel Teasdale (injured), Hayden Verbeek
The Habs will play Ottawa on September 7th and Winnipeg one day later. Their third game will come back in Brossard on September 10th as they host a U-Sports select team made up of players from Concordia, Trois-Rivieres, and McGill.