The Habs were busy as expected on the second day of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. They entered the day with ten selections, made eight, and made a total of four trades which helped them pick up three more selections for the 2022 draft.
Scouting reports are posted as they appeared in their write-ups; typos were not corrected.
63rd Overall – Riley Kidney, C, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
The Habs turned to the QMJHL early in the draft with Kidney, a player who had a dominant postseason with the Titan, notching 17 points in 9 games which certainly helped bolster his draft stock.
DOB: March 25, 2003 – Halifax, Nova Scotia
Weight: 168 lbs
Hockey Prospect: We love players who have a top-notch hockey IQ, and Kidney fits that category perfectly. If he can improve his speed and his dynamism on the ice, he has the potential to become a good pro down the road. He’s more of a long-term project at this point, as he’s still fairly physically immature and it’s going to take some time before he improves this. There’s a lot to like with this player, though.
Corey Pronman: He has good speed and skill, with the ability to make plays on the move but neither attribute is truly dynamic. He works hard, winning battles, being hard on pucks despite his size and being not afraid to make skilled plays into the hard areas of the ice. He has pro-level playmaking ability and I can see him creating offense versus better players, even if his game lacks finish. Kidney isn’t a player you will want to filter out. In a sentence, Kidney projects to play NHL games due to a well-rounded toolkit, but may lack enough for an undersized player to stick in a lineup.
Future Considerations: The Acadie-Bathurst center has elite vision and decision-making skills. He’s tidied up his defensive zone play, become reliable on faceoffs and showed that he can carve through defenses with agility and deception. It’s Kidney’s ability to read the play, make adjustments and see opportunities that others can’t that makes him such an interesting prospect and someone I’m high on.
Elite Prospects: The winger’s tools, especially his puck-handling abilities, and his offensive habits — the way he attacks at a high pace, scans before getting the puck, and receives every one of them in motion — kept us watching over the course of the season. He has real problem-solving skills; you see him bounce the puck off his skates and instantly dangle through defenders.
First Star Scouting: A pure playmaking center with good intelligence and skill, Kidney is not a dynamic skater or puck handler which may be a concern for a player his size, but his ability to see the ice and deliver the puck to teammates is fantastic. A clutch performer who works hard in both zones and is an excellent facilitator of possession with how well he distributes to teammates.
The Draft Analyst: Kidney is a fairly effective 200-foot center who can take big faceoffs, kill penalties, and combine an active stick with a pesky mindset. You probably won’t ask him to shadow a top scorer or neutralize an opposing power-play by himself, as it appears that offense is at the front of his mind most of the time. Still, Kidney does not shy away from his responsibilities as a checker, and he likes to pressure the points while keeping his stick active or join in on a board battle when support is needed. But he’s most useful in transition and is exactly the player you want with the puck once it squirts free from the opposition.
McKeens: A highly intelligent playmaker, Kidney possesses very quick hands and feet, allowing him to manipulate space very effectively despite some limitations as a skater (explosiveness and power). He routinely gains the offensive zone and elevates the play of those around him.
DraftPro Hockey: A very smart two-way player. Riley has great senses on the ice, always being in good position either offensively or defensively to help his team. He’s involved at both ends of the ice, showing great competitiveness whenever he plays. He’s also a very good playmaker, using his vision to find his linemates around the offensive zone. Top nine potential with playmaking upside.
LWOS: An undersized forward, Kidney will need to work on his skating to make it to the next level. However, he has every other tool that one would want in both ends of the ice. He is a good stickhandler who can protect the puck and wait for his teammates to get open. When they do, he can open a passing lane with a quick fake, and then set up a scoring chance.
Future Considerations: 76
Central Scouting: 49 (NA Skaters)
Bob McKenzie: 70
The Hockey News: 93
Draft Prospects Hockey: 70
The Draft Analyst: 87
64th Overall – C Oliver Kapanen, KalPa Jr. (FIN Jr.)
Back-to-back picks and back-to-back centres for the Habs with the Kapanen pick. He has one year left on his contract with KalPa but his stay there will likely be extended beyond that. His cousin is Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen.
DOB: July 29, 2003 – Timra, Sweden
Weight: 179 lbs
The Draft Analyst: Kapanen has above-average speed but it quicker and elusive along the boards than he is in open ice. One can make a strong argument that Kapanen’s tight-quarter footwork and puck control, plus his sharp decision making, combine to make him one of the more reliable puck controllers available in the draft. Kapanen’s speed was misjudged by several opponents, and he exploited their indecision by blowing past them for a rush to the inside. Kapanen is as reliable as they come in the possession game. He makes few mistakes throughout the course of a game, which is critical considering his multi-situational, minute-eating role.
McKeens: Worst case scenario, his offensive skill set continues to improve and he becomes that well rounded and reliable middle six center. Worst case scenario, he still profiles as a high end fourth line center and penalty kill because of his motor, quickness, IQ, and faceoff ability.
Elite Prospects: Even if his 200-feet game and consistency need work, the offensive tools clearly overshadow those flaws at this point. Kapanen is also relatively young for the draft and his progress over the two seasons has been excellent and trending in the right direction, which makes him a worthy pick in the late second or early third-round range.
Recrutes: Despite his great bloodlines, the talented sniper is flying a bit under the radar for this draft having been ranked as a third-round prospect on a lot of lists. He led all players in goal scoring in Finnish junior this season.
Corey Pronman: Kapanen is an interesting prospect due to his skill and competitiveness. He’s able to make the flashy plays through defenders’ sticks and legs, but also is able to play in the hard areas of the offensive zone and win physical battles. He shows good instances of playmaking as well. I wouldn’t call it the main area of strength of his game but it’s in there. With Kapanen, he will need to improve his skating to give himself a real chance at the NHL level.
The Hockey News: “He may be the best two-way player in this Finnish class,” said another scout. “He’s really smart on both sides of the puck, a true team player – he’ll do anything they need him to do, and he can play up and down the lineup. He can kill penalties and play different roles on the power play. He’s a versatile guy but maybe doesn’t have the high-end skill.”
LWOS: Kapanen is known for his goal-scoring ability. He has a very good wrist shot. It is both accurate and powerful. He also has a quick release which makes things difficult for goalies. His quick hands change the angle of that release as well. Kapanen can also score with a strong one-timer. He does a good job of adjusting his feet and can get his one-timer off even if the pass is not perfect.
Future Considerations: Kapanen has a genuine nose for the net and is dangerous in the slot. He’s not the quickest or most agile skater, but he’s above average and he can be quite deceptive in motion, moving laterally around traffic. His transition play is helped out by great conditioning and deft puck control, allowing him to carry the puck through all three zones, even at the end of his shift. Kapanen is a well-rounded, intelligent player that has one of the highest compete levels in this class. He fights hard in all three zones, and while his overall skill may not be high end, his work ethic should carry him to the next level.
DraftPro Hockey: Offensively gifted water bug center. Shift to shift energy and a high motor. High IQ and decision-making ability under pressure. Great skater in every direction with an excellent first step. Real quick feet and explosive from a stand still. Can produce offensively from anywhere. Plays the game in the dirty areas and drives the net hard. Projects as a top six winger at the next level or bottom six center.
SmahtScouting: While there are areas that need further development, if Kapanen can become a well-rounded skater and acquire explosive acceleration, he will be a dominant threat. With his ability to find open ice with ease, the last thing that defenders are going to want is Kapanen flying into the zone at lightning speed. If he gets that acceleration, he’ll beat defenders at a consistent rate and key up scoring chances.
HockeyProspect: His skating generally only grades out to about average or a little above. But mechanically, it looks fine, so there is some upside in that respect. We suspect he’ll develop the straight line speed necessary to compliment his game in due time. Given his style of play, it seems highly unlikely that this is a center even at the pro level in Finland, much less any North American pro league he can work himself into.
Future Considerations: 65
Elite Prospects: 65
Central Scouting: 22 (EU Skaters)
Bob McKenzie: 52
The Hockey News: 48
Draft Prospects Hockey: 82
The Draft Analyst: 43
The Habs then dealt the 76th pick to Anaheim for their third-round pick in 2022. With Montreal hosting that draft, it’s understandable that they’d want to stock up on those picks a bit.
87th Overall – D Dmitri Kostenko, Togliatti (VHL)
The Habs added their second right-shot blueliner in this draft class in Kostenko, a player who was strong offensively at the junior level but spent most of the season in Russia’s minor pro (AHL equivalent) league.
DOB: September 25, 2002 – Togliatti, RUS
Weight: 168 lbs
Future Considerations: He’s primarily a stick-on-puck defender because he doesn’t have a lot of muscle mass to work with, though he does compete fairly well in his assignments. “A defenseman with impressive four-way mobility and a lot of skill and poise when the puck is on his stick,” an FCHockey scout said. “Has the potential to be a true difference-maker.” Kostenko is a promising prospect due to his assertiveness, agility, and poise with the puck. He’s a rangy defender, that will need to improve his skating and overall footwork to reach the next level.
The Draft Analyst: He’s both quick and agile, and Kostenko likes to push the pace to his liking while showing confidence with the puck. Sometimes that gets him into trouble, but his overall understanding of the game is quite high. Consider him more of a project than a sure thing, as Kostenko can be a maddening player to watch — there is a lot of offensive skill and ability there, but improvements in defensive play were minor once he played against grown men. He possesses one of the best sets of hands in this year’s MHL class, his passes are crisp and accurate, and his slap shot has some power behind it.
Dobber Prospects: Kostenko is at his best when he is able to find himself some room with his feet and the puck on his stick and then dishing passes around the offensive zone. He plays with a bit of deception, looking off opponents and threading a no-look pass off his backhand or faking a shot and finding a teammate on the backdoor.
HockeyProspect: Dmitri Kostenko doesn’t possess any special skills, but he has no real pronounced or glaring weakness either from a technical or physical perspective. He owns a plus skill level, but he doesn’t have “finishing” skill. He keeps plays alive well enough, but he’s not a player that can take that kill shot or make that cross net-line pass that unravels a defense. He’s a difficult player to put a final grade on because we get the sense that there might be some untapped potential here, but how does he get there? What’s the hook? He has a lot of high-level experience already. He put in two seasons at the MHL level and then just completed a VHL season in his draft year. Maybe a jump to an even higher level will spark him a little bit more.
DraftPro Hockey: Kostenko is a strong skating two-way defender with a cannon of a shot. He’s highly mobile for a rearguard, and can be depended on to skate the puck out of trouble. He’s a calm and collected presence on the back end, never appearing flustered or lost. He keeps a tight gap at all times, and is able to match the puck carrier using his excellent four-way skating ability. He has top four potential in the NHL.
Corey Pronman: Kostenko showed well versus men and juniors this season in Russia. He stands out with the puck on his stick, has slick hands and the ability to fool checkers with his one-on-one plays. He’s a creative passer who makes a strong outlet and has blue line poise. Kostenko’s main drawback is he has a heavy skating stride. Even though he has a decent defensive stick and size, his lack of quickness will make his defending questionable as he advances levels, but the offense in his game keeps him as a strong prospect.
LWOS: Kostenko makes an excellent break-out pass, starting the transition game. He can even make the long breakaway pass when an attacker gets behind the opposing defence. Kostenko also has a good slap shot and wrist shot. However, he needs to work on his defensive game. Kostenko seems to shy away from playing the body and goes for the poke check in all situations. This may improve as he matures and adds muscle.
Future Considerations: 71
Central Scouting: 17 (EU Skaters)
Bob McKenzie: 88
Draft Prospects Hockey: 60
The Draft Analyst: 108
113th Overall – William Trudeau, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
Another defender for the Habs as Trudeau comes off the board here. He was one of the top offensive blueliners in the QMJHL last season.
DOB: October 11, 2002 – Varennes, Quebec
Weight: 190 lbs
DraftPro Hockey: Good with his first pass when he starts the play from his zone. He combines good positioning and an active stick to break the plays from his opponent. When he rushes the puck into the offensive zone, he’s comfortable enough to bring it to the net and cause an opportunity for his team. Playing a smart game all over the ice. Very confident with the puck on his stick. Second pairing potential with puck-rushing upside.
The Draft Analyst: Trudeau is an average skater for a defenseman listed under 6-foot-1, but he was consistent in his ability to handle pressure and exploit open ice. Not being the greatest skater from a speed or explosiveness standpoint seems to consistently keep Trudeau within the grasp of one or more opponents, but his hands, vision, and poise combine for an effective breakout that nets positive results.
Elite Prospects: The defenceman responds to the forecheck with confidence, making the difficult plays under pressure so that his teammates don’t have to. His effectiveness comes from frequent scanning before getting the puck and from a combination of physical skills and deception. Trudeau can separate opponents from the puck, extend his limbs to protect it, and get it off the wall with a handling fake and a short pass.
HockeyProspect: We like his game, but the NHL only gets faster every year, which puts him at a disadvantage. We like how he has progressed in the last three seasons; he was barely on the radar in his QMJHL Draft year, and there’s a good chance he’ll be selected in this year’s NHL Draft. But unless he can fix his skating and improve his athleticism, it’s going to be hard for him to reach the NHL. We expect him to hear his name in the later rounds of the draft.
Corey Pronman: His puck game stands out, in terms of his first passes out of the zone and ability to make plays inside the offensive zone. He shows flashes of great hands, and I debated giving him a higher puck-skills grade. Trudeau also has a great shot, showing the ability to beat goalies clean from the point. Due to his hockey IQ, he defends well in junior, but Trudeau isn’t the quickest skater. His skating ability will be his main issue on whether he makes it at the highest level.
Future Considerations: He relishes getting involved in counterattacks, either by starting the outbreak himself or joining the rush closely behind. He creates zone entries by finding open lanes. Off the puck he loves crashing to the net for opportunities and uses smart stick lifts to receive passes comfortably in high-danger areas. Has an extremely smooth release and power on his wrist shot. Trudeau’s skating abilities, confidence carrying the puck and smart cycle movement make him an intriguing middle-round prospect.
Future Considerations: 134
Central Scouting: 68 (NA Skaters)
Bob McKenzie: 93
Draft Prospects Hockey: 101
The Draft Analyst: 80
The Habs were slated to pick back-to-back late in the fourth round at 126 and 127. However, they dealt pick 126 to Tampa Bay for their fourth-rounder next year and then flipped 127 to Minnesota for picks 150 and 214.
142nd Overall – Daniil Sobolev, D, Windsor (OHL)
With this selection, the Habs picked a player that didn’t play at all in 2020-21 due to the pandemic shutting down the OHL season. He was a first-round pick in the 2020 CHL Import Draft.
DOB: March 3, 2003 – St. Petersburg, Russia
Weight: 210 lbs
Future Considerations: Sobolev is a smaller defender who likes to get involved in the rush. Solid skating ability with quick strides and decent top-level speed. He won’t wow anyone with his puck skills and passing ability, but he makes smart and calculated passes that allow his team to transition from defense to offense with relative ease. Loves to pinch and hold the offensive blue line, but too often he hesitates and allows himself to be beat. If he can learn to trust his instincts more, he will be a much more effective player on the offensive side of the puck. In the defensive zone, he knows where to position himself, but he can become puck focuses and wander out of position or just lose his assignment and leave an open player at the net front.
Elite Prospects: He picks up checks early in defensive sequences, boxes them out from high-danger areas, and pinches on them hard in the neutral-zone as they receive passes, knocking the puck away. There is a physical element to Sobolev’s game, but it’s his overall engagement in the game that defines him.
The Draft Analyst: Sobolev two seasons ago was one of the MHL’s better draft-1 defensemen, and Nikishin spending most of that campaign in the KHL afforded the youngster the chance to show his abilities on the top pairing. He’s got big-boy measurements, but Sobolev is more of a puck rusher and risk taker than a brute who stays local without taking many chances with the puck. He can be a fit in all situations and his first pass is usually hard and on the money.
Corey Pronman: Sobolev didn’t play all season with the OHL not going, but he showed promise as an underager in Russia. He’s not a flashy offensive player, only recording six points in 48 MHL games in 2019-20, but he can make a good first pass. Sobolev’s value comes on the defensive end. He’s a mobile, physical defender who has grown a few inches over the last year. He makes a lot of stops and has enough of a puck game and straight-ahead speed to transport pucks.
Future Considerations: 272
Central Scouting: 32 (EU Skaters)
The Draft Analyst: 196
150th Overall – Joshua Roy, C, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
Roy started the season with Saint John and averaged over a point per game before being moved to Sherbrooke for their playoff run. His production didn’t taper off with the Phoenix although they were quickly eliminated in the postseason. He was the first-overall selection in the 2019 QMJHL draft.
DOB: August 6, 2003 – St-Georges-de-Beauce, Quebec
Weight: 190 lbs
First Star Scouting: A highly skilled offensive-minded forward who excels particularly at scoring goals, Roy’s dynamic ability is hindered by a sloppy skating stride but can slip checks with flashy and deceptive puck skill in the offensive zone. Needs to find the interior of the ice more, but has a very good wrist shot and can score from medium ranges with a deceptive and quick release.
DraftPro Hockey: A dual-threat, highly skilled offensive minded forward. Skating is a much needed area for improvement. Lacks in quickness and footspeed. Some strong edges used along the boards. High-end skill takes over at times offensively. Elite offensive instincts. Good hand-eye. Nifty puck control in tight. Excellent playmaker with superb vision. Boom or bust potential with high offensive upside. NHL top six potential.
Future Considerations: He reads and processes information very quickly on breakouts, allowing him to find outlets promptly. He excels at weaving through sticks and pressure to find the right passing lanes thanks to nifty edgework, fantastic spacial recognition, and lightning-quick hands. His cycle play is very impressive, as he floats around dangerous areas as a constant scoring threat and shows his complete skillset in tight. Roy stands out for his excellent instinctive positioning, being able to jump on rebounds without decent quickness and sneaking his way behind defenses. While he works the cycle well with simple decision-making and slick hands, he could use more urgency and explosiveness in his skating to be more effective off the rush. He’s a smooth skater, but his stride is very upright and he doesn’t get much power from each stride. He needs to have a lower center of gravity in-stride. He will need to improve his shooting power to be a threat from outside but his wicked scoring touch and remarkably accurate wrist shot already allows him to bury high-danger chances with precision or even thread the needle from tough angles.
Recrutes: You don’t often see a former number-one overall pick get traded in his NHL draft year and that was a red flag for scouts right there. Has a dangerous shot and has above average playmaking abilities; where the issues come in are with his heart and work ethic. Needs to get in better shape and show that he wants it.
HockeyProspect: A mix of inferior skating and a poor compete level is difficult to overcome, despite the level of talent that exists within any player, in order to move forward to the NHL. This is what Roy will be faced with in the next few years. Roy has good offensive skills but lacks a lot of key ingredients to thrive at the pro level, which makes it very hard to be confident when projecting him as a full-time NHLer in the future.
Elite Prospects: He uses teammates to find scoring opportunities. He remains only a shooter, but as he can beat goalies cleanly over and over again at this level, you can’t really blame him. Otherwise, he remains physical and a good puck protector, turning his back to opponents as they pressure him, holding the puck on the boards, and finding short outlets.
The Draft Analyst: He’s an average skater and has had issues with consistency, but Roy has elite puck skills and a visible knack to create offense once inside the offensive zone. At times he dominates a shift using his smarts, skill, and savviness to control the pace and set up teammates with tape-to-tape passes, only to lose on-ice prominence for consecutive shifts thereafter. The tools are there; Roy simply needs to find consistency and drive to become a solid NHL player rather than someone who peaked in his teenage years.
Corey Pronman: He’s a very skilled player who can make tough plays through defenders. He can shoot the puck, but I find he’s at his best when he’s using his skill and creating for his teammates. Roy isn’t a physical player and needs work off the puck. He has subpar footspeed and scouts question whether his game translates to the NHL. He’s a tough player to figure out and one of the more divisive players in the draft due to his great skill and production, but also his warts.
Future Considerations: 75
Central Scouting: 66 (NA Skaters)
The Hockey News: 73
Draft Prospects Hockey: 85
The Draft Analyst: 115
191st Overall – Xavier Simoneau, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
Simoneau is a third-year eligible player but has been one of the more prominent playmakers in the QMJHL over the past two seasons. He’s eligible to turn pro now and this could very well be similar to the Rafael Harvey-Pinard pick where they picked someone thinking he could be a UFA target later.
DOB: May 19, 2001 – Gatineau, Quebec
Weight: 174 lbs
Future Considerations: A pass-first forward, which is augmented by incredible vision and finesse when passing the puck to teammates through tight windows. Loves to push the pace of play and attack the opposition before they can establish their scheme. Still, because of his smaller frame, he struggles to protect the puck. Consistently relentless and determined to put his team in a position to win. Excellent leadership and contagious energy, too.
HockeyProspect: The Drummondville Voltigeurs’ captain is an undersized forward with an excellent compete level, playing bigger than his listed size. He is at his best when he can be a great agitator on the ice. He has stepped back from this slightly in the past two seasons, as he became the go-to offensive guy for his team, but at the pro level, his agitating skills will be vital for him to succeed. He has a great motor, always keeps his feet moving, and battles hard along the boards and in front of the net despite his size.
Corey Pronman: Simoneau has gone through the draft a few times and although he’s been a good junior in that timeframe it’s easy to understand why he’s yet to be picked. He’s very small at 5-foot-7 and he’s a strong skater, but for that size, he’s not as explosive as you’d like. He has offensive skill and playmaking ability, which can be very good at times but it’s not elite. I see enough skill with him, plus he has a high effort level and a well-rounded game. All this, along with enough quickness, makes me think he has a shot.
Future Considerations: 238
214th Overall – Joe Vrbetic, G, North Bay (OHL)
Another player who didn’t play this season due to the OHL shutdown, Vrbetic is Montreal’s seemingly annual gamble on a goalie with size.
DOB: October 24, 2002 – Dunvegan, ON
Weight: 181 lbs
Hockey Prospect: Very few goalies have the physical properties that Vrbetic carries. He’s coordinated, semi reflexive, dexterous, and agile, especially when taking his age (he was 17 in our viewings) into consideration. He uses his physical gifts and advantages to transfer between different techniques fluidly. When dealing with high danger shot attempts, Joe relies more on his frame and extensions than he does his reads, situational awareness or anticipation of the play.
Future Considerations: Vrbetic shows as a posthugging goalie that shows signs of good positioning and remains square to the play. His size in the net helps offset his slow lateral movement. Is able to stretch out across the goal line to make a pad save. Rebound control could use more work, as the opposing team would be able to gain possession off his coughups. Solid puck-handling skills and is able to stop the puck behind his net. There is still a lot of immaturity in his technical game, but hopefully he can work on that this summer.
Recrutes: One of the draft’s true wildcards considering that he didn’t play this season. Was expected by a lot of scouts to be invited to the U18, and that only heightens the uncertainty around where he will be drafted. He has the size and athletic ability to compete for a NHL’s starting spot some day if everything comes together.
DraftPro Hockey: Has a quick, flashy glove hand. Tracks the puck well using his height. Good rebound control. Comes out and handles the puck extremely well. His size and calmness in the net are his main attractions. Needs work on his athleticism and quickness but the raw ability is there. Has NHL starting upside as a long-term project.
LWOS: While his rebound control needs a little bit of work, Vrbetic is an athletic goalie who squares up to the second shot very quickly. Vrbetic could work on his puck tracking as well as his side-to-side movements in the crease in order to take his game to the next level.
The Draft Analyst: Calling him raw would be an understatement, as he relies on his size more than anything else to stop pucks. Improvements in quickness and overall net awareness should have been priorities during his lengthy offseason, but Vrbetic should benefit from having a stronger team than the one who kept the ice tilted towards him.
Future Considerations: 233
Central Scouting: 6 (NA Goalies)
Draft Prospects Hockey: 216
The Draft Analyst: 118
The Habs then traded their last pick to Arizona for St. Louis’ seventh-rounder in 2022.