Friday, June 17, 2011

Brendan Gallagher and Michael Bournival Invited to Canada WJC Camp

As Hockey Canada unveiled its list of invitees to this summer's development camp in preparation for next winter's World Junior Championships, there was no surprise to see the names of Montreal Canadiens prospects Brendan Gallagher and Michael Bournival on the list.

As two of Montreal's top prospects playing in the CHL, both Bournival and Gallagher were present at last December's final selection camp for Team Canada, but met the chopping block, with Gallagher being one of the final players removed from the group. This season, a year older, both should be favourites to make the team, though they will face serious competition within the group of 26 forwards invited to the summer session. Of the 26, only 5 are returnees from last year's final team, and 11 are eligible for next week's NHL Entry Draft.

Bournival, 19, was acquired by the Canadiens from the Colorado Avalanche (who had selected him in the 3rd round last summer) in exchange for Ryan O'Byrne. He has completed three seasons with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL, setting career highs last year with 64 points in 56 games before adding 13 more in 12 playoff contests. At 5'11", 179 lbs, Bournival isn't the biggest skater, but he is responsible at both ends of the rink, playing a true two-way game. He will return for a final season in the QMJHL in the fall, before being eligible to play in the AHL in 2012-13.

Gallagher, also 19, was a 5th round selection by Montreal last summer, and also went on to set career highs offensively, playing for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. Standing just 5'8", Gallagher will have some major hurdles ahead if he is to someday play in the NHL, but he's in the right organization to look at role models like Brian Gionta and David Desharnais. Despite his diminutive stature, Gallagher notched 44 goals and 91 points in 66 games last year, and likes to drive the net, playing a gritty-as-his-size-will-allow game. An NHL comparable might someday be Brad Marchand, which would be huge for the Habs if Gallagher continues to develop. One major area he'll have to improve his footspeed, as it is often what separates skilled but small youngsters from the NHL (Desharnais) vs. the AHL (Corey Locke). After a final season with the Giants this coming year, Brendan will hit the Hamilton Bulldogs at the same time as Bournival.

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