Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Habs Dilemma: Who to Take at 17? (Top 10)

Friday, June 24th, at 7:00 PM Eastern, the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft will go live from Minnesota and be broadcast on TSN. The 17th pick in that round belongs to the Montreal Canadiens.

As touched upon previously, even picking at #17, the draft is a very important day for any NHL team to recruit a new batch of potential future stars. We took a look at a Mock Draft of how the first round might play out, but the truth is, drafting isn’t a true science... and the predicting of a draft is even less scientific.

So for that reason, though our Mock Draft had the Canadiens taking Boone Jenner in the first round, here is a list of 10 players that Montreal should consider, assuming they are still on the board when Pierre Gauthier steps up to the podium. I’ve left out a number of players that I assume will certainly be gone, which are: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Jonathan Huberdeau, Adam Larsson, Sean Couturier, Mika Zibanejad, Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Strome, Ryan Murphy, Nathan Beaulieu, Duncan Siemens, and Sven Baertchi. Should any of those names fall on draft day and end up being available, I would of course add their names to the mix. But from realistic options, here are my Top 10:

10) Tyler Biggs
- Seems like a prototypical Timmins pick as a 6’2”, 210 lbs. American playing for the USA U-18 Development Team and boasting NHL bloodlines.
- Safe pick, but scored just 28 points in 48 games last year, so may end up being more of a two-way fourth liner.
- Tough team-player and demonstrates strong leadership skills (convinced this is who we’ll draft yet? If you need more proof, he’s a confirmed attendee of the Canadiens’ pre-draft combine)
NHL team: Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL player: Jarome Iginla and Dustin Brown
Shootout move: “Close eyes and shoot the puck”
Goal celebration: “One arm with stick in the air”
Video game: NHL 2011
Movie: Youngblood
TV show: One Tree Hill
Actress: Sophia Bush
Website: NHL.com
Book: “Playing with Fire” by Peter Robinson
Pump-up song: “Monster” by Skillet
Home-cooked meal: Steak
Activity away from the rink: Golf

9) Brandon Saad
- Another Confirmed attendee of the Canadiens’ pre-draft combine, so they are likely looking at him.
- At 6’1”, 208 lbs., already good size as a left winger.
- American-born, but playing for Saginaw in the OHL.
- Lack of offensive upside is a concern, scoring just 55 points in 59 games last year.
- Plays a solid two-way game and is a good skater.
NHL team: Pittsburgh Penguins
NHL player: Sidney Crosby
Shootout move: Shot
Goal celebration: “On one knee ice sweep”
Video game: NHL 2010
Movie: The Holiday
TV show: Friends
Actor: Adam Sandler
Website: NHL.com
Restaurant: Primanti Bros. Restaurant
Sport (other than hockey): Soccer
Breakfast food: Cereal
Superhero: Spiderman

8) Zack Phillips
- A right-handed center, Phillips is tall (6’1”), but must fill out his frame (only 178 lbs.).
- Canadian-born, Habs must have seen him plenty playing in the QMJHL for Saint John.
- Scored 95 points in 65 games, but numbers may have been inflated playing with Jonathan Huberdeau and Tomas Jurco.
- Protects the puck well and shows nice hands.
NHL team: Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL player: Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf
Shootout move: "Deke backhand"
Goal celebration: "Double fist pump"
Video game: Call of Duty
TV show: Friday Night Lights, Criminal Minds
Actor: Will Ferrell
Website: facebook.com
Pump-up song: "Bring the Noise" by Public Enemy
Restaurant: Boston Pizza
Sport (other than hockey): Fishing
Superhero: Spiderman

7) Nicklas Jensen
- Danish-born Jensen came over to North America last year where the adaptation process limited him to 58 points in 61 games, raising questions about his offensive potential.
- Played either wing at times for Oshawa of the OHL.
- At 6’2”, built similarly to fellow Dane and current Hab Lars Eller.
NHL team: Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals
NHL player: Alexander Ovechkin
Shootout move: “Ovechkin fake-shot deke”
Goal celebration: “Ovechkin going nuts”
Video game: NHL ‘10
Movie: Stepbrothers
TV show: Simpsons
Actor: Will Ferrell
Music Artist: Nephew
Website: Facebook.com
Book: “A Danish Book”
Pump-up song: “Here comes the boom” by Nelly
Home-cooked meal: “Mom’s food”
Activity away from the rink: Video games

6) Matt Puempel
- A hip injury shortened what was a great season for the 6’0” left winger.
- Scored 69 points in 55 games for Peterborough of the OHL.
- A skilled puckhandler, also not afraid to play in traffic.
- Must work on play away from the puck, particularly in the defensive zone.
NHL team: Toronto Maple Leafs (“For a player of his potential, we’ll forgive this for now” – Dan)
NHL player: Jarome Iginla
Shootout move: “Low blocker”
Goal celebration: “Kiss the finger”
Movie: Elf
TV show: Seinfeld
Actors: Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller
Cartoon: Simpsons
Pump-up song: “All I Do is Win” by DJ Khaled feat Ludacris
Restaurant: The Keg
Sport (other than hockey): Lacrosse
Breakfast food: Toast with peanut butter
Superhero: Spiderman

5) Joel Armia
- Name may not sound it, but Armia is Finnish and put up an impressive 29 points in 48 games playing for Assat in the Men’s League as a 17-year old.
- At 6’3”, brings good size on the right wing, but must still grow into his frame.
- High potential, but a bit of a project, as he must work on speed and play away from the puck.

4) Jamieson Oleksiak
- If you’ll notice, I am strongly in favour of drafting a forward in this year’s draft, so Oleksiak is the only defenseman to crack my list because he is a rare physical specimen.
- Perhaps an unlikely pick given the drafting of similar Jarred Tinordi last year, but what NHL team wouldn’t love a defence that contains both Zdeno Chara AND Tyler Myers?! (not to suggest either of the youngsters will be anywhere near as good as those guys necessarily)
- The stat you need: 6’7”, 244 lbs. Yet good skater for his size.
- Canadian born, but dual citizen and Trevor Timmins will like the fact that he’s at Northeastern University

3) Boone Jenner
- At 6’1”, 204 lbs., Jenner has grown into his frame at a young age.
- Canadian-born center playing for Oshawa in the OHL.
- Scored 66 points in 63 games, raising a few questions about his offensive upside.
- If offense doesn’t pan out, at the least a third or fourth liner who can block shots and win battles along the boards.
NHL team: Chicago Blackhawks
NHL player: Philadelphia’s Mike Richards
Shootout move: “Try to put it where the goalie isn’t; I change it up”
Goal celebration: Fist pump
Video game: NHL ‘11
Movie: Dumb and Dumber
TV show: Two and a Half Men
Actor: Jim Carey
Website: facebook.com
Pump-up song: Any techno songs
Restaurant: The Keg
Sport (other than hockey): Golf
Breakfast food: Eggs and bacon
Superhero: Superman

2) Mark Scheifele
- His stock has been rising, so maybe an unlikely choice to still be on the board at 17.
- Creative scoring center, would provide size down the middle at 6’2”, and is a rare righty.
- Canadian born, plays for Barrie in the OHL, where he scored 75 points in 66 games last year.
- Areas he needs to work on are skating and defensive zone play.
NHL team: Detroit Red Wings
NHL player: Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings)
Shootout move: “Datsyuk’s Move”
Goal celebration: “Bow and Arrow”
Music artist: Taylor Swift (“I’ll let that slide cause I have a soft spot for her” – Dan)
Website: NHL.com
Book: “A Beautiful Machine” by Graeme Fife
Pump-up song: “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor
Home-cooked meal: Pasta
Activity away from the rink: Mini Sticks

1) Mark McNeill
- Offensive numbers last year means he’ll likely be gone by 17 (81 points in 70 games).
- Both tall (6’2”) and thick (201 lbs. already) right-handed centerman.
- Canadian born, plays for Prince Albert of the WHL, like Kyle Chipchura before him.
- Like Chipchura, a two-way player, but there are questions about his offense translating to the next level.
NHL team: Chicago Blackhawks
NHL player: Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf
Shootout move: “Five hole”
Goal celebration: “Fist pump”
Video game: Call of Duty: Black Ops
Movie: Inception
TV show: NHL on the Fly
Actor: Will Ferrell
Artist: Drake
Website: Facebook.com
Book: “Hockey Tough” by Dr. Saul Miller
Pump-up song: “Top of the World” by The Carpenters
Home-cooked meal: Steak
Activity away from the rink: Golf

If I had to predict who the Habs will draft? As mentioned in his description, I’d go with my #10, Tyler Biggs, as a guess because of how he fits the profile of the way Montreal management drafts (big American kid, tough, leader, with questionable offensive skill but hockey bloodlines). Alternatively, a similar player not listed above (but certainly could be) is fellow American Jonathan (J.T.) Miller. The difficult thing about this year’s draft is that after the first 10 or so picks, there are 20-35 players who are all relatively close. If Gauthier wants one of Biggs or Miller, I sincerely hope he at least opts to trade down and pick up a 2nd rounder for his trouble, because neither scream huge upside at the moment, and other players who could be just as good will still be available towards the end of the round.

So get the popcorn ready and reserve your seat on the couch. Your Canadiens will bring you live coverage of all the goings-on come Friday night.

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