Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pierre Gauthier's Canada Day Weekend Plans

With the Free Agent Market set to open in less than 24 hours, we have a clearer picture as to who will be available and where the Montreal Canadiens have needs. Thus, today we will step into the shoes of General Manager Pierre Gauthier to show what our priorities would be come noon tomorrow (July 1). Unfortunately, from our original list of Top 10 UFA targets, a number of players have been signed (Brooks Laich, Tomas Kopecky...). Furthermore, we can now look beyond the forward position to see where there are holes and thus update the original Off-Season Plan that we had laid out.

On that note, let’s take a look at what Mr. Gauthier's Friday mak look like.

7:00 AM - Wakin' up in the morning, gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs. Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal... No? C'mon... It's Friday, Friday... gotta get down on Friday?

Ok, in all seriousness, the Habs' brass likely will be up early and will hold one final meeting to go over the day's plan. First they may look at the team under contract as it stands. We’re talking about something like this:


Mike Cammalleri ($6.000m) / Tomas Plekanec ($5.000m) / Andrei Kostitsyn ($3.250m)
Max Pacioretty ($1.625m) / Scott Gomez ($7.357m) / Brian Gionta ($5.000m)
David Desharnais ($0.850m) / Lars Eller ($1.270m) / Mathieu Darche ($0.700m)
Travis Moen ($1.500m) / Andreas Engqvist ($0.900m) / Aaron Palushaj ($0.883m)
Olivier Fortier ($0.875m)

Andrei Markov ($5.750m) / Alexei Yemelin ($0.984m)
Hal Gill ($2.250m) / P.K. Subban ($0.875m)
Jaroslav Spacek ($3.833m) / Yannick Weber ($0.850m)
Alex Henry ($0.512m) / Raphael Diaz ($0.900m)

Carey Price ($2.750m) / Robert Mayer ($0.530m)

BUYOUTS: Georges Laraque ($0.500m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $54,946,342; BONUSES: $985,000
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $9,353,658

$9M is quite a bit of money to spend on upgrading this roster, but the first thing they must do is account for their unsigned restricted free agents. That means these guys who will eventually be added to this group –

Josh Gorges – estimated 4 years, $12M
Ryan White – estimated 1 year, $650K (one-way)

9:00 AM - Final needs assessment. Beyond the above players, the most glaring need is in nets. The Canadiens have only 2 goaltenders under contract right now, and Robert Mayer definitely won’t play at the NHL level any time soon – if ever. Given that Carey Price will again be the workhorse, the Habs will only want to commit between $750K and $1.5M on a back-up netminder. So we confirm a list of targets for the job:

5) Patrick Lalime
Buffalo Sabres, 36 years old, 6’3”, 189 lbs
2009-10: 16 GP, 2.81 GAA, .907 SV%
2010-11: 7 GP, 2.96 GAA, .890 SV%
Contract offer: 1 year, $850K

4) Ty Conklin
St. Louis Blues, 35 years old, 6’0”, 184 lbs
2009-10: 26 GP, 2.48 GAA, .921 SV%
2010-11: 25 GP, 3.22 GAA, .881 SV%
Contract offer: 1 year, $1M

3) Alex Auld
Montreal Canadiens, 30 years old, 6’5”, 221 lbs
2010-11: 16 GP, 2.64 GAA, .914 SV%
Contract offer: 2 years, $2M

2) Mathieu Garon
Columbus Blue Jackets, 33 years old, 6’1”, 206 lbs
2009-10: 35 GP, 2.81 GAA, .903 SV%
2010-11: 36 GP, 2.72 GAA, 901 SV%
Contract offer: 2 years, $2M

1) Josh Harding
Minnesota Wild, 27 years old, 6’1”, 195 lbs
2009-10: 19 GP, 2.21 GAA, .929 SV%
2010-11: 25 GP, 3.05 GAA, .905 SV%
Contract offer: 2 years, $3M

Other possible names could include Marty Turco, Jose Theodore, and Curtis Sanford. Assume for a second that we get our top choice, we’re now looking at this roster:


Mike Cammalleri ($6.000m) / Tomas Plekanec ($5.000m) / Andrei Kostitsyn ($3.250m)
Max Pacioretty ($1.625m) / Scott Gomez ($7.357m) / Brian Gionta ($5.000m)
Mathieu Darche ($0.700m) / Lars Eller ($1.270m) / David Desharnais ($0.850m)
Travis Moen ($1.500m) / Andreas Engqvist ($0.900m) / Ryan White ($0.650m)
Olivier Fortier ($0.875m) / Aaron Palushaj ($0.883m)

Andrei Markov ($5.750m) / Josh Gorges ($3.000m)
Hal Gill ($2.250m) / P.K. Subban ($0.875m)
Jaroslav Spacek ($3.833m) / Alexei Yemelin ($0.984m)
Yannick Weber ($0.850m)

Carey Price ($2.750m) / Josh Harding ($1.500m)

BUYOUTS: Georges Laraque ($0.500m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $58,153,842; BONUSES: $725,000
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $6,146,158

10:00 AM - Contact local Montreal authorities to put our a Missing Persons Alert for Jaromir Jagr after his agent, Petr Svoboda, still has no news for you.

10:05 AM - $6M in upgrades remaining available to turn this team into a true contender. The next obvious need is some support up front. Neither Aaron Palushaj nor Olivier Fortier is likely to start the season on the team’s NHL roster, barring a huge training camp surprise or multiple injuries. I would love to see Gauthier aggressively target a top 6 capable forward, which would allow for some line juggling to possibly have Andrei Kostitsyn play on a third scoring line alongside David Desharnais and/or Lars Eller. If this does not come through, the team should be looking to add some size, muscle, and offense to a third or fourth trio. On that note, here are my new remaining Top 10 Forward Targets (note that we removed Jaromir Jagr from the list due to a report that looked like he would end up in Pittsburgh; he remains our #1 option if available tomorrow and if found):

10) Matt D’Agostini
- UFA to avoid arbitration in St. Louis
- Speedy winger coming off 20 goal season, only 24 years old
- Return to Montreal probably unlikely
- Contract offer: 2 years, $3.8M

9) Anthony Stewart
- 6’3”, 230 lbs former first round pick right winger
- Set career highs with 14 goals, 39 points last season
- Montreal native
- Contract offer: 2 years, $2M

8) Tomas Fleischmann
- Dropped on list since last UFA evaluation due to no new health assessment
- 12 G, 31 PTS in 45 games last season (projects to 21 G, 56 PTS over 82 GP)
- Good size (6’1”), only 27 years old
- Contract offer: 1 year (health reasons), $2.25M

7) Mike Rupp
- 6’5”, 230 lbs 4th line winger who can chip in ~15 points
- Scored Stanley Cup winning goal in 02-03 with New Jersey
- Can play any forward position, but bonus of being strong in face-off circle
- Contract offer: 2 years, $2.4M

6) Tyler Kennedy
- Small but skilled forward cut loose for contractual reasons like D’Agostini
- Can fit in anywhere in the line-up (incl. PP + PK), like a younger Jeff Halpern
- Career highs last season with 21 goals, 45 points in absence of Crosby, Malkin
- Contract offer: 2 years, $4.5M

5) Raffi Torres
- Average-sized but physical forward who sometimes plays over the line
- 30 years old, can produce ~15 goals and ~30 points from a third line
- Tends to be streaky offensively, but always plays a hard, straight-line game
- Contract offer: 2 years, $3.5M

4) Sean Bergenheim
- Never lived up to pre-draft offensive hype in N.Y. Islanders system
- Set career high with 29 points in regular season this year, but exploded in playoffs with 9 goals and 11 points in 16 games
- Still just 27, he’s average sized, but can play in all situations
- Contract offer: 3 years, $6.6M

3) Ville Leino
- First full NHL season last year, scored 19 goals and 53 pts as a 27 year old
- Speedy winger described by Ken Holland as “best player he’s ever had to trade”
- Only average sized, but lots of offensive upside
- Contract offer: 3 years, $9M

2) Simon Gagne
- Omitted from our initial list due to injury history and declining performances
- Given who’s out there, one of the most offensively gifted players on market
- Average sized, but was a 30-40 goal scorer just a few years ago in Philadelphia
- Still only 31, had a great playoffs with 12 points in 15 games
- Contract offer: 3 years, $9M

1) Erik Cole
- Was set to become one of game’s premiere power forwards before injuries + personal problems
- 6’2”, 205 lbs winger that can take the body; type of player Habs need when healthy
- Showed new life last season, playing all 82 games and scoring 26 goals, and 52 points
- Questionable as to whether he would want to leave Carolina
- Contract offer: 2 years (health risk), $8M

Ideally, one offensive top 6er and one bottom 6 grinder (other options could include Ben Eager, Zenon Knopka, Eric Belanger, or Joel Ward) could be added at reasonable rates. Let’s take an example and see where this puts us:

Mike Cammalleri ($6.000m) / Tomas Plekanec ($5.000m) / Erik Cole ($4.000m)
Max Pacioretty ($1.625m) / Scott Gomez ($7.357m) / Brian Gionta ($5.000m)
David Desharnais ($0.850m) / Lars Eller ($1.270m) / Andrei Kostitsyn ($3.250m)
Travis Moen ($1.500m) / Michael Rupp ($1.225m) / Ryan White ($0.650m)
Mathieu Darche ($0.700m)

Andrei Markov ($5.750m) / Josh Gorges ($3.000m)
Hal Gill ($2.250m) / P.K. Subban ($0.875m)
Jaroslav Spacek ($3.833m) / Alexei Yemelin ($0.984m)
Yannick Weber ($0.850m)

Carey Price ($2.750m) / Josh Harding ($1.500m)

BUYOUTS: Georges Laraque ($0.500m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $60,720,509; BONUSES: $400,000
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $3,579,491

11:00 AM - Market about to open. Call Roman Hamrlik's agent and give him one last chance to accept that one year deal. Because it seems clear that the remaining room should be spent on an extra defenseman to strengthen our depth at that position, especially considering health concerns of Andrei Markov and Jaroslav Spacek. Even just in terms of on-ice product, I would rather not have Spacek in the team’s top 6, so let’s look at some d-men that might be in our price range:

5) Matt Gilroy
- Once a prized college free agent, Gilroy’s play fluctuated between hot and cold this year
- A two-way d-man still only 26 (with just 2 NHL seasons completed), best years may still be ahead of him
- Only average sized, but adds depth allowing Gauthier to dump Spacek if an offer to do so ever presents itself
- Contract offer: 1 year, $750K

4) Shane O’Brien
- Looked like he might not cut it when shipped out of Vancouver, but re-established himself in Nashville
- Not dissimilar to Ryan O’Byrne, 6’3”, 224 lbs, and can lay heavy hits
- At 27 years of age, not a terrible option for a third pairing or added depth
- Contract offer: 1 year, $1M

3) Sami Lepisto
- Average sized d-man bounced around the league the last few seasons, but still only 26
- Averaged 20:00 / game last year in Phoenix and Columbus and finished +10
- Little offense, but reliable enough in own end to be paired with a rookie on third string
- Contract offer: 2 years, $3M

2) Roman Hamrlik
- Turned down Habs one year offer believed to be worth $2.5M-$3.5M
- Might not find a team to commit to him for 2-3 years, would become an option again
- Fits perfectly for one season as a reliable veteran on a third pairing (plus 2nd unit PP and PK), mentoring young players like Alexei Yemelin and Yannick Weber
- Contract offer: 1 year, $3M

1) Jonathan Ericsson
- Entering prime at age 27, slowly developed in the Detroit Red Wings system
- Huge frame at 6’5”, 205 lbs, and mage big strides in his defensive game
- With Brian Rafalski’s retirement, Wings likely to try to keep him
- Contract offer: 3 years, $10M

Assuming we get everything we want, then, the Canadiens could start the 2011-12 campaign with a roster like the following:

Mike Cammalleri ($6.000m) / Tomas Plekanec ($5.000m) / Erik Cole ($4.000m)
Max Pacioretty ($1.625m) / Scott Gomez ($7.357m) / Brian Gionta ($5.000m)
David Desharnais ($0.850m) / Lars Eller ($1.270m) / Andrei Kostitsyn ($3.250m)
Travis Moen ($1.500m) / Michael Rupp ($1.225m) / Ryan White ($0.650m)
Mathieu Darche ($0.700m)

Andrei Markov ($5.750m) / Josh Gorges ($3.000m)
Hal Gill ($2.250m) / P.K. Subban ($0.875m)
Jonathan Ericsson ($3.333m) / Alexei Yemelin ($0.984m)
Jaroslav Spacek ($3.833m) / Yannick Weber ($0.850m)

Carey Price ($2.750m) / Josh Harding ($1.500m)

BUYOUTS: Georges Laraque ($0.500m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $64,053,842; BONUSES: $400,000
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $246,158

Strong depth and no glaring weaknesses means that with a few bounces, this is a team that could compete for the Stanley Cup as soon as this year. A lot of if’s to be sure, but this is how we would love to see Mr. Gauthier approaches tomorrow’s flurry of activity (even if it may be more of a Free Agent Whimper than a Free Agent Frenzy). Certainly, adding Rupp, Cole, and Ericsson would go a long way towards eliminating the "small" label many put on the team.

12:00 PM - Market opens. Gauthier and his staff will begin jamming phone lines and monitoring all channels of communication for news (TV, radio, internet, e-mail, etc.). Fans around their world can only sit back, cross their fingers, and enjoy the show.

Jagr Update: Things Get Murkier

There was a report yesterday morning that Jaromir Jagr was on a plane to New York where he would announce the signing of a 1 year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Whether or not Jagr did arrive in North America is unclear at this point, with his agent stating last night that he was unsure of the Czech's whereabouts at the moment.

This morning we have a story courtesy of Montreal French-language radio station CKAC ( indicating that the Montreal Canadiens may not be out of the race after all. It looks like the Habs might be Jagr's true first choice, as his agent has apparently asked Pierre Gauthier to submit an official offer for the free agent's services.

A main motivation to signing in Montreal for Jagr would be to play with friend and countryman Tomas Plekanec; the two have had great success together on the international stage. From the Canadiens perspective, there is need for additional scoring and certainly some roster spots available at forward, along with plenty of cap room to meet Jaromir's demands.

Stay tuned as this unfolds over the next 29 or so hours!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Habs Make Weber Deal Official

As leaked long ago, the Montreal Canadiens today announced the signing of defenseman Yannick Weber to a 2 year contract, worth a total of $1.7M ($850K annual cap hit).

If we assume that Jaroslav Spacek remains a Canadien and that Alexei Yemelin stays with the team out of training camp, Weber becomes one of 7 d-men on the NHL roster. This means that, while Pierre Gauthier would likely love to upgrade his back end, he has a full house and doesn't NEED to make any other moves on the blueline.

What Realignment Means and Why Not to Worry

At the occasion of last week's NHL Awards (want to beat Jay Mohr WON'T be back next year?), Gary Bettman revealed his vision of the future - specifically the 2012-13 NHL season. With the Winnipeg franchise playing out the coming season in Atlanta's old spot in the South-East Division, it is clear that something will have to change. But what exactly? Could it be as simple as Winnipeg jumping to the West with Detroit finally coming East, and then re-configuring the make-up of the existing divisions? Then what happens if Phoenix moves to, say, Quebec City or Hamilton a year later? And what about Columbus, who like Detroit, is burdened with a difficult travel schedule from their geographic location?

Bettman's tentative plan, it seems, is something somewhat drastic: a vast realignment whereby the current structure would be scrapped in place of two conferences of just two divisions each. In the shorter term, it would mean uneven balances, with each conference having a division of 8 and one of 7 teams, but Bettman expanded by adding expansion to 32 teams at some point would not be impossible. He didn't say it, but hockey fans everywhere would be quick to remind him that contraction to 28 teams could be just as adequate of a solution.

Radical, perhaps, but not never-before-seen. Before the most recent waves of NHL expansion, the league consisted of four divisions: the Patrick and Smythe Divisions, which made up the Campbell Conferenece, and the Adams and Norris Divisions, which made up the Wales Conference. But it is issues like these that had the Toronto Maple Leafs playing in the “Western” Conference at times in their history.

Let’s take a look for a second at a scenario whereby no one moves after this season and there are no new teams being introduced. What might this new NHL look like? I guess the easiest way is to group together teams who MUST be in the same division. Starting with the East…

1) North-East:
Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins

When the NHL went to the newest iteration of its schedule, one of the justifications was to “increase rivalries.” Of course it makes sense for the Maple Leafs to be in a division with their biggest rivals, the Senators and Canadiens, but Montreal’s nearby north-eastern foe, the Bruins, should be glued to this trio as well.

2) New York: New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils
3) Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers
4) Florida: Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning

For both rivalry and geographic reasons, it would make no sense to ever separate any of these club groupings.

Now we’re left with the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, and Washington Capitals, plus one team moving from the West to the East. Everything points to that team being the Detroit Red Wings, but it is hard to move them while justifying keeping the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators West.

The Sabres fall somewhere between the North-East and New York groupings, while the Canes and Caps could realistically join any of the clusters, making them the easiest ones to work with.

So let’s take a shot at this.


North-East Division
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
Pittsburgh Penguins
Philadelphia Flyers

South-East Division
Florida Panthers
Tampa Bay Lightning
Carolina Hurricanes
Washington Capitals
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
New Jersey Devils

It’s a little awkward putting the New York teams in the “South” while the Pennsylvania teams are in the “North”, but this is roughly as close as you can get due to the inability to split the clusters we identified. Maybe we’ll see the re-emergence of naming schemes like Adams and Norris to smooth the understanding of the realignment.

Next we shift our focus to the other side. Similar inseparable clusters emerge:

1) Western Canada
Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets

2) The North + East (ironically also the “Mid-West”)
Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues

3) California + South-West
Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Phoenix Coyotes

This geographic grouping leaves us with 3 “outliers”, being the Nashville Predators, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Dallas Stars, where it would seem the easiest classification goes according to time zone. However, given the three zones covered by Western Canada, a North-South split that alleviates travel distance seems easiest to establish.

Coordinating this is a bit messy, but let’s try:


North-West Division
Vancouver Canucks
Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers
Winnipeg Jets
Minnesota Wild
Chicago Blackhawks
Columbus Blue Jackets
St. Louis Blues

South-West Division
Anaheim Ducks
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
Phoenix Coyotes
Colorado Avalanche
Dallas Stars
Nashville Predators

This would be one scenario with each conference featuring divisions of 7 and 8 teams respectively. There are a number of scenarios as to how this could work in terms of standings. One option is to follow the AHL’s imbalanced divisions approach: the top 4 teams from each division make the playoffs, and the first round of the playoffs is within the division only (followed by the standard re-seeding). There can be a clause by which if the 5th place team in the 8-team division has more points than the 4th place team in the 7-team division, it gets ranked ahead and “crosses over” to make the playoffs instead.

Alternatively, you could imbalance the conferences by taking Columbus out of the West and adding it to the East to create a conference with divisions of 8 and one with divisions of 7. The most logical way to manage this model would be a system that some in the media have been clamouring for regardless: have the top 16 teams league-wide make the post-season regardless of divisional or conference ranking.

In either case, there are a number of plausible scenarios that will shake-up the make-up of the National Hockey League following this season. But just as the league has survived many schedule alternations, and even the standings-impacting implementation (and subsequent modification) of the shootout/overtime loser point, this will not truly impact the game we all know and love on the ice.

So don’t freak out when you hear about a “major change to the NHL” in the form of realignment. Your Canadiens will still be Your Canadiens, whether they play in the North-East Division of the Eastern Conference or the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Division of the Ted Lindsay Conference. Let the cards fall as they may, and don’t let this be another reason to hate on Gary Bettman – the man has a difficult job, and may make mistakes, but let’s focus on the important issues like quality of product and safety of players. It is in the NHL's favour to bring us the fans the great matchups like Montreal-Boston, Montreal-Toronto, or games against other Canadian teams, and since we indirectly sign their paycheck, at the end of the day, they will give us what we want.

Habs Trade Wisniewski's Rights to Columbus

BREAKING NEWS: As reported by multiple sources, notably Eklund but then confirmed by Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch, the Montreal Canadiens have traded the rights to pending UFA James Wisniewski to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 7th round pick in 2012. If Columbus signs him, the pick becomes a 5th rounder instead.

The Canadiens acquired Wisniewski from the New York Islanders back in December for a 2nd round pick in 2011 and 5th rounder in 2012 amidst injuries to the team's blueline and a sputtering powerplay. He caught fire with the Habs, scoring 30 points in 43 games, and helping to turn the team's season around while logging a team-high in minutes.

It appears Wisniewski's salary expectations were beyond what GM Pierre Gauthier was willing to commit to. That said, it is still not entirely impossible for Montreal to have an offer in should no deal be struck prior to noon on Friday.

Those with a dirty sense of humour may find funny the concept of Wisniewski being traded to a team nicknamed the BJs, given an on-ice act that towards Sean Avery that led to a Wisniewski suspension earlier last season while he was still an Islander. For those of short or selective memory, here's a clip:

Hamrlik Holds Out For Term

Defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who made $5.5M in Montreal last season, has announced that he will not accept the 1-year contract offer made to him by general manage Pierre Gauthier yesterday. Hamrlik would like to stay in Montreal, but sensing this may be the final deal of his career, wants to sign for 2-3 years, and thus is open to exploring other destinations on July 1.

It is believed the offer made to Hamrlik was a single season for between $2.5M and $3.5M. The burden of the final season of Jaroslav Spacek's 35+ deal at $3,833,333 means Gauthier's funds are limited on his blueline and may cause him pause before dishing out a new multi-year 35+ contract - a risky move as the cap hit can only be eliminated by means of trade.

At this point it is safe to assume Gauthier may explore other avenues to add a defenseman once free agency opens, or show faith in those under contract at least to start the season.

A Note About Our Site

We are not Eklund at HockeyBuzz, and will never post any stories coming strictly from him. We are not any of a myriad of blogs falsely claiming to have sources deep inside the management teams of any of a number of NHL clubs. We don't post made-up rumours (or rumors) to draw traffic to our site or Twitter account.

This morning, it seems a Russian media source picked up our Tweet about Jaromir Jagr's contract being signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This Tweet was simply re-hashing something written by Twitter user incarceratedbob, who we couldn't directly re-Tweet because his posts are "private." On many issues, ibob has proven his reliability, and we would only repeat stories we find to be credible/probable (not stories of "early preliminary discussions" like his talk of a Luongo for Stamkos swap).

We DO have some sources on a few issues, and this has allowed us in past and will continue to allow us to break some information before others, particularly when it pertains to the Montreal Canadiens. We will NEVER post something on our website as fact unless we are sure of it, and will only relay rumours we've confirmed as valid from either multiple sources or a source we deeply trust.

Hope this addresses anyone's questions or concerns. Feel free to contact us any time for further information about our site or any posts or Tweets.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top 10 Unqualified RFAs That Could Interest Habs

Our previous two Tuesday Top 10 articles are the most viewed in this blog's short history, so we hope not to disappoint readers this week!

Yesterday was the deadline for teams to tender qualifying offers to their pending restricted free agents in order to retain their rights beyond July 1st. Players to whom offers were submitted remain sole property of their club, and could only be signed to offer sheets by other teams, in which case their club would receive draft pick compensation for them should they choose not to match.

Today, however, we will look at some of the players to whom offers were not submitted. These players - if a deal is not reached with their former team before then - will become unrestricted free agents on Friday, able to offer their services to any team they please. For the Canadiens, this meant saying goodbye to Benoit Pouliot, Tom Pyatt, and Alexandre Picard. Similar players were let go league-wide, and some of them just might interest Montreal given the limited names available on the market.

Throughout the league's history, there have been many players who simply didn't fit in well with a team's philosophy or in that club's line-up. This is sometimes no real fault of the player's own, and in some situations, the player may excel once joining a new team. It is with that hope that I present to you a list of 10 players not tendered yesterday th
at I feel may be worth a shot with the Habs.

10) Byron Bitz, RW
Previous Team: Florida Panthers / 6'3" / 200 lbs / 26 years old

Bitz looked to be establishing himself as a solid 4th line role player with the Boston Bruins, able to lay the body and kill penalties when needed. He even showed some limited offensive upside at times. A rare and awkward skating style, not unlike that of former Canadien Jason Ward, may have held him back somewhat at the NHL level, and his career path derailed when he joined the Panthers. But for a team lacking size and muscle like Montreal, he could be worth a look, and could always be waived down to Hamilton should he not fit in (I'm sure the Bulldogs could make better use of Bitz than of Jimmy Bonneau). There are preferable players on the market like Ben Eager and Zenon Knopka, but never hurts to have another back-up plan!

9) Anton Stralman, D
Previous Team: Columbus Blue Jackets / 6'2" / 193 lbs / 24 years old

A former Toronto top prospect, Stralman is an offensive defenseman who has produced well but has some inefficiencies in his own end. Still, puck-moving blueliners are something the Canadiens seem to feel they can never have enough of based on the 2012 entry draft and the past seasons' signings of Alexandre Picard and Marc-Andre Bergron, and Stralman would likely come cheap. If Gauthier can get him to sign a two-way deal, he could provide some added organizational depth to either the AHL or NHL club, even if he doesn't really fit a need at the time being. It may also free up the GM to shop Yannick Weber for some offensive help, as Stralman could fill a similar role in a #7 or 8 spot.

8) Nicklas Bergfors, LW
Previous Team: Florida Panthers / 5'11" /190 lbs / 24 years old

The second Panther on this list (but hey, keep in mind, they're the same team that waived Michael Grabner!), Bergfors seemed like he would make the New Jersey Devils regret including him in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade with his initial performances in Atlanta. However, as an undersized scoring winger, his inconsistent performances quickly had the Thrashers lose patience, and he ended up in Florida, where 7 points in 20 games were not enough to earn him a new contract with the Panthers. As a first round pick in 2006, his skill and potential are undeniable, so perhaps he's just waiting for the right coach or line combination, but at 5'11" and under 200 lbs, he doesn't bring anything truly new to the table for the Habs.

7) Patrick O'Sullivan, C
Previous Team: Minnesota Wild / 6'0" / 180 lbs / 26 years old

For a player who initially looked like another testament to just how deep and strong the 2003 NHL Entry Draft was, O'Sullivan's path has contained plenty of bumps and bruises. After a year and a half as a point-per-game or better producer in the American Hockey League, O'Sullivan's initial performances with the Los Angeles Kings showed strong future potential as an offensively gifted 2nd or 3rd line centerman. A trade to the Edmonton Oilers sent him into a tailspin, however, and stops in Carolina and Minnesota proved no more fruitful. He may be nearing the end of his lifelines at this point, spending half of last season back in the AHL (and again dominating offensively, rekindling some hope that he may someday put it all together). With Dustin Boyd and Nigel Dawes leaving Hamilton for the KHL, couldn't hurt to have another offensive C in the organization.

6) Jiri Tlusty, LW
Previous Team: Carolina Hurricanes / 6'0" / 209 lbs / 23 years old

On the earlier note of former Maple Leaf top prospects, Tlusty was Toronto's first rounder from 2006. After getting past scandalous photos of him leaked on the internet around the time of his arrival in North America, Tlusty established himself as a prolific scorer in the American League (not unlike O'Sullivan), but for whatever reason, he hasn't been able to translate his game to the NHL level. Still only 23, certainly a third team will at least give him a shot after stings with the Leafs and Hurricanes. With Benoit Pouliot leaving Montreal, Tlusty could easily be a replacement for added offensive depth within the organization, though the team would rather have a bigger and tougher player.

5) Matt D'Agostini, RW
Previous Team: St. Louis Blues / 6'0" /201 lbs / 24 years old

Yes, yes, I hear your objections already. "Been there, done that." "That ship has sailed." "Why would he work this time?" Well, D'Agostini had a good season for the Blues, scoring 21 goals and 46 points in 82 games, but St. Louis chose not to qualify him to avoid having him take them to arbitration. They are still interested in signing him, but now the ball is in Matt's court - he's free to wait to hear what offers are out there this summer. A speedy winger who would provide scoring depth and whose game might fit in nicely with the mix of forwards already in Montreal, D'Ags is maturing as a player and showing the potential we saw as a superstar in Hamilton. A return to Montreal might be unlikely, but it certainly shouldn't stop Gauthier from giving his agent a call for a team that needs guys who can score at 5-on-5.

4) Matt Gilroy, D
Previous Team: New York Rangers / 6'1" / 201 lbs / 26 years old

A coveted college free agent back in 2009, Gilroy made the leap straight from University to the NHL with his hometown New York Rangers. A two-way blueliner who has been a solid contributor to the Rangers back end, Gilroy's QO proved too rich for the Rangers who - thanks in part to the Scott Gomez trade - have a couple of young d-men they need to make room for as it stands. The acquisition of Tim Erixon from the Calgary Flames earlier this summer made Gilroy even further expendable, but the d-man who played anywhere between 12 and 19 minutes a night will find a home on some other team's roster. Able to take a dependable shift while also playing 2nd powerplay unit minutes means he could be an option to add more bodies on to the Montreal back end should a need arise (trades, injuries, etc.).

3) Sami Lepisto, D
Previous Team: Columbus Blue Jackets / 6'1" / 195 lbs / 26 years old

A near carbon copy of Gilroy, Lepisto has shown strong offensive instincts from the back end (including seasons of 42 and 45 points in the AHL), Lepisto logged significant minutes while playing for the Phoenix Coyotes (often over 20 minutes a night). If the Canadiens are satisfied with their defensive depth after signing Raphael Diaz and Alexei Yemelin, there may not be a need for Lepisto, but on a cheap contract, he will provide reliable service to whichever team he ends up with.

2) Anthony Stewart, RW
Previous Team: Atlanta Thrashers / 6'2" / 239 lbs / 26 years old

A 2003 first rounder with less to show for himself than Montreal's Andrei Kostitsyn, Stewart finally arrived on the scene in a big way this past season, with breakout (or were they fluke) numbers in Atlanta (39 points in 80 games). Another big body winger who could be worth a look with Pouliot's departure, Stewart could chip in some goals and create some room on a third line with a smaller center like David Desharnais. The skill and size combination is what will earn Stewart another buy-in, much like Pouliot who is destined to find employment (and perhaps success) elsewhere as well.

1) Tyler Kennedy, C
Previous Team: Pittsburgh Penguins / 5'10" / 183 lbs / 24 years old

Tom Pyatt, meet the you that you wish you could be. A two-way center coming off a 20 goal season with the Penguins, Kennedy can fill in at any forward position on truly any line, while taking shifts on the powerplay and penalty kill. His versatility makes him a valuable asset, and it is only a contractual snafu that led the Penguins to not qualify him - he may very will still sign in Pittsburgh prior to the 1st. Should he hit the market, however, despite his diminutive stature, he will have plenty of teams calling, as he is the type of 110% every shift player that you can win with. Would make for a great replacement of Jeff Halpern and Tom Pyatt in one and would contribute some secondary scoring outside of the top 6.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pyatt, Pouliot Not Qualified - Will be UFAs

As we broke on Twitter earlier this afternoon, the Montreal Canadiens did not extend qualifying offers to Benoit Pouliot or Tom Pyatt, meaning they will become unrestricted free agents this Friday (July 1st). This does not stop general manager Pierre Gauthier from offering them contracts at a lesser amount come that day (though you can't get much lower than Pyatt's earnings last year).

While Pouliot at $1,350,000 may not be a bargain, it is never a good day to see an asset completely wasted. Guillaume Latendresse, if healthy this season, will be a contributing member of the Minnesota Wild, while the Habs will have absolutely nothing to show in return. As frustrating as Pouliot's inconsistencies can be, a 24 year old 6'3" winger with 28 goals in 118 games in Montreal is an odd player to simply give up on, but clearly he was no longer in the plans in this city, with the team preferring to retain 34-year old Mathieu Darche at half the price.

Pyatt's lack of offer is a little more surprising given that he made just $500,000 last season. A defensive fourth line forward who can kill penalties effectively, the fact is Pyatt is quite replaceable, and players of his style are not particularly expensive to obtain on the free agent market. It is possible that Pyatt is offered a contract later in the summer, but the good news for Habs fans is this may signify Gauthier looking to replace him with a bigger, more physical body. Certainly, however, this move does little to reassure fans of the Scott Gomez trade 2 years ago, with the cap sore center the last remaining asset the Canadiens got in the deal, while Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko remain with the Rangers.

As predicted, Alexandre Picard also did not receive an offer, and will not be returning to the club next season.

RFAs Josh Gorges, Yannick Weber, and Ryan White received offers, allowing the team to retain their rights and to continue to negotiate new deals.
Playing in Hamilton last year, all of Mathieu Carle, Ryan Russell, Frederic St. Denis, and Kyle Klubertanz also received offers. Klubertanz is already signed in Europe for the upcoming campaign, while it is unclear which of the others may choose to follow suit.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Movement for Wills + Nilan to Team 990!

Monday, June 27, 2011 - MONTREAL - This morning, YourCanadiens is proud to announce the launch of a new campaign for the consideration of broadcaster Dererk Wills and former Montreal Canadien Chris Nilan to become the new play-by-play duo on the new home of the Montreal Canadiens on radio, The Team 990.

We have launched a page in support of the movement, along with a letter you can sign to show your support to The Team 990 as they plan to make a decision later this summer. You can also promote this page on your own site by linking this mini banner back to that page.

Check it out! We promise to keep you updated of this initiative's progress as it moves along. We believe the voice of the fans can and will have an impact on The Team's decision process, even though of course a business decision must be made at some point. So if you agree with the selections, get in on it now!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Time of Decisions for Habs Gauthier

With the NHL Entry Draft in the books, Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier can now turn fully to the team's present pro roster as the focus of his attention.

This week is a big one for Mr. Gauthier, with free agency to begin next Friday, July 1st, at noon, and a number of players set to walk out of the Habs door. We'll begin by looking at these pending unrestricted free agents yet to sign with the team:

1) James Wisniewski

The big ticket member of the group, as time passes with little news, it seems increasingly likely The Wizz will hit the market on Friday. This doesn't mean a return to Montreal is impossible, only improbably as the Habs can ill afford to get into a bidding war with the likes of the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, and Chicago Blackhawks. Wisniewski is likely looking for between $4.5M and $5.2M per year on a long-term contract, knowing this summer is his big chance to cash in. There is a question, then, as to whether Gauthier will be able to deal Wizz's rights this week to one of the teams wanting to sign him for - likely - a draft pick in 2012. It seemed there were negotiations going on in Minnesota this weekend, but nothing came to pass. As nice as it would be to have him back, with Markov and Subban in the line-up, the Habs need for a Powerplay specialist is minimal. Wisniewski's defensive game is pretty average, meaning someone who can play in all situations like the next guy might be a better fit.

2) Roman Hamrlik

Certainly at age 37, Hamrlik's best days are behind him. However, he loves Montreal and acknowledges he's nearing the end of his career, willing to take a sizeable pay cut. Hammer's agent Petr Svoboda reported last week that the Canadiens informed him he'd receive an offer, but there has been no indication of the dollar amount or how it was seen by the Hamrlik camp. With the focus on getting younger on D, Hamrlik will likely only be retained if Gauthier can find a taker for the final year of Jaroslav Spacek's contract. Still, if there were to be a way, Hammer would, for my money, be a welcome returnee on a 1 year deal (~$2.5M-$3M) in a lesser role, getting time on 2nd powerplay and 2nd penalty kill units, and perhaps being a responsible vet alongside a youngster like Yannick Weber or Alexei Yemelin at 5 on 5.

3) Jeff Halpern

Halpern performed admirably in the fourth line center role, much as Glen Metropolit before him. The 35 year old, who gets married today with Mathieu Darche amongst other past teammates attending the wedding, looks to still have another few years in the tank, but it seems his time in Montreal may be up. With Darche returning, there is plenty of bottom 6 forward depth already in the organization, plus Andreas Engqvist appears about ready to assume Halpern's role up from Hamilton. It doesn't hurt that Engqvist brings a 6'4" frame to the line-up either. All the same, if Halpern doesn't find employment elsewhere by later this summer, retaining him on a one year contract for added depth is not out of the question.

4) Brent Sopel

The former Stanley Cup winner with the Blackhawks did well to help solidify the injury-ravaged Habs back end late in the season, but with the return of Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, and the re-signing of Hal Gill, the depth he brings is no longer needed. Still a solid bottom pairing NHL d-man, he is sure to find a contract elsewhere.

5) Paul Mara

I would certainly not be opposed to Mara returning as a 7th defenseman, but it seems the numbers game means there is no room for him. While his toughness would be a welcome addition, it is time to give some younger players (Weber, Yemelin) a chance with the club as opposed to the revolving door of band-aid solutions.

These UFAs aren't the only Habs without contracts, however. Tomorrow (Monday the 27th) is the deadline to make qualifying offers to all pending Restricted Free Agents (RFA), or else they will join their UFA brethren in the ability to sign anywhere around the league. This encompasses the following players:

1) Josh Gorges

Don't worry, ladies and gentlemen, Josh Gorges WILL be qualified. There were some murmurs that went up over the fact that he had not yet signed, while others like Andrei Kostitsyn, David Desharnais, and Max Pacioretty had gotten their deals done. "Will he be traded?" some asked. No, the likely scenario is that Gauthier is looking to get Gorges locked up longer-term, which is far more complicated to negotiate than a player returning at his present salary (Gill, Markov) or looking at a 1-2 year deal (the other RFAs). Gauthier also made a statement prior to this weekend's draft that shed some light on the situation, describing Montreal's defense situation as a "puzzle that needs to be solved." Simply, this means he needs to burn the midnight oil all week to figure out where Gorges - or guys like Wisniewski and Hamrlik - fit in the short and long term plans. The good thing is, once the RFAs are qualified, there is no time pressure to sign them basically any time up until the start of training camp in September.

2) Benoit Pouliot

Perhaps the most interesting decision facing Pierre Gauthier is the case of Mr. Pouliot. His qualifying offer would come in at $1,350,000, a number he would almost certainly accept for a season, given last year's disappointing results. It is likely, then, that Gauthier tries to shop Pouliot today and into tomorrow morning to a club that would take him at that amount, or else face losing him for no return by not tendering him an offer. Unless P.G. strongly believes he will spend right up to the cap this year, it seems like bad practice not to retain a 24-year old 6'3" winger who 28 goals in 118 regular season games with the Habs. This kind of bad asset management is what, to many, has kept the Canadiens from being a top contender the past few years. In my mind, he MUST be qualified, and if he isn't cutting it, can be waived during the year.

3) Yannick Weber

There was a rumour a couple of weeks back that Weber had signed a 2-year deal, but it was denied by both sides. He has made it known through his Twitter account that he will be in Montreal over the summer to help out with the Canadiens development kids summer camp, so there is no reason to doubt he will return. The question is just on the commitment of dollars and years to the Swiss rearguard.

4) Tom Pyatt

With a QO of just $550,000, no reason for the Habs not to retain Pyatt's rights. Certainly not the flashiest of players, Tommy fits in nicely on a fourth line, playing an error-free brand of defensive forward hockey and being a capable penalty killer. He's an easy 12th/13th/14th forward, able to jump in and out of the line-up as called for.

5) Alexandre Picard

If Pyatt is an easy guy to qualify, Picard is the easiest to let go. He filled in when needed last year, but hopefully there will be fewer injuries in Montreal this season. And even if injuries are to occur, hopefully there will be better replacements prepared than Picard.

6) Ryan White

Like Pyatt, White will definitely be qualified, but will likely take a paycut to earn himself a one-way contract for the first time in his career. White has shown he brings something to the table that the Canadiens have a need for with his feisty play and willingness to drop the gloves. He'll be back.

With the Habs RFAs and UFAs out of the way, it's time to take a look at who around the rest of the league might interest the team. Let's begin with...


We looked previously at a Top 10 of Unrestricted Free Agents that may interest the Habs, but what has changed between then and now?

Well, first, rumour has Gauthier indeed shopping for additional top 9 scoring help, and the names of Brooks Laich and Chris Higgins have surfaced. It also seems that the team may be active in adding a blueliner with attempts to move Jaroslav Spacek, so there may be interest in a player adept in his own end like Scott Hannan or Jonathan Ericsson. In any case, after re-signing the RFAs, Montreal should have about $8M left to spend, which means plenty of room to bring in 1-2 new bodies.

One position that MUST be filled via UFA is that of Carey Price's back-up. There has been little news of talk with Alex Auld's agent, so perhaps Gauthier will look to another available netminder such as Mathieu Garon, Josh Harding, Ty Conklin, or Johan Hedberg. All should be relatively inexpensive, and able to carry the load for the 12-18 games they will be asked to play.


Gauthier was actively in discussion with a number of general managers throughout draft weekend, and continues to be at present. Certainly, as mentioned, much of this discussion surrounded Benoit Pouliot and/or the rights to James Wisniewski. But as Gauthier tries to solve his puzzled blueline, moving Spacek also must be a top priority. It is the GM's responsibility to ice the best possible group of players, and there is no doubt a better way to spend $3.8M than on another year of the 37-year old Czech. It should be noted, for those unaware, that none of sending Spacek to Hamilton, asking him to retire, or getting him to play in Europe will alleviate the Habs of his cap hit. Because he signed the deal at 35 or above, his cap hit remains unless his contract is traded to another team.

Another rumour that made a splash had the Habs in talks with the Phoenix Coyotes about Scott Gomez. After seeing Brian Campbell's albatross of a contract dealt to a team trying to meet the Salary Cap floor, it is possible - although still unlikely - that a club in a similar position is willing to take Gomez. It seems unlikely, though, for Montreal to trade Gomez this summer with no one ready to step into a top 6 center role just yet, and few names available from other clubs (no, we won't be able to sign Brad Richards). Perhaps next year if Lars Eller and/or David Desharnais exceed expectations, and Louis Leblanc looks almost ready to make the jump following his first AHL season.

So that's where we stand. As Gauthier repeated emphatically this weekend, the core of the Canadiens hasn't been together very long - just 2 seasons for most players and even less for others. This means don't expect any RADICAL changes, just some minor tweaks as the GM tries to put together a real contender. While player personnel has to be the main focus, he'll also need to replace Kirk Muller on the bench - no easy task - as Captain Kirk leaves for the Nashville Predators organization to be a head coach of their AHL affiliate.

It is certain to be an exciting week around the league no matter what.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Assessing Habs Class of 2011

Admittedly, my first reaction to the overall Montreal Canadiens draft class this weekend was one of frustration. I went in looking for the Habs to pick up some help offensively, particularly from some big bodies who could win battles in the corners and would go to the net. That was the basis of a previous article on this site which included my top 10 hopefuls for Montreal's first round pick. Two forwards (one of whom is 5'11") and 5 defensemen later, clearly my wishes did not come true. Nor did my hopes of picking up a 2nd rounder or finding a taker for Jaroslav Spacek's contract. Now that it's all settled in, however, the Canadiens did do a reasonable job of adding some at least intriguing names to their prospect cupboard, and we'll take you through them one-by-one.

But before we do, let's talk draft strategy. With a few rare exceptions (e.g. Jeff Skinner, Cam Fowler...), few players outside the Top 3-5 are able to make a jump straight from being drafted to the NHL. Most players require 2-4 years before they play their first game with the club that selected them. This has a few ramifications, most importantly being that a team should not draft based on what they were lacking in the previous NHL season. The draft is not where you find that kind of help. For immediate assistance, call free agency or the trade line.

While drafting is not a science, it does require a lot of preparatory work. Certainly all teams will come in saying their position is to take the "Best Player Available" (BPA), but a club must also consider where that player will fit in the organization. This means having an idea of what your team MIGHT look like some 3-5 years down the road. Pierre Gauthier wasn't wrong when he said Thursday night that he felt Montreal would be able to get a Top 10 talent at pick #17, but whoever that player would be would definitely require some time before paying off.

So what DID Montreal need? Looking at last season, the lack of NHL talent depth on defense was apparent when injuries struck, forcing Gauthier to give up valuable picks to get first James Wisniewski, and then later Paul Mara and Brent Sopel. Looking at next season, depending on what happens with the unrestricted free agents slated to leave the team, the situation hasn't much changed, with Alexei Yemelin and Raphael Diaz representing wildcards which no one is certain how will perform. But of course, as we've stated, the draft is NOT for fixing short-term problems.

Offensively, the team definitely needed help scoring goals 5 on 5. The issue of team toughness was also raised, so the team should be looking for some size and muscle (not necessarily in the form of a traditional "enforcer"). Clearly, then, there is a glaring need up front as well.

One would assume the situation in 'nets was adequate, but hold on there. What if (knock on wood) anything were to happen to Carey Price? There is no one in the organization who would be qualified to start many consecutive games (despite a few capable back-ups) and seemingly absolutely no potential starters in the pipeline. So this may be a need as well.

Next we turn to some prospects the team did have. There appears to be a never-ending list of potential third and fourth liners whose ability to creep into the Top 6 has yet to be decided. We're talking about players like Andreas Engqvist, Aaron Palushaj, Michael Bournival, Brendan Gallagher, Louis Leblanc, Danny Kristo, Alexander Avtsin, and Joonas Nattinen. A nice group that will produce some solid players, but no guaranteed 25+ goal scorers in the lot either. The blueline prospects are led by last year's first rounder Jarred Tinordi, but include a number of "project" types with plenty of potential: Mac Bennett, Greg Pateryn, Brendan Nash, and Morgan Ellis. The group as a whole is slanted more towards offensive puck-movers than shutdown guys (with Tinordi a notable exception), so again team toughness can be raised as an issue.

When we put all this together, what do we see? The Canadiens big a few big offensive players. They have lots of "safe" future NHL-ers, but lack in top end quality. So I wanted to see them take risks on a guy who *might* someday pop 30. Draft a player in the mold of Milan Lucic or Erik Cole. And even just a guy who could drop his gloves when needed but also take a regular shift. It seemed these were areas where our future was weak. There was no need for offensive blueliners when more time and effort could be spent on developing the potential within the system in guys like Bennett and Ellis.

Then, the first round happened. At 17, there were two targets I had in mind: Mark Scheifele and Mark McNeill. Big, offensively gifted, right-handed centermen don't coming along very often and are difficult to acquire. Certainly the Canadiens haven't had one in quite some time. When Scheifele went 7th overall to the Winnipeg Jets, I crossed my fingers that McNeill would slip to our pick. And he did. I waited for Trevor Timmins to pronounce the words "From the Prince Albert Raiders...", but instead, this happened:

The Montreal Canadiens select defenseman Nathan Beaulieu 17th overall

I was shaken at first, as Beaulieu doesn't appear to fill any short- or long-term needs. Admittedly, it was surprising that he had fallen to us, as many had Beaulieu in the top 10 or 12 picks of the draft. Certainly, it can't be a bad thing that he's a smooth skating 6'2" defenseman drawing comparisons to P.K. Subban. Even if there is no immediate need for that, it is a top notch asset for the organization. However, we must consider that he played for the top junior team in Canada in Saint John, so it remains to be seen how much that impacted his numbers and performance. "He's not even French!" I yelled at my television, against anyone who would suggest it was important to take him to meet a francophone quota in the organization. And with identical stats in each of the last 2 years, he hasn't shown much progress or growth. My heart sank a little deeper when the Chicago Blackhawks snatched up McNeill with the very next pick at 18. But if you want to get a little excited about Beaulieu, check out some articles:

Well, MAYBE this pick won't turn out so badly after all. MAYBE.... :)
Who We Would Have Chosen: Mark McNeill

Unfortunately, the Canadiens were unable to pick up a 2nd rounder despite it seeming like Pierre Gauthier was constantly in active discussions with other general managers. It was extra unfortunate given that names like Tomas Jurco and Boone Jenner were still available, players whose profiles met my wants.

But that's ok. The scouting staff would make up for it with our third rounder, right? They had the potential to with some boom-or-bust high skill types still on the board. But then the third rounder was gone. Swapped to Winnipeg for two fourths. Now I have no problem with trading up in the first or 2nd rounder by sacrificing other picks, but it seems a little counterproductive to trade out of a third rounder, considering that top 2 round skilled players are the best bets to make the big leagues, and your last chance to grab such a player with reasonable certainty is generally round 3. But clearly the Habs didn't like anyone on the board and felt their picks would still be there in round 4.

Montreal selects defenseman Josiah Didier with the 97th overall pick

And they were right. Because Didier was way off the board and MIGHT have even still been there in a later round. MIGHT. And he's another defenseman. "Who?" was my first reaction, but a quick Google search reminded me that Didier was seen as a possible sleeper by some and might be a nice project.
But another project blueliner? Doesn't seem like what we want to add to our system. Especially when there was a guy still on the board who looks - at worse - to be a Shawn Thornton type, with the potential to end up like a Lucic, and is who I would have grabbed.
Who We Would Have Chosen: Kale Kessy

Oh... this guy can hit and fight you say? Wellll maybe he'll fit in with the Habs some day...

So how about our next pick? A big forward please?

With the 108th selection, the Montreal Canadiens take LW Olivier Archambault

Yes! Finally! Our new power forward to terrorize opposing defensemen coming in off the wing! Wait... what's that you say? 5'11", 176 lbs? Right... never mind. Producing below a point-per-game in the notoriously offensive QMJHL, Archambault will need some work if he's ever to be a top 6 player. That's not to say he won't develop... he was, after all, a former 1st overall selection in the QMJHL draft. And hey, if his offense isn't there, maybe he can be a good third liner. Until he listed his defensive game as the top area he feels he needs to improve.
So... you're saying maybe the kid DOES have hands after all? Well, let's leave it as next season is a big one for the kid that will be very telling for his future. He needs to put up impressive numbers, as that will be his bread and butter towards earning a contract from the Canadiens.
Who We Would Have Chosen: Seth Ambroz

But wait! Ambroz is still on the board by the time our next selection comes around! There's still a chance to draft the 6'2" winger!

The Montreal Canadiens select defenseman Magnus Nygren with the 113th pick

You're kidding me, right? Another blueliner. My first reaction was to look him up. Birthdate: June 1990. That must be a mistake. No? It's not? A 21-year old Swedish defenseman? Well he's 6'1", so that's reasonable size, and... hey... wait a minute. Check out theses stats! For a 21-year old blueliner already playing in the Swedish Elite League, 15 points in 22 regular season games and another 10 in 14 post-season contests is quite an impressive feat. Still, not thrilled at taking yet another offensive defenseman, but at least this one looks like an underrated asset that may be NHL-ready sooner rather than later. It will be interesting if the Habs brass tries to bring him over to Hamilton immediately or lets him stay in the SEL. Based on Gauthier's comments after the draft, it sounds likely to be one more year in Sweden and then over to North America.

Well... that WAS a pretty sick pass.
Who We Would Have Chosen: Max Friberg

But Friberg slips some more and is still on the board when we make our 5th round selection. He may only be 5'11", but he shows significant potential upside. Soooo here we go!

With the 138th pick, the Montreal Canadiens select defenseman Darren Dietz

Yep. D-E-F-E-N-S-E-M-A-N. Can't lie, though, despite the number of d-men we chose, I quite like this pick. Dietz is a Canadian kid playing in the WHL and coming off a great season where he established himself as a top 4 guy on the Saskatoon back end. At 6'1", he is big enough to compete, and his 27 regular season plus 5 playoff points show a hint at some offensive potential. In the 5th round, to get a guy who shows this many positive signs means a potential steal, so I'll gladly take another project of an asset, knowing he's on the right path.
Who We Would Have Chosen: Philippe Hudon

Oh... and he can hit... and fight. Sign me up.

At pick 168, the Montreal Canadiens select center Daniel Pribyl

And the clouds part, and the sun shines down. A 6'3", right-handed Czech centerman who tore up the Czech junior league last year with 54 points in 39 games. There he is, your big boom-or-bust forward selection. Apparently being courted by both KHL clubs and the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL, perhaps countryman Tomas Plekanec can help to influence him over to North America sooner rather than later so that the Habs can keep a watchful eye on this possible diamond in the rough.

And one last pick to go. Another like Pribyl please!

With their 7th round selection, the Montreal Canadiens take defenseman Colin Sullivan

Admittedly, 7th rounders rarely have great futures ahead of them (would have been nice to nab Patric Hornqvist a few years back, though). So it almost felt like rubbing salt in the wounds when the Habs reached for yet another d-man, and one who even describes himself as an "offensive defenseman." Post-draft interviews showed a confident (bordering on cocky) young man who believes he has all the tools to take it to the next level. At 6'0", he is a mobile skater, who will play one last year in the USHL before moving on to Yale for college hockey, so evidently the term Project applies once again. Oh well, what can you do. Hopefully young Sullivan's mindset will allow him to visualize himself to success.
Who We Would Have Chosen: Benjamin Conz

So there you have it. Your class of 2011. To all those who overreacted and called for Timmins and Gauthier to be axed immediately, take a step back and look at the players that were added. Gauthier has shown he isn't afraid to make a trade, so if we end up with a surplus in one area - particularly d-men where there is always a high demand - he can move from a position of power. The truth is, a lot of these guys have the skills to be NHL players and so long as they develop as projected, this could end up being a very strong draft class for the organization.

No, we still haven't found our 30 goal powerforward. That may be a while. But no matter what, the organization is better off today than it was at the start of the weekend, and the future looks just a little brighter.

Now, Mr. Gauthier, off to an important week for the nearer future of the club with free agency to begin next Friday at noon!

LIVE Draft Day 2 Coverage - Your Canadiens

After a slow start with little movement, Day 1 of the NHL draft turned into quite the exciting affair. See our full recap of the day HERE.

Today we'll bring you coverage of all the Montreal Canadiens draft picks, as well as any player trades that occur. So keep a browser open to this very page and check back with the Refresh button!

Here is a list of Habs picks today (for the time being):

3rd round, 78th overall. - traded for picks #97 and 108.
4th round, 97th overall. - Josiah Didier, D, Cedar Rapids, USHL
4th round, 108th overall. - Olivier Archambault, LW, Val d'Or, QMJHL
4th round, 113th overall. - Magnus Nygren, D, Farjestad, Sweden
5th round, 138th overall. - Darren Dietz, D, Saskatoon, WHL
6th round, 168th overall. - Daniel Pribyl, C, Sparta Jr., Czech Republic
7th round, 198th overall. - Colin Sullivan, D, Avon Old Farms, USHL


- Calgary Flames trade Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik, and a 2nd round pick in 2012 for Bobby Butler and Paul Byron.

- Calgary Flames sign Alex Tanguay to a 5 year contract worth $3.5M per season.

- Ottawa Senators acquire Nikita Filatov from the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 66th overall selection.

- New York Rangers trade Evgeny Grachev to the St. Louis Blues for the 72nd overall pick.

- New York Islanders trade Bruno Gervais to the Tampa Bay Lightning for future considerations.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Markov Meets the Press in Brossard

As Habs fans anxiously await news out of Minnesota today surrounding tonight's NHL Entry Draft, Andrei Markov met with the Montreal media in Brossard today.

A good recap can be found here:

Some GEM quotes from Markov...

Markov: "I was supposed to stay in Russia for two weeks, but I'm happy and comfortable (in Montreal) so I changed my ticket after 7 days."

Markov: "There's always a risk of injury; I play hockey, not chess."

Reporter: "Who's the first guy you're going to hit at your first practice?"
Markov: "Jacques Martin. I'm just kidding."

Reporter: "Will you be able to help mentor the young Alexei Yemelin?"
Markov: "I'm not the coach yet, I'm just a player. But if anybody asks me for help, I'm open to that."

Reporter: "Do you have a no trade clause?"
Markov: "Oh... I have no idea..."
Reporter: "Are you serious?"
Markov: "...Yeah..."

Reporter: "Will you be more cautious in the corners because of the last 2 injuries?"
Markov: "I will be more aggressive."

Reporter: "Were you not interested to test free agency to see what you could be worth on the open market?"
Markov: "It must be interesting but I'm happy here. Our crowd is the best crowd in the league, so every time I step on the ice I'm excited."

LIVE Draft Day Coverage - Your Canadiens

If yesterday's flurry of trades and signings were any indication, we may be in for an exciting day of hockey today. The first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft begins at 7 PM tonight, but with all the General Managers around the league in a single hotel and arena, anything can (and hopefully will) happen! Stay tuned to this very post all day for the latest on what's going on. If you keep returning to this page or refreshing it, you will see the latest updates denoted by a .

Couple of resources previously posted here to whet your appetite:
- Summary of Habs rumours from yesterday


- Calgary Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr refuses to waive his no trade clause for a deal that would send him to the Buffalo Sabres for an undisclosed return. The Flames will explore other options with Regehr.

- Pierre Gauthier is actively shopping Benoit Pouliot. If no trade partner is found, Pouliot might not be qualified.

- Gauthier is also in the market for a top 6-able winger, but is in no hurry as he can wait for free agency on July 1st. Chris Higgins' name is being floated out there as a potential return to Montreal.

- CKAC reports that Gauthier is shopping Jaroslav Spacek and Yannick Weber in addition to Pouliot.

- Brad Richards will not be dealt, as he intends on testing the free agent market July 1st.

- After their blockbuster deals yesterday, the Philadelphia Flyers have now made Kris Versteeg available for trade.

- The St. Louis Blues have revealed forward David Backes will attend the draft with the delegation to welcome new players. Two implications: 1) Backes is therefore not on the trade market (so stop dreaming, Habs fans); 2) Blues first pick is #32 in the 2nd round, this may increase likelihood of them trying to trade into the top 30.

- The Colorado Avalanche are quietly making Paul Statsny available, but the return will have to be significant. Discussions at present are rumoured to be with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, and New York Islanders.

- The Avalanche are targeting Los Angeles Kings young netminder Jonathan Bernier in a trade, but the asking price may be too high. We'll see what happens on that one.

- An unconfirmed report has the Tampa Bay Lightning offering Vincent Lecavalier around the league with little interest. Few teams are able to take on his salary (at least willingly), as Tampa couldn't take much back since the point of moving him is to sign Steven Stamkos.

- The Edmonton Oilers are floating the 19th overall selection on the trade market to look for quicker help.

- The Toronto Maple Leafs are not done shopping, looking for an NHL level center ideally.

- Kirk Muller is not at the draft with the Montreal Canadiens delegation. Sounds like he is done in Montreal despite not landing a head coaching job in the NHL. Should be an AHL head coach somewhere in 2011-12.

- The Philadelphia Flyers are trying to move up from the 8th overall pick they acquired yesterday, offering Kris Versteeg and/or Matt Carle.

- The Florida Panthers have put the names of David Booth and Stephen Weiss out there as possibly on the market.

- The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to move defenseman Brian Campbell. Seems like Columbus may be interested. Campbell's No Trade Clause is complicating the issue.

- Zach Parise at the draft with the New Jersey Devils delegation. Likely means he isn't available for trade... at least not this weekend.

- The Boston Bruins are still talking to the agents for pending UFAs Michael Ryder and Tomas Kaberle and expect to have some sort of conclusion (whether signed or let walk) by the middle of next week.


- As reported here early this morning, the deal is now done. The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Eric Brewer to a 4-year deal worth just under $16M. (cap hit ~$3.85M)

- The Toronto Maple Leafs have added former Atlanta Thrashers GM Rick Dudley to their management staff.

- The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired defenseman John-Michael Liles from the Colorado Avalanche for Boston's 2nd round pick in 2012, per Darren Dreger of TSN.

- The Los Angeles Kings trade Ryan Smyth to the Edmonton Oilers for Gilbert Brule and a 5th round draft pick. (trade held up right now due to Brule's health)

- The Chicago Blackhawks trade Troy Brouwer to the Washington Capitals for the 26th overall pick this year.

- The Minnesota Wild trade Brent Burns and a 2nd round pick to the San Jose Sharks for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, and their 1st round pick this year.

- The Chicago Blackhawks trade defenseman Brian Campbell to the Florida Panthers for Rostislav Olesz.


1) EDMONTON OILERS select Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Your Canadiens: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Florida)
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton)
Mike Morreale's Pick: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton)
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton)
Hockey's Future Staff Pick: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton)
Red Line Report's Pick: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton)'s Pick: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton)
TSN Mock Draft: Adam Larsson (Edmonton)
M.A. Godin's Pick: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton)

2) COLORADO AVALANCHE select Gabriel Landeskog

Your Canadiens: Gabriel Landeskog
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Gabriel Landeskog
Mike Morreale's Pick: Gabriel Landeskog
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Gabriel Landeskog
Red Line Report's Pick: Gabriel Landeskog's Pick: Jonathan Huberdeau
TSN Mock Draft: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
M.A. Godin's Pick: Jonathan Huberdeau

3) FLORIDA PANTHERS select Jonathan Huberdeau

Your Canadiens: Adam Larsson (Edmonton)
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida)
Mike Morreale's Pick: Adam Larsson (Florida)
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida)
Hockey's Future Staff Pick: Gabriel Landeskog (Florida)
Red Line Report's Pick: Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida)'s Pick: Adam Larsson (Florida)
TSN Mock Draft: Gabriel Landeskog (Florida)
M.A. Godin's Pick: Gabriel Landeskog (Florida)

4) NEW JERSEY DEVILS select Adam Larsson

Your Canadiens: Jonathan Huberdeau
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Nathan Beaulieu
Mike Morreale's Pick: Jonathan Huberdeau
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Adam Larsson's Pick: Gabriel Landeskog
TSN Mock Draft: Jonathan Huberdeau
M.A. Godin's Pick: Adam Larsson

5) NEW YORK ISLANDERS select Ryan Strome

Your Canadiens: Sean Couturier
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Adam Larsson
Mike Morreale's Pick: Dougie Hamilton
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Dougie Hamilton
Hockey's Future Staff Pick: Jonathan Huberdeau
Red Line Report's Pick: Dougie Hamilton's Pick: Dougie Hamilton
TSN Mock Draft: Ryan Strome
M.A. Godin's Pick: Sean Couturier

6) OTTAWA SENATORS select Mika Zibanejad

Your Canadiens: Mika Zibanejad
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Dougie Hamilton
Mike Morreale's Pick: Sean Couturier
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Mika Zibanejad's Pick: Sean Couturier
TSN Mock Draft: Sean Couturier
M.A. Godin's Pick: Dougie Hamilton

7) WINNIPEG JETS select Mark Scheifele

Your Canadiens: Dougie Hamilton
TSN Mock Draft: Dougie Hamilton
M.A. Godin's Pick: Ryan Strome

8) PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (from Columbus Blue Jackets) select Sean Couturier

Your Canadiens: Ryan Murphy (Columbus)
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Sean Couturier (Columbus)
Mike Morreale's Pick: Ryan Murphy (Columbus)
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Ryan Murphy (Columbus)
Hockey's Future Staff Pick: Dougie Hamilton (Columbus)
Red Line Report's Pick: Sean Couturier (Columbus)'s Pick: Mika Zibanejad (Columbus)
TSN Mock Draft: Ryan Murphy (Columbus)
M.A. Godin's Pick: Ryan Murphy (Columbus)

9) BOSTON BRUINS (from Toronto Maple Leafs) select Douggie Hamilton

Your Canadiens: Nathan Beaulieu
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Sven Baertschi
Mike Morreale's Pick: Nathan Beaulieu
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Nathan Beaulieu
Red Line Report's Pick: Nathan Beaulieu
TSN Mock Draft: Jonas Brodin
M.A. Godin's Pick: Nathan Beaulieu

10) MINNESOTA WILD select Jonas Brodin

Your Canadiens: Ryan Strome
Mike Morreale's Pick: Mika Zibanejad
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Sean Couturier
Red Line Report's Pick: Mika Zibanejad's Pick: Nathan Beaulieu
TSN Mock Draft: Sven Baertschi
M.A. Godin's Pick: Mika Zibanejad

11) COLORADO AVALANCHE (from St. Louis Blues) select Duncan Siemens

Your Canadiens: Duncan Siemens (Buffalo)
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Daniel Catenacci (Colorado)
Mike Morreale's Pick: Duncan Siemens (Colorado)
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Duncan Siemens (Colorado)
Hockey's Future Staff Pick: Sven Baertschi (Colorado)
Red Line Report's Pick: Oscar Klefbom (Colorado)'s Pick: Duncan Siemens (Colorado)
TSN Mock Draft: Mika Zibanejad (Colorado)
M.A. Godin's Pick: Oscar Klefbom (Colorado)

12) CAROLINA HURRICANES select Ryan Murphy

Your Canadiens: Sven Baertschi
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Duncan Siemens
Mike Morreale's Pick: Jonas Brodin
Red Line Report's Pick: Nicklas Jensen's Pick: Sven Baertschi
TSN Mock Draft: Nathan Beaulieu
M.A. Godin's Pick: Sven Baertschi

13) CALGARY FLAMES select Sven Baertschi

Your Canadiens: Mark McNeill
Mike Morreale's Pick: Oscar Klefbom
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Sven Baertschi
Red Line Report's Pick: Mark Scheifele's Pick: Mark McNeill
TSN Mock Draft: Zack Phillips
M.A. Godin's Pick: Mark McNeill

14) DALLAS STARS select Jamieson Oleksiak

Your Canadiens: Joel Armia
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Mark McNeill
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Mark McNeill's Pick: Jamieson Oleksiak
TSN Mock Draft: Mark Scheifele
M.A. Godin's Pick: Duncan Siemens

15) NEW YORK RANGERS select J.T. Miller

Your Canadiens: Mark Scheifele
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Mika Zibanejad
Mike Morreale's Pick: Mark McNeill
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Boone Jenner
Red Line Report's Pick: Rocco Grimaldi's Pick: Joseph Morrow
TSN Mock Draft: Mark McNeill
M.A. Godin's Pick: Mark Scheifele

16) BUFFALO SABRES select Joel Armia

Your Canadiens: John Gibson (Colorado)
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Mark Scheifele (Buffalo)
Mike Morreale's Pick: Mark Scheifele (Buffalo)
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Zack Phillips (Buffalo)
Hockey's Future Staff Pick: Jamieson Oleksiak (Buffalo)
Red Line Report's Pick: Jonas Brodin (Buffalo)'s Pick: Jonas Brodin (Buffalo)
TSN Mock Draft: Jamieson Oleksiak (Buffalo)
M.A. Godin's Pick: Joseph Morrow (Buffalo)

17) MONTREAL CANADIENS select Nathan Beaulieu

Your Canadiens: Boone Jenner
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Zack Phillips
Mike Morreale's Pick: Joseph Morrowr
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Jonas Brodin's Pick: Boone Jenner
TSN Mock Draft: Brandon Saad
M.A. Godin's Pick: Boone Jenner

18) CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS select Mark McNeill

Your Canadiens: Matt Puempel
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Vladislav Namestnikov
Mike Morreale's Pick: Sven Baertschi's Pick: Zack Phillips
TSN Mock Draft: Oscar Klefbom
M.A. Godin's Pick: Zack Phillips

19) EDMONTON OILERS (from Los Angeles Kings) select Oscar Klefbom

Your Canadiens: Jamieson Oleksiak (Florida)
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Jamieson Oleksiak (Edmonton)
Mike Morreale's Pick: Jamieson Oleksiak (Edmonton)
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Christopher Gibson (Edmonton)
Hockey's Future Staff Pick: Duncan Siemens (Edmonton)
Red Line Report's Pick: David Musil (Edmonton)'s Pick: Oscar Klefbom (Edmonton)
TSN Mock Draft: Joseph Morrow (Edmonton)
M.A. Godin's Pick: Jamieson Oleksiak (Edmonton)

20) PHOENIX COYOTES select Connor Murphy

Your Canadiens: Joseph Morrow
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Christopher Gibson
Mike Morreale's Pick: Scott Mayfield
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Mark Scheifele
Red Line Report's Pick: Sven Baertschi's Pick: Nicklas Jensen
TSN Mock Draft: Matt Puempel
M.A. Godin's Pick: Nicklas Jensen

21) OTTAWA SENATORS (from Nashville Predators) select Stefan Noeson

Your Canadiens: Tomas Jurco
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Joseph Morrow
Mike Morreale's Pick: Nicklas Jensen
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Brandon Saad
Red Line Report's Pick: Joseph Morrow's Pick: Mark Scheifele
TSN Mock Draft: Ty Rattie
M.A. Godin's Pick: Rocco Grimaldi

22) ANAHEIM DUCKS trades this pick to Toronto for picks #30 and 39.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS select Tyler Biggs.

Your Canadiens: Zack Phillips

23) PITTSBURGH PENGUINS select Joseph Morrow

Your Canadiens: Nicklas Jensen
Mike Morreale's Pick: Brandon Saad
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Phillip Danault
Red Line Report's Pick: Jamieson Oleksiak
TSN Mock Draft: Tyler Biggs

24) DETROIT RED WINGS trade this pick to the Ottawa Senators for picks #35 and 48.
OTTAWA SENATORS select Matt Puempel

Your Canadiens: Scott Mayfield
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Nicklas Jensen
Mike Morreale's Pick: Rickard Rakell
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Joseph Morrow
Red Line Report's Pick: Connor Murphy
TSN Mock Draft: Connor Murphy
M.A. Godin's Pick: Tomas Jurco

25) TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (from Philadelphia Flyers) select Stuart Percy

Your Canadiens: Oscar Klefbom
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Matt Puempel
Mike Morreale's Pick: Boone Jenner
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Jonathan Miller
Red Line Report's Pick: Duncan Siemens's Pick: Matt Puempel
TSN Mock Draft: Rocco Grimaldi
M.A. Godin's Pick: Matt Puempel


Your Canadiens: Jonas Brodin
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Connor Murphy
Mike Morreale's Pick: Alexander Khokhlachev
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Vladislav Namestnikov
Hockey's Future Staff Pick: Alexander Khokhlachev's Pick: Brandon Saad
TSN Mock Draft: Rickard Rakell
M.A. Godin's Pick: Jonas Brodin

27) TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING select Vladislav Namestnikov

Your Canadiens: Christopher Gibson
Mike Morreale's Pick: Connor Murphy
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Nicklas Jensen's Pick: Jonathan Miller
TSN Mock Draft: Duncan Siemens
M.A. Godin's Pick: J.T. Miller

28) MINNESOTA WILD (from SAN JOSE SHARKS) select Zack Phillips

Your Canadiens: Alexander Khokhlachev
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Shane Prince
Mike Morreale's Pick: Phillip Danault
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Jamieson Oleksiak's Pick: Scott Mayfield
TSN Mock Draft: Nicklas Jensen
M.A. Godin's Pick: Tyler Biggs

29) VANCOUVER CANUCKS select Nicklas Jensen

Your Canadiens: Ty Rattie
Steven Hoffner's Pick: Adam Clendening
Adam Kimelman's Pick: Alexander Khokhlachev
Hockey's Future Staff Pick: Stuart Percy (Toronto)
Red Line Report's Pick: Brandon Saad (Toronto)'s Pick: Vladislav Namestnikov
TSN Mock Draft: David Musil
M.A. Godin's Pick: Connor Murphy

30) ANAHEIM DUCKS (FROM TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS, SEE PICK #22) (from Boston Bruins) select Rickard Rakell

Your Canadiens: Brandon Saad
Mike Morreale's Pick: Stuart Percy
Hockey's Future Staff Pick: Tomas Jurco (Vancouver)
Red Line Report's Pick: Kale Kessy (Vancouver)'s Pick: Stuart Percy
TSN Mock Draft: Stuart Percy
M.A. Godin's Pick: Dmitri Jaskin