Thursday, April 19, 2012

Player Spotlight: Josiah Didier

Out of the 2011 NHL draft, the only seemingly surefire future Habs is first round selection Nathan Beaulieu.  But during this year, you've undoubtedly heard about the hot start (and less about the subsequent cooling off) of Magnus Nygren, about the impressive play of Darren Dietz, about the disappointment of Olivier Archambault, and the World Junior appearance by Daniel Pribyl.  But the Canadiens selected another player in the draft, even before all of the above names aside from Beaulieu.

That player, who most have forgotten, is Josiah Didier, a defenseman who made his debut for the University of Denver as an 18-year old this season.  The 6'2", 200 lbs blueliner's stats far from jump off the page, scoring just 3 assists in 41 college games, but how was his overall game?  Today we look at a collection of reviews on the play of yet another prospect in Montreal's overflowing defensive pipeline.

To begin, let's learn a little about who Didier, taken in the fourth round, 97th overall, is:

If you would like to ask him how he thinks he's like Niklas Hjalmarsson, or why he would rather have super strength than the ability to fly, you can follow this possible future Hab on Twitter here:!/JDidier4

Didier is considered a physical yet mobile defensive blueliner, completing his sophomore season with a +6 rating.  He led the club with 68 blocked shots, and recorded 115 hits - a strong total in the generally less physical NCAA.  Denver decided that, despite his young age, he was ready to make the jump this season, and assigned him a fifth year student/teammate, John Ryder (undrafted, frequently Didier's partner on a bottom pairing), as a mentor.  Ryder was immediately impressed with Didier, citing him as a quick learner who will stand up for a teammate and never back down from anybody, sentiments echoes by the team's head coach George Gwozdecky.

Didier showed some of his trademark toughness as, despite suffering a relatively serious injury late in the season, he was back in the lineup a week later, playing through the pain.  Based on all of these traits, it may sound to you like the Habs found another Josh Gorges to add to the system, and while the comparison speaks to Didier's ceiling, let's not get carried away.  Didier is still a long-term project at best and far from a sure-thing to make the NHL some day.  Most see his maximum potential as a defensive third pairing guy.  But toughness and a right-handed shot will be welcome in the Montreal system, and as such his college career over the next few years should be interesting to follow.

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