Monday, 22 July 2013

Hockey's Future's take on the new Canadiens' 2013 draftees

At long last, the website Hockey's Future has updated its Canadiens page and folded the new draftees into their respective positions, and graded them as to their career prospects.  Gone are Alex Avtsin, Olivier Archambault and Daniel Prybil.

Now I know that a few experts cast doubt on the validity of this website's scouting, but it is an easy, accessible resource for information-starved fans, and we can use it as a starting point for discussion.

Note that the explanation for the grading system can be had at Hockey's Future.

1)  Zachary Fucale is the highest-graded draftee, garnering an 8, and instantly leaps to the top of the depth chart at goalie, a full grade above Dustin Tokarski.  The latter had better make hay while the sun shines, because in a couple of seasons the Bulldogs' goalie spot will belong to Mr. Fucale.

I wasn't enthused with this pick when it was made, believing we had other concerns to address, but now have warmed to it and understand the value of getting the best goalie prospect in this draft class in the second round.  The fact that he's a local kid also helped me come around.  I really like the arguments that he was the starting goalie for two seasons before getting drafted, not a backup being eased into Major Junior.  He's already seen lots of rubber, pressure situations, has been the starter on the world stage, now he gets another season in Junior on a depleted team, it will be interesting to see how he deals with getting bombarded by pucks night after night.  Let's hope it benefits him, and that he makes the World Junior team for some more pressure-packed games to add to his experience.

2)  Jakob de la Rose is listed as a centre, which surprised me, since I've seen him listed as a left winger in his draft writeups.  I thought that hit the spot, since when I looked at the potential roster for next season's Bulldogs in late June, I noticed that there wasn't a single 'natural' left winger in the bunch, our forwards consisted of four centres and three right wings.  Now, last draft we addressed that with Tim Bozon and Charles Hudon, and this year we added another brace of left wings, so the imbalance has been rectified, for the medium term at least.

In any case, Mr. de la Rose is graded a 7.0 as a centre.  I guess they're not as high on him as we were when he was picked.  The writeup they provide for him is as we've seen before, a talented big guy who does most things well and should turn into a second or third line forward.  It's interesting that he's grouped with Louis Leblanc, Michaël Bournival and Joonas Nattinen who also get a 7.0, but then you think about the fact that they were drafted in the late first round, the third round, and the third round respectively, and all have had the benefit of a few seasons development, and we can agree that Mr. de la Rose can be seen as an equivalent prospect at this point.

3)  The left wing penury has been addressed with the addition of Artturi Lehkonen, Connor Crisp and Martin Reway.  So we now have Charles Hudon, Tim Bozon and Artturi Lehkonen getting 7.5's, and Mark MacMillan, Connor Crisp and Martin Reway getting 7.0's.  The well is replenished.

There are no surprises on the writeups of Mister Lehkonen, he comes as advertised, but in the case of Messrs. Crisp and Reway, they don't even rate a writeup.  I guess that shows they are the off-the-radar picks I thought they were on June 30.  Of course, as an uninformed fan who never saw any of these young men play, I had huge objections to each of these three picks, I would have gone another way.  Now that they're Canadiens, I hope these young gentlemen prove me wrong in a big way.

4)  On the right wing, both Mike McCarron and Sven Andrighetto receive a 7.5 grade, even with Brendan Gallagher (would that they have the same impact their rookie season), and a notch below Sebastian Collberg who gets an 8.0.  This seems counter-intuitive, if only because with his size, draft status, and lack of competition for the big winger role, Mike McCarron will receive every opportunity to graduate to the Grand Club, whereas Mr. Andrighetto will have to force his way through the thicket of players similar to himself in the Canadiens system.  Indeed, there is a surplus of small, quick talented players that can fill the role he's destined for.  

Maybe this incongruity is meant to be addressed by the fact that he gets a 'D' as his likelihood of reaching his developmental potential, whereas Mr. McCarron gets a 'C'.  Again though, with the Collberg-Gallagher-Holland-Kristo/Thomas combo at right wing, and with Steve Quailer being the only right winger with size in the system, and especially since he didn't have the most auspicious debut in the AHL, I would have increased my odds of being able to add some size to the Canadiens in a few years by drafting a big winger like Hudson Fasching instead of doubling down with Sven Andrighetto.

5)  Stéfan Fournier gets a 6.0 and the spot at the bottom of the depth chart at Left Wing.  His ace in the hole is that he gets to join a Bulldogs team that has a crying need for his skillset, so he'll get proportionally more icetime than would befit an undrafted free agent.  Let's hope that he can add some toughness and grit to the relatively young roster and makes them a little harder to play against.  If all goes well he can get some powerplay time and cause havoc in front of the opposition net, and allow more room for the Louis Leblancs and Patrick Hollands to show their stuff.

Jérémy Grégoire gets a 6.5, and has two more seasons of Junior hockey to work on his game.  He's in a group at centre with Gabriel Dumont and Brady Vail, which seems about right, but I've also often seen him described as a gritty forechecking winger.  Maybe another detail that will work itself out in time.

6)  Hockey's Future still has some cleanup to do.  They haven't folded these new recruits in the 'Top Prospects' list yet.  Blake Geoffrion is still listed as a left winger, while he recently had to make his retirement official.  Dustin Walsh is also on the books, but it seems inevitable that his rights will expire on August 15.

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