Thursday, June 30, 2011

Habs Draft Recap

Well we knew we weren't going to get a player that was going to play anytime soon. In fact, almost every team save 3 or 4 were going to land such a player, so the goal in the first round was to pick someone that was loaded with potential, and one that played the brand of hockey that fit the Canadiens mold.  In Nathan Beaulieu, the Habs snagged such a player, and maybe got a little lucky in the process.

Similar to Louis Leblanc two years ago, Beaulieu was ranked by many in and around the top 10-12 picks, and Gauthier was more than happy to select the big, slick, offensive defenseman. Compared to players such as PK Subban, Keith Yandle and Mike Green, you could probably guess why.  And with a name like Beaulieu, he'll probably be getting even more hype over the next couple of years, despite the fact that he doesn't actually speak much French.  What he does do is play a savvy, up tempo styled game, sees the ice remarkably well, and has improved in his own end every year in the Q.  His first big test on the world stage will probably come this fall in the World Junior tourney.  It will be a first glimpse for most Habs fans to see how he measures up against the rest of the top picks in this and last year's draft.  Its still fairly difficult at the moment to really say how good this pick is, but its hard not to like it from what I've heard and read.

As for the rest of Canadiens' picks, well it's pretty much a crap shoot when you draft from the 4th round on, but I'll try my best to analyze them as a whole.  What i took out of the Pierre Gauthier interview was that each selection feels a bit like a homerun type pick.   They will all take a while to develop (3-4 years) but there may be a gem or two among them.

Their selection of defenseman Magnus Nygren from Sweden really has that feel.  An overager (21 years old),  He was a relative unknown commodity up until this past year when he was called up by Fajerstad of the Swedish Elite league.  His stellar play (especially from an offensive standpoint) caught the eye of Canadiens euro scout Crister Rockstrom (ex Rangers scout), and after finishing the playoffs with the second highest point total amongst D-man, he got Timmins on board as well.  After recently signing Rafael Diaz form the Swiss league and having prior success drafting then overage prospect Mark Streit, we shouln't be too surprised with this pick, nor should we be surprised if it works out well for the Habs.

Say what you will about Timmins' draft success, one thing is certain; he has a knack for finding good mid to late round picks in recent years.  Names like Halak, Streit, D'agostini, Kostitsyn, Ryder quickly come to mind, all drafted after the 6th round.

The most intriguing pick by Timmins at this point is Daniel Pribyl of the Czech Republic, a tall lanky center (6'3 190) that could be a steal if he fills out and continues to improve.  At last year's World Juniors, Pribyl posted an impressive 7 points (3g, 4a) in 8 games.  His development may have taken a step sideways however, as he was not selected by a CHL team in the import draft. He'll continue to play in the Czech Elite league, where he'll most probably receive much less time than he would have otherwise.

Other draftees were Josiah Didier, An American d-man who fits Gauthier's profile of a rapid climber in the draft;  Quebecois Olivier Archambault, who was the 1st pick overall in QMJHL draft two years ago; Darren Dietz from the Saskatoon Blades, a rugged D-man who impressively climbed the depth chart on a very deep squad; and Colin Sullivan, a smooth skating d-man that has been on Timmins' radar for a while as a potential late round steal.

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