BERGEVIN “SATISFIED” WITH AHL COACHING
When Marc Bergevin took over the Canadiens he immediately promoted Hamilton Bulldogs head coach Clement Jodoin, to Michel Therrien’s Montreal coaching staff and hired Sylvain Lefebvre to take over his top minor league affiliate. In the previous three seasons the team Lefebvrfe took over had in terms of total points been the AHL’s fourth most successful franchise and had reached the Calder Cup semi-finals twice. In the three years under Lefebvre the Bulldogs have been the worst team in the AHL. Logic would say, it’s time for a coaching change. Not going to happen. Bergevin has said he happy with the job Lefebvre and his assistant Donald Dufresne are doing and is bringing them back for their fourth season when the team re-settles in St. John’s Newfoundland. It’s evident that in Bergevin’s view player development has a higher priority that winning at the minor league level. During his Hamilton tenure, Lefebvre has sent Brendan Gallagher, Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn, Jacob de la Rose and Dustin Tokarski up to the Canadiens. The common thread in all of the promotions has been the ability of the prospects to fit into the Michel Therrien system seamlessly. Losing games in the AHL may not sit well with the local fan-base but for the Canadiens there are other priorites.
LEFT WING DANIEL CARR WILL GET LONG LOOK AT TRAINING CAMP
Among Hamilton Bulldogs forwards last season, the top three prospects were linemates Sven Andrighetto, Daniel Carr and Charles Hudon. Considering Canadiens current needs, Carr should be the front runner. The Canadiens signed him as an undrafted free agent last May after four years at Union College of the NCAA. Care had only six goals halfway through his rookie professional season playing mostly on Hamilton’s third and fourth lines. In the season’s final 38 games he scored 18 and finished as the AHL’s leading rookie goalscorer. What impressed everyone was his speed, his shot and that natural goalscorer’s ability to corral loose pucks and find open ice. Carr will turn 24 in November, which means he’s physically ready for the NHL grind. Both Andrighetto and Hudon also have NHL potential but, considering team needs, Carr has the inside track.
The Canadiens AHL affiliate is going to get another infusion of the fruits of Trevor Timmins drafting labour next season. Among those turning professional this fall with the St. John’s IceCaps will be first round draft choices Michael McCarron and Nikita Scherbak along with forwards Jeremy Gregoire from Baie Comeau, Tim Bozon from the Kootenay Ice, Mark MacMillan from the University of North Dakota and possibly the Czech League’s Martin Reway. Goaltender Zach Fucale will also turn pro. Depending on promotions they could be joining second year pros Hudon, Carr, Connor Crisp, Dalton Thrower and Mac Bennett.
2012 DRAFT PRODUCED POOR FORWARD CROP
Led by Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the 2015 Entry Draft is expected to yield a strong group of forwards. By comparison, it’s becoming clear the 2012 entry draft was the worst crop of forwards in more than a decade. The lack of scouting respect for that forward group was well telegraphed by the fact that Sarnia teammates Nail Yakupov (1st) and Alex Galchenyuk (3rd) were the only forwards taken in the first ten selections.
Going into the draft NHL Central Scouting had Yakupov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Galchenyuk and Radek Faksa as the top forwards in North American hockey and Filip Forsberg, Teuvu Teravainen, Sebastian Collberg and Tomas Hertl as the top Europeans. Three years later, only two of them, Forsberg and Galchenyuk have scored twenty goals in the NHL. Off what we saw in the playoffs, Teravainen is going to be keeper. The rest are still long term projects.
GOALTENDER JOEY MacDONALD HEADS TO GERMANY
Facing unrestricted free agency July first, veteran Hamilton goaltender Joey MacDonald has signed a contract to play with the Schwenningen Wild Wings of the German League next season. MacDonald was signed to a two-year two-way free agent contract in July 2014 to give the Canadiens goaltending depth behind Carey Price and Peter Budaj who was Price’s backup at the time. He cleared waivers after the 2013 training camp and was sent to Hamilton where he remained the the exception of a brief recall to back up Dustin Tokarski in January of this year after Carey Price had suffered a minor injury. MacDonald didn’t get into a game. The writing was on the wall for MacDonald after he was relegated to a backup role behind the emerging talents of rookie Mike Condon. He finished the season in Hamilton with a record of 10-9-6 with a 2.77GAA and a .910 save percentage. Graduating junior Zach Fucale is expected to take his spot on the Canadiens AHL roster this season.
THE CANADIENS SCOTT DARLING CONNECTION
Chicago backup goaltender Scott Darling became one of those feel-good stories in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. After bouncing around betwween the East Coast and American Hockey Leagues, at age 26 Darling was called up to Chicago midway through the season. Now he will have his name on the Stanley Cup.
In all of that bouncing around, he found himself in the Canadiens organization three times. three times he was in the Canadiens organization on professional tryout contracts. During the 2012 playoffs Carey Price was hurt and the Canadiens called up Robert Mayer to back up Peter Budaj, Without a backup for Peter Delmas, the Bulldogs reached own to the Mississipi RiverKings of the Southern Professional League for Darling. He didn’t get into a game but the Canadiens saw enough that Darling was invited the Bulldogs training camp in September 2012. He was eventually sent to Wheeling of the ECHL and subsequently recalled in late November on another PTO. He wound up making his AHL debut on November 14th 2012 in a mopup role against the Rochester Americans stopping all eight shots. At the time the Bulldogs already had three goaltenders in Cedrick Desjardins, Mayer and Delmas so his stay was again brief. He was sent back to Wheeling unsigned and you know the rest.