Nobody, not even Canadiens Director of Amateur Scouting Trevor Timmins, knows who the Canadiens will select in the first round of next month’s NHL Entry Draft. Too many things can happen between Toronto’s first selection and Montreal’s assigned ninth draft position.
Among the pitfalls, there are eight teams who will be selecting players who are high on the Canadiens list. There is also a chance the Canadiens could trade up to a higher slot. And there’s always the possibility that Timmins might pull one of his rabbits out of the hat and take somebody off the charts. After all, nobody predicted the Mike McCarron selection in the 2013 first round. Or Nikita Scherbak 26th overall in 2014 and Noah Juulsen last June?
Almost everyone agrees that Auston Matthews, the two Finnish forwards Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, Cape Breton centre Pierre-Luc Dubois, Alexander Nylander and Matthew Tkaczuk will make up most of the first six choices on June 24th.
Among the six, I can see the Canadiens making an effort to trade up for Dubois if he is available at 4th (Edmonton), 5th (Vancouver) or 6th (Calgary). Central Scouting has moved the 6’3″ Dubois up to first among North American skaters and somewhere between fourth and fifth on most overall lists. It will be hard work for the Canadiens to move up to that neighbourhood but Marc Bergevin does have two second rounders as well as his own first to sweeten the offer if he wants to make the deal.
That aside, the Canadiens would remain ninth overall and, in one of the deepest drafts in recent years, there are all kinds of possibilities. I don’t want to make an assumption but, after drafting a defenseman last year, chances are the Canadiens will concentrate on forwards, preferably ones with size.
There are few advanced statistics when it comes to scouting junior and college players. Scouts have to rely on what they see and naturally opinions differ. No pre-draft scouting list looks the same, so for our purposes we’ve averaged the lists of four of the more prominent sites; Hockey Prospects, ISS, Future Considerations and McKeen’s, to form a consensus list.
As an example, Pierre-Luc Dubois is listed at 4th on Hockey Prospects, 5th on ISS, 6th on Future Considerations and 7th on McKeen’s which averages 5.5 or fifth among prospects. (Not included in the survey – NHL Central Scouting which produces separate lists for North Americans and Europeans)
Assuming the top six are gone, here’s a consensus list for the next thirteen choices starting with number seven. (Click on the name for individual career information and a brief scouting report thanks to eliteprospects.com)
- 7th – C Michael McLeod 6’2” 187lbs. (Missassauga Steelheads OHL) Consensus average 6.25. Listed as high as third by McKeen’s, the other sites have him 11th (Hockey Prospects & Future Considerations) and 13th – ISS)
- 8th – First of three consecutive defensemen – 6’2” – Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting) at 7.25 ave. (listed at 10th by McKeen, 7 by ISS, 4-Future Considerations; 9 Hockey Prospects). Son of former Flyer Jeff Chychrun;
- 9th – 6’2” 205lb. Russian Mikhail Sergachyov – defenseman (Windsor Spitfires) Consensus 8.25. (9th, 8th, 8th, 8th)
- 10th – D Olli Juolevi (London Knights) at 10th (5, 10, 12, 7). He’s 6’2” 183lbs.
- 11th – C Clayton Keller, 5′ 10”, 170lbs. -11.75 draft average –Has committed to Boston University next year;
- 12th – C/LW Tyson Yost (Penticton Vee’s-BCHL) 12th at 13.25 ave.. (15th; 18th; 10th; 10th😉 – At 5′ 11”, headed for the U. of North Dakota.
- 13th – Centre 6’6” 218lb. Logan Brown (WindsorSpitfires) ( listed 16; 11; 14; 13) 13.5 average. Son of former Nordiques/St. Louis defenseman Jeff Brown
- 14th – D Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen) 6’1” 172lbs. (17th; 15th;16th; 12th😉 Ave 15.0 – 6’1” 172lbs.
- 15h – Montreal native Julien Gauthier – RW (Val-D’OR Foreurs) 16.5 ave. (17th, 19th, 10th. 20th) He is 6’4” 225lbs.
- 16th – LW Max Jones (London Knights) 6’3” 201 lbs. (18th, 13th; 23rd; 18th ) ave 18.0
- 16h – C German Rubtsov (Russia U18) 6 ‘1” 174lbs. (15th; 14th; 19th; 24th) 18.0 ave.
- 18th – C/LW Kieffer Bellows (USA Development League) 6’1” 194lbs. – son of former Canadiens 40-goal scorer Brian Bellows (ranked 22nd; 16th; 17th; 23rd😉 Ave 19.5
- 18th – LW Riley Tufte (Blaine High) (19th; 20th; 18th; 21st😉 Ave 19.5.
Everyone has his opinion on Canadiens needs. Remember that drafting ninth or later probably means the player will return to junior or college hockey next season, and would probably need at best part of an AHL season before even being considered for a shot at the NHL. So, once again the Canadiens will be thinking long term with their selection.
Like most, my exposure to the overall junior scene has been limited. The fan’s best reference points are the various credible scouting services. Off those, outside of Pierre-Luc Gauthier, I am most fascinated with the two really big men in the draft, 6’4” Julien Gauthier (consensus 15th overall) and 6’6” Centre Logan Brown (13th). If the Canadiens think defense, the Russian Mikhail Sergyachov of the Windsor Spitfires sitting at 9th might be on their radar as well. I’m sure the Canadiens have a few other ideas.