New Montreal Canadiens Writer Candidate #1: Brandon Smillie
June 7, 2017, 12:27 PM ET [78 Comments]
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Ek's Note: Hey Habs fans! We are once again holding a contest to find the "Next Great Montreal Canadiens Writer" for Hockeybuzz. This is such a passionate fanbase, and so far we have had great success finding Habs writers out there with great new voices...Eric Engels came from an email sent to me...and now he is full time at Sportsnet. That could be you!
Below you will find the first submission for your consideration. Please make your opinions known in the poll and the comment thread regarding if you would like the writer to be your new reporter. Please be respectful to all writers. It takes guts to put yourself out there. We are looking for unique and interesting voices...people with personality to go along with their knowledge....and also of course, consistency.
Today we start with Brandon Smillie. If you want to be considered, email a sample blog to: eklund at hockeybuzz.com. Put "Canadien (or Habs) Writer Submission" in the subject of the email...Thanks! and enjoy today's piece from Brandon...
Canadiens Draft Preview + Memorial Cup Finals observations
Welcome fellow dejected Canadiens fans. The 2017 NHL Entry Draft is right around the corner and I, just like you, am very interested in who the Canadiens will be selecting. It would be too easy to slide in some jabs at Timmins and his crew of scouts performance in the first rounds lately but let's save that for the comments section and jump right into this!
The odds of grabbing an immediate impact player in the draft is typically remote outside of the top 5 picks and downright impossible at the Canadiens current draft position of 25th. So, the importance of the clubs scouting and player development departments is paramount to maintaining a competitive roster and avoiding overpaying through Free Agency.
With these things in mind let's have a look at some of the players that could be available at 25th this summer. I will be using the I.S.S. list provided by Eliteprospects.com for my source of information (http://www.eliteprospects.com/draftcenter.php?year=2017&layout=&ranking=Rank3).
Let's start with #25 on the ISS list, C/LW Lias Andersson. This left side shooting, 18 year old prospect potted 9 goals and 19 points in 42 games for HV71 of the SHL. Typically, the kids don't get big minutes in the SHL so his numbers are actually quite good.
He is listed at 5'11" and 198 lbs so while he's not a towering presence he has a solid frame to build on. His stats in international play is also very encouraging at a showing of 6 goals and 15 points in 17 games.
At 5'11" Andersson is not a huge C but there's always the possibility he gains an inch or so in the next year so he could still be a quality sized C, just not a Jumbo Joe sized C. But when you consider his age and point production in the SHL he could be a sleeper in this draft.
In my opinion, if this player is available at 25 he is a gift.
The next prospect that could be available for Bergevin and Co. could be the 18 year old, right shooting Defenceman Conor Timmins of the Soo Greyhounds. Timmins is ranked at 28 on the ISS list of prospects.
Timmins is a decent sized D man at 6'1" and 183 lbs. He will need to bulk up for NHL duty but 18 year old D usually don't hit the NHL until they are 20 or older anyways so he has more than enough time to work in the gym.
In his second season in the Soo Timmins put up 7 goals, 54 assists in 67 games to lead the team in D scoring. These are very respectable numbers and they stand out even more when you see that the Soo wasn't an overly dangerous offensive team.
Timmins could go anywhere from late first to early second round but if the best offensive options appear to be off the board, picking Timmins would be huge to an already loaded group of Canadiens D prospects (Sergachev, Mete, Juulsen).
The last player I will mention is the 18 year old, right shooting RW from Kelowna Rockets, Kole Lind. Ranked number 24 on the ISS list this prospect led his team in scoring in his second full WHL season with 30 goals, and 57 assists in 67 games. Listed at 6'1" and 187 lbs he's another good sized prospect that needs to fill out but his offensive potential should be enough to look past what he currently lacks in size.
While he isn't the coveted C that the CH have been searching for in the last 20 years, he would be the best forward prospect available, aside from Andersson, and right shooting RW's with skill are also a very valuable commodity.
I would be happy with Bergevin and Timmins selection of any of three listed above as they all represent a mix of good size and great skill. While this draft isn't considered flush with elite talent according to the talking heads on tv and some scouts it's good to remember that the same people recently thought Nail Yakupov was the best prospect available so there can be some surprises.
Realistically, we can all pretend to predict what kids will do with the great opportunities afforded to them after they are drafted but the only ones who have any control over the matter is the kids themselves. The interview portion of the combine is vital as that's the only way a management team can try to understand the intellect and motivations of the prospect and to see if they align with the culture the team is cultivating. It plays a huge part into judging the maturity level of the prospect as well. Underrated part of the process but only to those of us on the outside.
Do you agree with my options for the Canadiens at 25 or do you have your own opinion on who they should select at 25? Please, wrote it in the comments and explain why. This should be a great conversation for this community and I look forward to seeing the comments.
I recently attended two games in the Memorial Cup tournament in my hometown of Windsor, Ontario and would like to congratulate the 2017 Memorial Cup Champions, the Windsor Spitfires.
I had the pleasure of attending the first game of the tourney, a 3-2 Spitfires win over the St John's Sea Dogs led by top Ottawa Senators D prospect Thomas Chabot.
It was a game mostly controlled by Windsor with Sea Dogs G Callum Booth keeping the Dogs from being blown out. I was impressed by Booth's play as the score could have easily been 6-2 but the kid made some huge saves. There was some good flashes of skill by 2018 draft prospect Joe Veleno as well. There is talk he could be a top 10 pick in 2018 so his next season will be worth a follow. The game was mostly controlled by Windsor until the Sea Dogs made it close by scoring 2 in the final few minutes but it was too little too late. The Spitfires roster features a couple of good Canadiens prospects in Mikhail Sergachev and Jeremiah Addison. Sergachev looked like a man amongst boys in this game and was clearly the Spitfires best player. Addison played a strong game, and had a fantastic tournament, and the Spitfires iced a very competitive (and healthy) roster that included Gabriel Vilardi (shout out to his friendly mother that me and some friends were chatting with while tailgating), Sean Day, Jeremy Bracco, Logan Stanley, Logan Brown, and goaltender Michael Dipietro.
The next game I was able to see live was the Memorial Cup final where the host Windsor Spitfires played the stacked Erie Otters club led by top prospects Dylan Strome, Alex Debrincat, and the Raddysh brothers Taylor (F) and Darren (D). This was a hockey game to remember. The play was back and forth with full skill on display. Each team scored once in the first and twice in the second but it was a clutch 3rd Period goal by Aaron Luchuk that sealed the eventual win for the host Windsor Spitfires. This was a high end game that should go down as one of the best finals in recent memory. Both teams left it all on the ice that night and the Windsor crowd showed their appreciation for the display. Sergachev had his work cut out for him that night as Erie had a forward group that could score at will and while he made a couple bad giveaways in the game he was easily the cornerstone of the Spitfires defense and played a great game.
I think it's reasonable to expect Sergachev to begin his 2017-2018 season with a CH on his jersey and I don't think any Canadiens fan should be too upset with that.