A Case For Some Reclamation Projects

By Bob Trask – During every off season, hockey fans love to speculate what their team might do to improve itself. The topics range from potential draft picks, trades and free agent signings. High salaried players who have had disappointing seasons are often rumoured to be buyout or trade candidates. Another group of players are those who began with high expectations in their draft years but never lived up to their promise.

In his very short history as Montreal’s head coach, Martin St-Louis got a lot of players who had struggled under previous coaches. So it’s fitting to look at players who have never lived up to their promise but who could potentially be revived under St-Louis.

Let’s take a look at a few of these.

Vitali Kravtsov

Kravtsov was drafted in the 1st round, 9th overall in the 2018 amateur draft, stands 6-foot 3-inches and weighs in at about 187 lbs. Jeff Gorton, the Canadiens Vice-President of Hockey Operations, was the Rangers GM when they drafted Kravtsov.

The scouting report from eliteprospects.com describes him this way: “A big, skilled winger that can play up and down the lineup and provide scoring in a number of roles. He brings grit and physical size, but could be more assertive in throwing his weight around more. Displays excellent speed on the rush and in zone entry, but could back check quicker.”

Lias Andersson

Anderson was drafted in the 1st round, 7th overall in the 2017 amateur draft, stands 5-foot 11-inches and weighs in at about 183 lbs. As with Kravstov, Gorton was the Rangers GM when they drafted Andersson.

The scouting report from eliteprospects.com describes him: “Andersson is an excellent team player. Never takes a shift off. Also blessed with good hockey sense and plays a strong two-way game. Offensively, Andersson stands out with impressive puck skills, a good shot and fine speed. Has the tools to become a scoring line player, but could also become an excellent role player who always gives 100%.

Filip Zadina

Zadina was drafted in the 1st round, 6th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2018 amateur draft. The 6-foot 196 lbs winger is familiar to many Habs fans because they had expected him to be drafted when Marc Bergevin surprised many and choose Jesperi Kotkaniemi instead.

The draft report from eliteprospects.com reads this way: “Filip Zadina is a dynamic offensive forward that plays a complete game. A deft and agile skater, he exhibits explosive mobility both up and down the ice. In all three zones, he proactively looks to create problems for the opposition. His awareness is indicative of his high level of hockey sense, and he knows how to make plays and scoring chances materialize. Has a goal scorer’s toolbox, complete with the individual puck skills that one comes to expect from today’s elite offensive players. The accurate release on his shot is noteworthy and is a defining aspect of his offensive capabilities. Defensively sound, he disrupts lanes and pressures the opposition to make hasty decisions; he is tenacious in pursuit of puck control and transitions up-ice naturally.

After the equivalent of 2 full seasons in the NHL, Zadina has 25 goals and 36 assists.

Philippe Myers

Myers is a undrafted right-handed defenseman currently under contract with Nashville. Standing at 6-foot 5-inches and 209 lbs, he has had some productive years in the AHL but has struggled to earn a regular spot in the NHL having played only 140 games over four seasons. Nashville not only shipped him to the minors last season, they didn’t even keep him in the organization, choosing to lend him to the Toronto Marlies for the last 16 games of the regular season.

The Moncton, New Brunswick native would be the ultimate reclamation project given his limited success so far in his career but the very fact that he plays RD is to his advantage. There have been rumours that the Predators will buy him out and if that is the case, Myers could be available at a very reasonable cost.

As we have seen, if anyone can turn a career around in short it might just be Martin St. Louis.

Other Names

A few other names from the 2016-2018 drafts may not have developed as expected. Some could be close to NHL ready while others would be long shots, vying for two way contracts or even an AHL contract. The cost to acquire each will vary widely depending on the situation each club is in. Here is a small sample:

  • Ty Dellandrea, Dallas – C, 6’0 195 lbs,1st round, 13th overall 2018
  • Joe Veleno, Detroit – C, 6’1 206 lbs, 1st round, 30th overall 2018
  • Shane Bowers, Colorado – C, 6’2 186 lbs, 1st round, 28th overall 2017
  • Luke Martin, no affiliation – RD, 6’2 218 lbs, 2nd round, 52nd overall 2017
  • Julien Gauthier, Carolina – RW, 6’4 227 lbs, 1st round, 21st overall 2016
  • Henrik Borgstrom, Florida – C, 6’3 199 lbs, 1st round, 23rd overall 2016

No Stone Unturned

Kent Hughes gives the impression that he will leave no stone unturned in his quest to make the Canadiens into a perennial contender. In all likelihood he is poring over scouting reports, not only for the upcoming amateur draft, but also searching for a diamond or two in the rough.

Keeping an eye on some of these unheralded names is one more thing to keep Habs fans busy over the summer.

More reading…

4 thoughts on “A Case For Some Reclamation Projects

  1. Good to have a few more names to consider. I’m sorta familiar with a few of them. The fun is in waiting for Hughes to make his moves. No panic, just well thought out improvements for the next couple of years while player assessment and development both improve.

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