Quick Takes: Second Day

By JAG – It would have been greedy and unreasonable to expect the fireworks of the first round to come back for an encore. Nevertheless, the second day offered a few surprises and served as a showcase for this new Habs management’s philosophy …. and plan.

I observed after the first round that ‘’Shifty, speedy, scory’’ players were a type of player in demand at the Habs table. The second day was no different.

Before I start, something to think about when it comes to OHL players considering that Montreal drafted a few of them. Scouts’ evaluations of OHL players were a little trickier than for players from other leagues, the OHL did not operate two years ago. Scouts would normally have had two years’ worth of eye test on the OHL prospects at the draft. Less data makes for more shaky prediction. Scouts may err on the side of caution when predicting upside. Case in point, Arber Xhekaj missed a year and wasn’t drafted. The eye test was incomplete and inconclusive. He would have been drafted this year for sure!

First, let’s look at the safe bets:

  • Starting with Owen Beck, 33rd pick, good skater, good size, responsible and another right shot center, handy indeed! He was listed in the ten best centers in the draft (8th). 200 foot player who checks all the boxes to some degree. Compared to Philip Danault by one scout. Listed as a first rounder on many lists, looks like a solid pick to me!
  • Vinzenz Rohrer, 75th pick, is a slightly undersized right winger from Austria. He completed his first year in the OHL and compiled 25 goals and 48 points in his first complete season. He is one of the youngest players in the draft, missing next year availability by only a week. Personally, and for some time now, I have favored younger picks, so, he fits my criteria very well. Though it is true that the older the player, the truer the assessment will be, it seems to me that when the player selected is six months younger than the average draftee and will turn 18 only at training camp, his upside has more chance to go up than down …. And his identified weaknesses at this point, i.e.  height and weight are bound to naturally take care of themselves. If not completely, at least in part, the kid is still growing after all. Notwithstanding his stature, he has the maring of a triple S player – ‘’Shifty, speedy, scory’’ and that makes him a very good pick!

The long shots:

  • Lane Hutson, 62nd pick. Shame on me! I overlooked him on the basis of his size! He’s too small at 5’8 and 158lbs. True, he has a ton of talent, which may possibly get him to the NHL, but he’ll eventually get hurt. The NHL is a very dangerous place. However, I did some more reading after the pick and apparently, he comes from a family marked by late growth spurts. One hopes! Chris Tanev had a similar story, so it’s not too far fetched. If that’s the case and he reaches 5’10’’ or better, he may become the absolute steal of the draft! Most scouts’ evaluations list his small stature as his only weakness, everything else is pure mint. Scouts often mentioned that if bigger, he would have been a first rounder, maybe atop ten! I can’t wait to see how he performs and develops at the next level. He’s going to Boston College next year, great place to prepare for the NHL. High risk/high reward pick, just the way I like them. Montreal is already strong on left defense. This pick is a calculated swing for the fences. Still a good pick!
  • Cedric Guindon, pick 127th, is only 4 months older than Vinzenz and has similar size and statistics as Vinzenz. Same scouts’ reservations, same rational for the pick. He also bears the triple S etiquette but will take longer to develop. I like the pick!
  • Jared Davidson, pick 130th, is a good size over-ager who has found his stride this last year. Habs scouts had a very good look at him in the WHL playoffs in his series against Kayden Guhle’s Oil Kings. Apparently, they liked him. BTW, he turned 20 yesterday which make him eligible to play either in Laval or Seattle next year. At this point, his upside seems to be a regular on the fourth line but, as they say, ‘’It’ll be up to him’’! Could be a pleasant surprise. Worth a try.
  • Petteri Nurmi and Miguel Tourigny are opposite types of players but they both have the potential to make it as bottom six d-men. The are both over-agers, Nurmi will mature in Europe for a few years but Tourigny should play games in Laval this year. Low risk/ possible reward, ok picks.
  • Emmett Croteau fits the prototypical Habs goalie pick. Late rounder, giant size, high risk/unknown reward! They already have 3 decent unsigned goalies. Dobes and Nissen-Dichow performed very well last year with Nissen-Dichow seeming to be the closest to the NHL at this point. I think this is a preventative pick. If the Price situation requires that a prospect goalie be traded to acquired a more seasoned NHL goalie, the goalie cupboard will not be bare. Seeing it this way, the pick makes more sense.

Last thoughts:

  • If you compare the second day of the draft, this year versus last year, it might be even better than last year. Rohrer could be this year’s Riley Kidney, Guindon could be this year’s Joshua Roy and Tourigny could be Xavier Simoneau …. With Owen Beck and Lane Hutson as major bonuses!
  • If you compare the first day of the draft, this year versus last year …. Nah …. Let’s not go there!
  • This year’s first round has been everything a fan could wish for. Two of the team’s most pressing needs were addressed and neatly master minded I might add. Slafkovski and Dach should both make the team this year and their physical presence alone will change how the Habs  play  …. And how they are played against.
  • Ho, what’s that I hear? Is that the giant sigh of relief that burst from Montreal’s fan and management after the draft?
  • Finally, big congratulations to Mr. Gorton, Mr. Hughes and the extended Montreal scouting staff. Watching you at the draft, your team looked as solid as your results turned out to be. Giant kudos to you all!

Thanks for reading and keep your stick on the ice!

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