Montreal Canadiens Draft Targets

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The 2016 NHL entry draft is on Friday. The Montreal Canadiens will be picking 9th overall, barring any trades.  Looking at the options for the 9th overall pick, there is a lot of talent to choose from. While there is the chance they either trade up or down in the draft, it seems unlikely.

With there being a bundle of talented centres and defensemen that should be available around the 9th pick, the Canadiens could be able to draft a future replacement for either centre Tomas Plekanec or defenseman Andrei Markov. Although, with Markov coming very close to the end it might be better to look for a player who could be paired with P.K. Subban in two or three years.

Here are some of the targets for the Habs pick at 9th overall. Clicking the player’s name will bring you to Ben Kerr’s full scouting report.

Montreal Canadiens Draft Targets

Logan Brown, Centre, Windsor Spitfires

Brown is a surprisingly good skater for his 6’6″ and 220 pound frame. He can really shoot the puck, as well as set up his linemates for a scoring chance. In 59 games last season, he scored 21 goals and 74 points for the Windsor Spitfires.

Many hockey insiders such as TSN scout Craig Button say that  Brown is the player the Canadiens need. What Brown brings is a mix of size and skill. Scouts often compare him to a player like Joe Thornton. This is a player that the Canadiens need in order to compete against the stronger and bigger teams in the teams in the league. He is also responsible in his own end and can take care of the puck in all 3 zones of the ice.

“Brown is a huge center that excels at both ends of the ice. He can be dominant in the offensive zone but takes care of his own end as well. His 6’6 frame is key to his success as he uses his body to shield his puck and his reach to keep it off other players sticks. He is not overly physical for a player his size, but will finish every check and battle down low very effectively. He has a good shot with a pro like release as well as good creativity and maturity when passing the puck.” (Tyler Parchem, EP 2016) – via Eliteprospects.com

He won’t be NHL ready for a few years; but if he pans out the way scouts predict him to,  he could form a good 1-2 punch behind centre Alex Galchenyuk. He would give the Canadiens big top six centre duo, something they haven’t had in almost 40 years.

While the physical side of the game isn’t as impressive as you would expect given his size; he makes up for it with skill. However, the question remains can Brown really take his game to the next level in this new faster NHL which allows smaller players to be more successful? He has been prone to inconsistent efforts game-to-game. Can he overcome those?

Tyson Jost, Centre, Penticton Vees

Tyson Jost had a tremendous year with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. In 48 games, Jost scored 42 goals and 104 points. Now, it can be said that Jost wasn’t playing in the top junior league available. However, he did prove he was as good if not better than a lot of players in the WHL when he scored 7 goals and 15 points in seven games for Canada at the Under 18 World Championships. He will be attending the University of North Dakota next fall.

“Tyson Jost is a crafty goal-scorer that carries out plays as quickly as he envisions them. As someone who thinks and plays at a fast tempo, it comes as no surprise that he creates a lot of energy as an offensive catalyst. He sees the ice very well and has the willingness and determination to win battles in the tough areas. All-in-all, a dynamic offensive forward with top-6 potential at the next level.” (Curtis Joe, EP 2016) – via Eliteprospects.com

What separates Jost from the others is his ability to be a leader everywhere he goes. He would also be a good complement to have on the second line behind Galchenyuk. He is a great goal scorer who could develop into a top six centre, and play in all situations.  The Canadiens would benefit by  drafting him because of their need for a natural goal scorer. He also has a great playmaking game.

Clayton Keller, Centre, US National Team Development Program

Keller is a small forward (5’10” 163 pounds); but his skill level reminds some scouts of Patrick Kane.  Last season he put up the second best seasonU.S. NTDP; trailing only Auston Matthews (2014-15). He also became the US NTDP’s all-time top scorer. He scored 37 goals and 107 points in 62 games last season; and has scored 189 points in 123 total games in the program. His ranking in the draft has likely fallen because of his size; but he has the speed to overcome the size concerns.

Keller has the hands and shot to be a top line player. The Canadiens need to at least consider his abilities if not draft him as it’s not every day a player like him is available in the draft. Keller may just be the most underrated player with his hands and speed. He may be an offensive first player; but don’t underestimate his defensive game. He was also the US NTDP’s top penalty kill option; and played against other team’s top lines. Even when playing bigger, stronger college players; he was not overmatched.

The Canadiens will have the chance to grab one of these three centres for their future; if that is the position they are looking for.

Mikhail Sergachev, Defence, Windsor Spitfires

Sergachev is one of the top three defensemen in the draft.  He would potentially provide the Canadiens with a great two-way game. He played alongside Brown for the Windsor Spitfires where he put up  17 goals and 57 points in 67 games. Sergachev was a rookie in the OHL, and playing his first season in North America; but took on big minutes and played in all situations. He quickly became one of the top defencemen in the league.

“A dominant two-way defenceman whose tenacity and competitiveness characterize his style of play. Plays with a poise and confidence that facilitates his creativity with the puck as well as split-second decision making. Naturally fluid skater who is always looking to be engaged, if not the center, of each unfolding play. All-in-all, a diligent two-way defenceman who excels at finding ways to be a difference-maker in games.” (Curtis Joe, EP 2016) – via Eliteprospects.com

He would also give the Canadiens a left-handed defenceman in the pipeline; a spot where they are fairly thin. Although the Canadiens would most likely need to find an immediate replacement for Markov following next season, Sergachev could be that player a few years down the road. His skating ability, along with his stick handling and play making could make him a great power play quarterback.

Olli Juolevi, Defence, London Knights

Juolevi is possibly the best defenseman in the draft. He may go as early as sixth or fall out of the top 10. What Juolevi would bring to the Canadiens, is a great two-way game. His offensive game isn’t as good as the other two defensemen in the article but his intelligence gives him the advantage over Chychrun and Sergachev. He reads the play exceptionally well, and is tough to beat one on one. He reads the play extremely well and creates turnovers. He also has a great skating stride and good playmaking ability. He can potentially be a second unit power play defenceman in the NHL.   He still needs to fill out his 6’2″, 183 pounds frame before making the NHL. He could stand to be more physical as well.

“A competitive spark-plug, Olli Juolevi is a complete, all-around defenceman who can hem the opposition in their own end or make things difficult for the opposition at home; either way, he puts the pressure on and lays it on thick. A strong and balanced skater, he can rush the puck through the neutral zone with ease or backcheck with haste. Uses his size to his advantage, but knows his physical limits and plays within them. Instead of playing overly physical, he makes his presence felt by exhibiting his high-end playmaking ability and puck possession play. All-in-all, a well-rounded blueliner who thrives under pressure and can be trusted in all situations.” (Curtis Joe, EP 2016) – via Eliteprospects.com

Last season, he helped the London Knights capture the Memorial Cup.  He scored 9 goals and 42 points in 57 games during the season, before putting up 7 assists in 4 games the Memorial Cup tournament. He also helped Finland to win the World Junior Championships.

Jakob Chychrun, Defence, Sarnia Sting

Chychrun has fallen down the ranks by many scouts; but it still doesn’t mean that he can’t put everything together. He is possibly the most NHL-ready defenseman in the draft but with others progressing more this season, his stock has fallen.  Once seen as the second best player in the draft, the Canadiens could potentially grab a gem at ninth if he falls that far.  He has it all: great awareness, as well as a decent physical game in his own end. He has a great stride and vision in order to eventually be able to become a replacement for Andrei Markov.  He has good vision and passing skills; along with a hard slap shot. Chychrun has top pairing potential.

“An unyielding two-way defenceman, Jakob Chychrun is a rising star with a toolbox bursting at the seams. Consistently displays elite four-way skating ability and is not afraid to throw his weight around physically. Plays with poise and composure through high-pressure situations and, with the puck on his stick, can direct the play up-ice. Exhibits a particularly potent shot that works its magic on the power play and on the forecheck.

Excellent first pass and uses his vision and awareness to keep the puck moving in the direction of the opposition’s tail or to a teammate with more time and space. Defensively adept at tracking the puck and staying a step ahead of the opposition. Proactive with his stick and body, exerting pressure on the opposition and forcing them to make hurried decisions.  All-in-all, a well-rounded two-way defender that competes with pro-level drive and makes his authoritative presence felt at both ends of the ice.” (Curtis Joe, EP 2016) – via Eliteprospects.com

Last season with the Sarnia Sting, Chychrun scored 11 goals and 49 points in 62 games.

Wing Options

Alex Nylander, Right Wing, Mississauga Steelheads

Another notable comes in the form of Steelheads winger Alexander Nylander. While many scouts have him around the Canadiens pick, it’s hard to see him fall to ninth with his skill.  With the Mississauga Steelheads, he scored 28 goals and 75 points in 57 games. He is one of the most skilled players on the board. If the teams ahead of the Canadiens decide to draft the best player available, he will be gone before the Canadiens have a chance to draft him. However, if they decide to take defence or centres; he could fall to the Habs, giving them a potential stud at wing.

There is a lot to like as he can both score goals, and set up plays with the best players his age. He also is over 6’0″; and does not get pushed off the puck very often. He can be a dynamic scorer, and bring the type of high-end offensive talent the Canadiens currently lack. Nylander has a wide array of stick handling moves and is tough to defend one-on-one. He has quick hands, and can wire a wrist shot to the top corner in the blink of an eye. Nylander can also make tape to tape passes through tight spaces. If there is an area of his game that needs work, it’s his defensive zone coverage. This can be taught to a player of Nylander’s skill level though.

 

Who will Trevor Timmins and the Montreal Canadiens select tomorrow night? Who do you want them to pick. Let us know in the comments below.

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