With the NHL Draft now come on gone, the Canadiens will welcome a new crop of prospects to their pool. The Canadiens drafted with need in mind as out of their 10 picks, they selected five left-shot defencemen. Let’s take a look at the Canadiens draft pick by pick in this years Montreal Canadiens draft review.
Montreal Canadiens Draft Review
Round 1, 15th Overall: Cole Caufield
This pick was a slam dunk for the Canadiens. Caufield was not expected to be around for the 15th pick but after the draft was skewed by a couple of surprising picks in the top 14, the Habs landed the American sniper. Caufield scored a whopping 72 goals last season and is arguably the best goal scorer in the entire draft. While he is committed to the University of Wisconsin next season, the Canadiens have said they will allow Caufield to decide where he wants to play next season. His CHL rights are owned by Sault Ste. Marie. Caufield will bring some scoring punch to the right side of the Canadiens offence to help out leading goal scorer Brendan Gallagher in the near future.
Round 2, 46th Overall: Jayden Struble
The Canadiens seemed to go off the board with their second-round pick going with defenceman Jayden Struble. A strong, physical specimen, Struble finished first in five out of the 18 fitness tests at the NHL Combine. Struble is an excellent skater, said to be one of the best in the draft. He loves to use his size by throwing his body around and is tough on his opponents in the defensive zone. Struble will play with the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL next season, the team where fellow draftee Alex Newhook played this past season. He will then join the college ranks by joining Northeastern University, where he will play with fellow Habs prospect Jordan Harris.
Round 3, 64th Overall: Mattias Norlinder
Norlinder will be a bit of a project for the Canadiens, much like Struble. However, also like Struble, he’s a magnificent skater. NHL teams are valuing the mobility of their defenders more and more and the NHL changes these two picks certainly show that for the Canadiens. Norlinder played last season with MODO in Sweden where he logged the second most minutes per game, only behind ex-NHL defenceman Tobias Enstrom.
Round 4, 77th Overall: Gianni Fairbrother
Sticking with defence the Habs selected Fairbrother from the Everett Silvertips of the WHL in the fourth round. While Struble and Norlinder are more offensive minded players, Fairbrother excels with his defensive game. Fairbrother is very good at defending off the rush and likes to play a physical game. Fairbrother likes to keep his offensive game simple, making the simple high percentage play rather than take a risk to make a long bomb pass. One area he excels is with his goal scoring, as Fairbrother has a big shot from the point. He is also a very effective penalty killer.
Round 5, 126th Overall: Jacob LeGuerrier
Sticking with defence once again, the Habs selected LeGuerrier. This pick was considered an off the board pick and he was not ranked by most scouting sites. LeGuerrier, much like Fairbrother, excels in the defensive end. He possesses great size at 6-foot-3 and uses it accordingly. LeGuerrier uses his long reach to intercept and break up plays. He brings a physical aspect to his game and keeps the opposition on their toes whenever he is on the ice. LeGuerrier does not bring much to the game offensively, however, and will need to develop that part of his game if he ever wants to make it to the next level.
Round 5, 136th Overall: Rhett Pitlick
Pitlick is an outstanding value pick this late into the draft. The left winger can absolutely fly and has great hockey sense. Two things that are very important to succeed in today’s NHL. Pitlick will join the Omaha Lancers of the USHL next season before moving on to college to play for the University of Minnesota. Pitlick will take the college route and grow in the NCAA ranks and develop his game even further there.
Round 5, 138th Overall: Frederik Nissen Dichow
The Canadiens elected to go with a goaltender with their last pick in the fifth round. Dichow possesses a massive frame standing at 6-foot-5. That alone gives the Canadiens hope as NHL teams a looking for taller goalies these days to fill up the net. While this pick may be a massive swing by Timmins and company, he has shown to find value in goaltenders late in the draft. See Cayden Primeau.
Round Six, 170th Overall: Arsen Khisamutdinov
Khisamutidinov is a 21-year-old Russian forward who was invited to the Habs European combine. They clearly like what they saw. In his last year of draft eligibility, the Habs took a flier on him in the sixth round. Khisamutdinov played nine games last season in the KHL where he managed to put up five points. His shot is said to be the best tool in his repertoire, as he can rifle the puck. He also has good size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds.
Round Seven, 201st Overall: Rafael Harvey-Pinard
The Habs made a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers to acquire this pick to draft local prospect Harvey-Pinard. Harvey Pinard is coming off a Memorial Cup win with the Rouyn Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL where he was team captain. His work ethic in all three zones is enough to warrant using a draft pick on him. Now depending on how he fairs at camp, Harvey-Pinard could potentially kick his pro career off next season with the Laval Rocket.
Round Seven, 206th Overall: Kieran Ruscheinski
With their final pick, the Habs selected defenceman Kieran Ruscheinski. Ruscheinski is an absolute mammoth player, standing at 6-foot-6 and 201 pounds. While there is not much known about this player, his size alone makes him an intriguing pick. However, like any seventh-round pick, he’s a project with a slim chance of making it to the show.
Concluding the Montreal Canadiens draft review, the Habs had a decent draft. They may have gotten the steal of the draft with Caufield at 15, as well as addressed some organizational depth needs at left defence. They also got some great value with the Pitlick pick in the fifth round. With most being projects, it’s hard to say exactly what the players will translate too. However, the Canadiens are already in possession of one of the top prospect pools in the league. They could afford to take chances in the later rounds. For their efforts, Last Word on Hockey’s Ben Kerr gave the Canadiens a B+ rating for their draft.
Embed from Getty Images