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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Getting To Know The Habs 2014 Draft Class

Greetings Habs Addicts,

Well the 2014 NHL draft has came and went and the Montreal Canadiens have added six new faces to the organization. Trevor Timmins and his staff added three forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender. Or essentially, one player at each ice position. Talk about balance. Here they are:

Photo Credit: MontrealGazette.com

Nikita Scherbak (RW) - 1st Round (26th overall)

  • 6-2 and 174lbs.
  • Shoots Left
  • Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2013/14 (Saskatoon Blades)

Brett Lernout (D) - 3rd Round (73rd overall)
  • 6-4 and 205 lbs.
  • Shoots Right
  • WHL in 2013/14 (Swift Current Broncos)
Nikolas Koberstein (D) - 5th Round (125th overall)
  • 6-2 and 190 lbs.
  • Shoots Left
  • Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) in 2013/14 (Olds Grizzlys)
  • Has committed to play at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks after completing his AJHL career.
Daniel Audette (C) - 5th Round (147th overall)
  • 5-8 and 168 lbs.
  • Shoots Left 
  • Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) in 2013/14 (Sherbrooke Pheonix)
Hayden Hawkey (G) - 6th round (177th overall)
  • 6-1 and 180 lbs.
  • Catches Left
  • United States Hockey League (USHL) in 2013/14 (Omaha Lancers)
  • USHL Goaltender of the Year (2013/14).
  • Has committed to play at Providence College after completing his USHL career. 
Jake Evans (RW) - 7th Round (207th overall)
  • 6-0 and 172 lbs.
  • Shoots Left
  • Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) in 2013/14 (St. Mike's Buzzers).

Analysing The Picks

Nikita Scherbak was a highly-touted prospect who fell down a few notches and was available to the Habs are 26th overall. Various scouts had him going on average at the 20th overall pick, so he did not slide by any means. The Russian import had a fantastic first season in the WHL. Scherbak showed that he is fearless when he opted to break into the North American game playing in the tough and very physical WHL. His Saskatoon Blades team was among the worst in all of Canadian junior hockey, but he still managed to lead all WHL rookies in scoring with 78 points. Scherbak was in on 41% of his teams offensive output. Scherbak also impressed the media and fans alike with his post-pick interview with TSN's James Duthie. If you haven't seen it, take a moment and do so now. Not bad for a kid who has only had a year of English under his belt. He already wants to take up French. 

The next two picks were questionable. Third round pick Brett Lernout improved his stock with an impressive showing at the scouting combine and had a solid season in the WHL. He is a big, hard hitting, nasty defender who lists Chris Pronger as his idol. He will not provide close to the offensive output that Pronger did during his career, but should be a capable penalty killing crease clearing beast. Nikolas Koberstein was considered a stretch pick by Trevor Timmins. That is putting it quite mildly. He was ranked 205th by Central Scouting entering the draft and the Canadiens took him at 125th overall. Another physical defender, Koberstein has a lot of leadership traits having served as his team's captain in the AJHL this season and will return to that role next season. For a fifth round pick, it's not the worst thing to take a gamble on potential. 

Daniel Audette is the son of former NHL player Donald Audette. The elder Audette played briefly for the Habs during his career and is currently a member of the team's scouting staff. Timmins indicated that the family connection did not influence the pick and that Donald was not in the room when discussions were made involving his son or other potential choices. Donald also sat in the stands with Daniel during the draft and not at the Habs draft table. There is no question that the younger Audette is talented. He was the first overall pick by the expansion Sherbrooke Phoenix and was the team's leading scorer this season. He has great hands and great hockey sense, but his small frame brings into question his ability to match up physically. He is often pushed off the puck and will not win too many battles for loose pucks. Trevor Timmins acknowledged that his size was an issue, but the talent level was unquestioned. You draft for talent and again, in the fifth round there really are no bad picks. 

Goaltender Hayden Hawkey has a last name made for the sport. Literally. Hawkey. Hockey. Perfect. The reigning USHL goaltender of the year had a tremendous season and will be moving onto University hockey after his USHL junior career is over. He has a chance to develop into organizational depth with upside. Afterall, if there is one position that the Canadiens seem to routinely develop well its goaltenders. Nothing wrong with this pick in the sixth round.

The last pick, Mr. Irrelevant of the Canadiens draft class is an OJHL winger Jake Evans. He has average size, average speed and has a chance to crack the organization in a depth role. Most likely a career AHLer when it is all said and done. Nothing wrong with that in the seventh round. 

Summary

Frankly, this draft is all about Scherbak. 

Brett Lernout might develop into a third pairing stay-at-home type or a solid depth option to fill in for injuries. If he can fashion himself a Mike Komisarek career it would be considered a success. Koberstein will be given time to develop. Audette needs to develop strength in order to make it past junior, skill or no skill. None of these players will be in Montreal next year. For as talented as he is, Scherbak is still raw in the North American game and another season of junior would serve him well as he adds some bulk to his frame. TSN listed Scherbak as a player comparable to Jakub Voracek on draft night, which is pretty solid upside. He has tremendous skill and vision with the puck and he will look good lining up beside Alex Galchenyuk in 2015/16. 

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Nick Malofy is a transplanted Montrealer, currently living in evil LeafLand. He is a contributor here at HabsAddict.com and give him a follow, as he can often be found rambling on Twitter.

1 comments:

After 12 years of the Overrated Trevor Timmins conducting our draft, maybe it's time for some fresh blood. Why did we trade Two picks to move Up in the third round for an at best 6th or 7th defenseman? And again, No selection from the Ontario Hockey League. BTW I am Commandant from HIO

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