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Montreal Canadiens Draft Preview: Getting Defensive

Posted By Corey Krakower On Jun 24 2011 @ 1:15 pm In Montreal Canadiens | No Comments

Back in 2007, Habs draft guru Trevor Timmins hit a home run at the NHL entry draft. He selected Ryan McDonagh (a regular on the New York rangers blueline), Max Pacioretty (a top 6 forward on the Habs), PK Subban (an elite puck moving defenseman) and Yannick Weber (a PP specialist). Those are the kind of results that can positively affect the future of a franchise for an extended period of time.

Why do I bring that up? Because that was the last time Timmins has drafted a player that has played in an NHL game.

The Montreal Canadiens are the only NHL team who have not gotten at least 1 NHL game played from any of their 2008/2009/2010 draft picks. That absolutely has to change, especially with many of the other Eastern Conference teams getting better with the infusion of young talent.

The Habs hold the #17 pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, and barring a trade, they need to get this one right.

Organizational Need

Once upon a time, the organizational strength of the Canadiens prospect group was on defense. However, that has changed drastically in short order. David Fischer was a bust, Ryan McDonagh was traded, PK Subban and Yannick Weber are NHL regulars, and some wild cards like Mathieu Carle and Pavel Valentenko (also traded) never panned out. The only D in the Habs organization who projects as a future NHLer right now is Jarred Tinordi, who had a bad season in the OHL for a former first round pick.

With the seventeenth pick in the 2011 NHL draft, the Montreal Canadiens should select a defenseman.

Top Potential Targets

JAMIE OLEKSIAK – D

TSN rank: #17

Height: 6’7 / Weight: 240
2010-11 Team: Northeastern (NCAA)
2010-11 Stats: 38 GP – 4G – 9A – 13PTS – 57 PIM

Oleksiak is a huge defenseman, who is already playing a regular shift in the NCAA against men. He has surprisingly good mobility for his size and projects as a defensive defenseman and dominant penalty killer. His puck skills aren’t great, but an NHL team drafting him isn’t exactly hoping for Oleksiak to quarterback the powerplay.

JOE MORROW – D

TSN rank: #20

Height: 6’1 / Weight: 196
2010-11 Team: Portland (WHL)
2010-11 Stats: 60 GP – 9G – 40A – 49PTS – +23

Morrow is the polar opposite of Oleksiak. He is regarded as one of, if not the best skaters in the entire draft. He can jump into the rush and put up points from the backend, especially with his booming shot. He stepped up even more in the WHL playoffs, playing at a point-per-game. Much like other puck moving defensemen, Morrow struggles at times in the D zone. He projects as a second pairing D with lots of time on the PP.

MY PICK: JOE MORROW

I was initially sold on Oleksiak, but my opinion has changed because guys like Morrow are harder to find. Simply put; you don’t have to be an NHL coach to know that it will be a lot easier to teach Morrow to be better defensively than it would be to teach Oleksiak to be better offensively.

Having said that, I would be content with the Montreal Canadiens selecting either of these 2 blueliners. They may not have a choice, as both could easily go between 10 and 16.

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