Welcome back to Easy Like Ea-Monday Morning, you’re easy reading article to start off your week. The best part is if you are reading this properly, you should be doing so on the pooper during company time! This week we will discuss the recent picks made by the Montreal Canadiens in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, looking at the good, bad and W.T.F. moments.
We will touch on the first round pick a little later in this article but let’s start with some of the good. For the second consecutive year the Canadiens had back to back picks in the 2nd Round, selecting Riley Kidney (Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL) and Oliver Kapanen (KalPa U20, FIN). Kidney is great with the puck, he has great vision and loves to create space and time for himself and he is never afraid to turn back and regroup in order to maintain possession for his team. He is a pass first player and can do a lot of damage to opposing team’s moving East/West before threading a cross ice pass that no one was paying attention to. His 17 points in 9 playoff games for the Titans ranked second in points per game in the QMJHL playoffs (behind only Dawson Mercer).
Oliver Kapanen has drawn comparisons to Jesse Ylonen from the Montreal faithful which is understandable as they are both successful shoot first players out of Finland. Kapanen finished first in goals in Finland’s U20 SM-sarja league this past season however he still has playmaking ability. Similar to what fans see Caufield do, Kapanen is good at finding soft spots to get his shot off, but can also use the threat of his shot to pull defender towards him in order to find an open teammate for a scoring opportunity.
A small note on asset management here, the Habs turned their 2nd Round pick from last year that was traded to Tampa Bay into Sean Farrell and Kapanen. Still early in both player’s development, but to this point in time, Habs fans have to be happy with the way the team made the most of this trade.
In the 3rd Round the Canadiens went with Dmitri Kostenko (Lada Togliatti, MHL/VHL), a RHD who has great offensive instincts and fits more of the mold of the new age defender. He is still a raw player and will need some time to develop as he progresses up the ranks in Russia. He spent the majority of last year playing in the VHL which is the equivalent to the AHL in Russia.
The Habs has a small run of selecting defenseman and with their 4th Round pick returned to the QMJHL to pick William Trudeau (Charlottetown, QMJHL). Playing on one of the best teams in the Q last season, Trudeau is a poised defenseman in his own end that showed a good level hockey IQ in disrupting the opposition’s forecheck along with smart and simple first passes to get his team out of trouble. Given his +34 rating with the Islanders, I jokingly want to compare him to Edmundson, but Trudeau fits the mold of a defensively responsible player who has the ability to jump up in the rush when need be. His offensive ceiling may be capped a little bit but he does the things you want a defender to do in his own end which is a good start as a prospect.
Daniil Sobolev is harder to assess, he plays for Windsor of the OHL so he unfortunately lost a season due to the pandemic and restrictions in Ontario. There was a clear desire to restock the RHD pipeline in the Habs prospect pool but I will refrain from making any projections or scouting notes since I am unable to really find any recent game film on him, but he is a guy I am very interested in watching next season.
The next two picks came out of the QMJHL with the selections of Joshua Roy (Sherbrooke) and Xavier Simoneau (Drummondville). The Habs drafted four players out of the Q this year which is a significant increase from previous years. I like what the Habs did with these two picks, Roy is a former first overall pick in the QMJHL and he hasn’t quite lived up to the billing, but there is still a clear level of raw talent there that needs to be developed properly. His shot is lethal and he is great at using his body to defend the puck but there is still another level to his game that he needs to unlocked if he is to become a NHL player.
Xavier Simoneau can easily be compared to Habs prospect Rafaël Harvey-Pinard. He has a motor that never stops and leads by example on the ice. He is one of the oldest players in this draft, being passed over twice already, but as a late round pick who the Habs identified as a guy who can work his way up the ranks, I like the pick. He plays way bigger than his actual size (5’7, 174 pounds) and leaves his heart and soul on the ice.
In the 7th Round the Habs went with a goalie that has good intangibles and has a very calm and cool demeanor in the net. Joe Vrbetic’s numbers leave something to be desired, however that would be doing him a disservice. Vrbetic played for a North Bay Battalion team that finished last in the OHL two seasons ago, but he is 6’6 and his poise in the net is his calling card. You have to imagine that the Habs see him as a very raw prospect who they think they plan to take their time with and develop through the minors and Laval over time.
Now for the WTF. In the 1st Round the Habs took Logan Mailloux who was recently fined in Sweden for sharing a photo of a sexual act without the women’s consent. Mailloux later asked that he not be drafted as he felt that he did not earn the right to be. Which he has a point, playing and being drafted into the NHL is a privilege, not a right and it is not something to be taken lightly. I’ve spent the weekend trying to think of the right words to use but I am still at a loss. This pick feels like it completely ignores the fact that there is a victim involved who wasn’t considered in the process of making this pick and it completely alienated a large segment of the fanbase.
I left this pick until the end because it is not fair to the other prospects selected to have their moments grouped into the same category. They deserve their moments, but this pick is a stain on the Canadiens as an organization and especially the Bergevin tenure. As a kid I was taught to not judge people on based on their mistakes in life but on how the make amends and the actions they take to make the rectify the situation and their mistakes. While there is still a ton of work that needs to be done for Mailloux, he is a boy who made a boy’s mistake, the same cannot be said about the Habs brass that made this pick. This is in no way meant to minimize what Mailloux did, but the Habs deserve to wallow in their own s**t for this one.
After all the optimism within the city and fanbase after the Stanley Cup run, Bergevin destroyed all of this in one swift move. As for Mailloux, the actions he takes from here on out need to show real contrition, and he needs to make things right with the victim.
I apologize to anyone who feels that these words miss the mark or fail to properly express the disappointment or frustration they feel about this draft pick. I have never been one to engage in a subject matter like this, rather preferring to let my actions and the way I treat people do the talking for me. However this entire experience writing for Hot Sauce has been about pushing myself out of my comfort zone and this is no different. It was time to acknowledge that there is a much larger conversation needed here that supersedes the hockey that takes place on-ice.
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