As part of TSN's countdown to the 2012 NHL Draft, TSN.ca is providing reports for all seven Canadian teams going into the big event on June 22. Our coverage begins with the Montreal Canadiens.
General Manager: Marc Bergevin
Top Draft Position: No. 3 Overall
Overview: General manager Marc Bergevin takes the helm in Montreal with a good crop of prospects to start with and the pool will only get deeper with the addition of the third overall pick.
Director of Player Procurement Trevor Timmins has hit home runs with Carey Price (fifth overall in 2005) and Max Pacioretty (22nd overall in 2007), but his scouting staff has really shone bright after the first round - taking players like PK Subban, Yannick Weber and Ryan White. Other mid-to-late round picks include Mikhail Grabovski, Mark Streit, Max Lapierre and Jaroslav Halak.
Though new assistant general manager Rick Dudley will not be helping out the Canadiens next week (as part of his defection from the Toronto Maple Leafs), having him for future drafts will certainly strenghten their work at the draft table.
Short Term Needs: The Canadiens need offensive help up front. They were a one-line team last year (with Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Erik Cole) so they need to select and develop Top 6 forwards. Aside from Nail Yakupov, there don't appear to be too many forwards who could crack an NHL lineup right away, so whoever the Canadiens might pick at third overall will probably need time to earn a spot.
Long Term Needs: Because the Canadiens have some promising prospects on defence (Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu) and at forward (Brendan Gallagher and Michael Bournival) who may be a year or so away from making the club, building organizational depth as opposed to stocking the shelves in a particular area is probably a big picture view of Montreal's direction in the long term.
From Scott Cullen's Offseason Game Plan: Last year's first-round pick, Nathan Beaulieu is an offensive defenceman who has good size and scored nearly a point-per-game for a powerhouse Saint John team. Some time in the AHL would be the prudent approach, but it will be interesting to see if he can force the Habs' hand by showing them he's ready.
Jarred Tinordi's first OHL season didn't go as planned, but he was much better in 2011-2012, re-establishing his place in the prospect pecking order. He's huge and should be a fixture on the Canadiens blueline for years. As he matures, he'll be groomed for a shutdown role.
A fifth-round pick in 2010, Brendan Gallagher impressed in last year's camp and while he's on the small side, he's put up three straight years with at least 40 goals in the WHL and has some feistiness to his game that should allow him to survive at the next level. Maybe he sneaks into a spot next season, but a more likely scenario is that he starts in the AHL, where he can get used to the pro game and score some before getting his chance with the Canadiens.
Drafted in the second round in 2008, Danny Kristo is returning to North Dakota for his senior season but, after scoring 45 points in 42 games as a junior, he remains an intriguing prospect.
Acquired from Colorado in the Ryan O'Byrne deal, Michael Bournival is a good skater with some offensive ability, but may not be a scorer in the NHL. Even so, with a couple of years to develop, he might be a reliable top nine forward.
Patrick Holland was added from Calgary in the Michael Cammalleri deal and while his goal-scoring didn't go up much in his third junior season, his assist total exploded as he skated alongside Brendan Shinnimin and Adam Hughesman on a very prolific line for Tri-City. That inflated point total may create unreasonable expectations for Holland, but his steady improvement throughout his career does make him worth watching over the next couple years.
While others ahead of him on the list are younger with more variance in their projection, 24-year-old Andreas Engqvist isn't far from the NHL now. He doesn't figure to be a scorer, but at 6-foot-4, can be an effective checking centre.
Morgan Ellis has developed quite a bit in four years of major junior hockey, so he's ready for his next test in the AHL. He's a safe defensive defenceman, with some offensive ability that has improved as he's matured.
A fifth-round pick last summer, Darren Dietz is a physical defenceman who can contribute some offensively. He may be hard-pressed to reach the NHL, but another year in the Western Hockey League may tell a better tale about where is future potential lies after junior.
A 6-foot-4 winger who scored nearly a point per game in Hockey East competition, Steve Quailer may still return to Northeastern for his senior season, but as a forward prospect with size, he bears watching.