Stocking the cupboards

Monday, 01.07.2013 / 3:06 AM canadiens.com

NEWARK – The eight players who joined the Canadiens’ ranks on Sunday night weren’t the only members of the organization leaving Newark with a smile.

Armed with nine picks heading into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, including four in the Top 60, Canadiens director of amateur scouting Trevor Timmins was like a kid in a candy store when it came to stocking up on prospects at the Prudential Center.

“We’re really excited about our draft picks today,” shared Timmins, who added seven forwards and one goalie to the organizational depth chart. “Especially in the first round, we addressed a need with a player who I think will fit in our lineup.”

Adding some size to the system in 6-foot-5 winger Michael McCarron, Timmins and Habs GM Marc Bergevin opted to up the team’s sandpaper quotient with their 25th overall selection. An NHL power forward-in-the-making, the United States National Team Development Program standout is already drawing comparisons to another hulking winger Habs fans are all-too-familiar with.

“We shouldn’t compare players, but he’s in that Milan Lucic mold,” described Timmins of the similarities between his first rounder and the Bruins bruiser. “I would also compare him to Jarred Tinordi. He’s a big man who can really skate, he has tons of character and he’ll only get better.”

On the hunt for budding young players with a laundry list of intangibles, Bergevin found the right mix of skill, speed and size in his first pick of the night.

“Our guys saw him play at the [USNTDP] program and they saw him used 5-on-3. I know from playing that if your coach uses you 5-on-3, there has to be some hockey sense there,” explained Bergevin, who spent 20 years in the NHL, suiting up for 1,191 career games. “He’s willing to go to the dirty areas and make people accountable. That was a need we felt we addressed.”

Despite admitting he would have liked to have moved up in the draft early on, Bergevin was happy to have converted eight of his nine original picks into potential future Habs.

“The price to pay was high and we were willing to do that, but the teams decided to take their picks,” divulged Bergevin of his attempts to work his way into the Top 10. “There was no way we could have moved up. We tried.

“But I said yesterday, if we walk out of here with all our picks, we’ll be very happy,” added the Habs GM, who traded his seventh-round pick to the Panthers for a seventh-rounder in 2014. “We tried [to move up] but it wasn’t available for us so we made the picks. I know if you ask, there are 30 teams who are happy with their drafts, but we really are. Time will tell, but we’re happy.”

One year after snagging third-ranked European skater Sebastian Collberg with the 33rd overall pick, Timmins once again seems to have struck second-round gold in 2013. After calling on Swedish forward Jacob de la Rose at 34th overall, Timmins finally managed to land the goaltending prospect he’s been looking for at No. 36, and he found him in the team’s backyard.

“I was very surprised to see that [Zachary] Fucale was still there. I was happy and surprised; I guess Santa left us an extra present under the tree,” joked Timmins of the Rosemere, QC native and 2013 Memorial Cup champion, who was the top-ranked goaltender heading into the draft. “And you guys are really going to like [de la Rose]. He’s the leader of his team. We’re not sure where he’s going to play next year yet, but he’s already played two years with men [in Sweden].”

While Timmins was clearly high on his first three picks of the day, the other five he drafted drew similar praise from the team’s long-time scouting guru.

“[Artturi Lehkonen] is only 5-foot-11 but he’s a world class player. He was the go to guy and the best player on the Finnish Under-18 team,” described Timmins of the team’s third and final second-round selection. “He already started playing in the Finnish Elite League and he’s produced. He’s a goal scorer and a character guy. He has really, really good hockey sense.

“[Third-round pick Connor Crisp] is a heck of an athlete and he’s tough,” continued Timmins on the Erie Otters centerman, who racked up nine fights in the OHL in 2012-13. “Yes we addressed a need drafting him. At some point you have to. And [Fourth-rounder Martin] Reway is a homerun swing. If you talked to his coach in Gatineau, he’d tell you some really good things about him. Yes he’s undersized, but so was [Brendan] Gallagher when we picked him a few years back. He’s got that grit that you need to survive.”

Made up of players from all over the world playing in five different leagues – including four from the QMJHL – the Canadiens’ Class of 2013 may seem diverse on paper, but there are a few things all eight of them have in common.

“These guys are good hockey players. When you can get a guy who can play, you don’t sit back; you get him,” confirmed Bergevin. “Hockey sense is important, character is important and compete level is important.

“We had a message coming in,” he added. “Time will tell, but we felt there was a need to be addressed and we did that today.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.

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