Preparing for D-day

Monday, 02.06.2008 / 5:54 PM / News
canadiens.com
A total of 33 prospects from the upcoming draft were on hand at the Bell Centre on Monday.
MONTREAL – Draft day is all about preparation, for both the prospects and teams alike.  With the big day quickly approaching, the Canadiens were doing just that on Monday, when a few dozen prospects were on hand at the Bell Centre looking to take advantage of one last chance to impress.

“This is the third year we’re doing this,” said Canadiens Director of Recruitment and Player Development Trevor Timmins.  “It’s a scouting tool we use to find out as much as we can about these kids.  We interview them to learn more about their background, character, goals and ambitions, among other things.”

Aside from interviews, the 33 players - the majority coming from the QMJHL - are also put through fitness and medical tests, as well an on-ice session. 

“The purpose of our combine is to see if what we get today supports what we’ve seen during the year or if it raises any red flags,” explained Timmins. “More often than not, it supports what we have, but occasionally there are some surprises.  Sometimes, a player might not get drafted but we’ll invite him to our training camp in September.”

Among those invited, three are ranked among the Top 30 North American skaters heading into the draft on June 20 in Ottawa, including defenseman Yann Sauvé of the Saint John Sea Dogs.

The experience was nothing new for Sauvé, the 6-foot-2, 209-pound blueliner who was also at the NHL combine in Toronto, which allowed teams to evaluate 115 North American prospects.

“It’s different from Toronto.  I know most of the other guys here, having played with them at some level,” said Sauvé, who notched six goals and 15 assists in 69 games with the Sea Dogs this season.  “There’s competition, obviously, but it’s a great atmosphere.”

The next step?  The draft.  After seeing his overall rank drop over the last few months, the 18-year-old isn’t putting any extra pressure on his shoulders ahead of D-day.

“For a young guy from Rigaud like me, it’s definitely exciting but I’m trying not to think about it too much,” admitted Sauvé.  “I’ll have family and some friends there, but most of all, I just want to go and have fun.”

Until then, though, the league’s 30 teams will be putting the finishing touches on their list.  For the players, with two weeks and change before the draft, all they can do now is wait.

Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com