PITTSBURGH – To say Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins were happy with the way the 2012 NHL Entry Draft unfolded would be an understatement.
After a long two days of work, Timmins was beaming as he greeting the media for his post-draft scrum. In 10 years running the draft for the Canadiens, the team’s director of player procurement has made his share of solid picks, including current stars Carey Price (2005), Max Pacioretty (2007) and P.K. Subban (2007), and he’s confident he’s leaving Pittsburgh with another crop of young stars this time around.
“Well I’m smiling,” mentioned Timmins when asked how pleased he was to see third-ranked European skater Sebastian Collberg still in play at No. 33. “We think Sebastian has a lot of potential. Anyone who watched the World Junior games saw him play. He was used in the shootouts and he played ahead of Filip Forsberg in the gold medal game. We think he has a lot of upside. He’s a goal scorer, he plays with a lot of energy, he’s an outstanding skater and he’s on the puck all the time. We’re very happy we got him.”
| Trevor Timmins post-draft scrum
For a prospect ranked as high as Collberg was heading into the weekend, listening as teams continued calling other names throughout the first round was agonizing. That feeling wasn’t mutual at the Canadiens’ draft table.
“I was in Sweden in February when I was with the Blackhawks and I saw [Collberg] play and mentioned to the scouts there to take him in the first round,” shared Bergevin, who was handling assistant general manager duties for the ‘Hawks last year. “I was surprised to see him still there at No. 33 but I was really happy he was there.”
The Swedish sniper wasn’t the only prospect who dropped in the draft order – much to the delight of the Habs brass.
“Trevor and I spoke this morning about the players we wanted to get and we got them,” confirmed Bergevin of his first draft as Canadiens GM. “We were surprised about a few of them. I’m proud of what we did at the draft for the future of the Montreal Canadiens. We liked [Tim] Bozon and [Dalton] Thrower a lot and weren’t expecting to be able to get them. They were both still available when it got to us so things went well for us today.”
With so many of the prospects they were coveting still available when it came time to step to the mic, the Canadiens came away with six forwards and one defenseman in their haul. While it would seem Timmins and Bergevin were looking to address a current need in terms of organizational depth, they insist their draft policy on Friday and Saturday was the same as it’s always been.
“We didn’t go by position; we picked the best player available,” stressed Timmins of his new crop of future Habs. “And before anybody asks, yes we wanted to draft a goaltender, but we couldn’t get one in the spots we were looking at.”
Heading into the draft, both Bergevin and Timmins promised to focus on adding players who fit the new identity they’re looking to establish in Montreal. Then they put their money where their mouth is for seven rounds.
“We added character and talent this weekend and to me those are the most important things. These guys all fit the bill,” described Bergevin of Alex Galchenyuk, Collberg, Thrower, Bozon, Brady Vail, Charles Hudon and Erik Nystrom who he picked third, 33rd, 51st, 64th, 94th, 122nd and 154th, respectively. “It will take a few years to really know for sure, but today we’re proud of the kids we picked.
“I knew all the players but not to the level Trevor does,” admitted the Habs GM. “Trevor impresses me more and more every day. I didn’t know him that well before coming to Montreal, but the more I work with him and the more I get to know him the more he impresses me. He has a great hockey mind and he’s a guy who respects the people he works with. There’s no grey area with him; it’s black or white and I like that.”
As for how he would evaluate his scouting team’s work at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Timmins isn’t ready to make any predictions just yet. He may be employing a wait-and-see mentality with his new charges, but the look on his face as he talks about them says more than he’s willing to admit publicly.
“We’ll tell you in five years,” offered Timmins coyly on how he felt the draft went for Montreal. “We added a lot of talent and a lot of scoring upside. We added some toughness, some physicality and some grit as well. Only time will tell. Right now, we’re very happy.
“It’s like Christmas day when Santa Claus arrives,” he added with a grin. “We’ve opened our gifts and now it’s time to get to work helping these players develop further and help them reach their full potential. That’s our job now.”