Monday, July 30, 2012

30 Teams in 30 Days: Montreal Canadiens

Je vais maintenant vous présenter avec les Canadiens de Montréal.

Jarred Tinordi - London Knights
I have to say, I was incredibly disappointed with Tinordi following his rookie season in the OHL (2010/2011). I thought he looked really uncomfortable and at times out of place. Not exactly a glowing review of a first round pick. But this past season he was fantastic. A complete 180 degrees. Nearly every part of his game took a massive step forward. Defense is obviously his bread and butter and he was a beast in his own zone this year. He was able to harness his aggression and pick the right spots to be physical. I'd say this past year, he was the hardest defenseman to win battles against in front of the net in the OHL. But he's also very mobile for a big man, and he uses his reach effectively to break up plays off the rush. His +39 this year was no fluke. Offensively, he looked way more comfortable. He actually occasionally attempted rushes up ice with the puck and was way more calm under the pressure of the forecheck. The puck was no longer a hand grenade this year. I'd actually say he was relatively snake bitten offensively. I saw him play several times this year, and he hit some posts with point shots. His production in the playoffs this year, I think, is a better indication of the progression he made as an offensive player. I don't think he'll need more than a year in the AHL before he's up to pace with the professional game. His strength and defensive ability is already pro ready IMO. If the Habs were smart, they'd pair Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu together in the AHL next year. That'd be a great pairing to follow.

Alex Galchenyuk - Sarnia Sting
I'm sure Habs fans are drooling with anticipation of Alex's first year post injury. I just can't see him making the NHL next year, although with his determined personality and commitment level, I wouldn't put it past him either. If he ends up back in Sarnia, as I suspect he will, it'll be interesting to see how he does. The Sting will be his team now, with Nail Yakupov all but certain to be in the NHL. The Sting are also losing most of their weapons at forward, with only Reid Boucher and Charles Sarault really remaining. Opposing defenses will likely be zoning in on him, and I'm sure they'll be quick to test out that knee. I do expect him to have a great year though, as his potential as a dynamic all around center is sky high. Being among the OHL's leading scorers certainly isn't out of a reach. 

Brady Vail - Windsor Spitfires 
I loved this pick by the Habs in the 4th round. Vail has the makings of becoming a terrific shutdown 3rd line center, but I think it's a little bit early to undercut his potential and put a cap on his offensive progression. He showed a lot of great things offensively this year. He sees the ice well, works hard along the boards, and has a developing shot. I think there's serious offensive potential there. This year with the Spits, he'll certainly get to explore it. He'll be centering one of the team's top lines and be given every opportunity to play in all situations. I expect him to finish the year around the point per game mark.

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