The Canadiens held their own pre-draft combine on Wednesday at their practice facililty in Brossard, inviting 56 players, including 32 from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The Canadiens did not make a list available to the media of the players who were attending, but the top three prospects – Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones and Halifax Mooseheads forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin - weren’t there. They will be long gone before the Canadiens pick in the first round.
Three prospects who were in Brossard are the Mooseheads’ Zachary Fucale, the No. 1-ranked North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting; Rimouski Oceanic forward Frederik Gauthier, the No. 8 ranked North American skater by Central Scouting; and London Knights centre Bo Horvat (photo above), the No. 15 ranked North American skater.
“I grew up here and to be a part of an event like this one that was organized by the Canadiens is special,” Fucale, who is from Rosemere, told canadiens.com. “All I had to do was take a few tests. They gather the most information possible, and we’ll see what happens (at the draft).
“All of the guys in the Canadiens organization know us from A to Z,” added Fucale, who led the Mooseheads to the Memorial Cup championship this year.
Said Horvat, who was the Ontario Hockey League playoff MVP after posting 16-7-23 totals as the Knights won the league championship: “I’m sure all of the guys are excited (for the draft). I’m excited (too). This month can’t go by slower actually, so I’m really looking forward it. I’m just really excited to see where I go.”
The players in Brossard were to be split into two groups and be put through a series of tests both on and off the ice.
The NHL held its official combine last week in Toronto. The Canadiens’ combine gives the team an opportunity to take a second look at players who were in Toronto and a first look at players who weren’t invited to the NHL combine, especially those from the QMJHL, as they look for a diamond in the rough.
(Photo by Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)