Prospect watch: NCAA talent doing just fine

The Canadiens have drafted a plethora of NCAA players in recent years and with the success of players like Christopher Higgins and Mike Komisarek, Habs fans have reason to be hopeful some of the recent NCAA crop will be just as good.

According to Hockey’s Future, defencemen David Fischer and Ryan McDonagh, who were left off the U.S. junior team for the recent world junior tournament, have stepped up their play despite the disappointment of that decision and have played some of their best hockey of the season since then, according to Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens’ director of player recruitment and development.

The report also looks at prospects Max Pacioretty, J.T. Wyman, Joe Stesjkal and Philippe Paquet.

Read the full report here.


  1. kevin m says:

    I believe that Gainey has chosen players available at the entry draft according to their ranking in the Canadiens scouting reports. The Canadiens will take the next best player available on their list, regardless of position, when it’s their turn to pick.

    It is for this reason that the name Carey Price raised many eyebrows after being chosen fifth overall in 2005 despite the fact that Montreal was goaltender heavy with a young Theodore in Montreal & promising prospects in Hamilton. The draft is a crap-shoot involving too many “unknowns” to be very effective in providing immediate solutions to any teams needs.

    That is why, I believe, this team has so much depth at the crucial positions of defence and goaltending. Eventually the cream will rise to the top (Komisarek, Markov, O’Byrne, Mcdonough, Pacioretty, Emelin, Valentenko, Price, Halak, Plecs, AK46, SK74, Lapierre, Chipchura, Grabs, Higgins, Lats, Ryder et al), leaving them in a good bargaining position to acquire the missing elements needed, possibly through trades, to build a perennial Stanley Cup contender.

    This team has an excellent nucleus of NHL talent that is still developing with more on the way. I see this team contending sooner rather than later. Just look at where all the experts picked this team to finish this year.

    For those who are not, it’s going to be great to be a Habs fan in the not too distant future.

    Go Habs Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Chuck says:

    We’re certainly loaded with guys named Ryan!


    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  3. Cousin Al says:

    Ian Cobb: I’ve wanted to write this for quite some time, so here goes. I had the pleasure of meeting you briefly at the Summit. I was sitting at the next table (at the restaurant),introduced myself to you, shook your hand but didn’t really have the pleasure of talking with you. I wanted to tell you that your story is so inspirational and I have a great deal of respect for you and what you have accomplished with the help of this site. I enjoy your posts as well and, if there should be another summit, I hope that this time we will be able to talk more. Good luck.

  4. Vancouver Hab Fan says:

    Hainsey and Beauchemin were not given much of a chance to play for the Habs. Anytime Hainsey did anything wrong he would sit where as Brisebois could always screw up and still get ice time. I think both of those guys were gone before Gainey took control and at that time the teams mentality was still to play vets with no upside while ruining/wasting the careers of young players who could prosper…or flop. Kind of like what the team is doing with Smolinski this year and what they were doing to Gorges early on with Brisebois. It will be interesting to see what happens when O’Byrne is back from his injury, I hope they don’t send him down so they can hold onto Patrice.

    The team does need to draft more forwards this year. It would be nice to get more insight on where Wyman is at, is he an NHL caliber scoring prospect or not. Maxwell’s injuries the last two years seem to have taken some of the luster away from him; I believe he has an ankle injury but I am not certain.

    Go Habs!

  5. TommyB says:

    Couple of things, mjames. First, Pat Hickey didn’t write the above article. So different views from different people, I guess. I’d have to ask Hickey if he has actually seen any NCAA games involving Fischer or any other of these college players, or is he basing his opinion on heresay and what others have written. I personally am a supporter of the college game and it’s player development….Second, I think it is harder for an NHL team to be patient with the college guys as compared to the Junior A guys. I say this because college players come to the NHL a few years older, usually, than a Junior A player. So perhaps the expectation level is a bit higher on the college kid. If two players go to the farm team for a year, one from college and one from Junior A, you might expect the college player, at the age of say 22, to be further along the curve than the Junior grad who is now 19. So, yeah, with some guys you need to have more patience, but that patience might be harder to come by when the player is a couple of years “older” and theoretically, more developed. You still draft a college player at the age of 18, but you have to wait longer for him to be ready for the NHL, assuming he completes his schooling, whereas a Junior player could be drafted at 18 and step right into the NHL. Rare, but it does happen. So I can understand where impatience with a college player might come into play….and yeah, sometimes that impatience comes back to bite you in the rear.

  6. Hoegarden says:

    Hickey can pretty well write anything he wants whereas Timmins is on a different platform, he has to protect his picks.
    All draft picks are promising, so they say.

  7. Ian G Cobb says:

    Very good Tommy, one other point might be, better educated players pick up on drills and better lifestyle choices.

    A club with a little more patience, might get a more rounded player.
    Like me for instance, i studied cobbism !

  8. habfan53 says:

    Hainsey had his cup of coffe with Montreal (32 games) The story was he was not putting out the effort?? Heck Columbus picked him up on Nov 29th 2months into the 05-06 season off waivers. He’s an example of where a change of scenery did him good congratulations to him. As for Beauchemin Yeah so we missed him he slipped thru s**t happens. We also let Tomas Vokoun loose to

  9. ebk says:

    Hainsey was sent down at the start of the 2005/2006 season by the Canadiens. He played the first two months in Hamilton. He was recalled by the Habs because of injuries to their defense but had to pass through waivers first. Columbus claimed him during this process and therefore he was lost to the Habs.

    The intended/unintended implication that Hainsey sat two months on waivers before another team picked him up is not correct.

  10. ebk says:

    Both players were actually still with the Canadiens when Gainey had control of the team.

    Not sure who was kept instead of Beauchemin but Hainsey was sent down and Bouillon and Streit were kept with the big club. A case can be made for Streit but as much as I like Frankie the bull, I’d be hard pressed to say keeping him instead of Hainsey was a good choice.

    The faithful hate to hear it but even the great Bob Gainey makes a mistake now and then, as much as they try to deny it. Most GM’s do, to his credit he has been right far more than he has been wrong and it is proven by the current state of the team.

  11. Ian G Cobb says:

    Cousin Al—Thank you, and the next time, lets make sure to shoot the breeze !


  12. JA says:

    I agree there was no balance in the draft the past three years with all the top draft picks being defencemen and a goalie, I think Gainey’s reasoning for this is that goalies and defencemen need more time to mature, there fore I believe his goal is to have a cup contending team by the year 2010, so then the strategy for this year will be to draft the best forwards available.

    He may also pick up a good unrestricted free agent this summer (If he is lucky) like it happened in 91 92 93 with Damphouse and Bellows which lead to the last cup.

    It would be really interesting if Dave, Pat and Kevin could get to interview Gainey and get some inside information on his strategy, but it may be easier breaking into Fort Knox.

  13. Smart Dog says:

    If this is all so true where did K1 and K2 come from? A Kostitsyn was our first pick. Where did Plekanec come from? Higgins? We’re only short by one really good free agent signing or trade up front, which is doable. Other teams lack defensive players, which means it’s good to have extra at trade time… I think that’s part of the plan. That said, it’s obvious that we could use more forwards in the pipeline too – so I agree with that part.

    Habs Fans! The FUTURE looks bright:
    Plekanec, Higgins, Chipchura, A Kostitsyn, Lapierre, Latendress,
    Price, S Kostitsyn, Komisuarus, O’Byrne

  14. 24 Cups says:

    Smart Dog (funny what glasses can do to one’s image:-) When looking at “prospects”, age becomes a relative thing. With the exception of Sergei K, I don’t consider any of those players you mentioned as being young kids who are part of the future – they are examples of being established young day to day players. Let’s assume that Gainey can resign all those guys. Then the issue becomes what do we do with Koivu and Kovalev in the summer of 2009. They both make around $4.5 mil a year. Will they resign for less? Probably not. Do they deserve more (at their age)? Not a chance, we won’t be able to afford it. It’s too early to tell if they will leave but I think it’s safe to say that Koivu would be coming back in a much different (and reduced) role. I could go on about the what ifs, but let’s just leave it by saying that I feel we need to have a couple of “prospects” ready to take their place in the lineup when that time inevitably arrives. That’s why I feel we should draft a forward in the first round this summer. Hopefully, a young centre.

    The Original 24 Cups

  15. JA says:

    I was referring to the last 3 draft years only:
    2007 McDonagh #12, Pacioretti #22
    2006 Fisher #20, Maxwell #49
    2005 Price #5, Latendresse #45
    2004 Chipchura #18, Yemelin #84

    Sergei Kostitsyn 2005 #200 overall, Plekanec 2001 #71 was a diamond in the rough.

    Andrei Kostitsyn 2003 #10, Higgins 2002 #14.

    It is obvious that the Habs have prioritized on building a good defensive team by choosing players that will be able to play two way hockey, there will be exceptions and diamonds in the rough but I look at their first two choices of every draft to figure out what kind of team is being built.

  16. HABZ 24 says:

    gainey has done a great job along with his scouting staff getting young talent.buying a team like the leafs or ranger years past is not the way to go these days.the habs have a bright future with the koz bro’s,price,higgy,komiserick,plek,chipchrura,and young guns further down the list.the habs futures so bright yuh gotta wear shades.

  17. Ian G Cobb says:

    Thanks Kevin, We never get to see NCAA or for that matter AHL up here enough and we miss some of the best parts of the development years of the up comming talent.

    Please keep this information comming. It gives us a more solid base to watch them from if they make it to the show.

  18. Blitzen says:

    Wasn’t there a report about a week ago that Fischer was stinking up the joint? I guess things change quickly.

  19. mjames says:

    It looks that way. As a matter of fact I recall Hickey stating that it looked like we had blown our 1st round pick on Fischer. I am not sure we should rush to judgement on some of these guys. I only have to look at Beachemin and Hainsey for proof. We need to give these guys every chance to succeed before we dispose of them.


  20. teamplayer says:

    yeh the report was made when fischer was not picked for the world jr. team, unfortunately for mcdonaugh and fischer whoever picks the americans jr team always seems to leave off a few players that scouts say should be on.

  21. Habsville says:

    Thanks I appreciate the draft picks update. The club has been restocked by Mr. Gainey and company. Our future looks good and our ability to make trades by adding in picks has improved. Thanks again

  22. 24 Cups says:

    My only concern is the lack of quality forwards in the system (excluding the guys already in Montreal). There really only appears to be one blue chipper and that is Pacioretty. Ben Maxwell is another possibility but he’s been hurt a lot so far in his junior career. Hopefully, Gainey will be drafting some forwards this summer.

    The Original 24 Cups

  23. Hoegarden says:

    I wish some of the HIO bloggers out West would give us some progress reports on White, Cepek and Maxwell.

    What’s Timmings going to say other than they are doing fine; he drafted them. Average report, that’s all.

  24. 24 Cups says:

    Hoegarden – The guy I would like to see the Habs draft from the WHL is a kid named Kyle Beach. He’s a 6’3′ centre, he can skate and hit, has a mean streak, AND scores goals. He’ll go early in the draft so there’s not much chance of us getting him – but he is exactly what the Habs need. Add him to Pacioretty (with Sergei K on the right wing) and we’re on our way.

    The Original 24 Cups

  25. Hoegarden says:

    Let’s hope Timmins can find a similar type of player. As long as he focuses on “FORWARDS” only. We’re overstocked on the blue. Then may be in a couple of years you’ll have to change your handle to 25 cups 😉

  26. kevincrumbs says:

    I used to watch Cameron Cepek when he was on the Portland Winter Hawks. He never really impressed me as such and looking back to something I wrote the very last time I saw him play, I wrote that he was easily muscled off the puck. I remember him being on the team’s first defensive pairing along with getting power play minutes.

    Like I said, I was never impressed by him but then again the Winter Hawks the past two seasons have been really, really dreadful so I doubt he has had much of a chance to shine. He’s with the Edmonton WHL team now.

  27. habsgod says:

    if you guys want another name to look up and keep an eye on look up jordan eberle!!regina pats!!this kid is going to be a real good one

  28. JA says:

    I believe Gainey’s plan has been to rebuilt from the goalie out, so this year I would be very suprised if he does not draft the best available forwards.

  29. habsguy says:

    so what you guys are thinking is, if there’s a blue chip can’t miss defenceman available when the Habs pick they should overlook him and go with a forward??????

  30. 24 Cups says:

    habsguy – I knew someone would raise that point! Of course every team lives by the adage of ‘selecting the best player available’. All I’m saying is that philosophy doesn’t always ring true as you work your way down the draft and get past the ‘can’t miss’ prospects. At that stage, the tie goes to the runner.

    By the way habsguy, this year’s draft is top heavy with defensemen which just adds more fuel to the fire! That’s the enjoyable part of debating hockey on this site.

    The Original 24 Cups

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