Montreal Canadiens Vice President of Player Personnel Trevor Timmins took time on a rare day off to discuss the Habs’ draft results with Recrutes.
What is his take on how the draft went for Montreal?
“Pretty excited. If we’re right then we had a heckuva haul..but only time will tell. We could have over projected some of these guys, but I don’t understand why teams seemed to stray away from CHL prospects after the first 40 or so. Anderson-Dolan went 41, and then all hell broke loose.”
How highly regarded were the Habs’ first three selections by the scouting staff? Much like Recrutes’ rankings, the top three picks were also ranked in the Habs top 35.
“It went well. Our top five picks were in our top 50, and if you want to count (Cayden) Primeau we got six. He was pretty damn close. He was our third-rated goalie.”
Timmins was especially surprised to see Fleury drop to the 87th pick at the end of the third round. He figured it was more a lack of viewing than anything,
“Yeah..I don’t get it. I know he didn’t play on a good team but…did guys just get lazy? I know Kootenay was not an easy team to see, but…Holy gosh.”
Montreal picked St. Cloud University center Ryan Poehling 25th overall. Will Poehling be a top-two center in Montreal?
“Well if he’s not he’s a damn good third-line center. That’s for his development to tell us…whether he’s a 2a, 2b, straight three…he fits in there somewhere. It’s up to him. I think he has more offensive upside than people give him credit for. He always produced in high school. It’s hard to produce as a 17-year old in college when you’re going up against 23 and 24-year-olds.”
Is Poehling strictly a playmaker?
“I think he’s both. I think he can score and set up plays but is more apt to dish off the puck.
The Habs had two late second-round picks, using the first one on Moose Jaw defenceman Josh Brook at 56th overall.
“I really like Brook. I don’t know why he slipped. He has one bad fumble at the U-18s…so do you write the guy off? He was really good in the playoffs. When I saw him in the WHL, I thought he was one of the smartest dmen in the draft, and his skating…. he’s a helluva skater. He takes off…boom…great acceleration.
“He’s really raw…he comes from a small town in the middle of nowhere in Manitoba. We’re going to try to keep him in Montreal and train him there this summer. I really like him. I think he’s a lot like John Carlson. He’s got a big body…a thick neck and wide shoulders. Big bone structure. Shane Churla talked to (Moose Jaw coach) Tim Hunter about him and he loves him.”
Montreal followed up the Brook selection with Finiish center Joni Ikonen just two picks later.
“Now what I hear from other teams is that they loved him. And it was just the perfect storm…all those teams that picked in front of us just had another player they liked a bit better. All it takes is one. We have him listed at 6-0 from the combine. His interviews were solid. This guy’s a workhorse..he is high, high-end compete and character. Teammates love him. He’s a lot like Lehkonen. He will play for Frolunda next season.”
Victoria Royals defenceman Scott Walford (selected 68th overll by the Habs) was one of about 20 prospects invited to a “mini combine” in Montreal who weren’t part of the official NHL combine.
“He’s a big thick guy…big athletic potential. We really like the way he skates. He wants to be the guy who intitiates the game. He wants the puck and to make a difference.”
Seattle defenceman Jarret Tyszka was also in the Habs top 50 at one point during the season when he was capturing the rapt attention of Montreal’s western scouts.
“He fell off. He looked really good in December and January, He injured his shoulder and was never the same again. You remember what he looked like at his best…you can’t dismiss that because of his struggles after the injury.”
The Habs made a deal during the sixth round to pick up Philadelphia’s 7th-round pick in the 2017 draft in exchange for Montreal’s 7th rounder in 2018. At the time the Habs still had lots of prospects on their draft board that they wanted to draft.
“We could have probably used another six picks,” said Timmins, who used that seventh rounder to take Lincoln Stars goalie Cayden Primeau, son of longtime NHLer Keith Primeau, the third goalie on Montreal’s draft list.
“Here’s a guy that played in the US Top Prospect Game, the All-American Top Prospects game, the World Junior A Challenge. What happened the last ten games or so…they knew he was going to Northeastern next year, and they had a Czech goalie there (Josef Korenar)…so they played him all the games so he would come back there next year…keep him happy.”
So what’s the hope for the top three Habs’ selections?
“Brook looks like a fourth defenceman…that what we’ve got him rated as D4. Juulsen and Brook are a future second-pairing. We hope Poehling and Ikonen can slide into top three center spots eventually.”