Yet another Habs draft pick will be playing on a serious playoff contender this spring with the movement of Sudbury Wolves captain Michael Pezzetta and a 2018 eighth-round pick to the Sarnia Sting in return for two second-round draft picks, a conditional fourth-round pick and the rights to defenceman Ethan Lavallee.
Pezzetta, a sixth-round pick by Montreal in 2016, brings Sarnia a solid two-way forward who can fit any role on a junior team from first-line center to third-line winger and all spots in between. He can produce on the power-play, excel on the penalty kill, and eat up 20 minutes a game while winning key faceoffs and supplying speed, size and loads of grit.
Sarnia, tied with Hamilton for the second-best record in the OHL, has been loading before the Jan. 10 trade deadline as have other contenders after heavy favourite Sault Ste. Marie added Taylor Raddysh and Jordan Sambrook last week. the Sting also added Jonathan Ang to a forward group that will two of the league’s best skaters and producers.
It will be interesting to see who between Ang and Pezzetta makes the move to the wing as it’s not likely that either will be on the third line. Best guess is it will likely be Pezzetta because of his versatility, but if he does still look for him to take plenty of faceoffs and be at center on the penalty kill and perhaps even the second power-play unit.
Earlier this season Habs 2017 third-round pick Cale Fleury was moved from the Kootenay Ice to the Memorial Cup hosting Regina Pats, so at least one Canadiens’ prospect will be participating in the Memorial Cup.
Odds seem decent that there may be at least one other Habs’ prospect joining Fleury in the tournament, as second-round pick (2017) Josh Brook and the Moose Jaw Warriors may indeed be tough to beat out west. Fifth-rounder (2017) Jarret Tyszka is on the defending WHL champion Seattle Thunderbirds, but they will be hard-pressed to repeat. Scott Walford (third round in 2017) in Victoria stands a better chance of coming out of the west, but even the Royals will be in tough with other teams stocking up at the WHL trade deadline.
In the OHL, Habs’ third-round pick from 2016 Will Bitten is also on one of the strongest OHL teams and they will be tough to beat in the eastern conference, especially after adding Robert Thomas and Riley Stillman.
At the very least look at those five Habs prospects to have decent runs in the CHL playoffs even if none of them joins Fleury at the Memorial Cup…all will be favoured at the very least to win their first-round playoff matchups, and that is both good and bad for the Canadiens. Good in that they will receive additional experience in important playoff games, and bad in that they won’t be available to help Laval Rocket down the stretch, and if they go on long playoff runs in junior, in the AHL playoffs if Laval makes it.