Breaking Down Experts' Picks for Montreal Canadiens' 2014 Draft
Montreal's first-round selection will be at No. 26 overall. They then hold one pick in each of the third, fourth, sixth and seventh rounds, and two picks in the fifth round.
With the draft just days away, writers from various media outlets have had their say on who they think Montreal will select over the weekend, especially in the first round, as the later rounds become nearly impossible to predict.
This article will have a look at who various writers from hockey websites around the web think general manager Marc Bergevin will take at No. 26 overall. Most feel it will be a forward, but it could be a defenseman if the right one falls.
Here is a breakdown of the experts' picks for the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2014 NHL draft.
Josh Ho-Sang, Windsor (OHL)
Bleacher Report's own Allan Mitchell sees Montreal pouncing on right winger Josh Ho-Sang with their first-round selection, if he indeed falls to pick No. 26, that is.
Ho-Sang's talent is unquestioned. He put up an impressive 32 goals and 53 assists in 67 games last season with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL as a sophomore.
TSN's director of scouting, Craig Button, raves about his hands and calls him "dynamic" and "one of the most highly skilled players in the draft."
Chris Edwards of NHL Central Scouting also likes what he sees from Ho-Sang:
He handles the puck very well at top speed and sees the ice well. His skating is excellent and his first step is explosive. He cuts to the middle often and can split the defense with surprising speed.
Ho-Sang is slightly undersized at 5'11", 166 pounds. He obviously needs to fill out and this could be one of the reasons why he slides toward the end of the first round.
Montreal, however, has a history of selecting smaller forwards, so his size won't stop Bergevin from drafting him. Ho-Sang could be an option for the Canadiens in Round 1.
Julius Honka, Swift Current (WHL)
Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet.ca sees the Canadiens selecting defenseman Julius Honka in the first round.
The 18-year-old product of Jyvaskyla, Finland just finished his first season in North America with the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. He was very impressive, as he racked up 16 goals and 40 assists to go along with a plus-10 rating in 62 games.
Although a tad small at 5'11", 178 pounds, Honka "makes a big impact on the game," according to TSN's Button. He also likes Honka's patience and ability to take advantage of opportunities presented to him on the ice.
NHL Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan raves about Honka's ability to see the ice and says he's got great hockey sense. Sullivan also says Honka has "about four or five different gears" and because of that he "is often two or three steps ahead of his own teammates."
Bergevin will certainly jump at the chance to select Honka at No. 26 should the opportunity present itself on June 27.
Nick Schmaltz, Green Bay (USHL)
NHL.com had a trio of their staff writers submit a mock draft, and Steven Hoffner believes the Canadiens will select Nick Schmaltz at No. 26 overall.
Schmaltz is a 6'0", 170-pound center who hails from Verona, Wisconsin. He is a right-hand shot who can score, leading Green Bay with 18 goals and 45 helpers over 55 games. He finished tied for seventh in USHL scoring last season.
NHL Central Scouting's David Gregory calls Schmaltz a "a dynamic offensive player." Gregory also says the 18-year-old is "really good at making you think the puck will be taken away from him, but he has such quick hands and can skate with it at full speed and then pull it away from you at full speed."
Interestingly, TSN's Bob McKenzie also has Schmaltz ranked at No. 26 overall. TSN's scouting report, again via Button, talks about Schmaltz's "excellent hockey sense" and says "he has the ability to make those around him better."
Bergevin has selected an American-born player with each of his last two first-round picks in Alex Galchenyuk and Michael McCarron. Perhaps he'll make it three in a row by calling Schmaltz's name on June 27.
Adrian Kempe, Modo (SHL)
Mike G. Moreale, another NHL.com staff writer, believes Adrian Kempe will be Montreal's first-round pick in the 2014 draft.
Kempe is a 6'2", 187-pound right winger, although he is versatile and can also play center. He spent the first part of the 2013-14 season with Modo Jr. in Sweden, where he posted 19 points (3 G, 16 A) in 20 games. He was then called up to the big club, where he had five goals and six assists in 45 games.
If Bergevin is looking for size and grit in the first round, Kempe could be the guy. The NHL's director of European scouting, Goran Stubb, says Kempe "is a big, strong, bullish forward" who "likes to drive hard for the net, using his strength and skating to his advantage." Stubb also talks about his physical play and calls him a "power forward."
Button, at TSN, loves his character, calling him "a team player through and through." He also says Kempe has great speed and quickness.
Montreal has turned to Sweden for a couple of second-round picks in recent years, with Sebastien Collberg (now with the New York Islanders) in 2012 and Jacob de la Rose in 2013. Bergevin obviously likes what he sees from these young Swedish forwards. Perhaps it'll be Kempe who he takes at No. 26 this year.
Nikolay Goldobin, Sarnia (OHL)
Adam Kimelman, also of NHL.com, envisions Bergevin selecting Nikolay Goldobin in the first round on June 27.
Goldobin, a native of Moscow, Russia, is a 5'9", 178-pound left-hand shot who prefers to play on the right wing. He has spent the past two seasons playing for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL.
His size might be an issue, but it hasn't stopped him from filling the stat sheet in Sarnia.
As a rookie, Goldobin impressed by scoring 30 goals and adding 38 assists in 68 games. He then improved on that in his second North American season by netting 38 goals and 56 helpers in 67 contests—good for sixth in OHL scoring.
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards says this about Goldobin:
Goldobin has a high energy level and is smooth out there. He's got good playmaking ability and he probably would have a lot more points if players were able to finish for him. He's the type of kid who receives a lot of ice time because he plays a complete game.
Goldobin might be small, but he clearly has skill. Bergevin could look to the Sarnia Sting for the second time in three years for his first-round choice in the NHL draft.
Nikita Scherbak, Saskatoon (OHL)
Rotoworld's Mike Finewax believes Nikita Scherbak is the right fit for the Canadiens at No. 26 overall.
Scherbak is a 6'0", 172-pound left winger who, like Goldobin, is also from Moscow. He recently completed his first season in North America with the Saskatoon Blades, where he amassed 28 goals and 50 assists in 65 games played.
TSN's McKenzie lists Scherbak at No. 21 overall while Button says he has "excellent scoring instincts" and also talks about his versatility.
NHL Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan has a similar view, stating that Scherbak "has played all three forward positions this year but his strength is on the right wing being a left hand shot, because he loves to drive the net."
Scherbak is an intriguing mix of size and skill who could be an option for the Habs at the end of the first round.
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