The Canadian had the opportunity to replenish his bank of hopes with ten selections before the opening of the repechage. The CH finally spoke eleven times, betting on centers seven times.
Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins had a fairly clear strategy and it was to refill centers, a nerve center and a weakness within the organization since time immemorial.
Following the selection of Finland’s Jesperi Kotkaniemi with third overall, Timmins continued his search for centers with additions from Jacob Olofsson (56), Cameron Hillis (66), Allan McShane (97), Cole Fonstad (128) , Samuel Houde (133) and Brett Stapley (190).
“It was a priority to add centers,” said Timmins a few minutes after the repechage concluded. When you look through the NHL, the centers are of great value. The centers can also play on the wing. Among our picks this year, a guy like Cole Fonstad played on the left wing this season even though he had spent his entire career at the center. It’s easier to move a center to the wing than the opposite. “
“With Kotkaniemi and Ryan Poehling, our first-round pick in 2017, we now have a bright future at the center position,” Bergevin added. We think they will develop as two good first centers. They can generate the attack, but they are also very good defensively. It’s a demanding position in the NHL. We often hear the cliché of playing on 200 feet, but to get there, you must have a lot of energy. They do not miss it. “
A first or second center?
If he had sparkling eyes when he was describing Kotkaniemi, Timmins also played the cautionary card by speaking of the Finn as a future center for one of the first two lines in Montreal.
“I say top two, but if he becomes a first-tier player, so much the better,” said the big hobbyist at the CH. Otherwise, I will be protected. I do not have a crystal ball, I can not tell you he will be the next Jonathan Toews. It’s not my job. But it was not a choice solely because of his position. Kotkaniemi is an extraordinary player. He has a good shot, he is good defensively, he has a good physique and he works hard. He’s not even close to his full potential. “
One in 11 …
On the eve of the first round, Timmins said he would scoop the best players available regardless of their nationality. He has respected this rule. Those who hoped that the Habs benefit from this draft to improve their ties with the QMJHL were disappointed.
Of the eleven selections, the CH drew only once in the court of the QMJHL. And it was with his 10th and penultimate choice. In the fifth round, Timmins gave the name of Samuel Houde, a center that bears the colors of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens.
“We were very excited to have Houde,” Timmins said. I will show you a picture. He is a hockey player so proud to be part of the Montreal Canadiens. He already has his shirt on his back, even though he could not be here in Dallas. “
Timmins tried to turn the subject around when he was reminded that his team had asked for only one QMJHL player in three years. In 2016 and 2017, the CH had shunned the QMJHL.
“I think Marc told you about it last night. We tried to improve our rank to get our hands on the players we wanted. The same thing happened today. We are here to talk about the players we have drafted. We tried to move. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not work. “
It seems like Timmins gets that explanation every year … He tries, but he never manages to get his hands on the coveted player. This year, he had his eyes on defenseman Nicolas Beaudin, the 27th overall pick by the Chicago Blackhawks. In 2016, he had targeted defenseman Samuel Girard (a Nashville Predators second-round draft pick), but Bergevin cut him off under the feet by swapping two second-round picks for Andrew Shaw.
Here are the Canadiens’ choices at the 2018 NHL Draft:
► 3rd – Jesperi Kotkaniemi
- Center, Assät (Liiga)
► 35th – Jesse Ylonen
- Winger, Espoo (Liiga-2)
► 38th – Alexander Romanov
- Defender, CSKA 2 (Russia-JR)
► 56th – Jacob Olofsson
- Center, Timra (SHL-2)
► 66th- Cameron Hillis
- Center, Guelph (OHL)
► 71st – Jordan Harris
- Defender, Kimball Union (HIGH-NH)
► 97th – Allan McShane
- Center, Oshawa (OHL)
► 123rd – Jack Gorniak
- Winger, West Salem (USHS)
► 128th – Cole Fonstad
- Center, Prince Albert (WHL)
► 133rd – Samuel Houde
- Center, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)