By all indications, the Montreal Canadiens believe they had a successful 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Although it takes a lot of hard work and a bit of luck to have a blockbuster draft, which can only be properly evaluated several seasons down the road, the Canadiens look like they are on the right track to rehabilitating their beleaguered offense.
Using six of their sevens picks to select front line players, the team addressed an urgent need which was amplified during the 2011-12 season where they were near the bottom of the Eastern Conference in goals scored. Having selected Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in the first round of the previous draft, their outreach for offensive production was to be expected.
Canadiens rookie General Manager Eric Bergevin could not hide his delight in how the draft went for the Canadiens. With their first rounder (#3 overall), the Canadiens acquired one of the most skilled offensive players in the draft, Centre Alex Galchenyuk. But this is only part of the reason Bergevin was beaming. With their three subsequent picks, the Habs landed players who had been projected to be taken earlier.
Although it is still rather early in their respective seasons, it is time to take a look and see how some of Montreal’s draft picks are performing on the ice.
With his natural scoring and playmaking ability, Galchenyuk appears to be all the rage. The eighteen year old Wisconsin born centreman has hockey in his genes, with his Belarusian father Alexander Galchenyuk having played professionally in the Russian League, among others. In fact, the elder Galchenyuk currently oversees his son’s game as an assistant coach with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Keeping it all in the family is a formula which seems to have been working well for the Galchenyuks.
Coming off a tear of his ACL which caused him to miss most of the 2011-12 season, Galchenyuk is off to a solid start this season. In 14 games, he has scored 7 goals and accumulated 18 points. Galchenyuk’s production is more impressive if you take into account that his former Sarnia teammate, flashy overall first round pick Nail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers), is no longer on the team.
The news only gets better as Swiss born LW Tim Bozon (Habs’ Third Rounder) is off to a blazing start in the WHL. In 15 games with the Kamloops Blazers, Bozon has 14 goals, 13 assists and 27 points, helping lead the team to a league leading 14 wins and first place in the BC Division. These type of numbers can only be music to the front office’s ears.
Even the Canadiens’ fourth round pick, Centre Brady Vail, is flexing his offensive muscles in the OHL. Vail currently leads the Windsor Spitfires in scoring with 18 points in 15 games, after finishing third on the team in 2011-12. Judging by the early returns, it is looking more and more like Bergevin had a legitimate reason to gloat after the draft.
With several potential rising offensive stars on the horizon from one draft alone, Bergevin will not be the only one shining brightly if the Canadiens’ young prospects continue their development all the way up to the big team. Judging by the reaction to his first draft, Bergevin will be the least surprised guy in the room if these young players succeed in making a significant contribution to the franchise in the near future.