Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has built a reputation for himself as one of the best executives in the National Hockey League in his two and a half seasons at the helm of the Habs. It’s easy for me to say that Bergevin is one of the top GM’s in the league, but I am certainly not alone in that line of thinking.
Bergevin started his new role on May 2nd , 2012 after the Canadiens had one of their worst seasons in franchise history, finishing with 78 points. In the last 60 years, the Habs only finished with less points five times. The Canadiens finished last in the Eastern Conference that season, and 28th overall in the 30 team league.
The Canadiens fired head coach Jacques Martin midseason, overhauled the front office by sending GM Pierre Gauthier packing, traded top goal scorer Michael Cammalleri not just midseason, but mid-game, and gave no guarantees to interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth.
Since then, the franchise in turmoil has won an Atlantic Division title, made a run to the Eastern Conference Final, and is currently among the few teams battling for first overall in the East standings. Much of the credit for the rapid turnaround has been heaped on Marc Bergevin. It makes sense that the man who has the final say on all trades, signings and draft picks would deserve praise, but let’s take a closer look to see just how much credit Bergevin has earned for the Canadiens going from the Eastern Conference cellar, to one of the beasts of the East so quickly.
We have already taken an in depth look at Bergevin’s signings as the Habs GM, and will now analyze the team’s draft selections with Bergevin at the helm of the organization.
At the draft table, Trevor Timmins calls the shots as the director of amateur scouting for the organization, but the final decision is always up to Bergevin. When he first arrived, the Canadiens held the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, and Bergevin signed off on Timmins recommendation to take Alex Galchenyuk, even though the skilled forward had been injured for all but three games the previous season. It was recently reported that Bergevin wanted a different player, but trusted in his team of scouts, and Galchenyuk looks to be the first line center of the very near future for the team.
Marc Bergevin says he liked Morgan Rielly in the 2012 draft, but listened to scouts with the Alex Galchenyuk pick.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 17, 2014
Morgan Rielly is a fine young player and it would have been easy for Bergevin to try and put his own stamp on the team with the first major player addition of his tenure. However, he decided to take a back seat and allow his large scouting staff to do their job, and the Habs now have a budding young star center because Bergevin checked his ego at the door.
The Canadiens would select Sebastien Collberg and Dalton Thrower in the second round of that 2012 draft, and took Tim Bozon in the third. Bozon has bounced back from a near fatal battle with meningitis to score 43 points in 36 games with the Kootenay Ice this season. Collberg was dangled as trade bait at last year’s trade deadline, and helped the Habs add a proven scorer in Tomas Vanek from the New York Islanders. Vanek struggled to score in the postseason, but helped the Habs finish strong in the regular season, and position themselves to go on a run to the Eastern Conference Final.
The Canadiens also grabbed Brady Vail and Erik Nystrom in that draft, but their big coup aside from Galchenyuk may be Charles Hudon, who was taken in the fifth round. Hudon had a tremendous Junior career with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Baie Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL, scoring 273 points in 235 games over four seasons. He also represented Canada twice at the World Junior Hockey Championships, and is currently leading all rookies in AHL scoring with 37 points in 44 games. He was also named Co-MVP of the AHL All-Star Game on Monday night.
Charles Hudon name co-MVP of the AHL All-Stars Game with 3 goals, 1 assist, +4 & 7 shots in a 14-12 win.
— Nicolas Collette (@habsprospects) January 27, 2015
The Habs performance at the 2012 draft impressed people immediately, but looks even better with today with the way Hudon is playing for the Bulldogs. The 2013 draft likely won’t be as good as the 1984 class for the Habs, but could turn out to be one of the best ever by the Canadiens.
Michael McCarron was selected in the first round of the 2013 draft, and the enormous winger is on fire in the OHL this season. A midseason trade sent him from the London Knights to the Oshawa Generals, but McCarron continues to pile up points. The 6’6” power forward has 51 points in 39 games this season, and will literally and figuratively be a massive part of the Canadiens in the near future.
Even though #Habs Michael McCarron has just 2G in past 7GP, his impressive 0.76 GPG pace is still SEVENTH best in the OHL.
— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) January 19, 2015
The Habs also grabbed a trio of undersized, but ultra-skilled forwards in Artturi Lehkonen, Martin Reway and Sven Andrighetto. Lehkonen and Reway both recently suited up for their second consecutive World Junior tournaments, and Andrighetto is fourth in scoring for the Hamiton Bulldogs, though he has missed a quarter of the AHL season while on the Habs NHL roster. Jacob de a Rose was taken in the second round and is a solid two way player who will be able to contribute in a depth role on the Habs very soon. The Canadiens also grabbed Jeremy Gregoire late and it will be interesting to watch how he develops after wrapping up a very successful QMJHL career this season.The steal of the 2013 draft may turn out to be Zach Fucale. The first goalie taken in the draft, Montreal took Fucale with the 36th overall selection, and he recently backstopped Team Canada to a World Junior gold at a tournament held partially at the Bell Centre in Montreal. With Carey Price firmly entrenched as the Habs number one goaltender, we will have to wait and see if Fucale becomes the next starter, or if he is dealt to bring in a key piece somewhere else in the lineup.
It is still early to predict what kind of careers these players will have as professionals, and especially difficult for the most recent draft class. That being said, Nikita Scherbak showed off a ton of skill at Habs training camp last fall, and has scored 55 points in 38 games with the Everett Silvertips of the WHL this season. Daniel Audette was taken in the 5th round and is having a great season with the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the QMJHL, where he has scored 49 points in 41 games this season.
Again, it is early to say whether the last three draft classes will drastically change the fortunes of the Habs franchise. However, grabbing Galchenyuk, McCarron and Scherbak in the first round, and supplementing those picks with Hudon, de la Rose, Fucale, Andrighetto, Lehkonen and Reway should provide the Canadiens with an impressive offensive attack for the foreseeable future. Overall, it appears the Canadiens have done extremely well with Bergevin at the draft table.