Armed with only five picks and picking late going into the 2015 NHL draft, the Montreal Canadiens went heavy on projects. Despite immediate needs for scoring, the draft is about finding players for down the road, as very few prospects crack NHL rosters as teenagers. On the surface, Montreal’s draft appears unimpressive but one or two gems could emerge from this draft class. Fans shouldn’t expect to see Montreal’s draft picks in the NHL any time soon.
First round pick for the Montreal Canadiens: Noah Juulsen
Defenceman Noah Juulsen was a bit of a surprise pick, considering the more highly touted Nick Merkley and Jeremy Roy were still on the board, but management seemed excited about him being available at number 26. Juulsen was a riser as he was projected as more of a second or third round pick going into the season. Playing on the same team with one of Montreal’s top prospects in Nikita Scherbak, the Habs had plenty of opportunity to watch Juulsen as he went from 10 points as a rookie to 52 points this past season with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. As a player, he appears to have no glaring weaknesseses. He can skate, defend well, play physically and put up numbers, as well as having decent size. With Montreal’s defence corps pretty much set for the next few years, Montreal can afford to be patient with Juulsen.
Always a player or 2 every year who weeks after the top 100 drops, I feel I ranked way too low/high. This yr is Noah Juulsen, too low.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 24, 2015
Lucas Vejdemo and Matthew Bradley
In the third round, the Habs tabbed Swede Lucas Vejdemo. He had 48 points in 34 games with Djurgarden in Sweden’s U-20 league. He is described as hardworking with size at 6’2″. He is a bit older with a 1996 birthday after not being selected in last year’s draft. He projects as a third line forward at the NHL level.
Matthew Bradley was Montreal’s fifth round pick and the Habs have done well in this round in recent years. Brendan Gallagher is the best of the bunch that includes promising prospects Darren Dietz, Charles Hudon and Daniel Audette. Bradley plays for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and while his offensive numbers aren’t impressive (40 points in 71 games), his stock seems to be on the rise as he has taken on a bigger role and is lauded for his high hockey IQ.
"If you're looking for a comparison, he plays a similar style to a Wennberg in Columbus. High character."-TT on Vejdemo
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) June 27, 2015
Simon Bourque and Jeremiah Addison
Rimouski defenceman Simon Bourque could very well be a steal for the Habs as he dropped into the sixth round before being selected by Montreal. He isn’t huge nor do anything extraordinarily well, but is solid with a good compete level, even wearing an “A” on a veteran-laden Rimouski team that won the President Cup as QMJHL champion. The Habs have quite a few defence prospects but not a lot of sure things and Bourque gives the team another prospect that could surprise.
Jeremiah Addison from the OHL’s Ottawa 67s was Montreal’s last pick in the seventh round. He is described as a hardworking, tenacious forward but with some upside. Addison began to flash some offense at the end of the season. This begs the question of whether he got hot at the right time or if he is a late bloomer who has more offensive skill in him than originally thought.
Not having second or fourth round picks hurts depth-wise in adding to the prospect pool as there were many good players still available. Overall, this draft was just okay for Montreal, though that could easily change a few years from now. Juulsen has intriguing upside while Bourque could be a steal. Director of amateur scouting Trevor Timmins has an eye for talent and has found multiple late round gems in his career. Perhaps 2015 will yield diamonds later on.