Sports Canadiens' draft prospects: Connor Zary a shoot-first, two-way centre
Canadiens' pipeline filling up with young talent
As the Canadiens head into a pivotal off-season after a surprise showing in the NHL’s Return to Play tournament, we look at the top 10 prospects in the organization ahead of the NHL Entry Draft on Oct. 6-7 and free agency, which begins on Oct. 9. ALEXANDER ROMANOV AGE : 20 POSITION : Left defence HEIGHT/WEIGHT : 5-foot-11, 185 pounds DRAFT/SIGNING DETAILS : Second-round selection, No. 38 overall, in 2018. Signed a three-year, entry-level contract in June 2020. THE SKINNY : A virtual unknown when the Canadiens drafted him, Romanov was the top defenceman at the 2018 world junior tournament and was named to the all-star team in 2019 when he helped Russia win a silver medal.
The Montreal Canadiens have the 16th overall pick in the first round of the NHL entry draft, which will be held Oct. 6-7. This is the second of five profiles of.
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Team: Kamloops Blazers
Height/weight: 6 feet, 179 pounds
NHL Central Scouting: 15th among North American skaters
Connor Zary is an intriguing prospect. He has improved in each of his three seasons in the Western Hockey League and his offensive numbers have gone up each year despite playing fewer games.
His work ethic and hockey sense have scouts convinced that he will play in the NHL, but there is a debate over whether he projects as a top-six forward. The biggest concern is that he is rated as an average skater.
He’s strong on his skates and it’s difficult to knock him off the puck, but he’s not a speedster despite a quick first step. That might be a concern for the Canadiens, who put a premium on quickness.
Canadiens prospects Caufield, Struble invited to U.S. junior camp
Two Canadiens prospects — University of Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield and Northeastern University defenceman Jayden Struble — are among the 39 players invited to the Team USA junior training camp, which will be held in Plymouth, Mich., Oct. 8-13. The U.S. team will be short on international experience for the World Junior Hockey Championships, which begin on Boxing Day in Edmonton. Caufield, who was the Canadiens’ first-round pick (15th overall) in 2019, is one of only six holdovers from the U.S. team that lost 1-0 to Finland in the 2020 world juniors quarter-finals in the Czech Republic. Seventeen of the U.S.
But there are a lot of other things to like about Zary and scouts feel he could have been rated in the top 10 if this year’s draft wasn’t top-heavy with talent.
For starters, Zary is a shoot-first, two-way centre. He has scored 62 goals in the past two seasons and that’s the most among the draft-eligible prospects. Zary is effective at both ends of the ice and, as the Canadiens have discovered with Max Domi, that’s not something you can teach. Fifteen of his 38 goals last season were scored on the power play with Kamloops taking advantage of his one-timer from the left faceoff circle. But he also scored three-shorthanded goals.
He was used extensively as a penalty-killer with Canada’s under-18 team and he is among the players invited to the Team Canada virtual training camp for the world junior championship.
He also had 48 assists and quite a few of them were the result of teammates feasting on the rebounds from Zary’s heavy, accurate shot. Zary is effective in the defensive zone because he reads the play well and is seldom caught out of position. He is a Blazers’ go-to guy when it comes to taking crucial faceoffs in the defensive zone. This is a player who does a little of everything well, but there is no area where he jumps into the outstanding category.
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In every season, good or bad, there are memorable moments that stay with fans or media. And in a year such as this, where the Canadiens played amid a global pandemic, they will have moments they won’t soon forget. But even before they reached the Toronto bubble, the Canadiens provided some fun moments for those watching from home or in the stands. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, even if it likely would’ve ended that way had the NHL not put the Habs in their expanded postseason. We already told you this season for the bleu-blanc-rouge wasn’t a complete writeoff . But now, we’ve pinpointed five of the best moments. 5.
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NHL entry draft: Canadiens concentrate on long-term prospects .
The Canadiens were playing the long game Wednesday as they wrapped up the 2020 NHL entry draft with eight picks, including five players who are heading to U.S. colleges. “The thing is that we have players we have more control over when they become pros,” said Trevor Timmins, the assistant general manager who oversees the draft. “Your high school and USHL players are going to NCAA, and that’s at least four more years of development. “We’ve had a “The thing is that we have players we have more control over when they become pros,” said Trevor Timmins, the assistant general manager who oversees the draft. “Your high school and USHL players are going to NCAA, and that’s at least four more years of development.