One more stage of the NHL off-season is completed. While most fanatics were glued to TSN or Versus on Friday night to see who was getting picked in the NHL Entry Draft’s first round, very few kept the excitement going for the remaining 6 rounds.
Many admit that they aren’t even familliar with the top 30 that are taken, never mind the more obscure players whose names pop-up on our radars as the draft gets longer. I’m not much better. I love the game and follow it religiously, but draft prospecting is not one of my stronger areas.
I was however, fairly familliar with the Canadiens first round (17th overall) choice in Nathan Beaulieu. As you can read in this post, my immediate reaction to the choice was not so positive, but the more I thought about who this kid is, what he’s accomplished, and what he will become … well let’s just say that I fell back in step with Pierre Gauthier.
But what about the other players that we managed to select? Who are they and what might they potentially bring to the table? Well here’s what I’ve found as I focus on the two forwards that the Habs front office managed to collect into the fold.
Olivier Archambault (LW), a native of Le Gardeur, QC – may not have a lot of size right now. He’s currently listed as carrying 165lbs on his 5’10” frame. But his lack of size has not stopped him from producing at all levels of hockey he’s been involved in so far.
He impressed the Val-d’Or Foreurs QMJHL club enough throughout his AAA midget career to have them draft him 1st overall in last years draft. In his first season with the Foreurs, he played 58 games and put up 12 goals and 15 assists. He also played with Team Quebec in the World U-17 Hockey Challenge. In 5 games, he shone, potting 3 goals and 4 assits in 5 games.
Scouting reports have both good and not-so-good news regarding the young winger. Despite his size, he is an aggressive and exceptional skater who excels at puck protection. His shot is accurate and blistering, and he maintains incredible playmaking skills. On the down side, he needs to pick up the defensive portion of his game. Something that should improve with more ice time in the QMJHL.
What worries me most is reports on his attitude. Apparently Archambault is a difficult player to handle – both on and off the ice. He has reportedly created some bad air in the dressing room with his attitude, and been tough to control outside of the arena. Some skills can be honed and improved with time, but a poor attitude is often tough to reign in. He’s still young, so there is hope that several more years in the Quebec league can render that issue moot.
Daniel Přibyl (C) appears to be quite the opposite. The sheer size of this 18 year old Czech player stands out. At 6’3″ and 190lbs, he’s right along the lines of exactly what the Canadiens need. A large potential top 6 forward. And his numbers support that possibility.
Přibyl managed 54 points in 39 games (25 goals and 29 assists) for Sparta Praha U20 this past season. He also played in the Czech league this year (7 games) competing in 4 relegation games against men, where he managed 2 goals and an assist. Going back to the previous season, while suiting up for the Sparta U18 team, Daniel played 38 games, amassing 19 goals and 37 points.
This quote from Dan Sallows summed it up perfectly for me:
“The common denominator in all this? Well, he simply has a knack for putting up points. Along with his size, Přibyl is blessed with excellent hockey IQ, good vision, a nice shot, tremendous hands and puckhandling skills, is a decent skater, and has the ability to create something out of nothing on a very consistent level.” ~ Dan Sallows – Hockey Scout
Strong words regarding a kid who went in the 6th round, 168th overall. While many were stating that Nathan Beaulieu could be the Canadiens draft steal, I would have to negate that and say that Daniel Přibyl was potentially the best steal by ANY team – especially outside of the first round.
The only concern is that he was also drafted by the Severstal Cherepovets of the Kontinental Hockey League as well, and some European players prefer to stay in Europe. The upside is that Czech players have a history of preferring the NHL. As one of my Twitter followers suggested, perhaps we should have Plekanec give him a “welcome to the club” call, and tell him how fantastic it is to play for the storied Montreal Canadiens.
Gauthier rounded out the balance of his picks with Josiah Didier (Cedar Rapids), Magnus Nygren (Farjestad), Darren Dietz (Saskatoon), and Colin Sullivan (Avon Old Farms) … All defensemen.
While many will continue to squak over the lack of an immediate answer to Montreal’s top 6 forward conundrum, I can’t help but feel that Pierre Gauthier has done another bang up job. The top six forward issue will be dealt with during the balance of the off-season.
All in all, La Flanelle faired well in the 2011 NHL entry draft. There is a tonne of skill that’s been acquired. I’m looking forward to the next 5 years, as these players lives unfold before our eyes, and potentially bring great rewards to our beloved Canadiens.