2015 Draft: Potential Mid-To-Later Round Targets

Pictured (from left to right): Ethan Bear, Alexandre Carrier, Lóik Léveillé, Joni Tuulola

Pictured (from left to right): Ethan Bear, Alexandre Carrier, Lóik Léveillé, Joni Tuulola

The 2015 NHL Entry Draft is just around the corner. The Montreal Canadiens don’t own a bevy of draft picks unlike in 2013, nor do they have a high first round pick like 2012, but there are plenty of fantastic players available. The Canadiens hold the 26th, 87th, 131st, 177th, and 207th overall picks in this year’s draft.

This article focuses on potential mid-to-later round picks. Keep in mind that is by no means an extensive list, simply a small variety of players.

Potential First Round Targets – Defenders
Potential First Round Targets – Forwards

 

Filip Ahl
LW/RW | 6’4″ 212 lbs | HV71 J20 (SuperElit)/HV 71 (SHL)
SuperElit: 34GP 20G 22A 42P | SHL: 15GP 0G 2A 2P

Despite what his last name reads, Ahl is certainly a legitimate NHL prospect. He’s a hulking winger, with good hockey IQ and puck skills. Combining his reach, good hands in tight, and strength, Ahl is excellent along the boards. He’s a fairly good passer, but with a pretty decent shot; however, he doesn’t possess much upside as a scorer. Furthermore, Ahl’s feet are cumbersome, particularly evident with his poor acceleration. Like most young, sizeable forwards, Ahl has a troublesome lack of consistency.

 

Ethan Bear
RD | 5’11” 201 lbs | Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Regular: 69GP 13G 25A 38P | Post: 6GP 1G 2A 3P

If he weren’t trapped in the shadow of Shea Theodore, Bear might very have shot up the draft rankings. Bear is a two-way defender who really shines on the powerplay thanks to tremendous vision and a rocket of a slapshot. He’s not a puck-rusher, instead preferring to make solid outlet passes instead. Despite being slightly undersized, Bear is a determined, physical defender who blocks shots and lays the body frequently. The biggest drawback to Bear’s game is skating: He lacks severely in the acceleration and top-end speed departments.

 

Jean-Christophe Beaudin
C | 6’1″ 181 lbs | Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
Regular Season: 68GP 14G 39A 53P | 6GP 1G 4A 5P

Beaudin is a straight-forward player with a solid head for the game. He plays a minimalistic offensive game, relying on quick plays with the puck. He is a great playmaker, particularly off the rush. Although he rarely shoots, he possesses a hard, accurate shot that makes him a decent threat from long-range. He accelerates quite well, but most importantly he’s deceptive with his speed which allows him catch defenders flatfooted. Beaudin is reliable in his own zone, as he’s a competitive player with a high hockey IQ.

 

Guillaume Brisebois
LD | 6’2″ 176 lbs | Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Regular: 63GP 4G 24A 28P

It’s not easy being the top defender on the weakest team in the QMJHL; however, Brisebois played quite well this season. He’s an economical player, meaning that gets things done efficiently. Fairly good is pretty much sums up Brisebois’s physical skills: He’s a fairly good skater, with a fairly good shot, with fairly good passing, etc. However, his hockey sense really stands out. He continually makes smart decisions, which when coupled with a fierce compete level, makes him a solid two-way player. His active stick and lateral movement allow him to defend off the rush extremely well. The biggest problem with Brisebois is an overall lack of upside, but there’s certainly untapped offensive potential there.

 

Kyle Capobianco
LD | 6’1″ 179 lbs | Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Regular Season: 68GP 10G 30A 40P

On a team that had just 12 wins Capobianco posted a highly impressive 40 points. Capobianco, first and foremost, is a puck-moving defender. He makes a fantastic breakout pass, but can also lug it, making him a tricky defender to forecheck. By no means is his shot velocity impressive, but his accuracy and ability to get the puck through traffic is. Capobianco is a quality defender, as he owns an active stick and high hockey sense. However, Capobianco isn’t a fan of the rough stuff–at all–which is really his biggest drawback (along with playing on a terrible team with limited exposure).

 

Alexandre Carrier
LD | 5’11” 168 lbs | Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Regular: 68GP 12G 43A 55P | Post: 11GP 2G 3A 5P

Despite being undersized, Carrier is a fabulous two-way defender with tremendous competitive spirit. He’s a very calculated player, continually making smart decisions while limiting mistakes. Across the ice he makes intelligent and quick decisions with the puck, creating offence. On the powerplay, Carrier really stands out because of his patience and vision. Defensively, Carrier utilizes excellent four-way mobility and an active stick to disrupt the puck carrier. He’s also a physical player, but he will have to get stronger to play that role as he moves up the ranks.

 

Giorgio Estephan
C | 6′ 183 lbs | Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Regular: 64GP 23G 28A 51P 

After a painfully slow first third to the season, Estephan went on a 47 points in 43 games run in the final two-thirds. He’s a flashy player that is at his best when challenging defenders one-on-one full-flight. He skates extremely well, especially laterally. He’s certainly more of an East-West player, but has improved his ability to play North-South. He’s quality playmaker and shooter, but he is by no means high-end in either regard. However, he is highly unpredictable which makes him a dangerous threat in the offensive zone. Although he works somewhat hard defensively, by no means is he a stalwart. Adding strength and engaging in battles more often will go a long way for this high-flying forward.

 

Jesse Gabrielle
LW | 6′ 203 lbs | Brandon Wheat Kings/Regina Pats (WHL)
Brandon: 33GP 13G 12A 25P | Regina: 33GP 10G 9A 19P

Gabrielle is a power forward-style player with a decent skill level. He’s a pest, who makes life miserable on the opposition by playing a hard-nosed game. He’s a fairly good skater, which allows him to get in on the forecheck and punish defenders. He has surprisingly soft hands for the type of player that is, but he will never be confused with a dangler. His shooting and playmaking ability are both merely average–it’s below the hashmarks where Gabrielle gets his points. Combining his hand-eye coordination and willingness to outwork the opposition, Gabrielle is able to chip in some goals.

 

Adam Gaudette
C | 6′ 168 lbs | Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)
Regular: 50GP 13G 17A 30P | Post: 3GP 0G 0A 0P

Gaudette’s totals might not be particularly impressive, but his play certainly is. A very capable shutdown centreman, Gaudette has excellent defensive awareness. He prefers to play a chip-and-chase style offensive game, but when he’s going he typically wins those footraces. He’s an above-average playmaker, especially off the cycle. Although he’s well-balanced and protects the puck well, he still desperately needs to add strength to his frame.

 

Glenn Gawdin
RW/C | 6′ 192 lbs | Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Regular: 72GP 15G 39A 54P | Post: 4GP 1G 1A 2P

Gawdin is a playmaking forward that plays a power style. The owner of excellent vision is a talented passer, even while under pressure. Along the boards, Gawdin is strong, well-balanced, and intelligent, allowing him to work the cycle and then utilize his vision to find an open player. He doesn’t possess a notable shot, instead relying on a fairly soft touch around the net to find twine. At times, Gawdin can be too fancy, therefore he needs to simplify his game. His skating is quite worrisome, as it’s ugly and sluggish.

 

Ryan Gropp
LW | 6’2″ 182 lbs | Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Regular: 67GP 30G 28A 59P | Post: 6GP 1G 7A 8P

Gropp burst onto the WHL scene last season, but failed to make significant progress this season. Gropp is an offensive winger, with a powerful, deceptive shot as his main asset. He’s a powerful skater that generates speed through the neutral zone while lugging the puck. He’s a somewhat clever stickhandler, although he’s not a true dangler. He’s a fairly good playmaker when required, but he tends to stick to being a North-South shooting winger. In that regard he’s fairly one-dimensional, especially because he doesn’t possess much sandpaper in his game. Furthermore, he’s not a standout defensively.

 

Keegan Kolesar
RW | 6’2″ 216 lbs | Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Regular: 64GP 19G 19A 38P

Kolesar had a solid season of progression that saw him improve his skating and puck skills. Kolesar is a big, bruising winger that wins most of battles in the tough areas of the ice. Despite owning slow top-end speed, his agility is quite impressive for such a heavy player. He uses his size well, to both gain and maintain possession. Although he doesn’t have noteworthy playmaking or stickhandling ability, he’s a decent shooter who could become a good one if he improves his accuracy.

 

Justin Lemcke
RD | 6’2″ 201 lbs | Belleville Bulls (OHL)
Regular: 64GP 9G 14A 23P | Post: 4GP 0G 0A 0P

The emergence of Lemcke was one of few bright spots on Belleville’s final season in the OHL. He’s a large defender who plays a simple brand of hockey. Defence is where Lemcke thrives, as he positions himself well and defends well off the rush. He’s not much of an aggressor when it comes to laying the body in open ice, but he’s quite aggressive along the boards. Lemcke makes quick plays with the puck; although too often it’s off-the-glass-and-out. However, he has shown the ability to lug the puck time to time, showcasing his smart body positioning and improving footwork. Sustained pressure scenarios are where Lemcke typically gets burned, as his heavy feet simply can’t keep up with the stops and starts.

 

Loïk Léveillé
RD | 6′ 220 lbs | Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Regular: 68GP 13G 41A 54P | Post: 7GP 3G 4A 7P

Léveillé is a rare breed of defender–a sizeable, offensive defenceman. He’s strong and plays a physical brand of hockey, especially along the boards. (Although he isn’t much of an open ice body checker). On the powerplay, he’s lethal due his powerful shot and accurate passing. He’s a fairly solid puck rusher, as he uses his above-average skating and pretty quick hands to evade forecheckers. However, Léveillé is prone to boneheaded decisions in his own zone. He’s a fairly slow and tedious thinker without the puck, which makes him prone to hastened decisions and turnovers.

 

Jens Lööke
RW | 6′ 185 lbs | Brynäs (SHL)/Brynäs J20 (SuperElit)
SHL: 43GP 2G 4A 6P | SuperElit: 18GP 10G 8A 18P

Lööke is a talented player who spent the majority of the season in the SHL. He’s a dynamic skater, with a solid top gear. He handles the puck quite well at top speed and has a quality set of hands. Despite owning a fairly good shot, he doesn’t appear to much of a goalscorer due to a lack of finish. Furthermore, he’s not a particularly impressive playmaker either. He works hard and has a good motor, which demonstrates its value on the forecheck and backcheck. Although Lööke lacks in high-end offensive skills, he certainly could be a valuable complimentary player.

 

Denis Malgin
C | 5’9″ 176 lbs | ZSC Zürich (NLA)/GC Küsnacht Lions (NLB)
NLA: 23GP 2G 6A 8P | NLB: 24GP 6G 6A 12P

Malgin is a pint-sized electrifying offensive talent with excellent hockey sense. He’s a speedy and deceptive skater, who rapidly gains speed and controls the puck at top speed extremely well. Blessed with quick hands and great vision he’s able to make passes of high difficulty look easy. Furthermore, he’s a fairly good shooter with a deadly snapshot. Obviously size is a big concern here, especially because he seems to be susceptible to getting levelled. Furthermore, he must apply his offensive smarts to the defensive end and work harder in his own zone.

 

Andrew Mangiapane
LW | 5’10” 161 lbs | Barrie Colts (OHL)
Regular: 68GP 43G 61A 104P | Post: 9GP 6G 4A 10P

Mangiapane (sillily) slipped through the crafts at last year’s draft. This time he won’t. He’s a 200-foot player with a relentless work ethic and high skill level. Despite being undersized, he’s loves to cause havoc. He’s not particularly fast, but he has tremendous agility and ridiculously quick hands. He displays a high level of smarts when it comes to gaining the zone, as he has the rare ability to gain the zone with ease. He has an explosive release and pinpoint accuracy, but he’s a better scorer down low where he causes trouble and utilizes his quick hands to score. He’s a smart playmaker, but not particularly flashy one. Furthermore, he’s one of the best penalty killers in the OHL thanks to tremendous anticipation. It’s hard to think of a flaw when it comes to Mangiapane other than size.

 

Chris Martenet
LD | 6’7″ 198 lbs | London Knights (OHL)
Regular: 64GP 7G 9A 16P | Post: 10GP 0G 0A 0P

Martenet, a huge defensive defender, posted a respectable OHL rookie campaign on a weak Knights blue line. Due to his severe lack of consistency, Martenet is one of the hardest players to get a read on. He’s a fairly good defender off the rush, largely because of his long, active reach. His gap control is really hit or miss, as is his play with the puck on his stick. He doesn’t appear to have much offensive upside, but he has shown the ability to pass the puck fairly well. Despite his large frame, he still has to pack on some serious mass, as much smaller forwards often rather comically outmuscle him. His feet aren’t particularly good, but the difference in his skating ability from the start to finish of the year was notable.

 

Brad Morrison
C | 5’11” 161 lbs | Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Regular: 67GP 23G 26A 49P | Post: 5GP 2G 5A 7P 

Speed and skill: Two words that sum up Morrison’s game. Combining tremendous agility and ridiculously soft hands, Morrison is one of the shiftiest players in the draft. Best of all, he does this at top speed and shows no fear playing in the tough areas of the ice. Although Morrison doesn’t have a hard shot, his deceptive release allows him to score from long-range (but that might be a concern in the future). Morrison owns tremendous passing ability, but is prone to attempting passes of high difficulty to often. Unfortunately, Morrison is not a particularly committed two-way player and is quite weak along the boards.

 

Adam Musil
C | 6’3″ 205 lbs | Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Regular: 66GP 15G 24A 39P

After being selected sixth overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, Musil had a fair amount of hype coming into the league. Unfortunately, he has yet to live up to the hype, at least on the offensive side of things. Musil is a shutdown forward who plays a physical brand of hockey. He’s an excellent puck protector, especially down low. Occasionally, he will demonstrate above-average vision and stickhandling ability, but those elements are marred with inconsistency. He’s definitely more of a shooter, as his shot is both powerful and accurate. Despite having excellent size and a good skill level, he just hasn’t been able to score on a consistent basis.

 

Andrew Nielsen
LD | 6’3″ 207 lbs | Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Regular: 59GP 7G 17A 24P

Despite being a late-’96, Nielsen just wrapped up his WHL rookie season. At even-strength, Nielsen is a solid defensive defender. He’s a powerful skater that relies on smart positioning and an active stick. He’s quite physical, particularly in front of the net and in the corners. Nielsen is heavily reliant on his defensive partner to move the puck out of his own zone, but improved his passing as the year wore on. Nielsen saw time on the powerplay, where he demonstrated an excellent shot and a fair amount of creativity. He’s quite similar to current Habs prospect Brett Lernout in that sense.

 

Nikita Pavlychev
C | 6’7″ 207 lbs | Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
Regular: 42PG 6G 10A 16P

The first thing you notice about Pavlychev is his size. However, he’s more than just a towering centre. He’s a fairly good stickhandler, especially for someone with such massive reach. He takes direct routes across the ice and is a dedicated three-zone player. He doesn’t necessarily have an offensive profile because he’s an average shooter and playmaker, so he goes to the net, works the boards, and utilizes his size well. Despite being so massive, he’s not a physical or mean player, but he’s definitely a monster with possession. Pavlychev has a sluggish set of feet; however, it doesn’t affect his balance too much.

 

Anthony Richard
C | 5’9″ 165 lbs | Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
66GP 43G 48A 91P | Post: 17GP 12G 10A 22P

Following an incredible performance during Val-d’Or’s Memorial Cup run last season, Richard exploded for a 91-point season. The first thing that stands about Richard is blazing speed. Thanks to tremendous acceleration, he blows past defenders. He’s highly effective off the rush, where he combines his speed and nose for the net to rack up the points. He’s a valuable penalty killer, where he jumps on loose pucks quick and plays quite hard. However, he’s at five-on-five he’s a below-average defensive player. As expected for such a light player, he gets easily outmuscled along the boards.

 

Aleksi Saarela
LW | 5’10” 194 lbs | Assät (Liiga)
Regular: 51GP 6G 6A 12P | Post: 2GP 0G 0A 0P

Saarela has been on the draft radar for quite some time, as he recorded two points in three Liiga games in 2012-2013. This past year, Saarela finally became a full-time Liiga player, where his determination and excellent skating ability allowed him to fairly productive. He owns a diverse offensive toolkit, featuring well above-average vision and a hard, accurate shot. Despite having a fairly lengthy injury history, he’s quite strong and already wins battles against men.

 

Vili Saarijärvi
RD | 5’9″ 161 lbs | Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Regular: 57GP 6G 17A 23P

Despite being severely undersized, Saarijärvi is a dynamic offensive defender. He’s a spectacular skater with tremendous four-way mobility. He consistently makes crisp, accurate passes all across the ice. Furthermore, he’s a pretty solid shooter. He owns good hands, which allow him to hold the blue line and evade forecheckers. Overall, Saarijärvi is a fairly solid two-way player, as combines his smarts and skating ability to defend. However, he’s easily outmuscled, especially in his own zone  Saarijärvi’s spectacular U-18 tournament could be what gets him draft, as he’s been merely okay in the USHL (and is heading back to Kärpät next season).

 

Thomas Schemitsch
RD | 6’3″ 205 lbs | Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Regular: 68GP 14G 35A 49P | Post: 5GP 0G 2A 2P

Schemitsch is a huge offensive defender. Most of Schemitsch’s offence comes from his puck distribution ability. From the point, Schemitsch is quite impressive as he is a deadly shooter and clever passer. He’s quite composed and calm, which allows him to move the puck smartly. Schemitsch was often the target of the opposition’s forecheck, but he rarely seemed phased. Despite having excellent size, he’s merely average along the boards. Furthermore, he’s a slow skater with poor acceleration, but he insists on running around the defensive zone instead of using smart positioning. Forwards can beat him quite easily by cutting wide and he doesn’t have particularly active stick.

 

Zachary Senyshyn
RW | 6’2″ 194 lbs | Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Regular: 66GP 26G 19A 45P | Post: 14GP 4G 3A 7P

Senyshyn posted solid totals while playing a third-line role on the Greyhounds. Senyshyn has a blazing set of wheels that make him a dangerous threat whenever he is on the ice. He plays a North-South style of game that compliments his speed quite well. Combining his speed and above-average puck control, he effectively cuts wide on defenders and drives the net. He prefers simple, short passes over difficult ones and isn’t much of a threat from long-range. However, he does make things happen with his wheels and has a sneaky release. Defensively, he applies pressure and competes hard, although he doesn’t always make good reads. Although he has solid size, he is sometimes avoids the tough areas of the ice.

 

Deven Sideroff
RW | 5’11” 176 lbs | Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Regular: 64GP 17G 25A 42P

Sideroff is a slightly undersized spark plug for Kamloops. He’s a quick player, in terms of both feet and hands. He’s also a highly dependable two-way player, taking direct backchecking routes and making smart decisions without the puck. Furthermore, he’s physical and protects the puck well for his size. He’s a quality playmaker, equally as good off the rush or during sustained pressure. Although lacking in long-range shooting ability, he’s quite effective around the hashmarks and in thanks to quick hands and relentless work ethic. Additionally, he lacks top-six upside, which when coupled with his size, could scare teams away.

 

Blake Speers
RW | 5’11” 185 lbs | Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Regular: 57GP 24G 42A 67P | Post: 14Gp 3G 6A 9P

Speers, a speedy and talented forward, played a top-six role on the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds this year. Speers is an intelligent player, highly effective in the offensive zone. His excellent top-end speed and solid stickhandling ability allow him beat defenders. As his 42 assists would indicate, his best asset is his playmaking ability off the rush. Although he might not be a threat from long-range, his ability to finish in tight is above-average. Speers can be a fairly lackadaisical player at times, relying on others to win battles for him. Defensively, he’s smart, but doesn’t engage himself consistently enough.

 

Dmytro Timashov
LW | 5’10” 187 lbs | Québec Remparts (QMJHL)
Regular: 66GP 19G 71A 90P | Post: 22GP 3G 15A 18P

Timashov was among the CHL’s very best rookies this season. Timashov is a tremendous playmaker, with a fabulous saucer pass and quality vision. He effectively draws attention towards himself, only to fire a pass to the open man. He’s a fairly average shooter, but has the ability to pot goals in the slot. He’s a fabulous stickhandler, but can be quite selfish with the puck. Although his edge work is fantastic, his top-end speed is lacking, especially for an undersized player. Despite having a high work ethic, Timashov is prone to brain cramps defensively. His lack of goalscoring from December on is really quite concerning, as he scored just 13 goals in 71 games (regular season and playoffs combined).

 

Joni Tuulola 
LD | 6’1″ 185 lbs | HPK (Liiga)
Regular: 32GP 5G 5A 10P

Last year, Tuulola was passed over in the draft. Tuulola broke out this season with a solid rookie campaign in the Liiga. He’s a smooth-skating defender with a high level of smarts. He’s at this best when making quick decisions and not holding the puck for too long. He’s an accurate passer, especially from his own zone. On the point, Tuulola possesses a hard shot, which he prefers to keep low to generate rebounds. Unsurprisingly, he’s a work in progress defensively. His feet allow him to be a fairly solid defender off the rush, but in sustained pressure scenarios he struggles.

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