The 31-in-31 Summer Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day in November we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s draft and insights into their off-season movements thus far. Following this up, the December 31-in-31 Series will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check back often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs until the season begins!
If it weren’t for the COVID shortened season and a 24-team bubble, the Canadiens would have missed the playoffs for a third-straight year, despite strong underlying numbers. The bubble gave them a unique opportunity to make the playoffs by upsetting the Pittsburg Penguins in their play-in series. They gave the Flyers all they could handle in their first-round matchup but ended up falling short in six games. Despite this upset, the Canadiens fans were left with optimism after watching the team’s younger players lead the charge in the Habs’ post-season success. Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were difference makers and proved that the Canadiens could be closer to being a contender than some would have thought before the bubble.
The Canadiens’ success in the bubble gave Marc Bergevin a positive reason to be aggressive in an offseason in which most teams were forced to be passive due to financial uncertainty and a flat cap. The team began by poaching some role players for a reduced price from cap-strapped teams. They traded a third and seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft to stabilize their backup position with Jake Allen, who was fourth in save percentage last year. His addition to the team will reduce Price’s workload and let him play at the top of his game without being overworked. Bergevin later locked Allen up for two more years after this season, a move that will provide some security to Cayden Primeau, so that he is not rushed to the NHL without being ready. This will also give the Canadiens a goalie to expose in the upcoming expansion draft.
For years, the Canadiens have been deemed “too small” or “not hard enough to play against”, but Joel Edmundson is neither of those things. The big defender was the odd man out in Carolina, and Montreal did not hesitate to trade a fifth-round pick for his negotiating rights. Within the same week, the Canadians locked him up for four years at a 3.5 million average.
Next, the team acquired Josh Anderson, another challenging, big physical player. It was the biggest trade of their offseason, as the Canadiens sent Max Domi and a third-round pick to Columbus, in exchange for Anderson. Domi became the odd man out in Montreal with the emergence of Suzuki and Kotkaniemi, while Anderson could be the exact type of player that Montreal has been missing for years. He is a big bruising power-forward that can skate. He does not come without risk though; last year he only played 26 games, due to a shoulder injury, and in those games, only managed four points. Montreal believes that he is the player that scored 27 goals and 47 points two years ago, and that is why they signed him for seven years at a 5.5 million average.
Leading up to the draft, Bergevin and his staff continued to be proactive by resigning next year’s UFAs, Jeff Petry, for four years at 6.25 million per and Brendan Gallagher at six years for 6.5 million per. These are two of the most important players on the team, and their re-signing will stop there from being any distraction over the course of
the year due to their contract.
In free agency, the Habs got great value on Tyler Toffoli, who they signed for four years at 4.25 million per. Toffoli is a winger who drives the play and is a volume shooter.
In the week leading up to the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Canadiens had 14 picks to make, but six of those picks were moved for NHL-caliber players or picks in future drafts. They still ended up making eight selections, including three in the top-50.
Round One, 16th Overall – D – Kaiden Guhle
Guhle is a big defenseman who skates well and likes to throw his weight around. He has decent puck skills and hockey IQ to use his physical attributes well. In the defensive zone, he uses his skating to effectively track down opposing attackers and separate them from the puck with his size. In the offensive zone, he uses it to join the rush and get into open space.
Since being drafted, Guhle has signed his entry-level contract with Montreal and has been named to Canada’s U20 WJC selection camp.
Round Two, 47th Overall – LW – Luke Tuch
Tuch is a physical forward with a good shot and decent vision. His skating needs work, but if it does improve, it will allow him to get into better positions to score or create an offensive play. He is committed to Boston University for next season.
Round Two, 48th Overall – C – Jan Mysak
The latter of the Canadiens’ back-to-back picks was Jan Mysak, a player who slid down a lot of people’s draft boards. The Czech native has a good offensive toolbox. His vision and puck handling skills allow him to put his teammates in positions to score, while his shot still needs to be respected.
Mysak played in both the Czech men’s league and the OHL last year. In the OHL, he proved he can be dominant against players his own age as he notched 25 points in 22 games. This year, because of COVID, he is expected to play the entire season in the Czech men’s league for HC Litvinov.
Round Four, 101st Overall – LW – Jack Smith
Smith does not have a lot of standout qualities to his game, however, he has a strong two-way profile and competes hard. He is committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Round Four, 108th Overall – C – Blake Biondi
Biondi has dominated at the high school level the last two years, including winning Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey – an award given to the most outstanding senior high school hockey player in the state. He uses his frame well and has high-end skill to create offense.
Biondi is an average skater, and when he played at a higher level for brief stints in the USHL, he did not play as well as he did in high school. He will be playing with Jack Smith next year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Round Four – 123rd Overall – C – Sean Farrell
What Farrell lacks in size, he makes up for with his speed and skill. He is a smart player who competes hard and is used in all situations. He dominated the USHL last year with 56 points in 44 games for the Chicago Steel. He is committed to Harvard next season and will likely spend a few years there to build strength and fine-tune his game.
Round Five, 135th Overall – G – Jakub Dobes
Despite his size and athleticism, Dobes put up disappointing numbers in the USHL. His technical game needs a lot of work, but he is a raw athlete. It will be interesting to see how many starts he gets in Ohio State, where he is committed for this upcoming season.
Round Six, 170th Overall – LW – Alexander Godin
Godin is hockey’s equivalent to basketball’s catch and shoot player. He has a high-end shot but is a below-average skater. He was one of the leading goal-scorers in the MHL last season, and this year, he began tearing it up before being called up to the VHL.