An In-Depth Look at Rookie Camp

By Dan Kramer, @DanKramerHabs

(Jump to Rookie Camp Cheat Sheet)

Annually, the first on-ice sessions for Montreal Canadiens Rookie Camp signal that hockey is back in Montreal. This Saturday, 44 prospects and tryouts will take the ice in Brossard to kick off the 2014 edition, before the veterans return for the team’s main training camp the following week. Below I’ll look give you a rundown of those at camp, and what they’re playing for as they aim to secure spots at various levels for the coming year. The full camp roster can be downloaded here:

http://canadiens.nhl.com/fr/v2/ext/2014-2015/Alignement%20camp%20des%20recrues%20-%20Rookie%20Camp%20Roster%20(10-09).pdf

But first, whenever rosters are announced, there is as much discussion about players left off the invite list as there is about those on it, so we can begin an analysis of the list published Wednesday there.

PLAYERS NOT INVITED TO ROOKIE CAMP

Nathan Beaulieu: The offensive blueliner was included in this summer’s development camp, but the club seems to have seen enough there to have him sit out while awaiting the vets. Most recently, he flew to Florida to train with Max Pacioretty at a camp by Darryl Belfry, who specializes in instilling the mental toughness and maturity required of a pro athlete – a strong fit for what some see as the biggest hole in Beaulieu’s game. If he can’t earn a spot in main camp, Beaulieu can be sent to Hamilton for further seasoning.

Josiah Didier: It’s rare for college kids to be at these Fall camps both due to their school schedules and NCAA regulations. Thus, don’t take Didier’s omission as an indicator of where he stands in the organizations’ eyes. It’s a pivotal season for him in Denver – where he’ll be an assistant captain – looking to nab a contract at season’s end to turn pro in 2015-16.

Jake Evans: Like Didier, Montreal’s 7th rounder this past June is headed to college, set to kick off his career with the University of Notre Dame. A long-term project at best, Evans also missed July’s camp due to summer classes.

Artturi Lehkonen: Lehkonen signed a two-year deal with the Frolunda Indians in March, jumping from the Finnish Liiga to the Swedish Hockey League for his upcoming 19-year old season. The offensive winger recently returned from a serious illness, and after a few games to get his feet back under him, has been producing in early Champions Hockey League action. Given he’ll be back in Europe this season, he has not been released for camp, though he’s believed to have an out clause next summer should the Habs try to bring him over to North America.

Robert Mayer: Last summer, the Habs talked Mayer out of going to Switzerland by inking him to a two-year contract to follow the conclusion of his entry level deal. A year into the contract and with Mayer unable to earn AHL starting duties, both sides agreed to dissolve its second half and allow Mayer to return to Europe.

Joonas Nattinen: The Finnish center played a responsible two-way game over three seasons with the Hamilton Bulldogs, even earning a brief one-game call-up to the NHL this past season for his consistent efforts. The Canadiens issued Nattinen a qualifying offer this summer to retain his RFA rights, but the 23-year old opted to sign with MODO in Sweden for the coming year.

Magnus Nygren: 24-year old Nygren is under contract with Montreal for the coming year despite his walking out on the Bulldogs and returning to his native Sweden just 16 games into last season. The heavy-shooting rearguard put up 12 goals and 20 points in 25 games after returning home, and hasn’t minced words about a refusal to return to Hamilton. Thus, he will be skipping Rookie Camp but flying in for Montreal’s main camp next week, where he will attempt to crack the roster, force a trade, or ultimately return to Farjestad.

Greg Pateryn: Pateryn wasn’t invited to Development Camp earlier this summer because he has completed his entry level contract, and the same rationale applies here. Given a new two-year deal by the Habs this summer, he will attempt to crack the big club out of training camp, though he could return to Hamilton without requiring waivers to start the year in the AHL.

Martin Reway: Like Lehkonen, Reway signed a two-year deal in Europe this off-season, opting for Sparta Praha of the Czech League. Also like Lehkonen, Reway has been an early Champions League standout offensively, but his future with the Canadiens’ organization seems cloudier. Off-ice, there have been questions about the dynamic winger’s attitude and effort level, resulting in his being benched at times with the Gatineau Olympiques despite strong production. He then seemed to want a contract from the Canadiens despite the fact that his age would necessitate another year of junior hockey before gaining AHL eligibility, and apparently a deal from the Montreal brass wasn’t forthcoming, leading to his defection overseas. Reway is hardly a lost cause, but after being a darling of last year’s training camp, it’s unlikely we see him this Fall.

Jarred Tinordi: Beaulieu’s inclusion in Development Camp was only peculiar because Tinordi was left off the roster, but this time around both are being considered “vets” after attending numerous camps in years past. Despite having different skillsets on ice, the two find themselves in the same spot, battling for a regular top six job with Montreal in camp, but also capable of rejoining Hamilton for more development without needing waivers. At least one of the two should stick, and the other has an at least even opportunity to beat out Nygren and Pateryn for a job in the top 7 or 8 that the team is likely to keep.

Dustin Tokarski: Tokarski was given a two-year contract extension in April, before his playoff heroics gave the Canadiens a fighting chance even after Carey Price’s injury. At 24, Tokarski’s ELC is in the rearview mirror, and thus he isn’t eligible for this form of camp, but what should be noted here is that even though the first year of his new deal is two-way, he cannot play in the AHL without first being offered up to the rest of the league via the waiver wire. Thus, he is in competition with Peter Budaj for a job as Price’s full-time back-up, given a club with less goaltending depth would most likely snatch him up given the opportunity.

PLAYERS INVITED TO CAMP

Forwards

Sven Andrighetto: The diminutive skilled winger was the sole offensive bright spot on a dry Hamilton Bulldogs’ squad last year, nearly leading the team as a rookie. With the departures of Brian Gionta and Daniel Briere potentially allowing for the addition of a smaller forward, and the possibility of an open roster spot at forward to start the year in Montreal, Andrighetto should be considered one of the candidates aspiring to an imminent NHL debut, and will look to make a good impression right from camp’s opening day. Otherwise, expect him to be Hamilton’s main catalyst up front, and to be a top call-up consideration.

Daniel Audette: Another small forward, Audette’s offensive potential made him a good value pick in the fifth round of the entry draft this past June. The son of ex-Hab (and current Hab scout) Donald, he was recently named captain of the Sherbrooke Phoenix for the coming campaign, as he’ll return for a third season in the QMJHL. He won’t turn 19 till May, so he has this year and the next one to impress sufficiently at the junior level and earn a professional contract.

Tim Bozon: Bozon is a feel-good story, recovering from a scary bout with meningitis last spring and training hard all summer to earn this camp invite. The Canadiens had already signed the scoring winger to his entry-level deal prior to his illness, so he’ll be given every opportunity to prove he’s ready for a full-time AHL role (expected to spend the year in Hamilton), and given the determination he has shown to come this far, the smart money wouldn’t be betting against him. Still, don’t expect miracles, and if his timing seems a little off in camp’s early-going, be patient with his readjustment to high-level play.

Riley Brace: Never-drafted Brace has an interesting stat line. After he twice led his team in scoring, well-above the point-per-game mark, in the Ontario Hockey League, San Jose offered him an AHL deal, and in a brief tryout he managed 3 goals and 6 points in just his first 8 games. But the 22-year old struggled in his first full pro year, failing to score a goal and compiling just 5 assists in 48 games with the Worcester Sharks and Iowa Wild. He’ll be looking to earn an AHL contract from the Habs to prove he’s capable of more as a sophomore, and could provide added AHL/ECHL depth.

Daniel Carr: Carr, another undrafted player, was signed to an entry-level deal by the Canadiens last April after showing strong progression in the final year of his university career, leading Union College in scoring. The 6’0″ left winger will compete for a job with the Bulldogs (though it’s possible he passes through ECHL’s Wheeling) as he prepares to make his professional debut at age 22.

Connor Crisp: Crisp didn’t light the world in fire in his final season of junior hockey, finishing fourth on the Sudbury Wolves with 55 points in 67 games, still an improvement over his draft year. His pugilist qualities weren’t on display in his 7-game AHL tryout at the end of last season, but after scoring his first two professional goals, earned a deal with the Habs. He should be expected to fill a third or fourth line role in Hamilton this season.

Jacob De La Rose: Many have De La Rose battling Jiri Sekac for any vacant Canadiens’ forward roster spot to start the year, which are lofty expectations to put on a 19-year old making his North American debut. But De La Rose is a versatile player, perhaps similar to Michael Bournival, in possessing enough skill to produce, but also capable of sliding on to a third or fourth line with his physical, two-way brand of hockey, and that gives him a step up on some other contenders like Andrighetto and Nikita Scherbak. But if he doesn’t seem ready, certainly it wouldn’t hurt De La Rose’s development to start the year in Hamilton, and in fact, if he plays fewer than 10 games in the NHL this season, the Canadiens will benefit from sliding his entry level deal to cover a fourth year of professional play due to his signing as a teenager.

Tanner Eberle: Eberle was not one of the 51 players at this summer’s Development Camp, but this is his second consecutive year with a Rookie Camp invite from the Canadiens. The 20-year old tryout is now hoping to earn a contract and transition to pro hockey this Fall, after modestly improving his production in his final year with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors (while also doubling his penalty minutes). Most liked the 5’10” winger’s play at camp last year, so he has a reasonable shot at earning an AHL/ECHL deal for organizational depth with the Bulldogs and/or Nailers.

Stefan Fournier: The Habs took a shot with Fournier, offering him an entry-level contract as a UFA out of last summer’s camps, but he struggled against superior competition in his rookie year with the Bulldogs. He typically provided little impact on the game, and was noticed more for his indiscipline than positive contributions on many nights. At this stage, he fills an undesirable Philippe Lefebvre-like role, where he might be penciled in for Wheeling despite having a two-way NHL contract in his back pocket. He’ll be out to prove his toughness can be valuable on a Bulldogs team that let a lot of theirs walk this off-season, though his being injured for this camp won’t help his goal of locking down an opening night spot.

Philippe Gadoury: Gadoury was previously an invite at Development Camp this summer, recognized after his standout 20 goals in just a 19-game stint with the Halifax Mooseheads last season. The undrafted 20-year old seems somewhat of a late bloomer and will be looking for an AHL / ECHL deal, though returning to the QMJHL for an overage season to prove his abilities over a larger sample size (and without Jonathan Drouin) is also possible.

Sahir Gill: Twenty-two year old Gill played for Montreal’s ECHL affiliate, Wheeling, last season, leading the squad in scoring with 54 points in 67 games as a rookie. Encouraging, but it wasn’t enough to earn him an AHL look from any squads last season (and Hamilton in particular was desperate for scoring at times), so consider him likely a camp filler.

Alexandre Goulet: An undrafted 18-year old, Goulet is also somewhat of a late-bloomer, just having completed his QMJHL rookie season, finishing second on the struggling Charlottetown Islanders with 48 points in 66 games. Goulet was at Development Camp earlier this summer, and this invite is likely more of a check-in on his development before he returns to Charlottetown in hopes of being drafted his second time-around next June.

Jeremy Gregoire: Just named captain of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar for the coming season, Gregoire is proving he was a steal in the sixth round of the 2013 draft. He led a strong Drakkar squad with 35 goals and 69 points in 65 games last season, and has a good shot at cracking Team Canada for this year’s World Junior Championship. A right-handed, not undersized, centre fills an important need in Montreal’s prospect system, and having already signed an entry-level contract, he will join Hamilton when his Q season is over, provided the ‘Dogs are still playing at that time. A year from now, he may look to cause some surprises in training camp, though there is no hurry in his development.

Matthew Highmore: Another tryout holdover from July’s Development Camp, Highmore finished second on the lowly Saint John Sea Dogs with 50 points in 68 games. A 5’10” centre, like Goulet, the 18-year old will look to improve production in his third QMJHL season in hopes of being a stronger consideration for teams in next year’s draft.

Tyler Hill: The behemoth-sized tryout turned 19 in April but just completed his first Ontario Hockey League season with the Ottawa 67s. He battles hard and has soft hands to go along with his thick 6’6″ frame, but needs to improve skating and defensive play. He’s an interesting gamble, and so to explain him in better words than I can, read HERE.

Patrick Holland: After a strong rookie season where he was arguably Hamilton’s best forward over the final month, Holland dove into a sophomore slump. Known as a playmaking winger, Holland showed versatility in his game at the pro level, improving his defensive play, opening up third or fourth line possibilities for his future, and also showing some ability to play centre. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of his offensive production (though being saddled with a floating Martin St. Pierre for much of the year didn’t help his cause either), and he must regain his identity as a scoring threat this coming year or risk falling out of favour with the organization completely. He’s a lock to be in Hamilton to start the year, though he’ll be in a battle to stick in that team’s top six.

Charles Hudon: Hudon is my darkhorse to wiggle his way into the race to start the season up in Montreal. A hardworking, responsible, skilled and versatile forward, his smallish frame and injury proneness are the only things holding him back. The Canadiens have floated the idea of shifting him from wing to centre, which is something they could experiment with should he start out the year in Hamilton. Even though he’ll be a rookie at the pro level, he’d be expected to carry a significant workload with the Bulldogs this season if he’s to follow the most probable script and play in the AHL.

Bokondji Imama: Yet another player who gets a second look from the organization after being at July’s camp, Imama turned some heads earlier this summer with his physical play. Undrafted after only managing 15 points in 59 games this season, the 18-year old plays a hardnosed fourth line game but will need to show greater upside if he wants a club to use a pick on him next June.

Mike McCarron: Montreal’s 2013 first rounder had a disappointing post-draft season, putting up just 34 points in 66 games in his first season with the London Knights. But more concerning than the lack of production was the inconsistencies in his efforts and compete level on ice, accused of floating or being disengaged from the play far too often, perhaps having a noticeably good game one out of every three. McCarron did improve over the latter half of the season, and based on his reasonably strong showing at training camp last year, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he ups his game against tougher competition again this Fall. Technically, since he wasn’t drafted out of the CHL, McCarron can be assigned to Hamilton as early as this season, but at 19, it’s most likely the 6’6″ winger returns to the Knights to continue working on all aspects of his game.

Stefano Momesso: Sergio Momesso’s son has been sporting that he’s a Habs prospect on his Twitter profile since his invitation to Development Camp, so maybe he knows something we don’t about Montreal’s commitment to offering him a contract. A late addition to that Camp, Momesso looked good among his peer group, and so the 21-year old may get an opportunity to test his skills against a far higher level of competition than he’s ever faced in the past, having played in the CCHL the last three years. If he does in fact get a contract, expect it to be an AHL deal, with him having to work his way up from the ECHL for starters.

Jack Nevins: Nevins was a bit of an odd recipient of an NHL entry-level deal, as one expects players of his ilk to be available at a lesser commitment (e.g. an AHL contract). But word was that a number of teams had come calling for the hard-working character player after he tripled his previous best CHL output with 48 points in his final junior season. Nevins will be battling for third or fourth line ice time with the Bulldogs this season, though the team has a crowded bottom six, so he may wind up being worked in and out of the line-up until he proves his worth.

Nikita Scherbak: A major spotlight will be on Scherbak, as is always the case with the team’s most recent first round selection. He may have increased its intensity by stating in Saskatoon recently that he felt he could stick with the Canadiens in his first year with the organization. Scherbak is a big, skilled, powerful player, whose style is somewhat reminiscent of Alex Galchenyuk, but who still needs to work on his all-around game. The Russian winger is likely headed back to the Blades (who are contemplating trading him) in the WHL, but if none of the other candidates to crack Montreal’s opening night roster stand out, it’s possible he’s given an up-to-nine game tryout with the Canadiens, which will not trigger the start date of his entry-level deal. As a December birthday, he’ll be eligible to join Hamilton as soon as next Fall, with perhaps a short stint there sooner if his junior team is done before the ‘Dogs this Spring.

Matt Schmalz: The Canadiens would’ve gotten a good look at Schmalz as he was a teammate of Connor Crisp’s last season with Sudbury, and it seems they wanted a longer look than just July’s camp at the 6’6″ 18-year old. His offensive output has been extremely limited to date, with just 8 points in 66 games last year, but he plays a physical game with upside identified by several scouts in the past, as outlined HERE. Schmalz will need to work on his consistency this coming year if he wants a team to draft him as a second year eligible next year.

Jiri Sekac: From unknown to phenom, no player’s stock has risen in the eyes of Canadiens’ fans more this summer than Sekac’s. There was apparently a war of sorts for his services as a free agent this summer, and with Montreal’s system light on true scoring talent, 6’0″ Czech forward felt the Habs were his best fit. He has looked good in multiple camps this off-season, though it being his first season of North American pro hockey, he of course still has plenty to prove. Still, at 22, he’s one of the favourites to get a shot at cracking the NHL roster out of camp if he can beat out guys like Drayson Bowman and Travis Moen, slotting into the top 9 and dropping a Dale Weise or Brandon Prust to the fourth trio. All the same, starting the year with the Bulldogs would hardly be a disappointment for an essentially “free” pick-up for Marc Bergevin.

Nick Sorkin: Sorkin was given a two-year AHL deal last season and was given plenty of looks by coach Sylvain Lefebvre in his 9 games with the ‘Dogs after leaving the University of New Hampshire, but showed only minor flashes. The 6’3″ 23-year old was a point-per-game player as a college senior, but will be in tough likely competing for a third line job this year with all the new additions, and thus may spend time in the Hamilton press box.

Christian Thomas: Acquired last off-season for Danny Kristo, Thomas didn’t have the sophomore pro year many were hoping for, putting up only 11 goals in 55 games at a nearly identical point-per-game clip to the year prior. While two years older than Thomas, Kristo, as an AHL rookie, netted 25 markers of his own. Thomas needs to learn to use his strengths better to grow his game, getting off his arsenal of lethal shots quicker and thus more frequently. A key might be finding him a decent puck carrier to play with, as his game is better served getting open or going to the net than skating with it on his stick.

Defensemen

Justin Baker: Never drafted, the 23-year old just completed his career at St Lawrence University as a strong-skating, offensive rearguard. His being a Toronto native could help Hamilton’s case if they see enough to consider him a quality depth addition, given Baker’s game improved significantly year over year and he has become better-rounded as a contributor at both ends of the ice. More on him HERE.

Mac Bennett: After completing his full college career, Bennett is finally under contract and set to join Hamilton to transition his game to the pros. A quick-skating two-way d-man, he will likely benefit from playing alongside former Michigan partner Greg Pateryn in the hopes that some dormant chemistry between the two will create a rock solid pairing for the ‘Dogs. Though he’s already 23, given the depth ahead of him, he’s likely got at least one full AHL season to prove himself before he can contend for time with the Habs.

Joel Chouinard: After spending last season with the Bulldogs, Chouinard is without a contract for the coming year, though his appearance at this camp could be a strong indicator that he’ll be back with Hamilton. Knowing how much Marc Bergevin values his depth on the blueline, Already 24, he hasn’t displayed any real NHL upside, but he’s a guy who proved he can handle a #4 – 6 role at the AHL level and would be a veteran depth addition should transactions or injuries necessitate call-ups of others to Montreal.

Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin: It was announced Thursday that Crevier-Morin is suffering from a back injury, and will be out four to six weeks, thus missing camp. When healthy, the 18-year old will re-join the Gatineau Olympiques for the coming season.

Gianluca Curcuruto: The 20-year old was a 7th round pick by Columbus in 2012 and took major strides forward in 2012-13, posting significant point totals in both the regular season and playoffs for a highly skilled Plymouth Whalers team. Unfortunately his game fell back down to earth in 2013-14, leading to the Jackets’ decision not to sign the 6’1″ defenseman, perhaps having been exposed for only producing when surrounded by superior talents. He’ll be motivated to prove that last season was an anomaly and those perceptions are wrong, but he is far from likely to walk out of camp with an AHL deal in tow.

Darren Dietz: Dietz’s rookie season in the AHL was marred by injuries, regularly slotting on to a second or third pairing when he was in the line-up. With the likely graduations of Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi, if Dietz can stay healthy, he’ll be looked upon to take on a greater role on the Bulldogs’ back end, showing some of the NHL-calibre skills he flashed in training camp a year ago.

Morgan Ellis: Much hyped based on his strong junior career, Ellis has had a tough two seasons in the American Hockey League, and now risks being leapfrogged in the depth chart by Dietz. At times made a healthy scratch by Coach Lefebvre, Ellis seemed to have fallen out of favour with the ‘Dogs, but hard work paid off and he turned in some solid efforts when finally given a chance to play. Pencil him in for bottom pairing duties for the coming season in Steel City, where the pressure will be on to show he’s worthy of a new contract once he’s completed his entry level deal following this season.

Nikolas Koberstein: Missing this camp with an injury, Montreal’s 2014 5th rounder had been named captain of his junior club for the coming year, but opted to forego the honour to instead play a slightly higher level of hockey with Sioux Falls of the USHL. He will only begin his college career at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in 2015-16, so he’s a long-term project with plenty of time to develop and many more Montreal Summer Development Camps in his future.

Brett Lernout: The second player taken by the Canadiens in the 2014 draft (third round), Lernout will return to the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL this season, though his late September birthday means it could be his last in junior hockey, as he’ll be eligible to go pro next Fall. A 6’4″ physical specimen, Lernout is a strong skater for his size, but will need to improve his hockey skills to go with his penchant for hitting if he is to forego an overage junior year and earn a quick contract for 2015-16. More on him HERE.

David Makowski: According to a few reports, teams had been coveting Makowski for some time, but the college UFA ultimately chose to sign an AHL deal with Hamilton this summer. The Canadiens would have seen Makowski while watching his Denver teammate Josiah Didier the last few seasons, and the rearguard was quietly considered one of the better two-way players in NCAA hockey. Given his age/experience and filled-out 6’1″ frame, he has a good shot at sticking with the Bulldogs as a second or third pair d-man this year.

Bobby Shea: After splitting last season between the AHL and ECHL in the Chicago Blackhawks’ system, Shea signed a one-year deal with the Bulldogs in July to play a similar depth role (though he’s mistakenly still listed as merely a tryout on the Habs’ camp roster sheet). The tough 24-year old was suspended for an off-ice fight during his stint in the American League last year, so he’ll need to work on his discipline if he’s to remain in the organization’s good books this season and spend more time in Ontario than in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Dalton Thrower: Thrower voluntarily ended his own season (and junior career) last year – at the urging of Canadiens’ medical staff – to undergo ankle surgery, but it seems his recovery will cause him to miss this camp as well. He will be looking to lock down a top six spot with the Bulldogs this year, ends to which his time playing alongside Dietz may help achieve, though Coach Lefebvre may consider it wise not to stick the two inexperienced d-men together. Coming off a far better season than his disappointing post-draft year with 39 points in 42 games, Thrower will be looked upon to pick up some of the lost Hamilton powerplay firepower with Nathan Beaulieu and potentially at some point Greg Pateryn graduating up to Montreal. Similar to Bennett, he has tools (and is still younger / less far along than Mac), but the depth ahead of him means he’ll have plenty of time to develop them before he can be thinking about the NHL.

Evan Wardley: Yet another invitee returning after having been at July’s camp, the scrappy d-man is looking to turn pro at age 20. The fact that the Canadiens already turned to Joe Finley to play pugilist on defense in Hamilton hurts Wardley’s chances at getting a contract, as there is no glaring need for his skillset in the organization’s ranks this year.

Zach Yuen: A fourth round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, Yuen was never signed, and then ink’ed a deal with the Toronto Marlies last season, though he spent most of it in the ECHL. A strong two-way blueliner in junior hockey, he’ll battle the likes of Makowski and Chouinard to show he’s the one deserving of a depth role in Hamilton.

Goaltenders

Mike Condon: An ECHL standout last year, Condon is more than ready to handle some responsibilities in the American League. Entering the second half of a two-year deal ink’ed with the Canadiens, Condon should battle Joey MacDonald for playing time with the Bulldogs after recording 6 shutouts, and a sparkling .931 save percentage and 2.18 GAA in 39 games with the Wheeling Nailers as a pro rookie. The 24-year old surely sees the other netminders standing in his way in Montreal’s pipeline, so he may flee for greener pastures after this year, but supplanting a proven veteran like MacDonald would only increase the demand for his services next off-season so he has much at stake.

Zachary Fucale: The Laval native will return for his fourth and final season with the Halifax Mooseheads before making his pro debut with the Bulldogs in 2015-16 (already signed to an ELC). After an up-and-down World Junior Championships last year (where he flashed brilliance along with some inconsistency) and a tough QMJHL playoffs, Fucale must bounce back and take on greater responsibility for his team’s successes in 2014-15, given the Mooseheads will be without Jonathan Drouin. There is no rush in Fucale’s development, but the Habs’ brass will be looking for continued steps in the right direction.

Hayden Hawkey: Montreal’s aptly-named 6th round pick in June, Hawkey returns to the USHL this coming year after being a top goalie in the league last season. The Omaha Lancers’ netminder, like Fucale, had a tough playoffs, and thus still has something to prove at that level before joining Providence College in 2015-16 to continue a long development cycle.

Jordan Papirny: A first-time starter for the Brandon Wheat Kings last year, Papirny’s numbers hardly jumped off the page, but consider that he faced a significant amount of rubber behind a very average Wheat Kings squad. The 18-year old will return to the WHL in hopes of getting noticed in preparation for the 2015 entry draft, and you can read more about him HERE, or from the man himself HERE.

Summing this up, bucketing the 44 camp invitees by 2014-15 opening night aspirations:

CONTENDERS TO STICK WITH THE HABS
58 – Andrighetto
25 – De La Rose
75 – Hudon
38 – Scherbak
26 – Sekac

BULLDOGS LOCKS
46 – Bennett
41 – Condon
40 – Crisp
84 – Dietz
85 – Ellis
82 – Holland
60 – Thomas

BULLDOGS ASPIRANTS – SIGNED
56 – Bozon
94 – Carr
INJ – Fournier
73 – Makowski
63 – Nevins
62 – Shea
97 – Sorkin
59 – Thrower

BULLDOGS / NAILERS ASPIRANTS – TRYOUTS
86 – Baker
98 – Brace
36 – Chouinard
91 – Curcuruto
89 – Eberle
90 – Gadoury
68 – Gill
52 – Momesso
45 – Wardley
6 – Yuen

RETURNING TO JUNIORS – SIGNED
70 – Fucale
47 – Gregoire
34 – McCarron

RETURNING TO JUNIORS – DRAFTED
48 – Audette
65 – Hawkey
INJ – Koberstein
57 – Lernout

RETURNING TO JUNIORS – 2015 DRAFT
INJ – Crevier-Morin
83 – Goulet
71 – Highmore
72 – Hill
55 – Imama
95 – Papirny
42 – Schmalz

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