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A few good men

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
SUNRISE – With five picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, the Canadiens added a solid slew of prospects with offensive upside to the organizational depth chart during their time in South Florida.


After nabbing defenseman Noah Juulsen in Round 1, the Canadiens turned their attention to the other end of the ice on Day 2 of the NHL Draft. Having opted to hold onto their first round pick on Friday night in order to draft Juulsen 26th overall, the Habs were forced to sit out the second round after trading the 57th overall pick to the Oilers in March in exchange for Jeff Petry.

After waiting 61 spots between selections, Timmins and his scouting staff were pleasantly surprised to see 6-foot-2 Swedish center Lukas Vejdemo still available when the 87th overall pick finally rolled around.   

Trevor Timmins
“Anybody know anything about him? You guys tell me about him. Nobody knows much, do they? That’s why we got him where we got him,” joked Timmins on the potential draft day steal, who had 23 goals and 48 points in 34 games with Djurgarden Jr. this season before earning MVP honors during the Swedish Junior Championship tournament.

After missing the majority of the 2013-14 season in Sweden with an injury, Vejdemo went undrafted last June in Philadelphia, despite putting up 31 points in 20 games with the Djurgarden U-18 team.  Entering the 2015 NHL Draft ranked 36th among all European skaters, the 19-year-old wasn’t about to fly under the Canadiens’ radar one year later in Sunrise.

“Our Swedish scout was so excited – he couldn’t believe he was still there in the third round. Exposure-wise, you had to work to see him play,” explained the Canadiens’ vice president of player personnel and director of amateur scouting. “He wasn’t in any of the tournaments, but Christer Rockstrom deserves a lot of credit for really pushing him and dragging me over there on April 1 for a weekend. He’s a strong skater, and a strong two-way player, but he can create offense. He’s got good vision and he’s a good puck disperser. Expect a lot out of him. Off-ice, his training is top-notch and he has lots of character. He’s got more offensive upside than [Jacob] De La Rose did at the same age.”

(L to R): Juulsen, Vejdemo, Bradley, Bourque, and Addison.
Without a fourth round pick at his disposal, Timmins had to wait a little longer to draft his third prospect of the weekend, calling on Medicine Hat Tigers center, Matthew Bradley. In his first full season in the WHL, the Surrey, BC native had 17 goals and 40 points in 71 games, while serving 24 penalty minutes.

“All through minor hockey, he put up prolific numbers. This was his first year of Major Junior and he did quite well as a rookie in the WHL. He was mostly in a third line role,” described Timmins of the 18-year-old forward. “They have a couple of older centermen who play ahead of him, but we see a ton of upside here. We like his hockey sense and his skating ability and we’re looking forward to bigger and better things from him in the future.”

The team went trolling in its own backyard with its fourth pick of the draft, calling on Rimouski Oceanic defenseman Simon Bourque at No. 177 overall. The 6-foot-1 blue-liner picked up 10 goals, 38 points and 69 penalty minutes in 68 games while helping lead the Oceanic to the QMJHL’s President’s Cup title last season.

“We think he’s going to continue to take his game to another level next year and the year after in Rimouski. I was surprised he was there when we picked him,” admitted Timmins of the Longueuil native. “We really like his hockey sense. He’s a smart defenseman, he sees the ice well, and moves the puck well. He’s a solid character player. You keep hearing me repeat that: solid character, competitive players. There’s a lot of that in these picks and a lot of that on our team in our young players. It’s a common theme.”

With his fifth and final selection of the weekend, at No. 207 overall, Timmins went back on the offensive, drafting Ottawa 67’s winger Jeremiah Addison. After arriving in Ottawa from Saginaw in 2014-15, Addison nearly tripled his productivity levels this season, potting 19 goals and 47 points in 63 games before adding another six goals and four assists in six postseason tilts for Ottawa.
    
“He’s my hometown pick. I live near Ottawa so I see the 67’s a lot. He was outstanding in the playoffs,” relayed Timmins on the goal-per-game postseason performer. “He’s a power-type forward with a really quick release. He really improved this season. He plays a hard game, he drives the net, and he gets a lot of points in tight to the net. I like the way he plays. He’s not afraid to get his nose dirty and get in the paint.”

While Timmins and his scouting staff can finally take a few days off before starting all over again in preparation for the 2016 NHL Draft, the workload for the five players who heard their names called by the Canadiens over the weekend is about to ramp up significantly.

“We drafted players with upside. Our development team will take over now and work with them, starting with our development camp coming up in early July,” said Timmins. “We’ve got good development people with [Rob] Ramage and [Martin] Lapointe and I have faith in them that they’ll help these guys become future pros. We see something in these players, but we can’t take their hand and guide them down to the Promised Land. It’s up to them now.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.

SEE ALSO:
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RAW: Bourque
RAW: Timmins
AUDIO: Vejdemo
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