BROSSARD – In today’s notebook: Sizing up prospect Connor Crisp, crossing the pond for some North American hockey, and why timing is everything.
Up Sizing: With their third-round, 71st overall pick of the OHL Erie Otters’ Connor Crisp, the Canadiens not only added a 6-foot-3, 225-pound center to their stables, but a player poised to bring a lot of character to the table in the process. After getting in just six games in 2011-12 – his original draft year – thanks to a severe dislocation of his left shoulder, Crisp rebounded nicely in his latest campaign with the Otters, putting up 22 goals and 36 points in 63 games, while also racking up 139 penalty minutes and dropping the gloves nine times. For Habs fans wondering what to expect from the 19-year-old Alliston, ON native, listening to him share a few thoughts on his childhood hockey hero should shed some light on the subject.
“I always looked up to Tomas Holmstrom growing up when he was playing in Detroit. I always thought the stuff he did in front of the net was just miraculous,” expressed Crisp, following his second day at the Canadiens’ 2013 development camp in Brossard. “He scored so many goals in front of the net by doing just the smallest things that players don’t even realize he did. I mean, he was tipping 100 mph shots in front of the net – I don’t think I’ve ever seen him miss a tip. He creates open ice for himself and he’s very hard to move from in front of the net and I think that’s a huge part of the game now.”
Pond Jumping: When Magnus Nygren hopped a plane across the Atlantic, he purchased a one-way ticket for a reason. The trip marked the end of Nygren’s career in the Swedish League (SHL) after being awarded the Salming Trophy in 2012-13 as the league’s best defenseman, in favor a move to North American hockey. Nygren ended his most recent campaign having logged 13 goals and 19 points in 51 games.
“I’m starting to get old, so I figured I’d better take my shot,” kidded the 23-year-old, of his decision to bring his talents to North America for the 2013-14 season. “In all seriousness, I thought it was time to try something new. Over the course of the last three years, I’ve played in Farjestad and Sweden. I’m just coming off my best season and this seemed like the best time for me to make the jump.”
The decision to make that jump will also mean that he’ll get at least a short break from going up against fellow Swede and Canadiens prospect, Sebastian Collberg – a player for whom he clearly has a lot of respect.
“I didn’t know him that well originally, but now he’s like my little brother. He’s a really good guy,” added Nygren, who was selected by the Canadiens in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, and inked a contract with the Habs on May 21. “He’s a tough guy to play against. He’s got great hands and is also an excellent skater. He’s never afraid to battle in front of the net and is really an all-around great player.”
All about timing: For Canadiens prospects, a development camp like the one they’re currently attending has the ability to cover a lot of bases. Over the course of the five days, the young players are bombarded with as much information as they can handle – from tips and instruction on the ice, to best nutritional practice, to how to deal with the media. Through it all, it’s the prospects’ jobs to turn as many heads as they can by proving what they’re capable of, both on and off the ice.
“During a week like this, you get to do a bit of everything. You have to be open-minded and completely ready to learn,” said Brady Vail, who wrapped up his 2012-13 campaign with a brief stint with the Hamilton Bulldogs. “At the same time, you have to take what you’ve learned and show the coaching staff that you’re trying new things and that your goal is to become a more complete player. I have certain skills that I want to try and showcase, but that will all come with time – and this is a great time to learn all I can. It’s all about picking your moments.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
Clips from the room
Canadiens appoint Stéphane Waite as goaltending coach
The Last Word: Boomer Esiason
56 players to participate in the Canadiens annual Development Camp
Canadiens acquire Christian Thomas from the New York Rangers