BROSSARD – Over the last five days, those participating in the Canadiens’ annual Development Camp learned a lot about their game and themselves, too.
One of 19 players invited to the Bell Sports Complex on a try-out basis, forward Markus Eisenschmid did his best to showcase the offensive upside he’d demonstrated all season long with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League. Come scrimmage time, the 20-year-old did just that, scoring four goals in three intra-squad games.
“I think I did actually show what I could do. I just wanted to do my job. I wanted to get pucks in deep, get pucks on net, finish my hits and just show my skating abilities and everything else. I thought I did that,” offered Eisenschmid, who registered 19 goals and 44 points in 50 games while plying his trade with the Tigers in 2014-15. “I would say that I was kind of lucky with my goals, though. I played with some really good guys. I worked hard for this opportunity, and that’s all I wanted to do.
“I felt really comfortable out there. I felt good. I was excited to come here. I thought my legs felt pretty good. I worked hard in the offseason. It was really good,” added Eisenschmid, who most recently represented his native Germany at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship. “I proved to myself that I can compete on this level. Obviously, there’s always a step higher. I want to take that step forward and get better. That was the first step to see where I’m at right now.”
Coming off a Memorial Cup win with the Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals, Michael McCarron arrived at Development Camp brimming with confidence – and with good reason. The Grosse Pointe, MI native, who was selected 25th overall by the Canadiens in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, enjoyed an outstanding 2014-15 campaign, putting up 28 goals and 68 points in 56 games between London (OHL) and Oshawa, while steadily establishing himself as a reliable centerman. Now, with the pro ranks squarely in his sights, McCarron was out to show the Canadiens’ brass just how far he’s come over the last 12 months.
“I haven’t changed anything in terms of the way I’ve gone about things. I continue to work very hard. I just need to have the right attitude. It’s my job. I’m a professional hockey player. I have to be mentally ready. Junior was a lot of fun, but at this level everybody is competing for the same spot. As much as you like all these guys, you want to take that spot and play in the NHL. It comes down to a mental game,” mentioned McCarron, who centered a line with fellow Canadiens draftees Artturi Lehkonen and Jeremy Gregoire in Thursday’s scrimmage on the South Shore.
“I just need to play my game. The way I look at things is that I can’t be stopped when I’m going full speed. I don’t think anybody can take the puck off me,” added McCarron, who will spend the rest of the summer training in London, ON alongside the likes of Jarred Tinordi and Vancouver Canucks young gun Bo Horvat in preparation the Canadiens’ Rookie Camp in early September in the Forest City. “I just want to hold onto the puck as long as I can, take pucks to the net and be strong on pucks. That’s what I like to do.”
Like McCarron, Charles Hudon left Development Camp on Thursday with a similar mentality. After amassing 19 goals and 57 points in 75 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15 – which also just happened to be his first full season in the pro ranks – the Alma, QC native is heading into his next phase of his summer training with a positive outlook and an eye on cracking the Canadiens’ roster.
“Every year, when I get here, I have a learning mentality. I’m going to keep working hard,” stressed Hudon, who was selected in the fifth round, 122nd overall by the Canadiens back in 2012. “I know what I have to do going forward. It’s all about getting stronger. When you’re not among the bigger players out there, you have to work harder. For the last 10 years, that’s what I’ve been doing, getting stronger in my legs. It’s been going well until now.”
Things have also progressed nicely for Gregoire, who recently wrapped up his Junior career which began all the way back in 2011-12 with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“I think [Director of Player Development] Marty Lapointe and his staff knew that I could play well defensively and do all the right things, but I wanted to show that I could create some scoring chances and play well offensively, too,” offered Gregoire, who registered 20 goals and 41 points in 32 games with the QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar last season. “This was another great experience. I was a lot less nervous than the first two times I’d been here. I think I showed great stuff out there. I play to win, even if we’re in July. When we’re down by a goal, I try to pump the guys up and it pumps me up, too.”
We'll see you in September, gentlemen!
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
Canadiens agree to terms on a three-year contract with first round pick Noah Juulsen
A moment like this
One happy camper
Canadiens appoint Nick Carrière assistant coach with the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League