ST. PAUL – After a busy 24 hours, Pierre Gauthier and his team walked away from the Draft with seven new players to develop into NHLers.
With just one pick in the first round on Friday night, the Habs got a steal at No. 17 with Nathan Beaulieu
, who was ranked fifth among all North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Gauthier was looking to mine more of the same from the talent pool in rounds two through seven.
“The second day is a day where you draft a lot of people in a short amount of time,” described Gauthier. “We look at the players in terms of how far you think you can take them in their development. Hopefully you take them to the point where they become not only NHL players, but good NHL players.
“The key word here is ‘develop’ and it starts now,” he added. “That’s a big part of the role Mr. Timmins and his group play. They evaluate the players in order to draft them but they also evaluate them in terms of how they feel they can work with them to develop them as players.”
Without a pick in the second round, Gauthier had to wait until Round 3 to step up to the mic. Instead of making a pick, the Habs chose to ship their 78th overall pick to the Jets in exchange for No. 97 and 108 overall.
“It’s a really old cliché – every year you hear someone say ‘Oh, I never thought he’d still be available’, and I actually heard somebody at our table say that about [198th overall pick] Colin Sullivan
,” mentioned Gauthier with a laugh. “We felt there were a lot of guys left of around the same caliber and the Jets made a pretty good offer with two picks pretty quickly after the pick that we had. We felt that we weren’t giving up anything because we were going to get if not the exact player we wanted then a player of the same caliber – and we were going to get two of them.”
Among the seven new players now in his stable, Gauthier has five defensemen and two forwards and while all of the new draftees have different upsides to consider, there’s one thing the Canadiens saw in each of them that made them stand out.
“I always tell our guys if they have good hockey sense, you have a chance. Hockey sense is something that’s very difficult to change in a player and you’ve either got it or you don’t,” underlined Gauthier. “I think you’ll find that one of the common threads along this whole list of players we’ve drafted is they’re all smart players.
“Sometimes it’s strength or skating or maturity you need to work on, but if we feel confident we can help them, they become more valuable in the long run for us,” he continued. “That’s the key; you need to see the possibility of growth and that you can work with them in the areas they need help. We think we have that with this group.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.comSEE ALSO:Welcome to the family! Day 2 Recap Scouting the Draft Back where he belongs Contractual status of Habs players Exclusive interview with Markov