BROSSARD -- Singled out by GM Marc Bergevin in July as prospects who could potentially crack the team’s Day 1 roster come October 8, a trio of Habs hopefuls are nevertheless taking the added attention at this year’s Canadiens rookie camp in stride.
Case in point, up and coming Czech star Jiri Sekac, who wasted no time impressing onlookers at camp by putting up a 14.5 in the beep test, but hasn’t let the high score get to his head.
“The tests don’t play the hockey,” explained a level-headed Sekac of his result. ”The tests are secondary, so it's really about being in shape, which is what I worked on over the entire summer -- getting myself into the best shape for this season.”
But even in keeping a cool demeanor, that’s not to say the 22-year-old hasn’t felt the breeze from all the heads turning his way just two days into camp.
“I’m happy with the attention because I like to get people talking,” admitted the three-year KHL pro. “I’m comfortable with it.”
It’s no wonder then that despite staying grounded, Sekac would be thrilled to have the opportunity to strut his stuff for real in front of the Habs faithful this fall.
“I’ve visited Montreal before and I really like the city. I love the direction the organization is going in,” explained Sekac, who signed a two-year contract with the Canadiens as a free agent over the summer. “I've actually been to the Bell Centre and when I saw the rink for the first time, it was amazing. I had never seen an arena that big so it kind of swallowed me up and I’ve wanted to be a part of this organization ever since.”
Another European pro eager to cross the pond this season is Canadiens 2013 draft pick Jacob De La Rose. After playing in his native Sweden for the past two seasons, the six-foot-two 190-pounder is convinced he knows what it takes to suit up with the Habs.
“Of course knowing I’ve got a shot at a spot is a really strong motivator, but I’ve got to focus on my own game first and play as well as I can because that’s all that I can control,” insisted De La Rose, who racked up 13 points in 49 games in the Swedish Elite League. “It’s up to me to show the coaches how good I am while also learning as much as I can."
But while Sekac and De La Rose may have racked up some serious frequent flyer miles on their journeys to the NHL so far, not all of the newcomers are arriving from quite so far away.
Following his first full season in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Sven Andrighetto reported to Brossard confident for the days to come.
“My play from a season ago has given me a lot of confidence,” revealed the Swiss native. “It’s my second time here and the dynamic has changed. I’m coming in with more experience now.”
But like his European counterparts, Andrighetto isn’t taking anything for granted.
“Nothing in life is free. You need to put in work to get where you’re going. Every guy here is coming in to make the team, so a roster spot is never going to be handed to you. You need to work for one and earn everything that comes your way.”
Which is why despite finishing second among Bulldogs scorers with 44 points in 64 games a season ago, Andrighetto is already aware of which aspect of his game he needs to work on if he intends to call Montreal his permanent home.
“Working with my coaches in Hamilton I learned that if I want to crack an NHL roster, I need to become a better two-way skater,” admitted the 21-year-old. “My strength has always been on offense, but improving defensively will allow me to take my game to the next level.”Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com.SEE ALSO Words from the room ShootoutsTo hell and back