BROSSARD – From Galchenyuk to Thrower, the Habs’ 2012 draft-picks are welcomed to Montreal for their first day of development camp.
Knee-jerk reaction: After missing all but two regular season games in 2011-12 and fielding endless questions about the knee surgery that sidelined him, it’s no surprise Alex Galchenyuk is more than ready to move on. Passing every medical test thrown his way with flying colors, the Canadiens’ third overall pick was happy to put any questions about his knee to rest on the first day of the Habs’ development camp.
“I don’t know how many times people have checked my knee over the past two months. It was checked at the combine, it was checked in Montreal at the hospital, it was checked here with the Canadiens and it’s always been doing great – I knew I wasn’t going to have any issues with it,” pointed out Galchenyuk.” I don’t think I would have been drafted here if Montreal didn’t think it was at 100%.”
When asked what he was hoping to show or what he had to prove at the Canadiens’ camp over the next three days, the Wisconsin native made it clear how he planned to treat the experience.
“I think it’s the wrong camp for that,” he said, choosing instead to highlight the development aspect of his time in Montreal. “I just want to be the player I am. This is all about development; becoming a better skater, a better shooter and work with your hands better, so it’s a learning process for me right now.”
Golden ticket: Drafted 122nd overall by the Habs, Charles Hudon was thrilled to be attending the second part of the Canadiens’ development camp in Montreal less than a week later. While he’ll soak in the experience as it unfolds, he’s still well aware that he’s only taken the first step of a long journey to the NHL.
“Trevor was telling us that just today. Being drafted by an NHL team is just like being handed the ticket that gets you on the train. The train hasn’t gone anywhere yet, though. It’s easy to be nervous right now. You never know exactly what to expect,” admitted Hudon, who also attended the Habs’ first development camp a few weeks ago. “For a lot of the guys here, it’s their first time at an NHL camp. We’re just trying to be like sponges, soak up as much as possible and then put it to good use. Right now, things are going great.”
Great hands: It’s pretty wild what a young player can produce with a puck, a stick and a healthy imagination. If you need proof, look no further than newly welcomed member of the Canadiens family, Tim Bozon. (Watch the clip to see what we mean.)
“I love trying crazy things like that. I consider myself a ‘skills guy’ and I get influenced by other Swiss guys like Nino Niederreiter and Sven Bartschi. I’ve played against them and we’ve stayed pretty good friends,” explained Bozon, discussing his inspiration for the move. “About two years ago, I saw Niederreiter do a move with one hand and I’ve been trying similar stuff since then. If I end up with any time during practice I’ll always try a few things like that.”
While he may have slick hands when it comes out-of-the-box shootout attempts, Bozon knows all too well that what really counts is what a player does with the puck while it’s on the ice.
“There are guys out there that can do even crazier moves than that but have never played a game in the NHL. It’s fun and it gets you noticed a bit, but it doesn’t have anything to do with actual hockey,” explained the left-winger, who put up 71 points in 71 games for the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers in 2011-12.
Following suit: For most players, draft day is a nerve-wracking experience to say the least. But as the Habs’ second-round pick, Dalton Thrower, discovered, having a good friend along for the ride – especially when they’re going through the exact same thing – can be enough to make any situation better.
“It was funny, because on draft day, my best friend Colton Sissons was sitting behind me and his name was called at 50,” explained Thrower, the 51st overall pick, on the subject of the first person to congratulate him after being drafted. “I was standing up giving him a hug and while I was doing that, my name ended up being called right afterwards. It just kind of happened like that. The way it worked out was pretty surreal.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com