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2013 draft class leads Canadiens' top 10 prospects

by Mike G. Morreale

There may come a time when the Montreal Canadiens will look back on the 2013 NHL Draft with great pride, knowing the organization hit the jackpot.

Five of the eight players picked that weekend are considered high-end prospects expected to have an impact with the big club in very short order. Canadiens director of player development Martin Lapointe singled out two players from that 2013 draft class that made quite an impression during the team's recent development camp, forwards Jacob De La Rose and Michael McCarron.

"They are both power forwards and they bring the element of toughness, but they also bring a good skill base," Canadiens director of amateur scouting Trevor Timmins said. "McCarron has a mean streak in him, but he's also a good hockey player with hands and hockey sense. When we're drafting we're always looking for talent, hockey sense, character and competitiveness in a player."

It's possible the Canadiens also landed their goalie of the future in 2013 with the second-round (No. 36) selection of Zachary Fucale.

"Zach is a winner," Timmins said. "His record in the Canadian Hockey League is impeccable. He's the type of player where even if he lets in four or five goals in a game he fights to the bitter end. The last guy I saw like that was Jaroslav Halak. There's no rush on our part to push Zach into the NHL; the player usually dictates when he's ready."

Here's a look at the Canadiens' top 10 prospects, according to

1. Jacob De La Rose, LW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 34), 2013 draft

Last season: 49 GP, 7-6-13, Leksand, SWE

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound forward, who likely will start the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Montreal's American Hockey League, had three goals, six points and a plus-3 rating to help Sweden win the silver medal at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden. The 19-year-old forward will challenge for an NHL spot at training camp but likely will need some time in the AHL as he makes the adjustment to life in in North America.

"I've been playing against men for a few years now [in Sweden] and I played about 15 minutes a game last season," De La Rose said. "It's my choice, and I think that Hamilton is closer to the NHL and that's my goal."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

2. Nikita Scherbak, RW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 26), 2014 draft

Last season: 65 GP, 28-50-78, Saskatoon, WHL

The 6-1, 174-pound 18-year-old Russian-born forward considers himself the ultimate playmaker, and he proved that at Montreal's development camp in July when he continually was setting up teammates and breaking up plays in the defensive zone. He led all Western Hockey League rookies in scoring last season on the way to being named most valuable player and rookie of the year.

"He's a player with tremendous skill and hockey sense, and we see him as a top-two line projection," Timmins said. "We tried to hit a home run there; Nikita is a player with a lot of talent but also has a lot of character and personality. We like the way he plays because he plays more of a North American style."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

3. Jiri Sekac, LW

How acquired: Signed as a free agent, July 1, 2014

Last season: 47 GP, 11-17-28, Lev Prague, RUS

The 6-2, 195-pound Czech Republic native was second on his team last season in assists and points, and tied for second in goals. He also had a goal and seven assists in 21 Kontinental Hockey League playoff games to help Prague reach Game 7 of the Gagarin Cup Finals, where they lost to Metallurg Magnitogorsk. He also had two goals in 10 games for the Czech Republic at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus. Sekac, 22, played for the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League in 2009-10 and the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League from 2009-11, but was passed over in the 2010 and 2011 NHL drafts.

According to Lapointe, Sekac was the most impressive player at development camp.

"Sekac was a player that was very much in demand recently," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said. "He's a young player with some talent and upside. You try to project when you have young players like this, and he has a chance to play on the top three lines. I always say that players make decisions for us but we have a young player with talent that can help us at that position. So we decided to take a chance on him."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

4. Michael McCarron, RW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 25), 2013 draft

Last season: 66 GP, 14-20-34, London, OHL

The 19-year-old power-forward opted for the Ontario Hockey League instead of the NCAA at Western Michigan University and had a relatively productive rookie season with the Knights in 2013-14, capped with three goals and five points in nine OHL playoff games. He eventually will fit anywhere in the lineup because of his solid work ethic, character and hockey sense. The 6-5, 237-pound forward enjoys the physical side of the game and will drop the gloves to defend teammates; he had totaled 310 penalty minutes in two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program, and 120 penalty minutes with London last season.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

5. Zachary Fucale, G

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 36), 2013 draft

Last season: 50 GP, 36-9-6, 2.26 GAA, .907 save percentage, 6 SO

The 6-1, 176-pound goalie has averaged 54 games and 38 wins in three seasons with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 19-year-old already ranks third on the league's all-time wins list with 113 (the record of 142 is held by Jacques Cloutier) and he'll return to Halifax for one more season in 2014-15. He also owns a 2.61 goals-against average, .902 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 163 career games for the Mooseheads. He is 35-12 with three shutouts, a 2.54 GAA and .903 save percentage in 49 QMJHL playoff games.

Timmins said Fucale's fierce competitive drive is what set him apart from other players at his position in the 2013 draft.

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

6. Charles Hudon, C

How acquired: 5th round (No. 133), 2012 draft

Last season: 57 GP, 26-50-76, Chicoutimi/Baie-Comeau, QMJHL

The 5-10, 174-pound left-shot forward, who was moved from left wing to center by the Montreal coaches working at the team's development camp, is an explosive offensive producer. He's also become an effective two-way player as evidenced by his plus-78 rating in 235 QMJHL games spanning four seasons.

Hudon, 20, also had a goal, two points and a plus-5 rating in seven games for Canada at the 2014 WJC.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

7. Sven Andrighetto, RW

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 86), 2013 draft

Last season: 64 GP, 17-27-44, Hamilton, AHL

Many of those observing felt the 5-10, 181-pound left-shot forward was the finest skater at the team's development camp. The native of Zurich, Switzerland had spent most of his time playing in Europe before he had 67 goals and 172 points in 115 games in two seasons with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the QMJHL.

The 21-year-old has a good shot at making the NHL team with a solid training camp, particularly since there is a shortage on right wing following the departures of Thomas Vanek, Brian Gionta and Daniel Briere. Andrighetto, passed over in two NHL drafts before being selected by the Canadiens in 2013, finished second in points on the Bulldogs last season.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

8. Tim Bozon, LW

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 64), 2012 draft

Last season: 63 GP, 33-36-69, Kamloops/Kootenay, WHL

Six months removed from contracting Neisseria meningitidis and spending nearly a month in the hospital recovering, the 6-1, 193-pound left-shot forward is determined to impress at Canadiens training camp.

The 20-year-old played his first competitive hockey game since the meningitis scare July 31, when he played for France's Under-23 national team in a six-team tournament in the Czech Republic. He's expected to spend 2014-15 with Hamilton in the AHL after he had 105 goals, 231 points and a plus-73 rating in 203 games in the WHL.

"I'm feeling really good. I'm really close to being 100 percent like I was before," Bozon told last month. "The most important thing for me was to be happy and to make sure I have a good mentality. It's coming back slowly. Every time I go on the ice I see the progress and that makes me happy."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

9. Artturi Lehkonen, LW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 55), 2013 draft

Last season: 33 GP, 7-13-20, KalPa, FIN

Lehkonen (5-10, 163) put up numbers similar to Chicago Blackhawks top prospect Teuvo Teravainen in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, leading his team in scoring as an 18-year-old despite missing almost half the season with an ankle injury sustained during his first game at the 2014 WJC. He had five goals and one assist in five games to help his native Finland to a gold medal.

The 19-year-old signed a two-year contract with Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League in March and will play there in 2014-15.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

10. Dalton Thrower, D

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 51), 2012 draft

Last season: 42 GP, 12-27-39, Vancouver, WHL

The 6-foot, 196-pound right-shot defenseman had surgery to fix ligament damage in his left ankle in May and has every intention of attending Canadiens training camp next month.

The 20-year-old led the Giants last season with a plus-9 rating and led all defensemen on the team with eight power-play goals while serving as team captain. He had 42 goals and 147 points in 285 games since his junior debut with the Saskatoon Blades in 2009-10. He also had 414 penalty minutes and a plus-39 rating. He's set to begin his pro career in Hamilton in 2014-15.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16


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