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Player Features

IceCaps Roster Feature – Josiah Didier

by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report

Josiah Didier (Photo by Canadiens.com)

ST. JOHN’S, NL. — Josiah Didier is a lesser known name on the list of players projected to make the IceCaps roster. This is partly to do with the transition of the NHL moving to fast paced hockey with skilled forwards and puck moving defensemen. Didier figures to be a stay-at-home defensive defenseman.

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 Entry Draft, Didier opted to spend the past four years at the University of Denver. He had his most productive season with Denver this past year as he recorded three goals and eight assists over 40 games. He was alternate captain for a Pioneers team which made it to the Frozen Four last season.

After seeing his team bow out to the eventual National Champions Providence, Didier went on to sign a professional try-out contract (PTO) with the Hamilton Bulldogs and left a good enough impression on Sylvain Lefebvre and the Habs brass to be re-signed to a one year contract with the IceCaps this offseason. In his eight games under the PTO, Didier registered a single assist but played critical minutes with Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn playing with the Canadiens through their playoff run.

Didier brings a physical aspect to the back end that is missing with the absence of Pateryn and Tinordi. He’s known as a team player, a leader and isn’t afraid to play with an edge and physicality. Although he remains under the radar he figures to be leaned on heavily by the IceCaps this upcoming season mentoring young guys coming up through on how to be a professional.


In case you missed our previous player features:

IceCaps Roster Feature – Sven Andrighetto
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mark Barberio
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mac Bennett
IceCaps Roster Feature – Tim Bozon
IceCaps Roster Feature – Daniel Carr
IceCaps Roster Feature – Connor Crisp

Categories
Player Features

IceCaps Roster Feature – Connor Crisp

by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report

Connor Crisp (Photo by RDS)

ST. JOHN’S, NL. — Connor Crisp was drafted 71st overall by the Canadiens in the 2013 Entry Draft. The Alliston, Ontario native split his junior career between the Ontario Hockey Leagues Erie Otters and Sudbury Wolves where he collected 308 penalty minutes over 184 games.

In his rookie year with the Hamilton Bulldogs Crisp continued to use his hands creatively in his 39 games played registering 102 penalty minutes. He will be relied on heavily by the IceCaps to provide grit to a lineup which is primarily young players making the transition to the professional level. Traditionally a left winger, Marc Bergevin and company projects Crisp to be a guy that can step into a fourth line role if needed. In junior hockey, Crisp found ways to contribute on a regular basis, but he struggled quite a bit registering just two goals and three assists throughout 2014-15, to become an effective player for the Canadiens he will have to find a way to emulate a Brandon Prust or Patrick Maroon on both sides of the puck.

At 6-foot-3-inches, 226 pounds, the hard hitting forward imposes his will on his opponents, however walks a fine line which saw him sit three games last season for leaving the bench to partake in a brawl against the defending Calder Cup champions, Texas Stars, last December. It’s been a long time since the Canadiens have had an effective enforcer, the aforementioned Prust was the Canadiens closest resemblance but he lacked the size and often found himself mismatched against the heavyweights of the NHL. Although, a dying breed, a heavyweight can prove to be a physical presence and is often a locker room favourite among his teammates. Crisp has an uphill battle to make the NHL, serving similar size and grit as the Canadiens former first round pick Mike McCarron, with a lesser offensive upside.

In the meantime Crisp can take in hockey in St. John’s, learn from Sylvain Lefebvre and his coaching staff. He figures to be an immediate fan favourite in a city that has lacked any legitimate enforcers in the Jets entire tenure at Mile One Center. Meanwhile he can look to a character such as Maroon in Anaheim taking in first line minutes with all-stars/Stanley Cup winners, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry as inspiration. Maroon paid his dues with Adirondack and Syracuse/Norfolk over five years before making his debut, Crisp can only work hard and hope for similar results.


In case you missed our previous player features:

IceCaps Roster Feature – Sven Andrighetto
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mark Barberio
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mac Bennett
IceCaps Roster Feature – Tim Bozon
IceCaps Roster Feature – Daniel Carr

Categories
Player Features

IceCaps Roster Feature – Daniel Carr

by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report

Daniel Carr

ST. JOHN’S, NL. — To some, Daniel Carr came out of nowhere last season. Since the Canadiens Development camp, it appears hype has continued to build around the undrafted free agent signing from Union College. The native of Sherwood Park, Alberta, attended Union for four years totaling 78 goals in 160 games. He was also named team captain and carried the Dutchmen to their first championship title in school history with a dramatic 5-4 win over Johnny Gaudreau and the favoured Boston College, and then the No. 1 ranked Minnesota in the finals.

The Canadiens were quick to sign Carr and it proved worthy of a contract as he lead all rookie goal scorers in the AHL with 24 goals last year. Carr is out to prove that he was not just a benefactor of playing on the line of the Canadiens top prospect Charles Hudon, and that he made the line better by being there. This season he will play either first line minutes with the IceCaps, or a top six role with the Habs. He does not figure to play the traditional shutdown role of a third line forward, and his eligibility to move down without clearing waivers makes him valuable as that may prove to be the Canadiens biggest obstacle this year managing their youth.

At 6-foot 200 pounds, he has decent size but more importantly he brings a goal scoring repertoire from the left hand side. The Canadiens have made every effort to bring in right wing talent in the past several years following the evolution of Max Pacioretty, and so in a crowded right hand system, Carr proves to have a slight advantage for the upcoming season.

His chances however seem to hinge on the a couple scenarios. Pacioretty is currently rehabbing a knee injury which is expected to see him miss most, if not all, of the preseason. Though we can reference last season’s concussion at the end of the year, or the infamous fractured vertebrae courtesy of Zdeno Chara and the Bell Centre extensions, Pacioretty has always been a quick healer from injuries. Either way his absence leaves a void on the left side for the Canadiens coaching staff to get a good look at Carr. Additionally, if Pacioretty manages to get back on time, theres a chance Galchenyuk could be moved from the left wing to a center position. If this happens Carr could also see a door open. Either way there are opportunities for Carr to strut his stuff early this year with the Habs.


In case you missed our previous player features:

IceCaps Roster Feature – Sven Andrighetto
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mark Barberio
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mac Bennett
IceCaps Roster Feature – Tim Bozon

Categories
Player Features

IceCaps Roster Feature – Tim Bozon

by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report

Tim Bozon (Photo by Vincent Éthier )
Tim Bozon (Photo by Vincent Éthier )

ST. JOHN’S, NL. — The Canadiens 2012 third round draft pick is a feel-good story if there ever was one. In a publicly announced battle with meningitis, Tim Bozon was fighting for much more than a spot on the Habs roster. Bozon spent almost two weeks in a medically-induced coma in early 2014 after complaining of severe headaches and becoming non-responsive. Upon waking up from the coma, Bozon has to spend months rehabilitating and eventually made his way back to the Habs development camp that fall. He was sent back to juniors to the Kootenay Ice after the Habs brass deemed it necessary to bring him along slowly. Although this has effectively burned the first year of his entry level contract, it was well worth it for his development after finishing the 2014-15 season with 35 goals.

Bozon began his junior career on fire with the Kamloops Blazers putting up 71 points in 71 games in a much more defensive Western Hockey League. This warranted the Habs selection of him 64th overall at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. He never disappointed in his sophomore campaign putting up another 36 goals adding 55 assists on an electric line with J.C. Lipon and Colin Smith. Bozon has demonstrated in four seasons at the junior level that whether with a top tier team such as Kamloops (first in their division) or middle of the pack like Kootenay (seventh in their conference) , he’s been able to contribute by putting the puck in the back of the net.

As of now Bozon comes into the AHL with the advantage of being a year older than most rookies out of the Canadian junior system. Figuring to be more of a goal scorer, we have him slated to fit nicely on that second line next to big Mike McCarron and AHL vet Sven Andrighetto. Expectations must be dialed back as he still looks to find his way, but at 6-foot-1-inch and 207 pounds he has enough size to compete, and there is potential there to follow up Daniel Carr’s campaign as the top rookie goal scorer in the AHL. Goal scoring, after all, was his specialty in junior through four years Bozon found the back 140 times in just 260 games. That is exactly what Sylvain Lefebvre is hoping to get out of the Switzerland native.


In case you missed it:

IceCaps Roster Feature – Sven Andrighetto
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mark Barberio
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mac Bennett

Categories
Player Features

IceCaps Roster Feature – Mac Bennett

by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report

Mac Bennett (Photo by  Vincent Ethier)
Mac Bennett (Photo by Vincent Ethier)

ST. JOHN’S, NL. — Mac Bennett was selected 79th overall in the 3rd round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. This was a year where the Canadiens organization selected the likes of Louis Leblanc, Alexander Avtsin and Gabriel Dumont from the podium at the Bell Centre.  Leblanc was an ownership decision and proved to be a bust. Bennett, Dumont and Joonas Nattinen, currently playing for JYP in the Finnish SM-liiga, are the only prospects left from the ’09 crop.

Bennett took the slow and steady approach, playing one year with Cedar Rapids of the USHL and proceeding to University of Michigan where he completed his degree in musicology. During his draft year NHL Central Scouting had the following report on Bennett:

“Mac is a very strong skater with good acceleration and overall speed. He has very good lateral mobility and moves his feet quickly. He can lead the rush and moves the puck quickly from his own end. He has a very strong shot from the point. He is a very good passer. He runs the power play and distributes the puck well. His defensive zone play is very good. He is quick to gain and maintain control of the puck and moves it out quickly.”

Last year as a rookie with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Bennett had a modest stat line of four goals, eight assists for 12 points over 59 games. It is worth mentioning this was the first time in three years that he had played more than 32 games, so fatigue may have very well been a factor. Bennett figures to slot on the left hand side behind Jarred Tinordi and Mark Barberio, with powerplay time because of his offensive upside.

Bennett is one of these guys that have flown under the radar for the Habs amongst names like Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn have been given a shot by the Habs. In all likelihood he will spend the entire season with the IceCaps working on rounding out his 200-foot game in a bigger, faster pro league compared to the collegiate level. Long term it is tough to say if he will ever make an impact with the Habs, but his past coaches and scouts alike seem to see the work ethic in him that typically results in success. Best case scenario he’s a 5th-6th pairing defenseman in the NHL at some point (not necessarily with the Habs or in the near future), however the IceCaps are lucky to have him anchoring down that left side for the 2015-16 campaign. I expect he will see an increase in ice-time, and combined with his experience should produce a little better this season. However, without that increased productivity, seeing as offense has always been his bread and butter, Bennett may have already found his ceiling.


In case you missed it:

IceCaps Roster Feature – Sven Andrighetto
IceCaps Roster Feature – Mark Barberio

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Player Features

IceCaps Roster Feature – Mark Barberio

by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report

Mark Barberio (Photo by Getty Images)
Mark Barberio (Photo by Getty Images)

ST. JOHN’S, NL. — This series projecting players to lace-up for the St. John’s IceCaps will overlap on many individuals who may end up playing with the Canadiens all season, and Mark Barberio is no exception to that rule. The hometown Montreal native was drafted 152nd overall in 2008 by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Barberio had a decorated junior career playing for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Moncton Wildcats. During his tenure he accumulated 168 points and a plus-53 rating over 261 games. He also was named to multiple all-star selections and played in the Canada – Russia super series.

At 6-foot-1-inch and a shade under 200 pounds, Bergevin saw an opportunity to go after a 25-year-old defender who has shown the ability in the past to play a large role for his team. In 2011-’12 Barberio was a part of one of the most dominant AHL teams in league history. That year the Norfolk Admirals, coached by Jon Cooper, set a record in professional hockey for the longest winning streak. Winning 28 games in a row, a team which consisted of Cory Conacher, Dustin Tokarski, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, Barberio made a name for himself by winning the Eddie Shore Award for the top defenseman in the league. He finished that year in the top-20 in scoring (first among defensemen) with 13 goals, 48 assists in 74 games.

Barberio figures to compete for a spot for the Canadiens this fall. He’s a left-handed shot, and therefore falls behind the likes of Nathan Beaulieu, Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov. Although Emelin likes to play a physical game, all three players fit a similar mold as Barberio, a guy who can move the puck well. For that reason, I had selected Jarred Tinordi at 6-foot-6-inch and much more of a defensive presence to slot in over Barberio on the left hand side, but would not be all surprised to see either of these two start with the Canadiens as a seventh man or injury replacement.

With Barberio signed to a one year, two-way deal, the Canadiens are giving a guy a shot to make a difference. He will need to clear waivers if sent down, so you can believe he will get every look in training camp, but with the top three left-handed shots set in stone you have to wonder which of Barberio or Tinordi will the Canadiens risk getting picked up by another team. Of course the Habs could always pull a last minute trade to shed some cap space on a guy like Emelin and keep both players with the big club. Time will tell, and it’s up to Barberio to make that a tough decision for Michel Therrien and company. If he does end up on the IceCaps this season, Sylvain Lefebvre can consider himself lucky to have a bonafide No. 1 d-man to help youngsters like Brett Lernout and Dalton Thrower learn the ropes.


In case you missed it:

IceCaps Roster Feature – Sven Andrighetto

Categories
Player Features

IceCaps Roster Feature – Sven Andrighetto

by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report

Sven Andrighetto (Photo by Hamilton Bulldogs)
Sven Andrighetto (Photo by Hamilton Bulldogs)

ST. JOHN’S, NL. — In this exclusive IceCaps Report series, we will feature 30 players which may call Mile One Centre home at some point this season leading up to puck drop in the fall. You will also be interested in our St. John’s IceCaps Projected Lineup for 2015-16.

In alphabetical order our first feature is Sven Andrighetto. The Zurich, Switzerland native is no stranger to offense. After playing competitively through the junior and pro ranks in his home country, Andrighetto moved over the North America for a chance at one day playing in the NHL. Signing with Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL.

Andrighetto had a breakout campaign in 2011-12 with 74 points (36G – 38A) in 62 games played. He followed that up with an even better sophomore year finishing sixth in scoring in the “Q” posting 98 points (31G-67A) in 53 games played. To put that in perspective his 1.85 pt/g clip was good for fourth in the league, a tick behind Jonathan Drouin (2.14), Nikita Kucherov (1.91) and a shade ahead of 2013-14 Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon (1.70).

Andrighetto knows how to light the lamp but how he projected into the pro ranks remained to be seen as at 5-foot-9 and 183 pounds, he’s not necessarily terrorizing opposing defensemen on the boards. In his rookie season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Sven posted a respectable 17 goals and 27 assists in 64 games played.

Finally in 2014-15 Andrighetto found himself at the Bell Centre splitting the season between the Canadiens and the Bulldogs. On December 6th, 2014 in Dallas, Andrighetto managed to score on his first and only shot of the game, he would go on to add a goal and an assist in the next two games, however that would be all he would manage before being sent down to the Bulldogs nine games later. He finished the season with 14 goals and 29 assists in Hamilton.

Andrighetto doesn’t figure to be a shutdown guy, or a physical third liner. His potential with the Canadiens is strictly a top-6 role, and it is entirely up to him to determine how far he goes within the organization. At this point we have him slotted to play on the IceCaps top two lines filling the RW roles with rookie Nikita Scherbak. If he goes on to play the entire season in St. John’s fans can expect him to lead the way offensively. However if the Habs run into injury problems early-on, won’t be long before the brass give him another chance to shine in La Belle Province.

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Feature

St. John’s IceCaps Projected Lineup 2015-16

by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report

Sven Andrighetto (Photo by Hamilton Bulldogs)

ST. JOHN’S, NL. — In the next couple months the All Habs team will be taking an in-depth look at the St. John’s IceCaps roster for the upcoming season 2015-16. For the lineup below the assumption is that Daniel Carr, Charles Hudon and Jarred Tinordi will start the year with the parent club, while players like Mark Barbeiro, Sven Andrighetto and Christian Thomas are listed in this lineup. It’s understood that several players could be interchanged. With that said, we will be featuring a piece on each player while forecasting if we will see them play with the big club this season.

Forwards:

Christian Thomas – Gabriel Dumont – Nikita Scherbak
Tim Bozon – Mike McCarron – Sven Andrighetto
George “Bud” Holloway – Jeremy Gregoire – Stefan Fournier
Connor Crisp – Brandon McNally – Mark MacMillan

Defense:

Mark Barbeiro – Darren Dietz
Mac Bennett – Morgan Ellis
Joel Hanley – Brett Lernout
Ryan Johnston – Dalton Thrower
Josiah Didier

Goaltenders:

Mike Condon
Eddie Pasquale
Zach Fucale

The first line begins with Gabriel Dumont, the Bulldogs captain and leading goal scorer from last season. Nikita Scherbak is a blue chip prospect so expect him to be surrounded with the right pieces to help him learn to be a pro, while getting critical minutes.

The second line, Bozon – McCarron – Andrighetto, has a youth aspect to it, but I believe the size differential between the three, their abilities to score from different parts of the ice and most of all, their work ethic will make them a successful second line.

Holloway – Gregoire – Fournier appears to be a solid third line on paper, all responsible in their own end with a scoring upside.

Finally Crisp – McNally – MacMillan which I have affectionately called “the McCrisp line.” I fully expect that Connor Crisp will quickly become a fan favourite in St. John’s.

Defence is a little tougher to project, we really don’t know what the pairings will look like, depends on their shot hand and experience. I’m sure that head coach Sylvain Lefebvre already has an idea of the pairings he’s anticipating.

Goaltending is a very straight forward category as I believe that we will see all three of these players start a game for the IceCaps this season. What is yet to be seen is how Marc Bergevin & co. would like to develop prospect Zachary Fucale. I believe that Fucale is likely to play in Brampton as the starter for the Beast (ECHL) to start the season.

With that said, I think there are questions surrounding Dustin Tokarski who is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, 2016. Tokarski’s fate will start a domino effect which could result in Mike Condon backing up Carey Price in Montreal.  Fucale could take starts in St. John’s while Eddie Pasquale (IceCaps record holder under the Jets regime) would likely sit as backup either way. It is worth noting after watching Pasquale over the last few years, I believe he is capable of overtaking Condon if given enough time this season.

~~~

With one month left until preseason action begins, I’ll be taking a look at each player in-depth, providing you an idea of what to expect in St. John’s and potentially Montreal in 2015-’16.

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Feature

Habs Prospects Ready to Make the Jump

by Nic Phelan, Lead Correspondent, IceCaps Hockey Report

(PHOTO LE JOURNAL DE MONTRÉAL, PIERRE-PAUL POULIN)
(PHOTO LE JOURNAL DE MONTRÉAL, PIERRE-PAUL POULIN)

ST. JOHN’S, NL. — The Montreal Canadiens were the healthiest team in the NHL in 2014-15 with the fewest Man Games Lost at 88 (team reported.) By contrast, the Columbus Blue Jackets topped the list with a whopping 508 Man Games Lost. Given the low number of injuries we saw typical Hamilton callups like Christian Thomas, Sven Andrighetto, Jarred Tinordi and Greg  Pateryn. It was good to see Pateryn, Nathan Beaulieu and Jacob De La Rose earning their keep playing big minutes in the Habs playoff run.

We can only hope for similar luck in 2015-16, but in case it doesn’t happen Bergevin definitely feels comfortable with the pieces in the system. This year the organization has an exciting crop of young guys waiting for their chance to make a jump, whether that be from junior to the pros, or the AHL to the NHL.

Michael McCarron

McCarron was drafted 25th overall by the Habs in 2013. Bergevin had visions of the 6-foot-6-inch, 230 pound ‘man-child’ meeting Milan Lucic at centre ice while making the Habs a much tougher team to play against. Times change, the NHL continues to get faster, and the Bruins have lost some of their edge with Dougie Hamilton and Lucic heading west in separate draft day deals.

McCarron still remains an interesting prospect because of his development. This time last year Habs fans heard whispers of “bust,” a word rarely used before a player even leaves junior. In his first year with the London Knights, McCarron struggled to find the back of the net. This year he found his touch playing with speedy playmakers like Max Domi and Mitch Marner. Unfortunately, due to politics by USA Hockey (they aren’t fond of American players who choose the CHL as a development path), for the second straight year McCarron was snubbed from the US Junior Camp.

Meanwhile a trade was in the works to move McCarron to the Oshawa Generals. McCarron didn’t see the same production in Oshawa, but remained close to a point per game player. More impressively, McCarron was counted on to play major minutes at the center position for the eventual Memorial Cup winners while impressing scouts with his ability to shut down top guys on opposing teams on a big stage. Once again Bergevin drools over the prospect of having a big body up the middle, something we’ve lacked in Hab land since, well, since McCarron was born.

Ceiling – Two-way center, potential 20-goal scorer. Think Brian Boyle 2.0
Floor – John Scott, look out Phil Kessel.

Nikita Scherbak

Without a doubt the flashiest player on this list with the apparent highest ceiling, Nikita Scherbak was drafted 26th overall by the Canadiens in 2014. After coming into the Canadiens camp at 6-foot-1-inch, 175 pounds last fall, Scherbak made noise this year growing an inch and adding another 25 pounds to his now 6-foot-2-inch frame. His wide skating stance and creativity with the puck had comparisons to another young Hab of Russian descent, No. 27.

In junior, Scherbak came to Canada to prove his commitment to playing in the NHL, as a part of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades in 2013-14; he led all rookies in scoring with 78 points in 65 games, and followed it up with a modest 82 points in 65 games with Everett this past season. Nikita figures to compete in camp for a top-6 role on the big club, with potential to show his worth following news of Max Pacioretty missing most of the preseason (knee injury). With that said, following the recent Alexander Semin signing it is more likely he will spend some time with the St. John’s IceCaps this upcoming fall and before cracking the Habs lineup sometime in 2015-16.

Ceiling – Perennial 60+ point scoring winger.
Floor – Somewhere in Russia.

Charles Hudon

Drafted by the Canadiens 122nd overall in 2012, Hudon has spent his hockey career under the radar. In junior, he made Team Canada in 2012, just to suffer a back injury in the pre-tournament games and missed the tournament. The following year he was selected to play for Canada again, registering a couple points, but never really standing out. His junior career was highlighted scoring 273 points in 235 games, but his 5-foot-10-inch, 180 pound frame never considered to carry over to the NHL.

Last year with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Hudon was off to an incredible pace, leading the AHL in scoring with 27 points through 25 games as a 20-year old. However everything slowed down with just 30 points in his final 50 games. It is important to note that Hudon was a winger throughout junior, and was asked to play center position by the Hamilton coaching staff. It is yet to be seen if Hudon will ever become a bonafide NHL’er, but it appears that he will at least be given a chance, and is a current favourite to take over the vacant top-6 spot for the Habs; that is so long as the next prospect doesn’t have anything to say about it.

Ceiling – 40-50 point guy, 2nd-3rd line. Derek Roy.
Floor – Gabriel Dumont, career AHLer.

Daniel Carr

An unlikely hero in last year’s regular season, he was a bright spot on an inconsistent Hamilton Bulldogs team. Carr led all AHL rookies in scoring with 24 goals, and found chemistry with  Hudon. He spent four years at Union College, New York in NCAA Divison I. Scoring 78 goals in 160 college games, he helped bring Union College its first National Championship in school history.

Carr is a bit of a wildcard for the Habs, however they lost nothing by signing him as an undrafted free agent, and have been pleased by his development under Sylvain Lefebvre. Much like his line-mate from last season, he will by vying for that top-6 position in camp this September. The Habs’ brass hopes he proves to be a diamond in the rough for a team who may be depending on Alex Semin to address the lack of scoring. Bergevin and company have been adamant about the potential of a young player rising to the occasion and Carr figures to be just the type of guy they are looking for.

Ceiling – Brad Boyes, 30 goal threat.
Floor – Jason Jaffray, career AHL’er.

Zachary Fucale

The only thing more jammed up than Carey’s starter role is his trophy case back in Kelowna, BC. Because of this, Fucale is likely the furthest away from a Habs debut on this list, barring an injury to Mr. Price (let’s not go there.) Fucale will be fighting for a roster spot on the IceCaps with fan favourite Eddie Pasquale, who led the IceCaps (as part of the Jets organization) to a conference final and Calder Cup Final in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Along with the return of incumbent starter Mike Condon, Fucale now finds himself in a predicament. After shattering records for goaltending in the QMJHL, Fucale will get his first taste of the Pro’s this fall.

Fucale was the beneficiary of playing behind one of the greatest junior lineups in the last decade with players such as Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Martin Frk, and more recently Nikolaj Ehlers and Timo Meier. He found himself traded to the 2015 Memorial Cup Host Quebec Remparts following his Gold for team Canada in Toronto this past January (his second kick at the cat as starter for Team Canada). The QMJHL has always given goalies the benefit of the doubt as a high scoring league with no defence, so Fucale’s stats were never considered to be an issue. His calm and sometimes cocky demeanor had scouts comparing him to No. 31 for Le Bleu Blanc et Rouge. The pedigree is there for Fucale, but it’s yet to be seen if he can follow through with the IceCaps this year or perhaps the organization deems it more valuable for him to gather more starting minutes with the Brampton Beast of the ECHL. Best case scenario for the Habs is he becomes the Schneider to Carey’s Luongo in 4-5 years.

Ceiling – Franchise No. 1 Starter, Potential trade bait or successor.
Floor – Justin Pogge anyone?


Ice Caps Hockey Report is a sister site to All Habs Hockey Magazine
Published by Rocket Sports Media, Inc.

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Farm Report: Bulldogs Struggle in Weekend Set with Flames

(Brandon Taylor / Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey Club)
(Brandon Taylor / Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey Club)

 

By Dale Lamontagne, Hamilton Bulldogs Correspondent, Bulldogs Hockey Report
Twitter: @Dale_Bulldogs | @BulldogsReport

HAMILTON, ONT — The Hamilton Bulldogs started the week off at home on a good note with a huge win over the Rochester Americans at FirstOntario Centre during the annual school day game in front of 13,000 loud school kids, defeating the sluggish Amerks 6-1. The Bulldogs then hosted the Adirondack  Flames for a two game set on Friday and Saturday, but the outcome would not be in favour of the struggling Bulldogs’ team.

THE WEEKEND 

Despite back-to-back losses, the Bulldogs played well at times, especially in the second period during Saturday’s game when Sven Andrighetto scored on the power-play, (yes, the power-play) to give the ‘Dogs a 2-1 lead. But then the Bulldogs would show similar signs of last season with mid-late period blowouts.

Both losses on Friday and Saturday resulted in third period blowouts. The Flames would score a total of six goals in two periods this weekend to rob the ‘Dogs from what looked like a victory.

“Tonight [Saturday] was just three shifts. We were soft in front of the net and we didn’t get those rebounds.” said Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebvre post-game on Saturday. “Our second period tonight was probably the best all season offensively. In the third period, I don’t know what happened. It’s sad to see, but at least the guys battled to the end.” said Lefebvre.

Last season in Hamilton, the Bulldogs would play a really good first period where they would typically score a goal, but then they would let the game get out of control and the opponent would score multiple goals in both the second and third periods leading them to a victory. But a big issue with the 2013-14 roster was that they were not an offensive power-house team and that would be their issue all season. They just could not score.

But that is not the case with the 2014-15 Bulldogs squad.

This season, the Bulldogs are scoring multiple goals a game – and so they should with the current roster that has been iced.  On paper, the Bulldogs should be a playoff contender. But unfortunately, we continue to see similar period blowouts; this time in the third period, like last year.

The Bulldogs need the defence to setup and stop trying to rely on the goaltending, something that was well used last season. And the forwards need to stay consistent and continue to score. At least we know the Bulldogs can now score, but they need to tighten up defensively and let the goaltenders breath a little, and of course, play a full 60-minute game.

”You can’t take one shift off, you can’t take five minutes off and then leave. But we took three minutes off and they scored three goals.” said Bulldogs captain Gabriel Dumont post-game on Saturday. “I think we’re feeling a little too comfy when we come back from the second going into the third period. Just need to stay focused.” said a frustrated  Dumont.

Now that the ‘Dogs are aware of  this issue, they may be able to turn things around this week in St. John’s?

THIS WEEK 

The Bulldogs will travel to St. John’s, Newfoundland for a back-to-back series against the IceCaps on Thursday and Friday, and then back home in Hamilton for a game against the Rochester Americans at FirstOntario Centre.

The IceCaps have played 15 games (as of Sunday) and are currently 15th in the Eastern Conference and hold a 3-8-4 record. If the Bulldogs can take advantage of the struggling IceCaps team and come home with at least a win, or two, and get back above the .500 mark, then that should set them up nicely for their game against the 7th place Americans in the Western Conference.

If the Bulldogs can leave the upcoming week with a 2-1-0 record, then that would be good because they will be above .500 and their upsetting week which saw two back-to-back losses to the Flames will be behind them. A 3-0-0 record would be even better, but lets be reasonable here.

BY THE NUMBERS 

The power-play sits at 29th overall (7.7%)
Home: Hamilton has had 30 power-play opportunities at home this season, scoring only 3 goals for a PP% of 10.0.
Road: The Bulldogs have had 22 power-play opportunities on the road this season, scoring only 1 goal for a PP% of 4.5. Sit 30th overall

The penalty-killing is tied for third overall in the AHL with a PK% of 90.0.

The PK on Saturday night was good, minus the Flames first goal. But the ‘Dogs had a  few  quality chances to score and Maxime Macenauer  was able to shoot a puck off the post after a solid rush up the wing to the Flames’ net.

“I think we have a pretty good PK right now.” said Dumont. ”If we can put a little bit of pressure on the entries and turnovers we’ll be good.”

 

INJURY UPDATE

Coach Lefebvre told me on Saturday that they hope to see Eric Tangradi, who’s been out with a lower-body injury, rejoin the team on the trip down east. He is considered day-to-day.