The 2nd Pick is in and man it was a battle! At one point during the voting process, 4 of the 5 options each had the lead. And the final tally (at least when I called it) was single digit percentage points among the top 4. But Canes Country has spoken and the majority of you have selected Filip Forsberg for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Forsberg is an extremely talented player that is extremely versatile. He seems to be a perfect type of player to build your team around and with Rick Nash likely on his way out, Columbus needs a new face of the franchise. Forsberg is probably not going to be playing in the NHL next season, but the Jackets won't have to wait very long to see what they've got. The bigger question for the Jackets though is what they are going to do about the rest of their roster. So, 2 wingers (Nail Yakupov & Filip Forsberg) are off the board, will #3 be a centerman or defenseman?
Up next are the Montreal Canadiens with the #3 Pick, so Montreal is now on the clock!
The Habs don't find themselves in this position very often. Only one other time in the past 20 drafts have the Habs selected in the top 5, so they better make sure they find a good one with this high pick. Montreal had a very tumultuous year in 2011/2012. They finished last in the Eastern Conference, fired their coach, fired their general manager, trading away one of their top point producers, and traded for Carolina's "trash". But if you sit down and look at their roster, they appear to have a pretty solid group. They have a very good goaltender, a decent top line, and a nice mix of some young players and skilled veterans. But they also have some holes and none bigger than a big, skilled, top line center. 3 of their top 4 centers are under 6 feet tall and weigh less than 200 pounds. This is probably Montreal's biggest need, but it isn't their only one. They could also use a solid 2nd line winger to play with Tomas Plekanec and a big, physical defenseman to add to their blueline. They could definitely address one of these issues with the 3rd Pick, as there are a couple of big centers available and there are a lot of defensemen to choose from. Honestly, I believe the Habs could return to Playoff form next season if everybody stays healthy and plays up to their abilities, but adding one of these prospects is gravy for this franchise. So you're Montreal's "new" GM, what do you do with the #3 Pick?
Alex Galchenyuk - C
I'll repeat what I said in the previous article, some scouts believe that Galchenyuk has the biggest upside in this draft. He is an unbelievable talent that also has a great work ethic. He can score, distribute, and is responsible defensively. Galchenyuk isn't quite as physically imposing as Grigorenko is, but he still has pretty good size and will likely get a little bigger as he gets older. He's pretty much everything you can ask for in a 1st line center, you just have to wonder about his knee. But imagine a future 1st line of American's Galchenyuk & Max Pacioretty for the Canadiens, it could be potentially lethal for the rest of the league.
Mikhail Grigorenko - C
Grigorenko's stock seems to be falling a bit, but there is not much denying the guy's talent. He's a big center that can skate, protect the puck, and produce points. He's definitely more of an offensive player than an all-around player, but he could develop that side of his game as he gets older. Another thing is that Grigorenko could play right wing instead of center, so he might be able to jump into the Habs top 6 right away and play with Plekanec's on the 2nd line. Grigorenko is still suffering from mono and not being able to work out for teams is hurting his draft placement, but I still believe he is one of the top players in this draft and will prove that once he gets his energy back. I think Montreal will probably pass on him at #3, but he is a super skilled prospect.
Ryan Murray - D
If I had to describe Murray in one word, it would be steady. He's not the flashiest player or even defenseman in this draft, far from it, but he makes everything look almost effortless. He might also be the only defenseman that can immediately step into the NHL. He's not the biggest guy, but he has decent size. He's not the most physical guy, but he's very reliable in his own end. He doesn't have the hardest shot, but he can contribute some offensively. Murray is an all-around defenseman that doesn't really excel at any one thing, but is good in all of them. He even made Canada's World Championship team and was respectable playing against players much more experienced than him. Murray is a great character guy and the type of defenseman that you could build a defense around. For a team that suffered the turmoil that Montreal did last season, having a steadying force like Murray might be a blessing.
Mathew Dumba - D
If the Habs are looking for a physical defenseman, they don't need to look any further than Dumba. While he is not the biggest guy, he plays with a heart twice the size of most men. He'll "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee". Really though, the guy can skate like the wind, hits like a train, is willing to drop the gloves, and plays with so much passion. He's the guy that will immediately become a fan favorite. Where he lacks is his size and his decision-making. He should obviously fill out over time, but going up against much bigger NHL players could pose a problem. He will also have to work on making the right reads and his positioning. Dumba will probably need a little more seasoning before being NHL ready, but if he grows a little in that time, watch out for this kid! I'm not sure Montreal would take him this high, but I'm sure he won't be lasting too much longer.
Jacob Trouba - D
Trouba is the top American defender in the draft. He is a defensive defenseman that has some all-around abilities in his game. He has generally played more of a defensive role with his teams and some scouts believe his offensive side is limited, but the Habs do have quite a few offensive-first defensemen already. Trouba has good size and as he fills out, he will get even stronger. He plays a physical game and is actually a good, agile skater for his size. Some consider him the 2nd best defenseman in the draft, but like Murray, he doesn't really have any flash. He is probably a couple of years away from being NHL ready and would probably be considered one of the safer picks. But like I said earlier, the Habs don't draft this high very often and a "safe" pick is not the way I see them going.
Griffin Reinhart - D
If the Canadiens are looking for a defenseman with some size, Reinhart could be the man. It is said that Reinhart is a good balanced defender that skates well, makes a good first pass, and is positionally sound. While he is 6'4" and over 200 lbs, he doesn't deliver the types of hit the smaller Dumba does. He also probably needs to refine his game a little more before making the jump to the NHL. I have heard comparisons everywhere from Shea Weber to Chris Pronger to Dustin Byfuglien. I think its fair to say that we will have to wait a little longer to see what type of player this kid develops in to. But if he can develop into a Shea Weber style of player, it would be extremely hard for the Habs to pass on this young man. Reinhart really has a lot of things going for him and his hockey lineage only adds to that. It might be a little early taking him at #3, but the risk could definitely turn into reward if he continues to develop as expected.