With September’s arrival, NHL training camps are right around the corner. For hockey fans, the long off-season is finally coming to an end. NHL rookie camps open September 6th. Fans and media can now get a look at some of the new faces and some old ones, that hope to make an impact with their teams. Right now or in the future.
For the Montreal Canadiens, a team seemingly in for a long and difficult year, it will be good for fans to see a glimpse into the future. The rookie camp is the first chance these players have at impressing the Canadiens organization and fans. A strong rookie camp can lead to an invite to the main training camp. The question is always: who will impress? While there are no certainties, here are some names to keep an eye on at Montreal Canadiens rookie camp.
Montreal Canadiens Rookie Camp Preview
The Montreal Canadiens rookie camp will consist of 30 players. 18 forwards, nine defenceman and three goalies. The roster is made up of 14 drafted players, 10 free agents and six invited players.
The camp is from September 6th to the 12th. They will also participate in the rookie showdown that takes place between September 7th to 9th. The camp and the rookie showdown will be coached by Laval Rocket coach Joel Bouchard and his staff.
For a complete schedule of events and roster list, click here.
The third overall pick in the 2018 draft will have a ton of attention on him. Kotkaniemi is expected to be the Habs centre of the near future. Fans and media will be keeping a close eye on him to see how much seasoning he will need before making the leap to Montreal.
There is a lot of hype surrounding the Finish forward and he will need to perform well to satisfy fickle media and fanbase. It’s unlikely that Kotkaniemi will make the Habs roster as an 18-year-old but a strong camp will give the fans some excitement for the future.
Jeremiah Addison came into the 2017 Montreal Canadiens rookie camp with a lot of expectations. He captained the Windsor Spitfires to their third Memorial Cup in 2017 and scored five goals and six points along the way.
Addison had a very strong rookie camp. So strong that he was invited to the Habs training camp. The seventh-round pick was looking like a diamond in the rough. Unfortunately for Addison, a shoulder injury sustained before training camp kept him off the ice until March. When healthy, Addison joined the Laval Rocket for six games.
This year, Addison will hope to have another strong rookie camp. Addison seems to have a knack for putting the puck in the net, something the Habs lack. Again, there are no guarantees Addison will crack the Habs roster, but a strong rookie camp and a potential invite to the main training camp will help Habs fans remember.
Alexandre Alain was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Canadiens. Last year, with Blainville-Boisbriand in the QMJHL, he scored 44 goals and 87 points in 65 games. He followed that up with a strong playoff, registering 16 goals and 30 points. Alain led the Armada to a 50 win season and crowned regular season champion.
For the Canadiens, Alain checks several boxes. First, he is a scoring centre. Second, he is a Quebec native. The Habs have caught some flack from the French media for not giving enough of an opportunity to local players. Alain has a chance to impress to fill a need the team has down the middle. Helping Alain is his former coach in Blainville-Boisbriand, Joel Bouchard, is running the camp. Alain is likely headed to Laval this season, but with a solid season, he might get a chance to show what he can do in Montreal.
Cale Fleury has developed into a true two-way defenceman this past season in the WHL. While he has excelled at the offensive side of the game, he really solidified his defensive ability in Regina this year. The emphasis on defence didn’t slow his production, he netted 12 goals and 50 points in 68 games.
Fleury’s adventurous nature makes him exciting to watch. He can bring fans out of their seats. That style will make him stand out for sure. Fleury just wants to be noticed in the right way. Fleury is a bit in between right now. He could be sent back to the WHL to play as an overage player or make his pro debut with Laval. A strong camp might see Fleury make his pro debut. There is an outside chance he could impress in the same way Victor Mete impressed last year. While it’s unlikely, Cale Fleury is probably the only one at the camp that would make that jump.
Michal Moravcik/David Sklenicka
Michal Moravchik and David Sklenicka are a bit of an unknown. Both were signed by Marc Bergevin from HC Škoda Plzeň in the Czech Republic in May. Because the singing sort of came out of nowhere, there should be more eyes on the Czech pair.
Moravcik is a hulking defender. Standing 6’4″ and 212 pounds, Moravcik is the bigger of the two. Don’t let his size fool you, he is a great playmaker as well. He quarterbacked the powerplay in Plzen. He can play a robust game, but he also has a good hockey IQ and can put up some points.
Sklenicka is the smaller of the two, standing 5’11”. He is also the younger of the two players. Sklenicka is not as polished as Moravcik, but his age gives the Habs time to work on areas of improvement. Still, Sklenicka has more upside. His speed and agility give him a bit of a leg up because of how the modern NHL is going.
Both will likely play in the AHL this year. Moravcik will likely get a call-up to the NHL first because he is further in his development. Still, both were low-risk high reward signings. It will be interesting to see how they adapt to the North American ice and style.
Keep Your Eyes Open
With 30 players, there will be no shortage of players to keep an eye on. The rookie camp is the first chance for these players to make an impression on the Canadiens organization. A great camp can lead to great things, like Victor Mete last year. Fail to impress and it can set you down the depth chart.
With the Habs expected to struggle this season, the rookie camp can give fans something to get excited about. If Jesperi Kotkaniemi comes as advertised or better, the excitement around him will grow. If a lesser known player jumps off the ice, that’s another reason to get excited. With so much emphasis being placed on the future, the rookie camp will give everyone a glimpse into that future.