Wednesday, 9 September 2015

"From darkness to spiritual enlightenment"

On occasion I am asked by people, "Why don't you write anymore"? Sometimes it's a critical comment, "You should write about the Habs again". I am humbled an appreciative that people not only took the time to read my posts, that one year after my last post there are some people that still remember my existence in the Hab-o-sphere. One of the things I tried to present with "The Breakdown" and specifically with the "HABS-TOWN" feature was that anyone can have an intelligent opinion on the Habs. You do not need to be a seasoned Journalist, you do not need to work in sports. Each and every one of us is entitled to and has an opinion. I am humbled that any of you took the time to read my opinions and encourage you to seek your own forums and share yours.

Almost nineteen months ago I became a father. In hockey terms it was on the very day that the Candian women were doing our nation proud and capturing gold at the Socchi Olympics. I never saw one minute of that game for the best possible reason. The next few months were a very trying time for my family. The first few months are very difficult for any new parents. There are many adjustments, a total lack of sleep, and an endless mountain of laundry. As prepared as we thought we were, we weren't - especially not for what was coming. It took some time to realize that things were just not quite right.

My amazing wife, who has gone through a tremendous amount - particularly over the last nineteen months - has written a piece talking about the emotional roller coaster she has been on, and while this is not even slightly Hab-related, I am sharing it here. (Below the picture of in-arguably the cutest kid to sport a Habs jersey)

From darkness to spiritual enlightenment

 by Shiri Hermelin

“It’s just a phase”. 

“The real fun begins soon”. 

“Be strong”. “Be patient”. “Hang in there”.

“This too shall pass”.

 All words that are meant to encourage, yet hearing them still gives me a hint of anxiety.

Just 18 months ago, I gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby boy. He was perfect - ten fingers, ten toes, I was ecstatic to hold him. My pregnancy was not easy, and was quite painful towards the end, yet I waited with great excitement to meet my baby boy. The delivery was a planned C-section, yet I didn’t plan nor anticipate all the hardships that I was going to face in the months following the birth of Aiden.

Although I was so happy when I met my baby boy for the first time, this excitement was quickly tempered and shattered. Hospital staff continually ignored my physical pain and instead, I was constantly pressured to feed, feed and feed my baby who was not latching properly.  Aiden became dehydrated and my husband had to buy infant formula at a pharmacy because the hospital staff would not provide it.  The nurses stuck to their famous rehearsed script, ensuring me were that I was producing colostrum and doing very well. The truth is I was not doing well at all, and I soon discovered that things were unfortunately going to get more difficult.

 It took eight weeks of breastfeeding, pumping, and syringe feeding until I realized that it was simply NOT WORTH IT. My bond with Aiden was non-existent. I did not enjoy holding him. He was colicky, had intense reflux and was not sleeping for more than ninety-minutes at a time. I was crying all the time and feeling resentment towards the baby that I was holding in my arms-as he was not the baby that I dreamed of. Family and friends tried to tell me that I was doing great and even my family doctor told me that sleep deprivation could really impact my mood, patience, and capacity to bond with my son. The words of encouragement did nothing to quell the dangerous storm brewing inside my body.

Quickly, words that were offered as encouragement, like “Be strong” & “Be Patient” translated into synonyms for “failure” and “despair” to my ears. I was feeling like a failure as a mother who simply was not “strong enough” to hear her baby’s crying. I was feeling like a failure since I wasn’t the mother that I knew my son deserved and needed so desperately.  I was feeling like a failure because I simply DIDN’T ENJOY MOTHERHOOD.

By the time Aiden was four months old, I realized that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I could no longer get out of bed. I couldn’t take care of either Aiden or myself. I couldn’t talk on the phone with friends, I couldn’t eat and sleeping was out of the question since Aiden was just not sleeping. The depression clouds that had been quietly growing had reached their maximum capacity of silence. I was lying down in my very comfortable bed, wrapped up in my horrible feelings of anxiety, depression and emotional pain worse than anyone can imagine. This was a very dark period in my life and I wouldn’t wish this level of sadness on my worst enemy.

Thankfully, throughout this time my amazing husband and my mother were taking care of Aiden. They both put their lives on hold so I could regain some semblance of strength and seek medical attention. The storm had hit it’s most virulent point, and this was a dark chapter in my journey of motherhood, yet, I was profoundly impacted by the storm in positive ways.

Bit by bit, I was getting better. I never imagined that getting the RIGHT kind of help would be so difficult. In different ways, both my mom and husband needed to advocate for me immensely and the right combination of medications and therapy “worked their magic”. I say this with exactly the right amount of facetiousness, because the truth is there simply was “no magic pill”. I was motivated. I was scared. I met the battle head on.

After months of individual therapy, group therapy and even family therapy, I started feeling a little happier. Storm clouds were lifting, things were looking brighter and Aiden and I were slowly, yet surely, developing a special bond.

My Therapist taught me the magic of living in the moment, moments when things seemed the most “impossible”, moments when the pain was “unbearable”.  By living in these moments, she helped me overcome my fears and see the beauty of life’s challenges. Just as Aiden was growing and developing- so was I. I opened my heart to people, to friends, to other mothers and began living my life with gratitude.

A beautiful  friend bought me a very meaningful gift that changed my life-a journal called “The Secret gratitude book” by Rhonda Byrne. The book has space for me to chronicle my gratitude and intentions. Through my writing I’ve achieved a healthy outlook on life, I’ve learned about the powerful effects of gratitude and positivism and I’ve begun to envision a different life by believing that I will continue strengthening my bond with Aiden.

I began engaging in various readings, soul searching, attending parenting lectures, and even sought a professional purpose related to my journey of postpartum depression.  My professional and personal life became a lot more profound and defined. I realized that motherhood was not what I expected it to be it all - It was much greater and more fulfilling than I could have ever envisioned. Motherhood made me grow quickly and mature in very important ways. Aiden Meir fulfilled and continues to fulfill his purpose in life.

Like the meaning of his name: Aiden (fiery one), Meir (he who lights), Aiden brings clarity and light to my world. He is my emotional compass, he teaches me to persevere and be calm when I’m feeling anxious (as this is what children needs). He is my reminder of what is truly important in life.

Aiden has led me, along with my best friend to work on creating our own pre-natal. “BabyTalk” will be a complement to, and unlike any other pre-natal class currently being offered. Pre-natal classes often talk about labour, delivery and child care, but they often don’t cover REAL EMOTIONAL issues that arise after child birth. We need to bring awareness and information on these issues to the forefront. Topics such as; postpartum depression, child developmental delays, colic, and reflux from mothers that have experienced these issues and others themselves. As social workers, and young mothers my best friend and I have first-hand experience with these and other issues.

There’s an old cliché that tells; “It Takes a village to raise a child”. Based on my experience, there’s no shame in the fact that is a well worn cliché with good reason. Please, never suffer alone. Reach out to your village. It is not always “Just a phase” and it may not “Just pass”.

Shiri can be reached at


Monday, 25 August 2014

HABS-TOWN: "What a roller coaster ride!!"

Whether she's appearing on CJAD's "The Exchange" to talk about Social media privacy rights, working for your family in her capacity as a family attourney, or waving her bleu-blanc-rouge colours around town, today's guest on HABS-TOWN isn't shy to share her opinions.

Izabel Czuzoj-Shulman is a passionate Habs-fan. She brought her fandom to our nation's capital and back. With ninja-like precision she navigated a houseful of three hockey playing boys to possibly become the most opinionated of the bunch. Today she shares some of those opinions with us in HABS-TOWN.

What got you into hockey, more specifically the Habs?
My dad and brothers were always Habs fans and they're the ones who got me into hockey and specifically the Habs. I still remember watching the '93 playoff run with my dad. I became a bigger fan after the lockout in 2004 (I must have missed it) and have been getting increasingly hardcore every year since.  

What happened between the run in 1993 and 2004? Why'd you lapse and what brought you back? 
Well, I think from '93 to the late 90's I was too young to really know what it was all about but I can't say for sure. I have limited memories of being Ten.

In high school I spent most of my time working on fashion shows and debating (odd combination, I know) so I don't think it was until I branched out a bit more on my own in CEGEP that I truly began appreciating hockey and the Habs specifically. I also never played hockey so that might have led to me having less of an interest in it.

What got me back into it, interestingly enough was dating. I started hanging out with guys who were hockey fans and starting watching it again. It reminded me how much I had enjoyed watching as a little kid and the Habs - monster in me was reborn. Poor guys (laughs) they had no idea I'd be more into the game than them.

Do you remember your first Habs Game?
I don't remember my first Habs game but I'm pretty sure it was after they moved into the Bell Center (or at that time, the Molson Center).

Do you have a favorite Habs player ever? if so, whom, and why?
I don't have a favourite Hab ever, but my favourite all time player is Stevie Y.

I love him because he's not only an all around amazing player but he's also tremendously respected and admired by players, coaches and management throughout the league. I also had the privilege of meeting him last summer at a wedding and he was so gracious. People were literally lined up - at a wedding!! -  to get his autograph and he signed every last one, took pictures and spoke to everyone. 

A red wing as a favorite player. How does that happen?
I got into Stevie Y and the Wings because of someone I dated briefly. He was a Wings fan so we'd end up watching games together. 

My first impression of them was that they were the only Western Conference team that I'd watched that were talented and gracious. So many of those teams were just big burly guys who wanted to fight. Then there were the 2000 era wings with Yzerman, Shanahan, Chelios, Draper and the list goes on. Skilled, classy guys who wanted to play the game right. And I believe a lot of that came from Yzerman being their captain. They would never steal me away from my Habs but man were they fun to watch. Today, my mind is blown by Datsyuk's stick handling every time and the winter classic was awesome. Just good, ol time hockey.

Where do you like to watch games?
My favourite place to watch a game is the Bell Center. There is no other arena with the ambiance of the Bell Center. I literally get goosebumps during the opening of the games every single time. I also love seeing the Habs play in other arenas. I lived in Ottawa for six years and went to watch the Habs play the Sens whenever I could. It was really fun because a ton of people in Ottawa are Habs fans and it almost felt like being at home.

I also like to see the Habs when I travel, if I can, so I've been able to see them in LA, Florida, Anaheim and Boston. If I cant get to an arena to see the game I prefer to watch at home with my dog, Zoey, who is also a Habs fan.

Do you find living away from Montreal changed how you view the team at all?
I definitely think living in Ottawa made me an even bigger Habs fan. It's fun to be a fan of a "foreign" team. It made me want to be more vocal about it, that's for sure. And that stayed with me when I moved back home.

I also paid $15 more per month to get RDS in Ottawa so I could watch my Habs in French and on a network that respects them the way that they should be respected. So yeah, I love my Habs. 

Do you prefer to watch with guys? with girls? why?
I prefer to watch the game with someone who understands or at least cares to understand the sport. Male or female is irrelevant to me. But they have to be into the game! I also find it really interesting to watch with people who play hockey themselves because they offer really interesting insights into the game. My dad, for example, plays and refs so he's a ton of fun to watch with! And one of my brothers is a goalie so his perspective is always fascinating to me.

Do Goalie -  bro and Ref - Dad argue alot? Or are they always on the same page? Who do you find yourself agreeing with more?
For sure they argue. I see it less now since goalie brother and I don't live with ref father anymore but they still get into it whenever we're together. And I love to just sit back and listen when they do because they both know the sport so well. It's so much fun to learn from them. 

I also get into quite a few arguments with each of them given how opinionated I can be and I rarely side with one more often than the other. I just think it's so cool that you can look at the game from so many different perspectives. I consider myself a diehard fan but also kind of a new fan so I realize I still have a ton to learn and I'm lucky to be surrounded by people who know so much and want to share (and or tolerate my rants). 

Do you have any pre-game rituals or in game superstitions?
I have a ton of rituals and superstitions. On every game day, whether regular season or playoffs and whether or not I will be watching I MUST wear at least one item of red clothing. Typically it's a Habs shirt. When we win, I insist on wearing whatever item I was wearing for that game until it stops being lucky. And playoff time is always a Habs shirt or jersey. My dog wears hers too. I park my car in my garage in the exact same way during the playoffs and do my nails with Habs colours and symbols. I'm entirely convinced that these things make a difference.

What's the best game you ever went to? what do you remember about it?
Best game I've been too was this past April 5th. Given the (Conference) restructuring, the Habs were finally playing Detroit and I was ecstatic. Even more so when we went up 3-0. 

When the Habs are winning the Bell Center is the best place in the universe to be. But then the dreaded 3 goal lead habits set in and the Wings tied it up. It's funny because I had wanted to wear a Detroit hat along with my Habs jersey and scarf but was told it was too confusing,(laughs) so I didn't. 

Let me tell you, as much as I love Detroit, when they tied it up my heart sank. I always believe our boys will persevere though and Gionta proved my point about how important Captains can be when he scored that 4th goal. From that point on, the energy was restored at the Bell Center. 

What a roller coaster ride!!

Do you have any funny or interesting stories that are somehow related to the Habs?
Just this past June on the afternoon of game 7 against Boston, I was standing outside of my office and I saw a camera crew walking in to my building. So I approached the guys and asked if they were there to interview me for being such a huge Habs fan. They looked confused so I showed them my nails which were all painted red, except for one finger that was blue with the white habs symbol. After seeing that they agreed to interview me so I brought them out to see my car which I covered in Habs stickers and other paraphernalia. When they saw that I had a Youppi toque, they insisted that I wear it for the interview. So, I appeared on Global news that night at six wearing a Habs tuque (while otherwise dressed as a lawyer) talking about my love for the Habs.

What are your expectations for the 2014-2015 edition of the Montreal Canadiens?
I think this is going to be an incredible season for us. Given how far we got last year, there is no reason to assume we can't do as well if not better. I think we've picked up some interesting guys and (remember you heard it here first) I believe we have the power to bring the cup back home in 2015.

So you don't feel that the Habs may suffer from a leadership void this year? They've gotten younger in the off season after jettisoning much of their veteran talent - including their captain. 
You know, I don't feel that there's a bit of a leadership void this year because I find we have so many guys who fill in different aspects of what makes a captain great. I think being a captain takes more than having a strong presence with the team as well as skills on the ice. I think it takes experience, poise and ability to keep the team and the fans motivated when things look good as well as stepping back and letting everyone enjoy the victories. 

I liked Gionta, LOVED Koivu and would love to see someone on our team step up and do the job right. But I also think that no matter who our captain is, we have a great team. Guys that motivate and encourage, guys that play the game the way it should be played and set a great example even though they're not as vocal. It all comes together to make for an awesome team.

I will say, one of the things I enjoy most about the Habs at the moment is the dynamic between Budaj and Price. I love that Budaj is constantly giving Price little tips, commenting on things that he sees and helping Price become better and better with every game. Those are the kinds of things you want to see from your teammates and why I think that no matter who the captain is, everyone has an important leadership-type role to play.  

You're a big Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles fan, which Habs do you feel best represent the personalities of each turtle, and why?

Based on the pranks he pulls and his general goofy attitude Galchenyuk is Michaelangelo. I'd say Price is Donatello. He's not the most talkative turtle but he's both a great leader and a brain. Leonardo would have been Gionta but I'll give it to Markov now. A great leader, skilled player and well respected in the locker room. I'd say P.K. is Raphael not so much because he has a bad attitude but he can certainly have an attitude one when he wants to although he is still an essential part of the team. 

I think I may have had the cerebral Markov as Donatello,  prankster P.K as Michaelangelo,  "cool but crude" Brandon Prust as Raphael,  and to me calm, cool, stoic Price is Leonardo. 
Can I like your turtle choices but prefer mine?

You can, but I think I get the last word here.
(Laughs) Fair. 

For more from Izabel Czuzoj-Shulman, follow her on Twitter @LadyLawyerMtl

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Puck Daddy

While I have not left you, I have written a piece for Puck Daddy as part of their "Summer of disappointment series" I do hope you'll head over there and read it, and am thankful for the love shown to me by Greg Wyshynski and the Puck daddy staff.

"There’s entirely too much sunshine in the summer. So your friends at Puck Daddy are offering a month of thrown shade and perpetual gloom. Behold, our Summer of Disappointment series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to recall the biggest bummer moments, teams and players in franchise history! Please wade into their misery like a freezing resort pool, and add your own choices in the comments!"

Stay tuned in the coming days, as there is a new HABS-TOWN edition on the horizon, and training camp is fast approaching.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

2014 Draft - Who Habs got - Nikolas Koberstein

Nikolas Koberstein - D - 6'2/205 - Olds (AJHL)

The 205th ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting

This season has been an eventful one for Koberstein as he committed to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, participated in the CJHL top prospects game, and was named to the AJHL's South Division All-Rookie Team.  

In total he posted 5 goals, 18 points and 153 penalty minutes in 51 regular season games. Koberstein added 2 assists while logging a ton of minutes along side fellow rookie Chaydan Lauber in 9 playoff games for Olds.

“Koberstein was a guy we went under the radar, we had our fingerprints all over. We spent some time with him after the season, and I think this guy has some good upside and long range projection. He's a great kid, tons of character but he's a good hockey player too. He'll come to our development camp next week and we'll go from there. He's a guy we call a five-year player. He'll go back to Olds, be the captain, be the leader, play there another year and then go to the NCAA. It's a five year potential commitment on him.” - Trevor Timmins (Montreal Canadiens, Director of Amateur Scouting)

"He's an exciting young player and would certainly benefit the Pats back end should he report." - Phil Andrews (Radio voice of Regina Pats) 

"Nikolas has come to our team and stepped right in to a top role for us, he works extremely hard everyday and loves to learn the game." - Brett Hopfe  (Head Coach, Olds Grizzlys)

"With Nik's skill set and work ethic I would not be surprised to see him playing at the professional level when his time with UAF is done."  - Brett Hopfe  (Head Coach, Olds Grizzlys)

Follow the latest Hab on Twitter @koberstein07

Saturday, 28 June 2014

2014 Draft - Who Habs got - Brett Lernout

Brett Lernout - D - 6'4/205 - Swift Current (WHL)

The 52nd ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting

The 92nd ranked draft eligible player according to The Hockey News

• Known for his steady defensive play and rugged style, Lernout played in all 72 games in 2013-14, posting 22 points (8-14—22) and a plus-7 rating in his first full seasons with the Swift Current.

• Lernout played 20 games over two seasons with the Saskatoon Blades before he was acquired by the Broncos in 2012-13. He notched his first career Western Hockey League goal in Swift Current’s 3-0 win over the Prince Albert Raiders on Feb. 9, 2013.

• Lernout grew up playing on a backyard rink built by his father. He names his dad as the most influential person in his hockey career and recalls scoring his first WHL goal with his dad in attendance as his most memorable hockey moment.

• In 2011-12, Lernout racked up 35 points (8-27—35) in 44 games for the Winnipeg Wild. He added five points (1-4—5) in the playoffs to help the team capture the Midget AAA title. Lernout guarded the Wild blueline in front of netminder Ty Edmonds, the No. 18-ranked North American goaltender.

• Lernout grew up idolizing Chris Pronger’s tough playing style.• In 2013-14, his first season in North America, Scherbak led all Western Hockey League rookies in scoring by 19 points with 28-50—78 in 65 games.

"He's a big kid, tough and nasty. He's hard to play against and a good physical presence. He just needs to keep his game simple and safe to be effective at this point. His puck movement is safe and adequate, and he's able to box out forwards well in front of his own goal.” - B.J. MacDonald (NHL Central Scouting)

Lernout has lots of tools at his disposal, and started to put them all together throughout the year. Lernout loves to use his frame and has developed a mean streak. He’s a hard hitter and will drop the gloves. He’s a solid skater for his size, especially in terms of straight-line speed. Also has a hard shot, which is where most of his offensive output comes from. Not a particularly good passer, and still has to improve his defensive play.” - Mitch Brown (

"The Western League is known for toughness and for defense: Lernout brings both. A punishing, physical blueliner with great reach, Lernout will continue to develop on a great defense corps in Swift Current alongside Dillon Heatherington (Columbus), Bryce Martin and Julius Honka (both 2014 prospects as well). Lernout will be the muscle." - Ryan Kennedy (THN) 

"Brett showed good improvement through the course of the season. A toolsy player with great size, strength, and skating abilities. He’s still raw, but if given time to develop, he should become the type of physical defenseman that teams love to have and hate to play against." - Scott McDougal  (Hockey Prospect)

"Very large intimidating defender who projects as a 6 or 7 who takes advantage of his chances to play by arriving in a bad mood ready to punish the opposition with ever chance. Not just a bruiser. He will make it hard for you to play against him, but shows some patience and awareness when he is in possession for his team or in the neutral zone. Painfully clears the front. Closes out his man on the entrance, so the rusher remembers it. I am not sure if he is completely adjusted to his growing body, as he will look pretty smooth on his pins on the carry until HE gets jostled. He is not looking to be the offensive force in his pairing, but passes pretty well and has a good shot from the perimeter. There is room for him to get bigger and stronger, and with that his balance and feet may catch up."  - Bill Placzek (

For a more detailed look at Brett Lernout pease check out this excellent interview with him by Kelly Friesen  of Yahoo Sports. NHL Draft Tracker: Brett Lernout

Follow the latest Hab on Twitter @BrettLernout

2014 Draft - Who Habs got - NIKITA SCHERBAK

When Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins stepped up to the podium to make their first selection of the 2014 NHL draft, four of my top six favourite picks were still available for the pickings.

My number one for the Habs was Adrian Kempe out of Modo, he was eventually selected at 29th by the Kings.

The Habs brass selected Nikita Scherbak of the Saskatoon Blades who was not on my list. I am quite pleased indeed with this selection. The player, it should be noted, did not make my list as I did not believe he would be available at 26th over-all.

Scherbak acquitted himself very well in many interviews last night. Especially for a person who didn't speak a word of English less than a year ago. He came off as charming, funny, and grounded. After interviewing close to one hundred draft hopefuls this week, it's a fair bet that the Canadiens brass believes that Scherbak has the "character and compete" that they are looking for from all their players.

The "character" part was certainly on display last night.

Nikita Scherbak - RW - 6'0/172 - Saskatoon (WHL)

The 27th ranked draft eligible player according to International Scouting services.
The 16th ranked draft eligible player on McKeen's list.
The 15th ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting
Ranked #35 overall by TSN's Craig Button
Ranked 21st by TSN's Bob McKenzie
The 14th ranked draft eligible player on
The 18th ranked draft eligible player according to The Hockey News
The 23rd ranked draft eligible player according to Sportsnet Magazine.

• In 2013-14, his first season in North America, Scherbak led all Western Hockey League rookies in scoring by 19 points with 28-50—78 in 65 games.

• Scherbak was named the Blades’ Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Plus/Minus Leader and 3-Star Award Winner. He earned the team’s Top Scorer Award after leading the Blades in goals, assists and points, becoming the first rookie to lead Saskatoon in scoring since Garett Bembridge in 1996-97.

• A vibrant personality who is known to talk a lot on road trips, Scherbak has been taking English classes and learning at an accelerated rate. Saskatoon head coach Dave Struch jokes: “On the five or six-hour bus trips he sits four seats behind us (coaches) and that’s all you can hear, him talking the whole way.”

• He lists Pavel Datsyuk as his childhood hockey idol and wears No. 27 in tribute to Russian superstar Alex Kovalev.

"Excellent scoring instincts and he arrives at the right times to take full advantage. Awareness of how to exploit opportunities is very good and is vigilant and alert in this regard. A versatile player who can play off strengths of others." - Craig Button (TSN)

"Great skill and smarts, he's played all three forward positions thisnyear but his strength is on the right wing being a left hand shot, because he loves to drive the net. He really uses his linemates well, he's an unselfish player and has really adapted well to the North American game." - Peter Sullivan (NHL Central Scouting)

The best thing about him is that he’s very coachable and teachable. Because he can skate he can get on the puck. But when he’s not on it right away he’s not afraid to make or take a hit. When you’ve got that part of a game from a Russian player it’s exciting.” - David Struch (Saskatoon Blades, head coach)

"Teams always ask Russians about commitment to the NHL over the KHL. Scherbak might land in round 2 after missing the combine due to visa issues." - Gare Joyce (Sportsnet)

For a more detailed look at Nikita Scherbak, please check out this excellent profile on him by Ryan Pike of The Hockey Writers. Nikita Scherbak THW: Close Up

Follow the latest Hab on Twitter @neketos22

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

2014 Draft - Players to watch for Habs (Round 1)

Like I did in 2012 I did my draft research. Unlike 2012 however, I have compiled here a look at the first round of the 2014 draft. 

The Canadiens hold the 26th pick in the draft this season.

6 names stand out to me as possibilities for the Canadiens to draft in the first round in Philadelphia. I am profiling them below in my order of preference assuming all of them are on the board.

I am not a Scout. I have not personally seen any of these players play. Therefore any information you read below is coming from credible sources who do this for a living. What I have done is compile information about certain players that I believe Montreal could be looking at. For a complete list of players, and information on many other players that are not mentioned here, please click the links I have provided to the many fantastic sources.

Adrian Kempe - C/LW - 6'2/187 - Modo (SHL)

The 22nd ranked draft eligible player according to International Scouting services.
The 26th ranked draft eligible player on McKeen's list.
The 6th ranked European skater according to NHL Central Scouting
Ranked #10 overall by TSN's Craig Button
Ranked 28th by TSN's Bob McKenzie
The 21st ranked draft eligible player on
The 29th ranked draft eligible player according to The Hockey News
The 15th ranked draft eligible player according to Sportsnet Magazine.

• In 2013-14, Kempe posted 19 points (3-16—19) in 20 games and was an assistant captain with MODO’s under-20 team before joining the club’s senior team in the Swedish Hockey League where he posted 11 points (5-6—11) in 45 contests.

• His brother, Mario, was selected in the fifth round (122nd overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2007 NHL Draft. Mario has spent the past five seasons playing in Sweden, most recently alongside Adrian with MODO in Sweden’s top league.

• A member of Sweden’s gold-medal winning team at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Kempe averaged a goal per game (5-0—5) including a second-period tally in the team’s 7-5 win over Russia in the final.

• At the 2014 Under-18 World Championship, Kempe finished third on the team with seven points (1-6—7) in seven games as Sweden placed fourth, falling 3-1 to Canada in the bronze-medal game. He also tallied three points (2-1—3) in four games at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial.

• Kempe’s hometown is Ornskoldsvik, Sweden (approx. population 28,000). He plays for the same MODO hockey program that produced NHL stars Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and Victor Hedman. 

"Excellent skater with speed and quickness and he uses it to get to openings and to back off defenders. Excellent sense for the game and what is necessary and with his multitude of talents, he can deliver. A team player through and through." - Craig Button (TSN)

"Missed 2015 eligibility by three days. Big power forward - a pro in the Swedish League. Plays a two-way game." - Jeff Marek (Sportsnet)

"Speedy and fearless, Kempe plays a physical game and can also help out with the offensive side of the game." - Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News)

“Adrian is a big strong winger who can also play in the middle. He’s got some power forward potential, as he can be quite physical and tenacious on the forecheck. He surprised a lot of people by earning a jersey with Modo’s SHL team this season. He didn’t log big minutes, but was occasionally used on the powerplay and exhibited some of the talent that will probably make him a first round pick next month. Still needs to grow into his body, can look cubbish at times.” - Uffe Bodin (

“Kempe is a strong, bullish forward that has size, strength and a work ethic to match. He can be tenacious on the forecheck and never misses finishing a check. He has a heavy shot and isn’t shy to drive towards the net.” - Aaron Vickers  (Future Considerations)

For a more detailed look at Adrian Kempe, please check out this excellent profile on him by Shawn Reznik of The Hockey Writers. Adrian Kempe THW: Close Up

Connor Bleackley - C/RW - 6'1/196 - Red Deer (WHL)

The 26th ranked draft eligible player according to International Scouting services.
The 32nd ranked draft eligible player on McKeen's list.
The 35th ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting
Ranked #30 overall by TSN's Craig Button
Ranked 29th by TSN's Bob McKenzie
The 22nd ranked draft eligible player on
The 30th ranked draft eligible player according to The Hockey News

• Bleackley began the 2013-14 season, his second in the Western Hockey League, with eight goals and 19 points in his first 15 games, surpassing his 66-game point total from his first campaign with the Rebels (9-9—18). He finished the year tied for the team lead in goals (29) and paced the club with 68 points.

• He was named Red Deer’s captain in November 2013, and at age 17 is one of only three first-time draft-eligible players to wear the “C” in the Canadian Hockey League this season: also Aaron Ekblad (No. 2-ranked North American skater) of the Barrie Colts and Sam Reinhart (No. 3-ranked North American skater) of the Kootenay Ice.

• Bleackley recorded two points and was an assistant captain on Canada’s bronze-medal winning team at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship. He also wore a letter with Team Pacific at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, posting four points (3-1—4) in five games.

• His hometown of High River, Alta. was devastated by flooding in June 2013, forcing many families from their homes: “We had to be evacuated for two weeks. We had four feet of water in the basement and a lot of mud. But it could have been worse. The community really came together and the response was phenomenal.”

• Bleackley grew up on the same street as Calgary Flames forward Corban Knight (selected 135th overall by Florida in the 2009 NHL Draft). They often played shinny together on a pond by their house.

• He complied 89 points (45-44—89) in 62 games over two seasons with the Okotoks Oilers Bantam AAA team in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League. He also won a gold medal with Team Alberta at the 2011 Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup (2-2—4 in four games).

"Determined, competitive player who doesn't take any shortcut. Smart and in right areas and is a catalyst for positive plays all over the ice. Doesn't allow himself to be denied or his team to be denied. Whole is greater than sum of parts!" - Craig Button (TSN)

"Hard-working pivot does the unglamorous jobs and knows how to put the puck in the net. Captain of his junior team." - Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News)

“Conner Bleackley is learning to use his size and speed this season to get in quickly on the forecheck and play a more physical game.  Bleackley has a very good wrist shot and a quick release.  He shows the ability to drive hard to the net, and has good balance and strength on his skates to fight through checks and battle in the dirty areas of the ice, in front of the net and in the corners.” - Ben Kerr (The Last Word on Sports)

For a more detailed look at Connor Bleackley, please check out this excellent profile on him by Ryan Pike of The Hockey Writers. Connor Bleackley THW: Close Up

Travis Sanheim - D - 6'3/181 - Calgary (WHL)

The 30th ranked draft eligible player according to International Scouting services.
The 15th ranked draft eligible player on McKeen's list.
The 53rd ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting
Ranked 8th overall by TSN's Craig Button
Ranked 24th by TSN's Bob McKenzie
The 16th ranked draft eligible player on
The 21st ranked draft eligible player according to The Hockey News

• Sanheim totaled 29 points (5-24—29) in his Western Hockey League rookie season in 2013-14. He was paired with Ben Thomas (No. 86-ranked North American Skater) for most of 2013-14, finishing with a plus-25 rating for the Central Division champion Hitmen.

• Sanheim posted six assists at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship, pacing all defenseman and sharing the team lead with Hitmen teammate Jake Virtanen (No. 6-ranked North American Skater) en route to a bronze-medal win with Team Canada. He was selected by opposing coaches as one of Canada’s three best players. He also played for Team West at the 2013 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.

• A native of Elkhorn, Man., Sanheim finished his minor hockey career with the Yellowhead Chiefs in the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League, compiling 74 points (27-47—74) over two seasons with the club.

• His twin brother, Taylor, also played two years with the Chiefs, finishing 2012-13 tied for eighth in the League with 52 points (27-25—52) in 39 games. Taylor played the 2013-14 season with the Dauphin Kings and Portage Terriers in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League; the Brandon Wheat Kings hold his WHL rights.

"Progress has been exceptional. Nothing he can't do in the game. Skates, thinks incredibly well, has poise, makes plays offensively and defensively and is a player who recognizes opportunity in the game and takes advantage." - Craig Button (TSN)

"High-rising blueliner has a great frame and moves well for his size. Confidence with the puck continues to grow."  - Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News)

“He has the tools to potentially be a number 3 or 4 defenceman at the NHL level.  He has always been a solid defender but his ever improving offensive game has turned some heads in the second half of the season.  He is playing with a little more confidence, jumping into the play at the right times and putting up some points.” - Mitch Kasprick (Winnipeg Hockey Talk)

For a more detailed look at Travis Sanheim, please check out this excellent profile on him by Ryan Pike of The Hockey Writers. Travis Sanheim THW: Close Up

Ryan Macinnis - C - 6'3/185 - Kitchener (OHL)

The 25th ranked draft eligible player according to International Scouting services.
The 34th ranked draft eligible player on McKeen's list.
The 20th ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting
Ranked #37 overall by TSN's Craig Button
Ranked 34th by TSN's Bob McKenzie
The 37th ranked draft eligible player on
The 44th ranked draft eligible player according to The Hockey News

• A two-way center, MacInnis finished among the top ten rookie scorers in the Ontario Hockey League during the 2013-14 season with 37 points (16-21—37) in 54 games for Kitchener.

• He is the son of Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Al MacInnis, a Stanley Cup champion and seven-time All-Star who spent 23 seasons in the NHL with St. Louis and Calgary. Al was a member of the Kitchener Rangers (1980-83) prior to his NHL career.

• Ryan was asked if his shot measures up to his father’s famous cannon. Al won the Hardest Shot a record seven times at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition: “No, not even close. We'll go outside a lot whenever I'm home in St. Louis and we'll shoot a lot. He'll just feed me one timers and he'll teach me about the art of shooting."

• MacInnis registered five points (2-3—5) in six games for the U.S. at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, including a goal and assist in a 4-3 win over Quebec in the bronze medal game. He was also a member of the U.S Under-17 team that finished first in the 2012 Four Nations Tournament.

• In his spare time, he enjoys fishing and hunting.


"Raw ability with the potential to be a very good center. Skates well, good hands, smart and he competes for positive results. With physical maturity, he will excel even more and is the proverbial diamond in the rough at this time." - Craig Button (TSN)

“MacInnis has a tall, lanky build but has some good potential to add strength. His speed currently lacks burst but his skating does have some upside. He’s an instinctual player who uses solid positioning to remain in the offensive play and has a heavy shot but needs to work on his release and accuracy." - Aaron Vickers  (Future Considerations)

“Tall lanky centre forward who, at this point, is a projected second or third rounder based on bloodlines and potential. He is Al Macinnis’ son. Displays all the tools to be a possible dominating player, but have shown little consistency in his efforts. His size and skill make his an intriguing option show could solidify his grade with better efforts.” - Bill Placzek (

For a more detailed look at Ryan Macinnis, please check out this excellent profile on him by Shawn Reznik of The Hockey Writers. Ryan Macinnis THW: Close Up

Vladislav Kamenev - LW - 6'2/176 - Magnitogorsk 2 (KHL)

The 29th ranked draft eligible player according to International Scouting services.
The 59th ranked draft eligible player on McKeen's list.
The 13th ranked European skater according to NHL Central Scouting
Ranked #12 overall by TSN's Craig Button
Ranked 43rd by TSN's Bob McKenzie
The 35th ranked draft eligible player on
The 56th ranked draft eligible player according to The Hockey News

• Kamenev split the 2013-14 season between Magnitogorsk in Russia’s junior league - scoring four goals and 10 points in 15 games - and Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. Playing under former NHL coach Mike Keenan, Kamenev scored one goal in 16 games with the eventual KHL champions.

• He finished in the top five in tournament scoring at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge, posting seven points (1-6—7) in five games as Russia captured the silver medal.

• As captain of Team Russia at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship, Kamenev shared the team-lead with seven points (2-5—7) in five games.

• In 2012-13, Kamenev tallied 15 points (9-6—15) in 36 games during his rookie season with Magnitogorsk’s junior team that finished second in the Eastern Conference of Russia’s top junior league.

• He lists Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings and Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals as his favorite NHL players.

"Protypical centre who can play everywhere on the ice with skills, smarts and comeptitiveness. He reads the play exceptionally well and he has the ability to produce in the crucial moments. Contributes everywhere in game." - Craig Button(TSN)

“Kamenev is a talented forward with good sized who uses his physical gifts to protect the puck and win board battles. He sees the ice well, has good hands and a strong shot. Has to keep his emotions in check as he can get overzealous taking stupid penalties at times."  - Aaron Vickers  (Future Considerations)

“Big hard working three zone centre-forward a strong stride, size and very good puck skills. Positionally solid with excellent vision and playmaking abilities. Good in the face off circle. Shoots the puck quickly besides being a strong set-up man. Stood out a one of the better players on the ice in the World Junior A challenge. If the whispers that he is transferring to a CHL junior team are true he seems destined to being picked early. He is a pretty complete player already and is tough to move off the puck, and is excellent in the one on one battles all over the sheet. He may be fairly close to playing soon.” - Bill Placzek (

For a more detailed look at Vladislav Kamenev, please check out this excellent profile on him by Shawn Reznik of The Hockey Writers. Vladislav Kamenev THW: Close Up

Roland McKeown - D - 6'0/195 - Kingston (OHL)

The 23rd ranked draft eligible player according to International Scouting services.
The 36th ranked draft eligible player on McKeen's list.
The 27th ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting
Ranked #51 overall by TSN's Craig Button
Ranked 25th by TSN's Bob McKenzie
The 83rd ranked draft eligible player on
The 26th ranked draft eligible player according to The Hockey News

• McKeown finished the 2013-14 season with 43 points (11-32—43) in 62 games and a team-high plus-38 rating for Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League.

• He is a two-time gold medalist internationally, winning with Team Canada at the 2013 Under-18 World Championship and the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial.

• McKeown was the captain of the Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget AAA team in 2011-12 that featured Sam Bennett (No. 1-ranked North American skater), Joshua Ho-Sang (No. 22-ranked North American skater) and Connor McDavid (draft eligible in 2015). He registered 35 points in 28 games for the Marlboros, who fell to the Mississauga Rebels in the 2012 OHL Cup championship game.

• An OHL All-Rookie First Team selection in 2012-13, McKeown led all first year blueliners with 29 points (7-22—29) in 61 games.

• He trains in the off-season under the guidance of former player Gary Roberts, who also works with NHL players including Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning), Jeff Skinner (Carolina Hurricanes) and James Neal (Pittsburgh Penguins).

"Skating is the foundation of his game and he uses well to close off plays defensively, transition the puck and then jump into the play offensively. Very confident player who plays with evenness. In control, steady and poised." - Craig Button (TSN)

"Smooth-skating blueliner can contribute at both ends of the ice and has excellent character." - Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News)

“McKeown is a strong, do-it-all defensemen whose biggest asset is his ability to think the game and know his position. He makes strong, simple plays, has a good shot and distributes the puck effectively.” - Aaron Vickers  (Future Considerations)

Solid all-around defender with excellent balance, stride and quickness. Positionally solid, and already cool and collected in his game, with excellent vision and reliablity in all situations. Handles the puck well in his own zone, in transistion and on breakouts. displays a hard point shot. If he is able to grow a bit more edge, he will climb up the rankings. He was selected to the roster for the World Junior Under-18 Tournament in April, 2013." - Bill Placzek (

For a more detailed look at Roland McKeown, please check out this excellent profile on him by Shawn Reznik of The Hockey Writers. Roland McKeown THW: Close Up