The Montreal Canadiens open their 2013 Rookie Camp tomorrow morning at the Complexe Sportive in Brossard, and there will be several players that not only hope to impress management to secure a spot in the Habs main training camp, but will hope to lock down a position in the team’s opening day roster.
Four of the Canadiens invitees featured in the NHL last season, and will attempt to use that experience during this year’s camp. However, despite playing a combined 17 games last season for the Canadiens, it will be an uphill battle for defensemen Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn and Jarred Tinordi to make the team out of training camp this season. Of the three rearguards, Tinordi likely has the best chance to make the team, because he is a year older and appears more NHL ready than Beaulieu at this stage. The 6’6, first round pick for the Canadiens in 2010, averaged ten minutes during his five playoff appearances against the Ottawa Senators last spring, and certainly did not look out of place. The Canadiens could use his size, especially with hard hitting defensemen Alexei Emelin being out until December with a knee injury sustained in April. Yet, Tinordi’s chances to make the team will be difficult given that the Habs have seven one-way contracts signed on defense.
Reigning Norris winner, PK Subban, the mercurial veteran Andrei Markov, and the shot blocking machine Josh Gorges figure to be the Canadiens top three defensemen this coming season. The team will also hope that Raphael Diaz can regain the offensive touch he demonstrated last season, prior to suffering a concussion. For the final two spots, Francis Bouillon, Davis Drewiske (who was re-signed during the offseason), and newly acquired Douglas Murray will likely all be counted on, largely for their experience and toughness. That does not make much room for Tinordi, but given the historically fragile health of Markov, the injury concerns for Diaz, and the lack of foot speed from Murray, he will most likely feature at some point this season.
Up front, right winger Christian Thomas is the only player that has NHL experience under his belt. The son of former NHLer Steve Thomas played in a single contest for the New York Rangers last season, and was acquired from the Rangers for forward Danny Kristo in the off-season. Thomas netted 35 points in 73 games for the Connecticut Whale of the AHL last season, and will probably need more minor league seasoning before cracking the Canadiens lineup. The Canadiens have strength down the right side, with Brendan Gallagher, Brian Gionta, and new free agent signings Daniel Briere and George Parros all assured to make the first team. In spite of this, the Canadiens are quite high on Thomas, and much of it emanates from his pedigree, and excellent work ethic. He works out during the summer with fellow NHL players, including Steven Stamkos at the esteemed Gary Roberts program.
Though much of the Canadiens rookie camp will feature very young players, years away from seeing an NHL rink, the work of Jarred Tinordi over the coming four days, and into the Canadiens main camp will be the most interesting to follow. An opportunity to make the team exists, but he will have to really earn it.
– Jaideep Kanungo, HockeyLand Canada