Who is Guillaume Gelinas?
Anyone who has been following the Memorial Cup and CHL playoffs may immediately recognize this name, as it is mentioned repeatedly during every broadcast. Gelinas is currently an undrafted 20 year old who just finished his season with the Val-d'Or Foreurs and managed to put up 92 points in 67 regular season games, then put together a dominant QMJHL playoff run with 34 points in 24 games.
As you can see Gelinas started his junior career slowly before exploding this past season which may be due partially to the incredible play of Detroit Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha who posted 120 points(57 G 63 A) in 57 total regular season games. It's very clear that Gelinas and his partner Randy Gazzola(16 G 58 A) are the driving force on the Val-d'Or blueline, as no other Foreurs defencemen had more than 31 points all year. To put that in perspective Gelinas had more points in the playoffs (34) than the next closest defencemen not named Gazzola had in the regular season(31). For his efforts this past season Gelinas collected a number of accolades including the Emile Bouchard Trophy as the QMJHL's best defencemen in addition to being a QMJHL First Team All-Star all while leading the QMJHL in Assists, Goals and Points by a defencemen.
As the stats indicate Gelinas is a fantastic offensive defencemen with the ability to move the puck in all situations. Obviously playing with an elite junior scorer like Mantha helps but this season showed exactly what Gelinas can do.In Val-d'Or's latest playoff run he was also called upon to log heavy minutes every game even after taking a brutal knee on knee hit from the Guelph Storm's Chad Bauman. In the Foreurs recent triple overtime defeat to eventual Memorial Cup champions the Edmonton Oil Kings Gelinas was still driving play and creating chances despite playing injured in a brutally long game.
He's also pretty clutch if you're into that sort of thing
Despite his high offensive upside there are several knocks on Gelinas that have lead to him being passed over in the NHL draft before. The first being that his numbers are likely bolstered by an incredible scoring core in Val-d'Or including the aforementioned Mantha and Gazzola in addition to Louick Marcotte(42 G 58 A), Samuel Henley(30 G 39 A) and Nicolas Aube-Kubel(22 G 33 A). The biggest knock on Gelinas however is his size or lack thereof, which could pose a lot of problems for the young blueliner. At 5' 9" and 181 pounds Gelinas is not exactly what you would call an intimidating presence. With NHL teams often choosing size over skill in recent times(Cough McCarron cough) a player like Gelinas is likely to be left out in the cold.
Why should the Habs consider Gelinas?
I am unsure if Gelinas will ever make the NHL on a consistent basis any time soon but there a still a few key reasons why the Montreal Canadiens should look into signing him. Perhaps the biggest reason is that the Canadiens AHL club the Hamilton Bulldogs are going to need defencemen next season. Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu are both likely NHL starters next season and Greg Pateryn's new contract turns into a one-way deal in the 2015/2016 season. Assuming Pateryn remains in Hamilton next year the Bulldogs blueline is made up of Pateryn,Darren Dietz, Davis Drewiske and Morgan Ellis. Magnus Nygren will either remain in Sweden or be in Montreal next season leaving a hole in the lineup that a player like Gelinas can fill. As for the knocks against his size a former Canadiens draft pick was once considered "too small" for the NHL level and that player was P.K. Subban who stands at an average 6' tall. Now I'm not saying Gelinas is anywhere as good as Subban but it's been proven dozens of times that size is no indicator of talent. Finally and perhaps least important of all is the positive reaction from the media if the Habs signed a home grown talent. Gelinas was born in Quebec City and everyone knows that the insane circus of Montreal hockey media would love to make a story out of the young defencemen.
Even if the Canadiens(Or more likely the Bulldogs) sign Gelinas to a PTO it's a low risk-high reward situation. If he plays badly and isn't ready for professional hockey he can be released, if he plays well he can be signed to an actual contract with the organization. It's not often that a 92 point defencemen is a free agent going into the NHL so I believe the Canadiens should take a chance on the 20 year old blueliner for this upcoming season.