The Montreal Canadiens have elected to not sign prospect Brady Vail from the Windsor Spitfires to an entry level contract. On the surface, this does make much sense at all. Vail finished 19th in the Ontario Hockey League in scoring as a 19 year old with 83 points in 67 games. As an 18 year old he was voted the best defensive forward in the OHL by the league's coaches, and was the final cut for Team USA's national Under 20 junior team.
He was cut much earlier at 19, and was the first player let go by the Canadiens at rookie camp after a listless couple of scrimmages. It was a rude wakeup call, but Vail seemed to respond well, putting up his first 30 goal season and going from a -23 last season to a +29 this one.
Part of Vail's increase in production could be playing with the highly touted Josh Ho-Sang, but even if he is only a defensive minded center, that seems like a good value pick in the 4th round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, 94th overall.
While we don't know yet why the Canadiens moved away from Vail, there are rumblings that his conditioning was poor, even when asked to work on it, and that he didn't have the best attitude. Either way, if his conditioning is poor and he's 19th in league scoring, that's not a horrible, unalterable thing.
The decision to not sign Vail seems even more odd when you consider how quickly the Canadiens signed Connor Crisp, who has had nowhere close to the impact that Vail had in junior, and Jack Nevins, an overager in the QMJHL who is basically a knuckle tosser.