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Getting to know the tryouts at Habs training camp

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Nine players on professional tryouts will attend the camp this year, but the most interesting is Yuri Alexandrov

2006 NHL Entry Draft Portraits
Former Bruins pick Yuri Alexandrov
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images for NHL

The Montreal Canadiens released their main training camp roster, which included nine players who are invited on a tryout basis.

Whereas the rookie training camp consisted of amateur tryouts (ATO) deals, with players who are still eligible for overage spots in Junior, the main camp is made up of players who have professional hockey experience, primarily in the ECHL and AHL, and as a result signed professional tryout (PTO) contracts.

The only player still under an ATO at the main camp is Giovenne Fiore, who was discussed previously.

It’s worth noting that with several players still at the World Cup, extra bodies were necessary for camp.

Yuri Alexandrov (D, 6’0”) -NHL Tryout

A former second-round draft pick by the Boston Bruins, Alexandrov is the most intriguing tryout at the Canadiens camp. He has been playing professional hockey in the KHL since 2008-09. Last season he played for Avangard Omsk where he put up 14 points in 60 games. He is no stranger to North American hockey, having spent the entire 2010-11 season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL. Boston never signed him to an NHL deal, so he went back to Russia where he has had some moderate success.

Expect him to get a long look while Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, and Shea Weber are at the World Cup. He’s adept at distributing the puck, and compliments it with adequate skating, but has a lack of high end speed. There’s no doubt that he’s a long shot to make the team. He’s the lone player that received an NHL professional tryout, as opposed to an AHL PTO.

David Broll (LW, 6’2”)

With 174 AHL games under his belt split between the Toronto Marlies and the Syracuse Crunch, Broll is certainly not known for his offensive prowess, but rather for his penalty minutes. He played five games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2014, and that is the extent of his NHL experience. Essentially his maximum potential is as a hired goon to bodyguard the prospects in the organization.

Mathieu Corderre-Gagnon (LW, 6’2”)

A three-year pro who was never drafted, he primarily played in the ECHL, with 105 games of experience and 321 penalty minutes. He scored 4 goals and added 6 assists during that time frame. He’s clearly positioned as a face-puncher for the lower pro leagues.

Phil DeSimone (C, 6’1”)

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the former third-round draft pick by the Washington Capitals spent a season with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2011-12. He ventured across the Atlantic in 2013 playing in Finland, Sweden, and Belgium. He returned during the last season and played 28 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, putting up 13 points. He is known as a speedy forward with some skill, but more importantly described as a strong leader. With the IceCaps looking for a new captain this season, one has to wonder if this tryout could serve as an audition for team captain.

Stefano Momesso (LW, 6’2”)

The son of Hab alumni Sergio Momesso, Stefano was last seen at the 2015 Habs Development Camp. Last season he spent playing professional hockey in Italy. The highest level of pro hockey he achieved thus far was an 8 game tryout with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL.

David Pacan (C, 6’3”)

An unsigned draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, Pacan spent the last four seasons primarily in the ECHL jumping between teams, and spanning 253 games. He is known to drive to the net and some passing ability. For the upcoming season he has a contract with the Brampton Beast, the Montreal ECHL afiliate, so it’s possible that this could simply be an opportunity to gauge his abilities as to understand whether he could be counted on to give a hand to the AHL IceCaps should injuries and call-ups pile up again.

Yannick Veilleux (LW, 6’2”)

A former draft pick of the St. Louis Blues, he signed an entry-level deal but never got a call-up in three seasons before not receiving a qualifying offer from the Blues and becoming an unrestricted free agent. Although he is projected as a power forward with NHL potential, his defensive game and overall consistency has been criticized. Not an offensive threat by any means, Veilleux has not put up more than 23 points in a season at the AHL level. A steep drop from the 73 points he picked up in his final season of Junior hockey with the Moncton Wildcats.

Justin Baker (D, 6’2”)

Although he only played 24 games last season, spanning the ECHL and Slovakia, the puck-moving defenceman is coming into the season with a contract with the Brampton Beast. Going undrafted and finishing four years in the NCAA, he played a season and a half in the ECHL before trying his luck in Europe. He played only seven regular season games with the club, however he did help the team win the League championship before deciding to return to North America. He has an excellent ECHL resume, including being an All-Rookie defenceman and a Kelly Cup champion.

Jérémie Blain (D, 6’3”)

Drafted by Edmonton but traded to Vancouver before signing his entry-level contract, he has been earning his frequent flyer miles by splitting his time between the AHL and ECHL for the four past seasons, including playing for the Brampton Beast last year. Over the summer he signed an AHL contract with the St. John’s IceCaps. He presents a rather complete toolbox of skills, not excelling at one area, but also not being deficient anywhere as well. He is praised for his effort levels.