The Montreal Canadiens have announced that they have signed William Bitten and Michael Pezzetta to entry-level contracts.
Both players were drafted in the 2016 entry draft and their rights were to expire on June 1st had they not come to an agreement on their entry-level contracts. They become the third and fourth players of that draft class to sign with the Canadiens, following Mikhail Sergachev and Victor Mete.
William Bitten was drafted in the third round of the 2016 entry draft, 70th overall out of the Flint Firebirds of the Ontario Hockey League, potentially falling to a later round due to the severe problems that the team was facing with its owner. Since then Bitten was traded to the Hamilton Bulldogs where he is enjoying great success on a strong team. Bitten models his play after Brendan Gallagher, which gives you an idea of the sort of hockey to expect from him. Bitten is headed towards a third-straight 20-goal season in the OHL this season.
Michael Pezzetta was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 entry draft, 160th overall. More known for his pugilistic skills than puck skills, Pezzetta has already faced numerous instances of discipline in the Ontario Hockey League due to illegal hits. He played the majority of his junior career with the Sudbury Wolves, but he was traded in his overage season to the Sarnia Sting. He is enjoying his first career 20-goal season.
The pair of contracts now brings the Canadiens up to 30 out of a possible 50 allowed by the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement for next season. With NCAA star Jake Evans finishing up his senior year of eligibility there is still place for the Canadiens to ink him as well but that should only happen after Notre Dame's NCAA season is over. The Canadiens will have until August to keep negotiating exclusively.
Given their ages both Bitten and Pezzetta will likely feature prominently on the Laval Rocket next year, and possibly even before this season is over, assuming either the Bulldogs or Sting don’t make a deep run in the OHL playoffs.