Marie-Philip Poulin will grab all of the headlines (and deservedly so) but the other players Montreal picked up in the 2015 CWHL Draft might be the ones that get them closer to a Clarkson Cup championship.
A trio of former McGill Martlets were picked up in the draft and while they don't have the national team experience of Poulin, they have been dominant in Canadian Interuniversity Sport and provide the Stars with more depth on both ends of the ice. Katia Clement-Heydra was the team's second round selection, and she was followed by McGill teammates Leslie Oles in the fourth round and Michelle Daigneault in the sixth round.
"Poulin is an obvious first choice but they are all impact players," said Montreal general manager Meg Hewings. "I have a lot of respect for Oles. If you watch CIS hockey, you know how well she sees the game."
Clement-Heydra was the leading scorer in Quebec last season and was named top CIS player in the country. Daigneault is a small but skilled defenceman. Even though the rookies are talented, Hewings still expects a learning curve and says it typically takes rookies three months to adjust to the CWHL's pace.
Karell Emard was the team's third round pick. Hewings says the team sees her as a potential two-way player, which increased her value to the team as someone who can play forward and defense.
I first saw Emard play as a member of the Dawson College Blues, where in 2006 she played with current teammates Ann-Sophie Bettez, Emmanuelle Blais, as well as Sara Dagenais and Catherine Ward. She led the Blues to a bronze medal at a Concordia University tournament, where her CEGEP team beat two top-10 ranked CIS teams including the McGill Martlets 8-2. Emard led all scorers in the tournament with two goals and six assists in the three games.
She hasn't played since 2012 when she was with St Lawrence College in the NCAA and has since coached at Colgate University before deciding to lace her skates back up.
Concordia teammates Alyssa Sherrard and Audrey Morand were taken in the fifth and seventh rounds. Other Montreal selections were Sara Lachance, Melinda Prevost, Jessica Anderson, Helmi Karpyszyn and Stephanie Loiselle.
Oles and Poulin both have experience in the CWHL both playing in the league in the inaugural season before both players went to university. Poulin had 43 points in 16 games and Oles had 32 points in 20 games in 2007-08. Both made the all-Rookie team and were East Division All-Stars despite being only 16 and 17 years old respectively.
Depth was an issue for the Stars a year ago, and while they added a lot of potential impact players, they do have some spots to fill. Along with the retiring Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux, the team will be losing Sara Dagenais, who is going to try out for Canada's Bobsled team. Stacie Tardif, Virginie Bouetz-Andrieu and Casandra Dupuis are among players also not returning. The team also isn't sure if Canadian Olympic team member Catherine Ward - who missed the entire season a year ago - will return.
"Last year we had a smaller draft class, this year it is the opposite," said Hewings adding that they may have to make some cuts but with the change over, and the fact they like to have a bigger roster to cover for players with other responsibilities, the extra depth will be helpful.
Hewings also likes the potential chemistry of this team. Despite the influx of "rookies," the reality is a lot of these players have played together through CEGEP, University, Team Canada or even Team Quebec or previous CWHL experience.
"A lot of these girls have grown up together," Hewings said.
Montreal is currently in the middle of a re-branding effort and announced at the Draft in Toronto that they will not be named the Stars next season. A survey held earlier this summer had potential names Canadiennes, Rockets, Royales and Glorieuses mentioned. They open their evaluation camp in September and it will be held at the Brossard Sport Complex.