When Colin Sullivan signed with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL last week, it essentially ended his association with the Montreal Canadiens and brought to a close the Pierre Gauthier draft era.
Sullivan was the seventh-round pick of the Canadiens, 198th overall, in 2011. He had committed to Yale for the following season, but in a sign of things to come in terms of lack of stability in his development, he decommitted from Yale in his final year of high school.
After being named to the 2012 Boys’ Hockey All-New England Team, he attended Boston College to begin his NCAA career in 2012-13. Being unhappy with his usage, he left Boston College the following year.
Because of an NCAA rule stating that transferring players must sit for a year, he went on to play with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL in 2013-14 in order to keep active.
He returned to the NCAA to play his sophomore season for Miami University in Ohio in 2014-15, but his development took another hit when he suffered an early-season groin injury that limited him to nine games all season.
His junior and senior seasons came and went with little to no fanfare, totalling 86 games in his four-year NCAA career. He scored a single goal and added five assists. He struggled regularly with flare-ups of his recurring groin injury that required multiple surgeries along the way.
Signing independently with the Gladiators likely was a result of permission given by the Canadiens, with the understanding that they would not be going ahead with an entry-level contract. Should the Canadiens have been interested to keep a close eye on him, they could have signed him to an amateur tryout (ATO) before August 15, which would have allowed him to play for the AHL St. John’s IceCaps, or a two-way AHL/ECHL Standard Player Contract, so he could play for Montreal’s ECHL affiliate, the Brampton Beast.
The 2011 draft class only yielded a single NHLer: Nathan Beaulieu. Three others peaked at the AHL level, notably Darren Dietz, Magnus Nygren, and current IceCap Josiah Didier. Sullivan joins Olivier Archambault and Daniel Pribyl as players who were let go by the Canadiens. Pribyl ended up signing with the Calgary Flames a few seasons later, but has yet to appear in an NHL game.
Listen to Andrew weekly on TSN 690 Radio Sundays at 8:05am on Habs Breakfast, part of Weekend Game Plan.