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A deeper look at the tryouts at Montreal Canadiens development camp

A total of 10 players outside the system were invited to camp.

Chicoutimi Sagueneens v Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
Alexis Shank
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Along with the majority of the their own prospects, the Montreal Canadiens have invited a few players who have no affiliation with the NHL team. Here’s a quick look at where each one came from, and some additional details as what they could offer the Canadiens organization.

Nicolas Guay, RW

  • Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL
  • 6’0”, 185 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017, 2018, 2019
  • 2018-19 Stats: 64GP, 40G, 47A, 87Pts, 35PIM, +53
  • 2019-20 Age: 20

Captain of the Drummondville Voltigeurs for two seasons, Guay was dealt to the Sea Dogs at the QMJHL Entry Draft at the beginning of June after a career-best season in 2018-19. His main traits are his leadership characteristics and the tenacity of his play, especially around the boards. Dubbed a two-way forward because of his active backcheck and forecheck.

In his first year of draft eligibility in 2017, he was ranked the 195th-best North American skater by Central Scouting but went undrafted. He is entering his over-age and final Junior season, but he’s also eligible to play in the American Hockey League. He probably wouldn’t be relied on for any specific offensive contribution, but the work ethic would certainly lend itself to Joël Bouchard’s style.

In 2017 he attended the Devils development camp. In 2018 the Red Wings invited him to theirs.

Liam Hawel, C

  • Guelph Storm, OHL
  • 6’5”, 183 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017, Drafted 4th round, 101st overall by Dallas Stars
  • 2018-19 Stats: 66GP, 37G, 41A, 78Pts, 32PIM, +37
  • 2019-20 Age: 20

Hawel is the only player at the Canadiens development camp on a tryout who has been drafted previously: by the Dallas Stars in 2017. His rights were not retained by them, and he became an unrestricted free agent. Our sister site All About The Jersey did a full draft profile on him back in 2017.

Projected as an NHL fourth-line centre, he was always going to be a fringe player, and that could be a reason why the Stars decided to pass on him despite his size. Hawel is a player with a lot of tools, effective skating and hands for his size, but hasn’t shown the ability to consistently put them together to project as a top-nine forward, or the drive to pin him in an NHL supporting role. He could however be an interesting physical presence at 6’5” for the Laval Rocket’s bottom six.

Vincent Marleau, C

  • Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, QMJHL
  • 6’2”, 192 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017, 2018, 2019
  • 2018-19 Stats: 62GP, 17G, 22A, 39Pts, 34PIM, +22
  • 2019-20 Age: 20

Marleau won the Memorial Cup championship with the Huskies this past spring, and probably got some attention from the Canadiens organization while they were keeping a close eye on Joël Teasdale. Marleau developed slowly throughout the year, and as a result was skipped over during his draft eligibility. His role with the team has grown as his game has, and now he’s become one of the leaders on the team. He scored two goals during the Memorial Cup.

Christopher Merisier-Ortiz, LD

  • Baie-Comeau Drakkar, QMJHL
  • 5’11”, 165 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019, 2020, 2021
  • 2018-19 Stats: 66GP, 5G, 28A, 33Pts, 38PIM, +11
  • 2019-20 Age: 18

Ranked seventh in the QMJHL Entry Draft in 2017, Merisier-Ortiz was dubbed “an extremely agile defenceman” with a strong flair for offence, but needing improvement in his defensive game. Starting his QMJHL career as a 17-year-old, he managed to play 62 games in his rookie season and ended up at times on the Drakkar’s top pairing, and followed it up with a solid 66-game campaign last season. He did his best work this season on the power play.

He was just passed over in his first NHL Entry Draft eligibility and attending his first NHL development camp.

Gabriel Mollot-Hill, G

  • Providence College, NCAA
  • 6’4”, 196 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2015, 2016, 2017
  • 2018-19 Stats: 2GP, 2.50GAA, 0.900SV%
  • 2019-20 Age: 22 (Junior college year)

Returning for a second straight development camp with the Canadiens, Mollot-Hill had a another light season as Hayden Hawkey’s backup at Providence College. But the Ottawa native is expected to take the starter’s role this season with the graduation of Hawkey. It’s not unusual for backups to see very little action in the NCAA, like Hawkey before him, so Mollot-Hill is gearing up for his biggest season yet.

Any pro contract would of course mean an end to his NCAA career.

Yevgeni Oksentyuk, LW/RW

  • Shakhter Soligorsk, Belarus
  • 5’7”, 154 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019, 2020, 2021
  • 2018-19 Stats: 49GP, 6G, 12A, 18Pts, 10PIM, +9
  • 2019-20 Age: 18

Oksentyuk was a standout player at the World Under-18 Championship. He was relatively unknown going into the event, but the diminutive forward impressed those in attendance for Belarus’s games with his high skill level. His ability to dangle defenders is on par with some of the players drafted in the first two rounds of the 2019 NHL Draft. He doesn’t hesitate to try for the flashy moves — like pulling the puck between his legs to try and go around pokechecks — and consistently looks to attack the middle of the ice despite his smaller stature.

Yevgeni Oksentyuk wears #9 with Belarus’s U18 team

Oksentyuk’s frame and the fact that he mostly played in the Belarus league this season had teams pass him over in this year’s draft. But he is mobile to compensate for his size and doesn’t shy away from contact, stealing pucks from much bigger opponents and using his body to shield possession. As his reputation grows, the Belarus winger will probably be a prospect scouts will keep an eye on.

Dylan Plouffe, LD

  • Vancouver Giants, WHL
  • 6’0”, 201 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017, 2018, 2019
  • 2018-19 Stats: 63GP, 8G, 27A, 35Pts, 76PIM, +10
  • 2019-20 Age: 20

Plouffe was ranked 185th-best North American skater by Central Scouting in 2018 in his second year of eligibility. He ended up returning to Junior to work on his defensive game and led the Giants all the way to the WHL Final.

Mitch Brown’s CHL Percentile Rank Tool

In 2017 he was to attend the Florida Panthers’ development camp, but that was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. He later attended the Vancouver Canucks’ training camp.

In 2018 he attended the Canucks development camp and the Arizona Coyotes’ training camp.

Vincent “Vinny” Purpura, G

  • Boston University, NCAA
  • 6’6”, 194 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017, 2018
  • 2018-19 Stats: 4GP, 3.16GAA, 0.911SV%
  • 2019-20 Age: 20 (NCAA Sophomore year)

Purpura was a late addition to Boston University, joining the NCAA for the second semester of the season after two and a half seasons developing in the American Junior leagues: the NAHL and USHL.

His size is reminiscent of two previous Canadiens goaltenders, Jason Missiaen and Petteri Simila. Neither one of them really made a career in the NHL, but their size was impressive.

Before joining Boston University Purpura played three games for the USHL Youngstown Phantoms, putting up a .912 save percentage.

Alexis Shank, G

  • Chicoutimi Saguenéens, QMJHL
  • 6’0”, 170 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2018, 2019, 2020
  • 2018-19 Stats: 43GP, 2.61GAA, 0.913SV%
  • 2019-20 Age: 19

Shank was having an excellent season, carrying a young Chicoutimi team on his shoulders, but suffered an injury which set him back. He was called one of the most underestimated goalies in the QMJHL this past season.

Shank took part in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence goaltending camp, and might find his name on the Team Canada selection for the World Junior Championship.

Matthew Struthers, C

  • North Bay Battalion, OHL
  • 6’2”, 209 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017, 2018, 2019
  • 2018-19 Stats: 61GP, 31G, 50A, 81Pts, 39PIM, -3
  • 2019-20 Age: 20

If the name sounds familiar it is because Struthers had an amateur tryout with the Laval Rocket to close out his season, playing in five games and earning a goal.

A bit of a late bloomer who had an absolute breakout year in his third year on the OHL last season, he was dubbed one of the best projected over-agers that went undrafted in the 2019 draft.

Jack York, RD

  • Barrie Colts, OHL
  • 6’0”, 192 lbs.
  • NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019, 2020
  • 2018-19 Stats: 33GP, 6G, 11A, 17Pts, 14PIM, -8
  • 2019-20 Age: 19

The son of Jason York, who played for the Boston Bruins, continues a tradition of Marc Bergevin liking second-generation prospects: Daniel Audette, Hayden Verbeek, and Rhett Pitlick are three who come to mind right away.

Jack has built a reputation as an approachable leader, and it’s this steady presence that Bergevin might like above all else.

He was ranked 213th best North American skater by Central Scouting in his first year of eligibility.