Despite facing the harsh reality of having just two top 130 selections in an NHL draft where the first four rounds were pretty deep, Montreal Canadiens Head Scout Trevor Timmins left Sunrise, Fla. quite content with his five draft selections.
The Canadiens were considering a move down to pick up a second-round pick if the players they liked were all chosen, but when Noah Juulsen's name dropped past where they expected, the club did not hesitate to choose the 6-1, 175-pound Everett Silvertips' defenceman 26th overall last Friday night.
"He's a complete defenceman, he does everything well," said Timmins, who saw Juulsen play several times down the stretch and in the WHL playoffs. "I can't find an area he's lagging in; he wins puck battles, is a good skater, moves the puck well, has a good shot..he just does what a defenceman is supposed to, in all facets of the game. Solid in everything."
Timmins thinks Juulsen has the all-around skills to be a top four defenceman for the Canadiens in a few years. "He scored quite a few points on a defensive team, so hopefully he can continue to show his offensive side. We drafted him with the upside of a fourth defenceman. I think his downside is a fifth, but time will tell."
Montreal's third-round selection of Lukas Vejdemo caused a bit of a stir at the draft proceedings, predominantly because he was a relative unknown to most in attendance, particularly in the media section.
The 19-year-old 6-2 Swedish center was passed over in the 2014 draft because of injuries (broken ribs) sustained in a dirt bike accident, and later on in the season had mononucleosis. The 38th rated European skater on Central Scouting's 2015 list was not ranked by McKeen's for either draft.
"He was our secret pick," Timmins told McKeen's on Saturday night, meaning he was flying under most teams' radars since he was passed over in last year's draft and never played for Sweden in any international tournaments.
Vejdemo was on the roster to play for Sweden at a U-19 5 Nations tournament in Gothenburg, Swe. in February, which Timmins attended, but he didn't play because he injured his knee in the first practice, so Timmins flew back over Easter weekend to see the Sweden junior challenge, and feast his eyes on the future Hab for the first time.
His first impression of Vejdemo was "Jeez..this guy's a hockey player. I saw it first shift."
Timmins does see some similarities to Columbus center and fellow Swede Alexander Wennberg, the 14th-overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
"I would say he's a Wennberg type...I'm not saying he's him.. but he's smart, good vision, strong skater, puck possession, and he has strong character. He's a good kid. We were very excited to get him."
Vejdemo, pronounced 'VAY-de-mo' is signed for 2 years with Djurgarden, and the plan is for him to play there, but if he still needs some seasoning he may end up in the Allsvenskan.
Timmins has high hopes for the young prospect. "He makes others better. I think he'll be a second-line center..third line at worst. These days lots of teams have three lines that can contribute. This guy is going to produce."
Medicine Hat Tigers' center Matt Bradley, chosen 131st overall by Montreal in the fourth round, is a player Timmins expects will be thrust into more of an offensive role over his last two seasons of junior.
"He played a third-line center role on that team but they were pretty loaded up front," said Timmins. "He's bigger (5-11, 185) than what people think, he works (out) with (Brendan) Gallagher's dad. He's a hockey player....good hockey sense...I like him."
Simon Bourque played a key role as an assistant captain on a QMJHL champion Rimouski squad, which caught the attention of Montreal's scouting staff.
"He's a guy I targeted to take at some point in the draft," noted Timmins. "He got lots of ice time on that team and he did well. His hockey sense is his main attribute, but he's an athlete too. He was good at the combine, and makes good plays. He plays his position well.... I think he has good upside."
Being an Ottawa-area based scout, Timmins gets to see the Ottawa 67's play quite often, and one player he came away impressed with was Montreal's 7th round pick Jeremiah Addison, a 5-11 winger who scored 47 points this season.
"I like his shot," noted Timmins, who even went to his house in Ottawa to visit him, and came away liking the kid that had a bad rap last year in Saginaw. "I think he figured a few things out after he got traded and under (Ottawa head coach) Jeff Brown's guidance. I think he really came on in Ottawa this year."
"He competes, drives to the net, and he has a helluva shot. I never thought we'd get him in the 7th."
Certainly not the first... and definitely not the last time we'll hear those words spoken by a scout, but if McKeen's rankings were any sort of an indication (Addison was ranked 101, went 207th), he's not just regurgitating an old head scout's line, and Addison goes on to challenge for NHL duty someday.