ST. JOHN’S, NL. — Connor Crisp was drafted 71st overall by the Canadiens in the 2013 Entry Draft. The Alliston, Ontario native split his junior career between the Ontario Hockey Leagues Erie Otters and Sudbury Wolves where he collected 308 penalty minutes over 184 games.
In his rookie year with the Hamilton Bulldogs Crisp continued to use his hands creatively in his 39 games played registering 102 penalty minutes. He will be relied on heavily by the IceCaps to provide grit to a lineup which is primarily young players making the transition to the professional level. Traditionally a left winger, Marc Bergevin and company projects Crisp to be a guy that can step into a fourth line role if needed. In junior hockey, Crisp found ways to contribute on a regular basis, but he struggled quite a bit registering just two goals and three assists throughout 2014-15, to become an effective player for the Canadiens he will have to find a way to emulate a Brandon Prust or Patrick Maroon on both sides of the puck.
At 6-foot-3-inches, 226 pounds, the hard hitting forward imposes his will on his opponents, however walks a fine line which saw him sit three games last season for leaving the bench to partake in a brawl against the defending Calder Cup champions, Texas Stars, last December. It’s been a long time since the Canadiens have had an effective enforcer, the aforementioned Prust was the Canadiens closest resemblance but he lacked the size and often found himself mismatched against the heavyweights of the NHL. Although, a dying breed, a heavyweight can prove to be a physical presence and is often a locker room favourite among his teammates. Crisp has an uphill battle to make the NHL, serving similar size and grit as the Canadiens former first round pick Mike McCarron, with a lesser offensive upside.
In the meantime Crisp can take in hockey in St. John’s, learn from Sylvain Lefebvre and his coaching staff. He figures to be an immediate fan favourite in a city that has lacked any legitimate enforcers in the Jets entire tenure at Mile One Center. Meanwhile he can look to a character such as Maroon in Anaheim taking in first line minutes with all-stars/Stanley Cup winners, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry as inspiration. Maroon paid his dues with Adirondack and Syracuse/Norfolk over five years before making his debut, Crisp can only work hard and hope for similar results.
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