All Habs Mailbag: Pateryn, Leblanc, Vail, Wheeling, Collberg, Draft Lottery


By Robert Rice, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine 

TORONTO, ON — The All Habs Mailbag is as popular as ever! This is the place to send in your questions about all things Montreal Canadiens.

Then check every Thursday to read the answers to the most popular or poignant questions about the Habs. Keep in mind that we will discuss the entire Canadiens organization so questions about prospects and roster players are equally welcome!

Submissions can be mailed directly to [email protected]

Three Guidelines for Submissions:

  • This is not for hate mail or complaints. If you have an issue with what you read on these pages, this is not the place to bring it up. The mailbag is for questions about the Montreal Canadiens organization and the NHL.
  •  As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.  Therefore I will not engage in discussion of the validity of rumours — frankly I consider them a waste of time anyway.  For every rumour that was close to accurate, there have been about a thousand duds.
  •  Nothing of essay-length please. There will be other people who will have questions and it is a bit unfair if I have to dedicate the Mailbag to answering one very large question or someone who’s asking five questions at once.

THIS WEEK ONLY: Want to ask your questions of Robert in person?  For Montrealer’s, Robert will be at the All Habs Hockey Party on Saturday October 20th to watch the Hamilton Bulldogs take on the Toronto Marlies.  For VIP perks including a reserved seat, RSVP here:

Let’s open the All Habs mailbag!


I hear Greg Pateryn “hits like a Mack truck”… is this Emelin 2.0? Is he known as a shutdown/bruising defenceman?

I would hold off on comparisons to Alexei Emelin just yet. Despite what some may think of the KHL, it is still a high-level professional league that Emelin had established himself in prior to arriving in Montreal, Pateryn has yet to play a season outside of the college system. Pateryn is a shutdown defender, but how he actually competes against pro level competition is yet to be seen. His season in Hamilton may give a much better view of what he is capable of but it’s too early to tell.



 What do you think of Louis Leblanc and his ceiling in the NHL? Contemplating collecting his cards but I’m still only 50/50 on him

I believe with what Louis Leblanc has displayed to date, he offers the potential of being a 20-goal player in the NHL. He’s displayed the intelligence and puck skills of an NHL player in my view and if he can add more weight to his frame it will allow him to better handle the puck battles he’ll need to be involved in. He will not be a star, but he can be a very good player for Montreal.



 Brady Vail seems like a promising prospect, what can we expect from him in the future? Any comparison to current NHLers?

I’ve very much enjoyed Brady Vail’s strong start to his season with the Windsor Spitfires, but I’m reserving expectations until he is farther along in the year. I’ve seen other prospects dazzle for a month, but revert back to lesser production over the balance of their season. The scouting reports I have available from McKeen’s and Future Considerations speak of a potential defensive centre in the NHL, and Vail’s defensive prowess has been on display as well this season for Windsor. There doubts I’ve read are hovering around his puck skills and offensive vision translating to the NHL level and belief he’ll bring his defensive talents to the professional level but not much offence. Vail having an offensive outburst is welcome, but my belief is it’s too early to raise his projected ceiling out of a potential Bottom-6 skater. As for comparisons, I honestly don’t like to do them. I find it creates an unfair expectation for a prospect and an unfair devaluation of the NHL player in question that they can be easily copied.



Who do you think will benefit most from being sent down to Wheeling. An who there is most likely to ever reach the NHL?

 To be quite honest, I don’t expect anything from any of the players who have been sent down to Wheeling Nailers, or those who may yet be sent down in Olivier Fortier, Ian Schultz or Phillippe Lefebvre. The ECHL in which the Wheeling Nailers are based is considered a dead-end for players aspiring to the NHL and while there is the very rare case of an Alex Burrows or David Desharnais, the inability of a player to gain an AHL spot, which is in itself the highest level many prospects ever manage can be a very telling sign of their professional future in hockey.



Should Habs bring Collberg  as U-20 to AHL in 2013?

Given Sebastian Collberg’s limited ice time with Frölunda in the Swedish Elitserien, I would think the Canadiens are exploring the idea. I would not be surprised if Collberg, whose contract with Frölunda ends this season signs his entry-level contract and moves to the AHL to get some playing time. The alternative could also be he is selected in the CHL Import Draft and plays for a major junior team as a 19-year old to acclimate to North American hockey and then turns pro the following season. Given the rather sizeable logjam in Hamilton, it could also be the best way for Collberg to get ice time in 2013-14 if he were to try his hand in the major junior system, allowing him to adjust to the North American ice and schedule.



If the entire NHL season is cancelled, what do you think the Habs chances of drafting Nathan MacKinnon are?

If the rules of the previous Draft Lottery from 2005 stand, where teams gained extra balls in a general lottery to rank picks 1-30, Montreal sadly gains no advantages. The previous Lottery was held based on the results of the previous three seasons and with the Habs making the playoffs in both 2010 and 2011, they would not have done poorly enough to rank gaining extra help in this lottery. Their odds would likely sit at just under two per cent, given the number of teams that have missed the playoffs more than they have in the past three years. This is of course, taking into account that the NHL decides to recycle the system from 2005 and don’t try a different model based on fewer or more seasons.


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