MONTREAL, QC. — With the end of every NHL season comes change. And it didn’t take long for the changes to begin in the Canadiens organization once the team was eliminated from the playoffs in six games by the New York Rangers last Thursday.
Just one day later, the Canadiens announced a three-year contract for Dalton Thrower. The 20-year-old defenseman played 42 games for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants in 2013-14 registering 12 goals and 27 assists. Thrower was selected in the second round, 51st overall, at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Then came news that the Habs had elected to pass on signing Brady Vail and Erik Nystrom to entry-level contracts. The club has now forfeited their rights to these two prospects.
Vail was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, 94th overall. He played in 67 games for the Windsor Spitfires in 2013-14 tallying 32 goals and 51 assists for 83 points. His production and defensive play alone should have earned Vail a contract. Attitude and conditioning have been suggested as concerns for the Canadiens management team.
Nystrom, 19, is a former sixth round pick, 154th overall, taken by the Habs in the 2012 Entry Draft. He is a hard-working forward with good vision and an abundance of skating and puck skills. Size and speed were issues for Nystrom who played 17 games of a 25-game professional try-out contract with the Bulldogs early in the season. He spent the remainder of his season in the KHL.
Most importantly for the organization, Jacob de la Rose, a top prospect has decided to play in North America for the 2014-15 season according to an interview in Hockey Sverige. De la Rose was selected in the second round, 34th overall, at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He is a centre with size, speed and skill, possessing leadership qualities and isn’t shy about competing for the puck.
De la Rose was signed to a three-year entry level contract in April.
From hockeysverige.se (translated):
Complete interview can be found here (in Swedish.)
Q: What made you take the decision (to play in Canada)?
JDLR: The Montréal (Canadiens) organization has said that they really believe in me. It was their desire that I should go over. Meanwhile, it emerged that it feels right for me to go over now. I feel mature both in the game and off the ice to now move to North America.
Q: What has Montréal’s management said about your role for the upcoming season?
JDLR: They have not said much. It is a chance for me to go over and fight for a place at the camp. Since I am fully aware that I’m so young it could mean that I play a year in the AHL. I go over to play as well as possible. Then we’ll see how long it lasts. There is nothing to grieve over if I get to play in the AHL. It is an evolution. It’s up to me to show that I should not be down there. Everyone wants to play in the NHL and it’s also where I want to be.
* Exclusive: Get to know Jacob de la Rose with All Habs interview here: Up Close with Habs Prospects Mike McCarron, Jacob De La Rose [with VIDEO] *
Lastly, Finnish forward Joonas Nättinen has signed a one-year contract with MODO Hockey of the Swedish Hockey League. Nättinen was one of the many prospects unable to find his game under the tutelage of Hamilton Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebre. He had eight goals and seven assists in 69 games in 2013-14.
Nättinen made his NHL debut with the Canadiens in January receiving just two shifts and 1:45 in icetime in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Per Svartvadet, GM of MODO Hockey said, “We strongly believe that Joonas will fit into our team.”