Habs sit tight and take the all round centre prospect from the OHL with their top pick, #3 overall. Alex was neck and neck with his linemate Nail Yakupov to be the first overall pick of the draft prior to the season, when he was knocked out for six months with a torn ACL, surgery, and rehab. He did show up fit and strong at the Combine prior to the draft, and tested well in all events. The lost season hurts in his development, but the talent is still there and he should make up for lost time in the next couple of years. Solidly built at 6-1, 195 pounds, with great offensive skills as well as defensive sense. His point total as a 16 year old rookie in the OHL was comparable to former grads such as Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Steve Stamkos, etc. All of those guys turned out pretty well. As a big, strong, two way centre capable of playing on the first line someday, he fits a long term need in Montreal.
2. Sebastian Collberg, RW, Frolunda, Sweden.
On the level of Galchenyuk in terms of offensive skill, but smaller, and without the same all round game yet. Sebastian might be the best pure scorer next to Yakupov to come out of this class, but he has to fill out a 5-11, 180 pound frame first, and learn to play a stronger two way game. To that end he spent the entire 2011-2012 season on the roster of the Frolunda SEL team, but played little and didn't manage to score a point. He got to practice with the senior team and use the workout facilities, however, both of which should speed his development. At the junior level Collberg was the most dangerous sniper for his country in international tournaments. Second leading scorer on Team Sweden at the WJC as a 17 year old, and the leading 17 year old point producer in the tournament.
3. Dalton Thrower, D, Saskatoon Blades, WHL.
In a draft filled with smaller, offensively skilled defense prospects, Thrower stood out for his physical style and willingness to drop the gloves. He is just 6-0 tall, and 200 pounds, but backs down from no one. At the same time he managed 54 points in 62 WHL games, similar totals to several top 10 drafted defensemen of similar proportion. His size at the time of the draft, and stats during his draft season, were nearly identical to current Hab star P.K. Subban for that matter. Subban was taken eight picks earlier in the 2007 draft.
4. Tim Bozon, LW, Kamloops Blazers, WHL.
It is no small feat for a 17 year old hockey player to come from the competition level of junior hockey in Switzerland and France, to excel in the tough WHL. Bozon managed that, scoring 36 goals and averaging a point per game to win top rookie honors in the Dub for the 2011-2012 season. As well as flashing his offensive prowess, Bozon stood up to the intimidation tactics as well. Bright kid with strong character who speaks French and English fluently as a bonus. Just needs to fill out a 6-1, 185 pound frame for a couple of years.
5. Brady Vail, C, Windsor Spitfires, OHL.
An American recruit into the OHL like Galchenyuk, the 6-1, 195 pound Vail is similar in many ways. A solidly built two way centreman, but without the same offensive skills. Also a strong character player with good leadership skills. Brady played mainly a defensive role for his team last season but still managed 52 points in 64 games. He has two years of eligibility remaining to see if he can improve his offensive output enough to play that two way role as a pro.
6. Charles Hudon, RW, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, QMJHL
The slender puck magician is a stereotypical Quebecois hockey prospect in many ways. Not a great skater, but terrific puck skills. Not very big, but with a strong competitive drive. A smaller, less dynamic version of second rounder Collberg in many ways. Charles will have to get stronger and add some weight, (and hopefully a bit of height) to a 5-10, 170 pound, frame. But you can't teach the scorer's touch.
7. Erik Nystrom, LW, Modo Hockey, SEL.
Yet another slightly undersized, but skilled, and very competitive forward. Spent half a season in the SEL as a 17/18 year old, but saw little action and managed just 2 points. Played well for the Swedish Nation U19 Team in a couple of tournaments and will compete for a spot with the U20 squad this summer. Approximately the same size as Collberg, but without quite the dynamic skill set. Figures to be more of an energy player at the pro level.