Anthony Duclair, right , photographed during anthropometric measurements and physical fitness evaluation, done by one of the trainer hired as a consultant Wednesday June 5, 2013 at Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. Young players were taking part in the Canadiens' pre-draft combine ahead of next month's NHL entry draft. The Canadiens have invited 56 prospects, including 32 from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Photograph by: Marie-France Coallier, The Gazette
BROSSARD — The National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Service has ranked 245 North American skaters in preparation for the June 30 entry draft in Newark, N.J.
Liam Coughlin isn’t one of them.
But Coughlin, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound centre from Catholic Memorial High School in the Boston suburb of West Roxbury, was among the 56 hopefuls who attended the Canadiens’ pre-draft combine Wednesday at the team’s training facility in Brossard.
“He’s my sleeper,” said Trevor Timmons, the Canadiens’ director of amateur scouting. “He’s a strong, aggressive player. He’s been playing a lower level, but our Boston scout (Bill Berglund) recommended him.”
Coughlin, who is headed to Dubuque of the United States Hockey League in the fall, said he was a bit surprised to receive the invitation, but welcomed the opportunity.
“I figured this was a chance to measure myself against the junior players,” said Coughlin, who has attracted interest from a number of U.S. colleges. “I felt I did pretty good out there.”
Coughlin comes from a family of hockey players. His father, Kevin, played at Michigan State, while his older brother, Kevin Jr., played for Quebec and Saint John in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Coughlin said he aspires to be a two-way player and he considers his size and toughness as primary assets. Catholic Memorial, the school that produced Chris (Knuckles) Nilan, is located in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in the Boston area, but Coughlin pointed out that he grew up in South Boston, which is an even tougher neighbourhood.
Coughlin falls into the no-stone-unturned category for the Canadiens. The players who gathered in Brossard for a day of on- and off-ice testing ran the gamut from surefire first-round draft picks to players whose best hope is to make enough of an impression to be offered a tryout if they aren’t drafted. This is the route Canadiens David Desharnais, Francis Bouillon and Josh Gorges took to the NHL.
And while this is considered a good year for talent in the QMJHL, the Canadiens are making sure they don’t leave any stones unturned in their own backyard. Thirty-two of the players in Brossard Wednesday played in the QMJHL this past season.
The Canadiens are scheduled to pick late in the first round and that’s why you didn’t see the top three prospects — Seth Jones, Jonathan Drouin and Nathan Mackinnon.
But there were some projected first-round picks in Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Zach Furcale, Rimouski Océanic winger Frederik Gauthier, Val d’Or Foreurs forward Anthony Mantha and two Ontario Hockey League standouts, Kerby Rychel from the Windsor Spitfires and Bo Horvat from the London Knights. They all attended the NHL combine in Toronto last week and have auditioned for a number of other NHL teams.
The Brossard camp was an opportunity for the Canadiens to get to know the players better.
“I haven’t been home for a week,” said Horvat, who was impressed by the Canadiens’ training facility. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about Montreal from Jarred Tinordi, who really loves it here. He was a great captain and he helped me a lot my first year of junior. It would be great to play with him again.”
Rychel, whose father Warren piled up more than 1,400 penalty minutes in nine NHL seasons, said he has inherited his father’s work ethic, but he’s not quite as combative.
“I can fight if I have to do, but my strength is my skill,” said Rychel, who has put together back-to-back 40-goal seasons while playing on a line with Canadiens prospect Brady Vail.
While Timmins has said the Canadiens are committed to selecting the best players available, regardless of position or size, there were two things that stood out Wednesday — the players seemed to be bigger, including 6-foot-5, 223-pound defenceman Jonathan-Ismael Diaby of the Victoriaville Tigres, and there were a lot of goaltenders.
Furcale and No. 2-ranked goalie Eric Comrie were among 10 netminders on hand. The Canadiens haven’t drafted a goalie since they selected Finn Petteri Simila in the seventh round in 2009. The only goalies now under contract are Carey Price, Peter Budaj, Hamilton backup Peter Delmas and rookie Mike Condon.
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