The June 1st deadline is fast approaching but GM Bob Gainey has already signed his CHL draft picks from 2007 after recently signing top prospect PK Subban to a standard three year deal and Olivier Fortier was inked a few weeks back. The only other CHL pick from the Habs ’07 class was Yannick Weber who was signed last year since he had a late birthdate, he was eligible to turn pro and head to Hamilton.
So the Habs will keep the rights to all of their CHL draft picks but do have one player from the NCAA that they need to sign or risk losing their rights. It appears as though the Habs will not sign Philippe Paquet, according to Mathias Brunet, as the Quebec City native has had injury problems the his final two seasons at Clarkson of the NCAA and the Habs could be up against the 50 contract limit as they were this past season.
Paquet is known for his physical play, but this past season he put up career numbers, getting more points this year than the previous two years combined, in the least amount of games played. Over his four year NCAA career he played in 127 games, had 7 goals, 23 assist, 30 points and a staggering 332 pims, 207 of those pims were obtained as an underclassman during his first two seasons in the NCAA after making the jump from the US prep school league (the same league that Chris Higgins and Max Pacioretty played in). Perhaps the club will invite him to the development camp and consider signing him to an AHL contract.
The Habs would have had to sign Swedish draft pick, Nichlas Torp a 6th round pick 163rd overall, but due to the fact that the NHL does not have a Player Transfer Agreement in place with the IIHF it appears as though the league will consider Euro draft picks the same as they have been with Russian picks; teams will just continue to hold their rights most likely till a new PTA is in place. Torp recently signed a two year deal with his SEL club HV71, so it appears he will be staying in Sweden for the next two seasons but is making up for missed time after a shoulder injury the previous year cost him an entire year of development.
The additions of PK Subban and Olivier Fortier will surely benefit the Hamilton as Subban will get the chance to show what he can do at the next level after an impressive showing in the OHL and World Juniors, while Fortier will bring a solid defensive game that they could miss if Kyle Chipchura sticks in the NHL full time. Bob Gainey also signed free agents Dany Masse and Mikael Johansson, both centers, Masse is strong on face-offs and brings a sound two way game while Johansson is said to have great vision, puck moving and stickhandling . The GM is also in talks with the agent for Alexei Emelin, as the 2004 3rd rounder does not have a contract for next season but it remains to be seen if both sides can come to an agreement.
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