You might be wondering why Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin loaded up his minor league coaching and player development staff with former NHL defensemen. The answer lies in the preponderance of blueline talent entering the pipeline this fall.
While there is some talent up front in Michael Bournival, Brendan Gallagher and Patrick Holland, the true strength of the organization lies in the four very large defensemen who will be joining the organization straight out of either the junior or college ranks.
Recognizing that, Bergevin made former defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre the head coach of the Bulldogs and hired two other veteran NHL blueliners Donald Dufresne and Patrice Brisebois to work as organizational development co-ordinators, meaning, among other things, they will be spending a lot of their time this season working directly with the Hamilton Bulldogs young defense. In the group will be former first round draft picks Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi as well as Morgan Ellis all of whom played in this year’s Memorial Cup tournament. .
It’s not only the potential talent but the size of the group that grabs everyone’s attention. Beaulieu is 6’3” 191 pounds and the enormous Tinordi is 6’7”-212 pounds. Morgan Ellis, part of the Junior champion Shawinigan Cataractes is nearly the runt of the litter at 6’2” and 196 pounds.
In addition there’s there’s Greg Pateryn, a mature 6-foot-3, 214-pound defenseman who’s been a star for the University of Michigan for the past four years. And lest we forget – Cornell graduate Brendon Nash is 6-foot-3, 205-pounds and might have had a shot at the Canadiens last season but for the training camp shoulder surgery that kept him out the entire year.
Average height for the group is 6’3 ½” and 200 pounds with a lot of muscle yet to come as they mature physically.
It’s a hockey axiom that teams grow from the goal out. Assuming the majority of the incoming group advances to the NHL in the next couple of years and with P.K. Subban likely to be signed long-term, joining Alexei Emelin and Josh Gorges, the Canadiens, in front of Carey Price, have the potential to be the best shutdown team in the league.