NEWARK, N.J. – The Montreal Canadiens tried hard to move into the NHL's top ten in the first round, but the team they were in discussions with ultimately decided to use its own selection.
“The price was big and we were willing to pay, but it didn't work,” Habs GM Marc Bergevin said Sunday night, explaining he made an offer that included draft picks and players.
Ultimately, Bergevin said he was very satisfied with the player the Canadiens ended up getting with their first choice, right-winger Mike McCarron.
McCarron is listed at six foot five, 228 pounds and would provide the Habs with much-needed size up front.
“This is a very physical player and he has character,” Bergevin said. “He's still very young, and he will put on weight and get stronger. He has really good potential.”
The Michigan native, selected 25th overall, has been compared to Milan Lucic, the Boston Bruins' forward who has given the Habs headaches in recent years.
He played last year with the U.S. National Team Development Program, where he had 11 goals, 18 assists and 166 penalty minutes in 49 games. He was ranked 35th among North American skaters according to NHL Central Scouting.
McCarron said he wants to be the type of player that can be effective up and down the lineup.
“I feel I can be effective on a fourth line and a first line,” he said. “I can mix things up on the fourth line and create plays on a first.”
His Canadian Hockey League rights belong to the London Knights, but it's possible McCarron could go the college route. He signed a letter of intent with the Western Michigan Broncos, who are headed by former NHL coach Andy Murray.
McCarron said he would speak to his advisers and make a decision in a week.
The Canadiens had three more picks in the second round.
With their 34th overall choice, the Habs picked centre Jacob de la Rose. He is listed at 6-2, 176 pounds and had six goals and six assists in 38 games for Leksand in the Swedish Division 2 league.
He's pegged as a potential third-liner.
“I need to improve several aspects of my game, but I really want to work on my offence,” he said.
Two picks later, the Canadiens selected the first goalie of the draft, Zachary Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads. The Rosemere, Que.-native posted a 2.35 goals against average in 55 games last year as he guided the Mooseheads to the Memorial Cup.
Asked about the pressure of playing in his hometown alongside Carey Price, Fucale said he wanted to take things one step at a time and climb up the team's depth ladder quickly.
“For now, I want to savour this moment,” he said.
With the 55th overall pick, the team grabbed Artturi Lehkonen, who played last year in the Finnish Elite League. The five-foot-nine, 163 pound left-winger had 14 goals and 16 assists in 45 games.
The Canadiens have often between criticized for missing out on local talent. But on Sunday, they grabbed four players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Along with Fucale, the Habs picked the Swiss native Sven Andrighetto from the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (No. 86), Martin Renway from the Gatineau Olympiques (No. 116) and Jeremy Gregoire from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar (No. 176).
Andrighetto, a small, 20-year-old winger, was a force in junior last year with 98 points in 53 games. He aims to start next season with the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Gregoire, a forward who some thought would go earlier in the draft, had an up-and-down season.
“I know what I'm worth and I'm looking forward to showing it,” he said. “I'm really happy to get picked by the Canadiens.”
The Canadiens also just missed out on a chance to get P.K. Subban's brother, Jordan.
Bergevin said the Habs were interested in the defenceman, but the Vancouver Canucks snatched him up with pick number 115, right before the Canadiens were set to go.
The Canadiens opted to trade away their seventh round pick, 206th overall, to the Florida Panthers their seventh round pick in 2014.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version listed Malcolm Subban as going 115th. It was Jordan Subban