If the talkative Jeremy Roenick retires, the NHL has found his replacement.
“I want to bring a Stanley Cup to Montreal,” the native of Toronto said after being picked in the second round, 43rd overall, by the Habs.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound defenceman is nicknamed “The Subbanator” and couldn’t wipe a smile off his face after being selected by the team that was his childhood favourite.
“I started as a Toronto fan but my dad is the biggest Montreal fan in the world,” said Subban. “You walk in our house and there’s Habs flags everywhere.
“So I ended up growing up a huge Habs fans. This is truly amazing.”
Subban had 56 points (15-41) in 68 games with the OHL’s Belleville Bulls last season.
“I’m definitely an offensive defenceman,” he said. “My favourite player was Bobby Orr, and I also liked Denis Savard, loved the Savard spinnerama.”
Subban, whose father is from Jamaica and whose mother is from Antigua, wasn’t surprised the Habs selected him.
“They came to my house and it went really well,” he said. “So I had a feeling.”
He was ranked 102nd in NHL Central Scouting’s rankings but the Habs took him much higher. No surprise, Subban said, because he’s worth it.
“My greatest asset is my confidence,” he said. “To be honest, I’m ready to step right in with Montreal and make the team in September.
“I’m going to make their decision very hard.”
Subban was the first Canadian-born skater taken by Montreal after a pair of U.S.-born prospects were taken in the first round Friday night, defenceman Ryan McDonagh at No. 12 and winger Max Pacioretty at No. 22. In all, five of Montreal’s nine selections in this year’s draft were Americans.
– Centre Olivier Fortier, 65th overall, from Rimouski of the QMJHL;
– Swiss-born defenceman Yannick Weber, 73rd overall, from Kitchener of the OHL;
– U.S.-born high school defenceman Joe Stejskal, 133rd overall;
– American winger Andrew Conboy, 142nd overall, from Omaha of the USHL;
– Swedish defenceman Nichlas Torp, 163rd overall, from HV71’s junior club;
– U.S-born high school defenceman Scott Kishel, 192nd overall.
GM Bob Gainey revealed Saturday he did try hard to pick higher in the first round.
“We were talking with numerous teams to move up, but it wasn’t necessary in the end,” said Gainey. “Those were the players that we wanted.”
It probably wasn’t who Habs fans wanted, though. They were hoping their team would take Quebec scoring star Angelo Esposito and were no doubt disappointed when McDonagh’s name was called, but scouts drool over the American blue-liner’s game.
“I’m a pretty good sized defender and can skate pretty good with fast forwards and have good lateral movement,” McDonagh said in describing himself. “I feel that defending and skating are by far my best assets.”
The six-foot-one, 200-pounder patterns his game off Detroit superstar Nicklas Lidstrom and ageless veteran Chris Chelios of the Red Wings.
“I look to guys like Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios – Chelios for his leadership and the respect he commands,” said McDonagh. “Lidstrom is a guy that can play in any situation, and he’s a guy you can count on late in the game when you need a goal or when you’re holding on to a victory.
“The combination of those two guys is what I look up to for my style of play.”
McDonagh, the two-time winner of Mr. Hockey – the best high school player in Minnesota – had 33 points (10-23) in 23 games last season with Cretin-Derham. He’ll head to the University of Wisconsin in the autumn.
“It’s going to be an exciting year ahead of me,” said McDonagh. “I’m going to have to think about my situation after my year at Wisconsin is completed in terms of whether or not I’ll make the jump into the Montreal franchise.”
He interviewed well with the Habs so he had some inkling Montreal might want him, but he wasn’t sure whether it would be at No. 22 instead of No. 12.
“I was a little shocked,” he said. “I mean, I was ranked somewhat high in Central Scouting (11th), but you don’t know what to think.
“You hear rumours every day. So when the Montreal Canadiens said my name it was definitely a thrill and a relief. I’m going to be joining a great traditional franchise.”
McDonagh showed his smarts with the Montreal media when he ended his interview session with a simple “merci.”
Pacioretty also quickly endeared himself to the Montreal writers, telling them that his grandmother was French-Canadian.
‘ ‘I’ve been to a couple of games in Montreal when I was younger,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere.”
He’s headed off to the University of Michigan after collecting 63 points (21-42) in 60 games with Sioux City of the USHL last season.
“I’ll listen to what the people in the Montreal organization tell me,” he said. “If they think I’m ready to leave early next year then I’ll think just like them.”
The six-foot-two, 203-pounder is projected to be a power forward.
“I try to have more of a Keith Tkachuk-type game,” said Pacioretty. “I like to play physical, bang some bodies.
“I don’t want to just help out offensively but also be a fan favourite, too.”
The Habs got the 22nd overall pick from San Jose at the trade deadline in the Craig Rivet deal.
Note: The Canadiens did trade minor-league goalie Michael Leighton to Carolina for a seventh-round pick.