Sunday, 12 July 2015

Noah Juulsen signs a contract, considers his Habs jersey number, prepares for WJC Team Canada evaluation camp.

Noah Juulsen, not too up-to-speed on the Canadiens' history, being an Abbottsford lad and Canuck-Kevin Bieksa fan, did some research apparently, trying to figure out which number he could eventually wear.  This article from La Presse's Marc-Antoine Godin says that he's worn #16 in the past, but checking upon its availability, stumbled upon "un certain Henri Richard."

Tough luck kid.  For #3 also, by the way.  Although I always have to think real hard about this one.  "What, #3 isn't available also?  John Van Boxmeer got his jersey retired?  Brian Engblom?"

An interesting point is that he's one of three defencemen from this draft year who got invited to the WJC Team Canada evaluation camp in August, along with Mitch Vande Sompel who played with Mike McCarron in Oshawa and won the Memorial Cup, and Jérémy Roy.

This will be an interesting comparative if these two have a long career.  It may be a Mike Bossy-Mark Napier situation, the Canadiens preferring a player relatively unknown to its fans to the obvious local kid.  Or, if we're lucky, Noah will be Ryan McDonagh/Max Pacioretty over Angelo Esposito/David Perron.

But the dynamic will exist, these two players will be linked in the eyes of many fans and draft-watchers.  The Canadiens could have had either at #26, chose Nikita Scherbak's teammate rather than Daniel Audette's teammate, and the Sharks were only too happy to trade up to #31 to pick up Jérémy Roy as the first player chosen in the second round.

So this summer will be the first marker in what could be a long race between these two.  Who will be the one to catch the eyes of the coach and management staff at the evaluation camp?  Will we start snapping our suspenders, or flaming Trevmarc Bergetimmins on HIO so soon after the June draft?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Canadiens were in a great position to get to know both defencemen prospects, with comparatively greater access and familiarity to the Silvertips and Phénix players and coaching staff, and more 'viewing' opportunities.  I have to trust that they made the best decision they could, and it wasn't based on faulty or incomplete information.  They had a book on both guys.

Maybe it'll turn out that they chose the wrong player, five years down the road, but not for lack of information or due diligence, like the Terry Ryan pick.  This isn't an Erik Nystrom or Lukas Vejdemo pick, based on limited but positive info.  They looked under every rock for both these kids, got to ask Donald Audette about Jérémy Roy's study and off-ice habits, got to ask Kevin Constantine about what Noah Juulsen's family is like, etc.

So yeah, I trust that we made the right decision, but you can be sure I'll verify.

I remember a WKRP episode where Les Nesman was finishing up his news segment with the happy announcement from the British Royal Family that Prince Charles and Princess Diana were expecting their first child, relatively soon after the fairy-tale royal wedding.  Mr. Nesman closed off by saying, with pauses for extra significance, "We'll be watching the dates very closely..."

I too, will be watching the dates very closely, starting with the August evaluation camp.

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