Thursday, September 22, 2005


Getting Giddy for Guillaume Latendresse

When the Montreal Canadiens nabbed Guillaume Latendresse with the 45th pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Habs fans all over the internet were creaming themselves over getting such a "steal". Many pundits predicted Latendresse as a sure-fire 1st round pick, but he had a slow start to last season after a shoulder injury nagged on like your step-mother.

The 6'2" 222lbs forward was dubbed the next John LeClair, the next Patrice Bergeron or the next Todd Bertuzzi, depending on which fanboy was shrieking like a pre-teen girl who just won a date with Lance Carter. (And why not the next Colin Forbes? He needs some love, too)

Well, after Montreal's 6-1 preseason win over Tampa Bay's "B" squad, the fanboys are shrieking again and even the casual Habs fans are taking notice.

One of my old fantasy hockey cohorts, Marc Hebert, filed these post-game thoughts and scouting reports after his attendance at this preseason derby.


Modin-Richards-St-Louis-Boyle didn't dress for TB while Montreal was without Ribeiro-Dagenais-Ryder-Bulis.

The line of Latendresse, Bonk and Hossa was amazing. Latendresse scored twice and added and assist while Hossa and Bonk each got 1 goal and 3 assists. Steve Begin and Tomas Plekanec scored the other goals for Mtl while Jim Campbell scored the only goal for TB.

Latendresse really stole the show. He got the first star and besides his offensive prowess, he showed good skating abilities and speed, threw a few good hits and show a lot of poise and strong positioning in the offensive zone. Some "experts" are already saying that he could be this season's Patrice Bergeron (also drafted 45th overall in 2003). Hossa finally is starting to look like an NHL player and might make a first name for himself in the future. Latendresse and Hossa made Bonk look good tonight. Radek seemed sluggish and doesn't look like a very strong skater.

The kids line of Chris Higgins, Tomas Plekanec and Alex Perezhogin looked very good. Higgins and Perezhogin especially. Plekanec seems a little slow and I think his skating will eventually be the difference between a star AHL player or a regular NHLer. Yann Danis looked okay between the pipes. He can definitely be a backup in the NHL. A starter? Time will tell...

It seems like the Habs management will have some hard decisions to take. Pretty much everyone, the fans, the media and even some players like Theodore seem to want Latendresse to stick around. The fans (we) were even screaming Guy-Guy-Guy! on a few occasions during the game. Only time will tell but Latendresse definitely looks like a steal in the second round. In the rookie tournament (with Toronto, Ottawa, Carolina), he was the best player along with Andrew Ladd of Carolina.


Now, I think that Guillaume, besides having a name that is hard to spell without looking it up, was a good pick for the Habs at #45 and I am surprised that he slipped below some 'projects' like the Slovak Vladimir Mihalik. Still, we know preseason games don't mean anything in the big picture, and Guillaume wouldn't be the first player to have a great preseason game and then do little else... you don't see Stars fans shouting out "Polak, Polak" after Vojtech Polak's 5-point performance (Well, apparently "Polak" is a derisive term when Americans say it, so I'm told)

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