Junior prospects put a smile on face of Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin

Junior prospects put a smile on face of Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin
Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin jokes as he speaks to the media before the start of NHL action against the Minnesota Wild in Montreal on Monday January 7, 2019. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was in a very good mood, smiling, laughing and joking when he met with the media at the Bell Centre a couple of hours before Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

after posting 6-2-8 totals in seven games while helping Team USA win a silver medal. The Canadiens selected him in the first round (25th overall) at the 2017 NHL Draft.

“He’s a centre — a young centre,” Bergevin said. “It’s a very important position. All teams that have quality centres keep them. You have to draft them, and we were lucky to take him. His progression? He had a good WJC in Buffalo last year, and this year he reached another level. So we expect he’s getting closer to being a pro, but we haven’t discussed future plans with him yet. We’re going to let him finish his university season (at St. Cloud State) and then talk to him when the time comes.”

Russian Alexander Romanov also put a smile on Bergevin’s face after being named the tournament’s outstanding defenceman. The Canadiens selected him in the second round (38th overall) at the 2018 NHL Draft.

“I know last summer when we stepped up and drafted Romanov at 38, we got critiqued,” Bergevin said. “But I remember at the table I said to (assistant general manager) Trevor (Timmins): ‘If we do like him, let’s just not wait because I don’t want a pick before us somebody grabs him and he’s gone and we wish (he was there).’ So when you like a player, you just step up and take them.”

The other Canadiens prospects at the junior tournament were Finnish forward Jesse Ylönen, who won a gold medal, American goalie Cayden Primeau, Canadian forward Nick Suzuki, Canadian defenceman Josh Brook and Swedish forward Jacob Olofsson.

Another reason for Bergevin’s good mood is the fact the Canadiens are in the hunt for a playoff spot after finishing 28th in the overall NHL standings last season. It will be interesting to see what — if anything — he does before the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline.

“Obviously, we’re not going to start giving up young assets,” Bergevin said. “If we drafted these kids, it’s because we believe they had some potential, and that came to the forefront in Vancouver with our prospects that really stepped up their games.

“From Day 1, I believe that if we did stay healthy, our goal was to fight for a playoff spot, and so far that’s what we’ve done and I expect the same for the second half,” he added. “Again, I’m always going to be listening to options, but the goal is to build for the future, and just to give up assets for a short-term (addition), I’m not going to do it.”
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