The NHL draft is set to take place in ten days when all 30 teams will gather in New Jersey for the annual selection process. The Montreal Canadiens will make their way to the podium for the first time at 25th overall. They will not have to wait long to return as they select 34th and 36th as well, thanks to adding second round picks from the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames.
2013 is shaping up to be a great year to have extra picks as most experts suggest there is a very deep crop of prospects available. Having three of the first 36 picks in a deep draft provides an excellent opportunity for the Montreal Canadiens to welcome more high end talent to their prospect ranks.
As we count down the days to the draft on June 30th, we will take a closer look at some prospects who could very well be members of the Canadiens in a few short days.
Today, we will profile Kerby Rychel.
Rychel is a rugged winger who plays for the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League. He is best described as a power forward, using his six foot and 200 pound frame to his advantage to win puck battles and make room for himself in front of the opposing team’s net.
Though he is not known for fancy plays, he has blossomed offensively with Windsor, scoring 40 goals in consecutive seasons and leading the team each season with 74 and 87 points. He is said to be more of a complementary player, shining offensively when Alex Khokhlachev returned to the Spitfires lineup midway through the season. While he does not set up plays often, he excels at finding open space and converting his opportunities.
Although he was born in California, Rychel suits up for Canada at national events since he grew up in Ontario. He represented Team Ontario at the 2011 Under 17 Tournament and was a member of Team Canada at the 2012 Under 18 Tournament, where he compiled eight points in seven games.
Rychel is the son of former NHLer Warren, who is a veteran of more than 400 NHL games. Warren’s greatest asset was his fighting ability, as he piled up consecutive seasons of 300 plus minutes in penalties. He was known as one of the toughest customers in the NHL during the 90’s, as his 1422 career penalty minutes suggest.
While Kerby may not fight as well as his father, he is not afraid to stick up for a teammate when the time comes, much like he did during the CHL Top Prospects Game in Halifax. His opponent Ryan Hartman began the game taking runs at anyone who touched the puck. Rychel decided he had seen enough and tamed Hartman’s play early, dropping the gloves midway through the first period.
Rychel piled up 94 penalty minutes this past season with the Spitfires, playing a feisty style all year on a struggling Spitfires team that would ultimately miss the OHL postseason.
Rychel is ranked to go in the 20-25 range at the upcoming draft, meaning he could fall to Montreal at 25. However, if he is the player they are focused on, they may need to package their first round pick with a later pick to move up and ensure he becomes property of the Canadiens.
His ability to make room for teammates and capitalize on his opportunities could make him an exceptional fit on the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs are desperate for a player who finishes his checks and can provide a shot in the arm offensively as well.
Rychel’s tenacious play and ability to produce offense make him the type of player who could play on any line at the NHL level. If Kerby can translate his touch around the net to the NHL level, he could have a long career finishing off plays from the smooth hands of Alex Galchenyuk.