The NHL draft is just three days away, and due to the Montreal Canadiens playoff success, they are slotted to pick 26th overall in the opening round on Friday night.
There have been many second generation NHLers drafted early in the past few seasons, and the son of a former big league player just so happens to be a perfect fit for the Canadiens this season. Not only is he the son of a former NHL player, but he is also the son of a former Montreal Canadien.
Brendan Lemieux is a budding power forward with the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, and his father Claude broke into the NHL with the Habs in 1985. Brendan just finished his second season with Barrie, and became a key member of their offensive attack.
Lemieux was buried on a deep Colts team last season that went all the way to Game 7 of the OHL finals before falling to the London Knights. Brendan scored just 14 points, but found a way to suit up for 42 games as a 16 year old rookie with one of the best Junior teams in Canada.
This season, Lemieux broke out for 53 points in 65 games, tying him with teammate Aaron Ekblad who is likely to be the first overall selection on Friday night. Lemieux scored 27 goals in the regular season, and much like his old man Claude, stepped up for the Colts in the postseason. In 11 playoff games this season, Lemieux scored seven goals and ten points, leading the Colts to a first round victory over the Sudbury Wolves before falling to the North Bay Battalion in a six game second round series.
Lemieux got better as the season went along and he found a role as a regular contributor to the Colts offense. In Barrie’s last 31 regular season games, Brendan scored 32 points before his impressive postseason. Combining the second half of the OHL regular season and the playoffs, Lemieux notched 42 points in 42 games, an impressive feat for a 17 year old.
What would most endear the younger Lemieux to Habs fans is not his offensive output, but the way he plays the game. He is a big winger who plays a very physical style, and doesn’t shy away from any contact.
Lemieux is 6’1” tall and weighs 210 pounds. He is an agitating type winger who never takes a shift off, sticks up for teammates, and scores at an impressive pace. He is basically a bigger version of Brendan Gallagher, which is exactly what the Montreal Canadiens need. His 145 penalty minutes are a bit of a red flag when it comes to discipline, but also signal a player who plays a very physical game, which is a trait that would be welcomed on the current Habs roster.
Lemieux is ranked to be picked just outside of the first round by most prognosticators, meaning he will almost certainly be available when the Habs turn comes at 26th overall. The Canadiens would be wise to nab a second Lemieux with the 26th overall pick, like they did when Brendan’s dad was available at the 1983 draft.