The Montreal Canadiens announced Cam Hillis has signed his entry level contract with the team.
The Montreal Canadiens began loading up on draft picks in 2018 and have clearly put an emphasis on building through the draft since general manager Marc Bergevin began using the term “reset” about two years ago. In the past two drafts, they started to target clear areas of need for the organization with their plethora of picks.
In 2018, the Habs selected five centres, a position that has been lacking in the organization for many years. They started to load up on left defencemen at last year’s draft, another area where the team needs improvement.
One of the centres that the team picks in 2018 was Cam Hillis. The talented playmaker just signed his entry-level contract with the Canadiens. He was taken in the third round of that draft with the 66th overall selection. Hillis has had a bit of an up and down Junior career, but just capped it off with a terrific season.
Before being selected by the Canadiens, Hillis had an impressive first season with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League. He scored 20 goals and 59 points in 60 games and was named to the All-Rookie Team at the end of the season.
Things didn’t go quite as planned for Hillis in his second season with the Storm. Guelph had a terrific team, but injuries limited Hillis all year long and he finished with just 22 points in 33 games on the season. He only suited up for two postseason games, as the Storm, led by Nick Suzuki, would go on an impressive run and win the OHL Championship.
This season, Hillis was back healthy and better than ever. He was named team captain prior to the season, stayed healthy all year, and was a dominant presence for the Storm. He scored 24 goals and 59 assists for 83 points in 62 games. That bounce back shows that Hillis second season was not the norm, as he couldn’t get back to 100% while dealing with injuries, even when he could get into the lineup.
The 5’11” and 170 pound right-shot will now suit up for the Laval Rocket next season. His entry-level contract is not scheduled to begin until next season, so he is locked up for the next three seasons. He is a skilled centre, and his role will depend on where Ryan Poehling, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jake Evans play in the future.
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However, we know he will be in the Habs organization for the near future and has the potential to be a solid scorer for the Rocket soon. We will have to wait and see what kind of impact he can make at the AHL level before we make any proclamations about his NHL future. Either way, his ability to score 83 points in 62 OHL games shows he was a worthy gamble with a third round draft pick.