Montreal Canadiens prospects are trying to find a place to play this season. Gianni Fairbrother made his way to Nanaimo.
The Montreal Canadiens have loaded up on prospects over the past three NHL Drafts. Building through the draft and adding as many future pieces as possible isn’t a bad idea when your team is missing the playoffs.
So, the Canadiens were busy at the 2018 and 2019 NHL Drafts and they were supposed to be even busier at this year’s event.
Habs general manager Marc Bergevin has stockpiled as many picks as possible lately. He made 11 selections at the 2018 NHL Drafts and would take ten more prospects the following year.
The Canadiens were scheduled to host the 2020 NHL Draft at the Bell Centre and at one time they held 14 picks. Trades involving Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, and Josh Anderson leading up to the draft reduced that number and a few more transactions during the draft left the Canadiens with eight selections in total, but already 14 for next year.
Still, that means the Habs picked 29 players over the previous three drafts and only Jesperi Kotkaniemi was playing in the NHL’s postseason. With so many leagues canceling the end of the 2019-20 campaign and plans for the 2020-21 season still up in the air for many leagues around the world, it leaves many of the Habs best prospects with nowhere to play at the moment.
When (if) the college hockey season gets rolling in November, many Habs prospects will be hitting the ice. The QMJHL is already under way in Canada, but the OHL and WHL are still waiting to finalize their plans for the upcoming season.
This has left recent first round pick Kaiden Guhle waiting for his Prince Albert Raiders to play. They aren’t scheduled to start their regular season until January.
Another Habs prospect that was supposed to be playing in the WHL is Gianni Fairbrother. It appears he was tired of waiting and he is now playing for the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL.
The BCHL is British Columbia’s version of Junior A hockey. It is one step below the WHL where Fairbrother played the previous three seasons with the Everett Silvertips. Fairbrother, a 6’0″ and 195 pound left defenceman scored five goals and 25 points in 37 games for the Silvertips last season.
He was injured in January and missed the rest of the Silvertips season. With the WHL announcing last week that they aren’t going to play games until January, 2021, it would have left Fairbrother going a full year without playing a game. Instead, he has chosen to play with the Nanaimo Clippers for now, and will return to Everett when the WHL season begins.
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Fairbrother was a third round pick of the Canadiens in 2019. He is 20 years old so the Habs have to make a decision whether to sign him or lose his rights before the 2021 NHL Draft. Playing a few months in Nanaimo to get ready for the WHL season is a great idea for the Habs prospect.