The latest developments from Canadiens camp
The Canadiens took a flyer two years ago when they selected Jake Evans, a Tier Two junior from Toronto in the seventh round of the draft, and it’s proving to be a good pick.
Evans, who recently completed his second season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, is among 45 prospects attending the Canadiens’ development camp this week in Brossard. As a U.S. college player, he’s paying his own expenses for a week of measuring his progress.
Evans, a 6-foot-1, 190 pound centre, was Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer with eight goals and 25 assists in 37 games, and he helped Notre Dame qualify for the NCAA tournament.
“The coach gave me a lot of trust and the team was close, so that helped,” said Evans, who started for Notre Dame as an 18-year-old. “I grew a lot from my first to my second year and my focus is to keep that going.”
Evans said his plan is to play four seasons at Notre Dame, earn his degree in business management and then “see what happens.”
He said he felt comfortable on the ice while competing against top draft choices as well as players who have a season.
“I feel I’ve grown up, I feel strong, and I got a step on some guys but I still want to get stronger,” Evans said. He noted that he has added 5-10 pounds of muscle in college.
Marshall Rifai won’t start college until the fall but Trevor Timmins invited him to the camp after he was passed in last month’s draft.
The 18-year-old from Beaconsfield was projected to fall in the fourth or fifth round, but he sat through seven rounds without being picked.
“It was disappointing, but those things happen,” said the Beaconsfield native who spent the past two seasons at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. “All you need is one team to like you and it didn’t happen.”
Scouts rated Rifai as one of the best pure skaters among the defencemen in this year’s draft, but a concussion caused him to miss the beginning of the season and he may have been downgraded because the competition in the prep ranks is a step below the USHL and junior leagues in Canada.
Scouts also question Rifai’s hockey IQ, but he’s smart enough to rate an offer from Harvard. He’ll be heading there in the fall of 2017. The school’s reputation was enough to influence his decision, but he said he was also impressed by the coaching staff headed by former NHLer and Harvard grad Ted Donato.
Evans scored a goal Sunday as Team B defeated Team A 7-3 in the first of two scrimmages Sunday. Jeremy Grégoire led the winners with a hat trick against St. John’s IceCaps teammate Zach Fucale while Hayden McCool, a tryout from the Windsor Spitfires, and Will Bitten, the Canadiens’ third-round draft pick last month, each added two.
Team A had goals from Michael Pezzetta, a sixth-round draft pick, Slovak Martin Reway and Reid Duke, a tryout from the Brandon Wheat Kings.
In the second scrimmage, Team C edged Team D 2-1 on a penalty shot by Markus Eisenschmid, a German who played 28 games for St. John’s last season. Defenceman Thomas Parisi, who had a tryout with St. John’s after finishing up at Providence College, had the other goal for the winners while Jeremiah Addison spoiled the shutout bid by Providence College goaltender Hayden Hawkey.