Family food feud helped Habs' pick

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:26 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - The Montreal Canadiens made defenceman Morgan Ellis one of their five picks on the second day of the NHL draft Saturday and they can probably be confident of one thing.

The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles defenceman knows how to fight for space just from being around the Ellis dining room table. The native of Summerside, P.E.I., grew up in a family eight.

The son of a beef farmer, he grew up with three brothers and two sisters ... and his elbows high.

“I’m a stay-at-home, first-pass ‘D,’” he said after the Habs selected him in the fourth round, the 117th selection overall. “I can throw a few checks and win a few battles and throw in a few assists here and there.”

The Canadiens had only four picks in the seven rounds Saturday. They used the 113th pick overall to take forward Mark MacMillan, a six-foot beanpole of a centre from Alberni Valley of the British Columbia Hockey League. He had 26 goals and 54 assists for 80 points in 59 games.

They took scoring winger Brendan Gallagher from the Vancouver Giants of the WHL with the 147th pick overall. The native of Edmonton had 41 goals in 72 games and also threw in 111 minutes in penalties in 72 games last season.

They finished up by taking winger John Westin from Sweden with the 207th pick.

The Canadiens moved up in the draft Friday to get the 22nd pick from the Phoenix Coyotes and used it to take defenceman Jarred Tinordi, the son of former NHL defenceman, Mark.

Now Habs general manager Pierre Gauthier will turn his attention to dealing with the free agent market.

Goaltender Carey Price is due to become a restricted free agent Thursday, but Gauthier said he didn’t know if he would be signed by then, which would protect him from a potential offer sheet from a raiding team.

“We need a goalie by training camp,” said Gauthier Saturday. “You have to expect it (an offer sheet). Every team with restricted free agents expects it, but I’m not in the habit of being afraid of things.

“Sometimes when you start talking (contract), it’s easier than you thought and other times you’re moving along and it doesn’t get done. It’s very unpredictable.”

Along with Price, forwards Sergei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre, Benoit Pouliot and Tom Pyatt are RFAs. All but Pouliot have been tendered qualifying offers. It’s expected Pouliot, picked up in the trade with Minnesota for Guillaume Latendresse, will get an offer before the deadline and the Habs might be sending the underachiever a message by making him wait.

It will be a much quieter summer for Gauthier than it was for his predecessor, Bob Gainey, who went into July 1 last year with about a dozen open roster spots. The Canadiens will return pretty much the same team that lost in the Eastern Conference final against the Philadelphia Flyers, minus goaltending hero Jaroslav Halak, who was traded to the St. Louis Blues.

Rookie defenceman P.K. Subban had a great playoff and will be needed as Andrei Markov, who underwent knee surgery, might not be ready for training camp.

The Canadiens have about $50 million of the $59-million salary cap committed to 16 players, but a lot of the room will be eaten up by a new deal for Price and the other RFAs.

“This is not like last summer where there was going to be change and everybody knew it,” said Gauthier.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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