Michael McNiven’s work with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack last season didn’t lead to him getting drafted, but the Montreal Canadiens gave him a chance to prove himself and his efforts led to him getting a three-year, entry-level contract.
It didn’t get off to a great start as he showed up for Montreal’s development camp overweight, but he managed to address that by losing 10 pounds before the start of the rookie tournament. From there he posted a 47-save performance in a 6-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospects.
“Sometimes, messages are hard to take for some kids. It’s like when they make a mistake, [it’s important to look at] how they react and what they do to get better. They need to understand that we’re there to help them. Michael took that to heart and he did what was asked. Now, he’s seeing that it’s working,” said AHL St. John’s bench boss Sylvain Lefebvre, who served as Montreal’s coach for that rookie game, according to Canadiens.com. “He battled. He made some big saves. He sees the play well.”
From there he got invited to Montreal’s main camp. Obviously the 18-year-old goaltender still has a long road ahead of him, but at least now he’s under the umbrella of an NHL organization.
“It’s a very big day for me and my family. I wasn’t expecting to come out with it, but it definitely came across my mind with the way I pushed myself during the offseason. It’s a great feeling. It’s just a first stepping stone to many more. I’ve just got to keep on going from here on in,” McNiven told the team’s website. “This past summer, I wasn’t selected at the NHL Draft in Florida. It just goes to show that I’ve come a long way with my training and my nutrition, and I came out with the best result I could possibly have. I wasn’t too upset after the draft, and I’m especially not upset right now. I kind of feel like it still hasn’t hit me yet.”