A longtime dream came true for defenceman Josh Brook Friday morning when he signed his first NHL contract with the Canadiens.
It’s a dream his father, Dwayne, had for an even longer time.
“He said: ‘You’re living my dream,’ because he played hockey in the WHL,” Brook said about his father, who played four seasons as a junior right-winger with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Saskatoon Blades and Prince Albert Raiders before playing two years at the University of Brandon. “The one phone call we had (during training camp) he said: ‘This is awesome! This is my dream you’re living through right now and I’m just so happy for you.’”
Friday was a happy day for the entire Brook family as the 19-year-old signed a three-year, NHL entry-level contract with the Canadiens after they selected the 6-foot-1, 187-pound defenceman in the second round (56th overall) at the 2017 NHL Draft. The Canadiens also signed undrafted forward Joël Teasdale, 19, to a three-year, entry-level deal on Friday. Both players were among the 23 cut from training camp later in the day and they were returned to their junior teams in Medicine Hat and Blainville-Boisbriand, respectively.
Brook posted 3-29-32 totals and was plus-48 in 45 games last season with the junior Warriors after recovering from a wrist injury suffered at Canadiens’ rookie camp that required surgery. Teasdale had 32-33-65 totals in 65 games with the Armada and helped them advance to the President’s Cup final with 8-13-21 totals in 22 playoff games. The 5-foot-11, 203-pounder from Repentigny also won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the QMJHL’s Sportsman of the Year.
“Between (Brook) and Teasdale, I was really happy this morning because I found out that they were both signed,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “So I thought that was great news. I was happy to know that we were keeping those guys in our organization.
“(Brook’s) a real smart player,” the coach added. “I thought he had good vision, makes good, smart decisions on the ice. He’s not an overly physical player. What I mean by that is he’s not throwing big hits. He’s still going in the corner and battling and doing those kinds of things. Really, I thought he was poised and made some smart decisions with the puck. Even his positioning. The other night there were some scrums, he was in there right away and grabbed somebody. So there’s a lot of good things I saw from him.”
As for Teasdale never being selected at the NHL Draft, Julien said: “There’s no specific one way to make the NHL. There’s late bloomers. It’s tough because they’re young … it’s tough for people to predict. And then, all of a sudden, you get a guy … look at where (Tyler) Johnson came from for Tampa. He wasn’t drafted. There’s guys that not necessarily get overlooked, but they get missed. And if you’re lucky enough and smart enough, we love those guys.”
Brook was on a 6 p.m. flight Friday back to Moose Jaw, where he plans to spend this season working on becoming stronger in the defensive zone, including stick-on-puck and along the boards. He also wants to get quicker and add some muscle in the gym.
When asked what his earliest hockey memory is, Brook said it’s getting a shutout as a goalie at the pre-novice level in his home town of Roblin, Man., when every kid got a chance to play in net. But his father didn’t want him to stay as a goalie, so Brook became a defenceman and now has his first NHL contract.
“It felt awesome,” Brook said about putting ink to paper. “It’s something I’ve been working for and it’s a step in the right direction toward my ultimate goal of playing in the NHL. So it’s awesome.”
Anything special he plans to buy when he gets his first NHL paycheque?
“I might just pay my parents (Dwayne and Kelly) back a little bit,” he said. “They’ve done a lot for me. I don’t know … nothing really comes to mind, I guess.”