Rabid Habs

Habs’ Top 15 Prospects

Habs Nikita Scherbak at 2014 NHL Entry Draft

More than ever, the Habs have plenty of promising prospects. There are so many that I decided to list 15 players instead of the traditional top 10. Marc Bergevin will have tough decisions to make in the near future to reduce his pool of young players destined for a bright future. Given that we must give to receive, the Habs’ GM may decide to acquire some seasoned veterans – offering one or two prospects in return. It is also clear that some of these young guns will need to adapt to the pace of professional hockey. Although they were able to develop in their own way at this stage of their career, they will soon realize that there is a huge jump between the junior and professional ranks. In my opinion, here are the Top 15 prospects for the Montreal Canadiens.

Honorable Mentions: Tim Bozon, Martin Reway, Jeremy Grégoire and Magnus Nygren

15) Mac Bennett / USA / 3rd round (# 79) in 2009 (Montreal) / Defenseman
Compared to Mark Giordano
His strength is his skating – Mac Bennett has all the necessary tools to earn a spot in the NHL eventually. He may not be as productive offensively as Mark Giordano, but he fits the profile; a relatively mobile and complete defenseman.

14) Zachary Fucale / Canada / 2nd round (# 36) in 2013 (Montreal) / Goalie
Compared to Carey Price
When comparing Zachary Fucale to Carey Price, I am not implying that he will experience a successful career as the latter, but his style is modeled on Price’s style. At the same age, Carey Price was significantly superior than Fucale. Some see a brilliant career for the Québécois, but I have some reservations about it. He is certainly talented, but he must show more consistency. If all goes well, he could land a starting goaltender job in the NHL, but for now, I see him as a very good back-up.

13) Greg Pateryn / USA / 5th round (# 128) in 2008 (Toronto) / Defenseman
Compared to Johnny Boychuk
Late bloomer, Greg Pateryn finally seems closer to being NHL-ready. His 15 goals and 38 points in 68 games in the American Hockey League last season, with a team such as the Hamilton Bulldogs, are indicative of his offensive flair. He is not afraid of physical play either. This tells me that Greg Pateryn could settle in the NHL soon. He won’t be spectacular, but should be effective in all three zones, much like Johnny Boychuk.

12) Hayden Hawkey / USA / 6th round (# 177) in 2014 (Montreal) / Goalie
Compared to Cam Ward
Hayden Hawkey is coming off a sparkling season in the USHL. He was voted best goalie in the league, with his stellar goals against average of 1.99 and save percentage of .926%. I’m talking about a fairly quick goaltender who has a good positioning technique. He certainly has things to work on before jumping to the NHL, but he has immense talent and he could be a successful NHL goalie despite the fact that he was selected late in the draft.

11) Michael McCarron / USA / 1st round (# 25) in 2013 (Montreal) / Right Wing
Compared to Bryan Bickell
Trevor Timmins made a bold move with his first round draft pick in 2013 by selecting Michael McCarron – a big forward who was omitted from the Top 30 by most hockey experts. Without being an offensive threat, the rugged style and imposing size of Michael McCarron will be undeniably useful to the Canadiens in the next two or three years. He should develop into a good third liner, much like Bryan Bickell.

10) Charles Hudon / Canada / fifth round (# 122) in 2012 (Montreal) / Left Wing
Compared to Reilly Smith
Charles Hudon has just completed a successful junior career, mostly spent with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. His offensive skills and defensive maturity allowed him to earn a spot in the last two world junior championships (he had to withdraw in the first due to injury). His dynamic skills can be compared to Reilly Smith, although the latter might be a bit more offensive than Hudon in the NHL.

9) Dalton Thrower / Canada / 2nd round (# 51) in 2012 (Montreal) / Defenseman
Compared to James Wisniewski
Passion, character and durability are three adjectives that best describe Dalton Thrower. In a few years he will be an important member of the Habs’ defensive squad. On the offensive side and rugged play, he looks a lot like James Wisniewski. Defensively, he will be better than the latter. A strong prospect for the Habs.

8) Artturi Lehkonen / Finland / 2nd round (# 55) in 2012 (Montreal) / Left Wing
Compared to Tyler Ennis
Real ball of energy on the ice, Artturi Lehkonen has all the ingredients to play on a second line in the NHL. His agility and offensive flair can be compared to Tyler Ennis of the Buffalo Sabres. He is rather frail, barely weighing 165lbs, but aside from this, Artturi Lehkonen seems well equipped to jump to the NHL in the near future.

7) Dustin Tokarski / Canada / fifth round (# 122) in 2008 (Tampa Bay) / Goalie
Compared to Ben Scrivens
The good performance of Dustin Tokarski in Eastern Conference finals against the New York Rangers, in the absence of Carey Price, shows the character of this young goaltender who has won wherever he went. I do not think he will be a legitimate starting goaltender in the NHL, but I think he could fill vacancies here and there and/or be a great back-up goaltender.

6) Jarred Tinordi / USA / 1st round (# 22) in 2010 (Montreal) / Defenseman
Compared to Jared Cowen
The Habs can count on Jarred Tinordi to be their wall on defense in the coming years. If his toughness and physical strengths are no longer in doubt, he will need to refine his skating and his play in the defensive zone. Have patience because Tinordi will meet our expectations.

5) Jiri Sekac / Czech Republic / Never drafted / Right Wing
Compared to Erik Cole
A bit like the old Canadian, Erik Cole, Jiri Sekac has good skating abilities, is very effective with puck protection and is not afraid to get his nose dirty in front of the opposing net. The Canadiens may have achieved one of the best moves of the summer by signing the undrafted player. We should see him with the Habs this season, and I feel that this player is not done surprising us.

4) Sven Andrighetto / Switzerland / 3rd round (# 86) in 2013 (Montreal) / Right Wing
Compared to Michael Cammalleri
An offensive machine, despite his small size, Sven Andrighetto has a future in the NHL. His passion, his skating, his devastating shot and agility are his most prolific tools. His offensive production in the NHL should be compared to that of Michael Cammalleri.

3) Nathan Beaulieu / Canada / 1st round (# 17) in 2011 (Montreal) / Defenseman
Compared to Michael Del Zotto
Agile and skillful defenseman, Nathan Beaulieu will be one of the key pieces on offense for the Canadiens in the coming seasons. He should also start next season in Montreal following a good performance in the Eastern Conference finals. Actually, it convinced Marc Bergevin to trade one of his pillars on defense, Josh Gorges, to make room for Beaulieu. His style resembles that of Michael Del Zotto (in his prime). As long as his attitude is in-check.

2) Jacob de la Rose / Sweden / 2nd round (# 34) in 2013 (Montreal) / Right Wing
Compared to Patrik Berglund
A reliable forward in all three zones, Jacob de la Rose is poised for a bright future in the NHL. His size, unlike some prospects listed earlier, leaves a lot to the imagination: 6’3″ and over 200lbs. He somewhat shares the style of Patrik Berglund, that is to say, a reliable defensive forward with offensive talent. He will be one of the pillars of the Canadiens for several seasons, and who knows, maybe a future captain.

1) Nikita Scherbak / Russia / 1st round (# 26) in 2014 (Montreal) / Right Wing
Compared to Alex Galchenyuk
Amazing hands, Nikita Scherbak is poised for a successful career in the NHL. He will certainly be a top player in a few years, possibly a linemate to Alex Galchenyuk. Moreover, their styles are very similar, which could create a nice chemistry between the two.

In sum, we see that the Montreal Canadiens have a deep pool of promising young prospects. Some will disappoint us and some will surprise us, but we must admit that the future is bright for the Habs.

Go Habs Go!

Editor’s Note: Translated from French, original article by Raphaël Lafrenière.