Rabid Habs

Top 10 Habs Prospects

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Note: I consider Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu as graduates so they are not eligible for this list.

 

1)      Magnus Nygren – RD – Farjestads, SHL

‘’The Swedish defender might not be a familiar name for some Habs fans but he’s definitely made a name for himself in the SHL. His 20 points in 25 GP after returning to his motherland was the best PPG in the league for defenseman. The Scandinavian who was selected in the 4th round in 2011 by Montreal was recipient of the Salming trophy last year which is awarded to the SHL’s top defender. He had a brief stint in North America this year by taking part of Montreal’s training camp and playing 16 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs. It’s worth noting that the reason Nygren left Hamilton was because he had trouble settling there due to culture shock. (source: http://www.habsfuture.com/2014/01/in-hamilton-focus-is-clearly-on-wrong.html)

The 23 year old defenseman possesses a lot of qualities that could help strengthen Montreal’s defensive group. Andrei Markov isn’t getting any younger and Montreal doesn’t have the most offensively dynamic group when it contains guys like Weaver, Tinordi, Gorges and Emelin. He’s a RD with excellent poise who’s adequate in his own end. His handedness could give him the nod over fellow prospect Nathan Beaulieu. He has an excellent stretch pass, a shot that can rival PK Subban’s clapper and some decent size he’s not afraid to use. Marc Bergevin hasn’t given any information on whether or not Nygren will be attending Montreal’s training camp next season, but we can only assume that the AHL is not a possibility. One option that could be evaluated is would be to keep Nygren on the team as the 7th defenseman and letting him getting used to North America like the Canadiens did with Mark Streit in 2005-06. ’’

 

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 Potential: top 4D, comparable: Marek Zidlicky

 

2)      Jacob de la Rose – Center – Leksand, SHL

‘’We find at the second spot of this list another Swedish player, which is rather shocking if you consider Montreal hasn’t had a good Swedish player since Mats Naslund. Jacob de la Rose who was selected 34th overall at last year’s draft completed his first season in the SHL with Leksand. He produced 7 goals and 13 points in 49 games on a team where he primarily played limited minutes. But where he shined the most was at the World Juniors where he produced 6 points in just 7 games.

De La Rose is a jack of all trades. He can play all positions up front, he’s not afraid to use his 6’3 frame and most importantly he’s a very responsible player in his own end. There are concerns of what his potential can be in the NHL because he’s not a natural scorer but he has all the tools to be sure-fire NHLer. The jury is still out on where he will play next season, some people speculate that he could play in the OHL next year for Windsor (there was talk about de la Rose crossing the pond to join the Spitfires earlier this year but issues between Windsor’s and Leksand’s GM plus contractual issues made that nearly impossible). I don’t think that would be a smart decision since the 2013 draftee has already shown that he can play versus men and playing in the CHL would be an evident downgrade. I believe playing in the AHL is the way to go for him; he will familiarize himself with North American hockey and will play in a league on par with the SHL. Don’t be surprised if we see de la Rose suit up for a couple of games with the Bleu Blanc Rouge next season.’’

 

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Potential: Top 6 forward, comparable: RJ Umberger

 

3)      Zachary Fucale – Goaltender – Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL

‘’Fucale is in a very fortunate situation in Montreal. With the existence of Carey Price, there is no pressure on the Rosemère native. He can develop at his own pace and have no need to be rushed like we see pretty often with goalies. He completed his third season as starter of the Mooseheads. He had the Best GAA (2.26) in the league and was named on the QMJHL second All-Star team. He also broke a record for being the youngest goalie to earn a 100 Wins. Zachary had a decent showing as Team Canada’s starter at the World Juniors but it wasn’t enough to bring home a medal. The young net minder has built himself a reputation for coming up big in important games after playing a key role in Halifax’s 2013 Memorial Cup win. However, Fucale had a less than stellar performance in the playoffs after being exposed by the Foreurs of Val-D’Or and their hot scorer Anthony Mantha. Hopefully he can learn from experience and conclude his final season in the Q league on a brighter note.’’

 

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Potential: NHL Starter, comparable: Corey Crawford

 

 4)      Sven Andrighetto – RW – Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL

‘’We find another prospect from the 2013 draft at this spot. Andrighetto had a very promising rookie season with the Bulldogs this season amassing 44 points in just 64 games. The Canadiens brass think highly of him since according to rumours they refused to let him go to Colorado in a trade what would have brought Parenteau to Montreal. He’s got tremendous speed, high hockey sense and a good arsenal of moves and shots. He needs to get stronger and work on his defensive game because with Montreal’s current forwards (Gallagher, Gionta; if he’s kept, Brière, Desharnais, Plekanec and Bournival) and their lack of size, he’ll need to outplay one of them to earn his spot on the team. I expect him to spend one more season in Hamilton before making the team in 2015-16.’’

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Potential: Top 6 forward, comparable: Martin Erat


5)      Artturi Lehkonen – RW – Frolunda, SHL

‘’It speaks for itself that with his 20 pts in 33 games with Kalpa this season, he was the team’s leading scorer despite being one of the youngest player on the team. Here’s an interesting article on his season: http://www.habseyesontheprize.com/2013/11/7/5078292/checking-in-on-artturi-lehkonen-and-why-he-isnt-scoring. He has the same tenacity that Brendan Gallagher has and is fearless when it comes to crashing the net. He had a very successful WJC by helping Finland win the Gold medal with his 4 points in 6 games. Injuries, especially concussions, have definitely been a concern for the skilled forward and some of it is due to the reckless style he plays. Another concern about Lehkonen is that he’ll need to get stronger if he wants to reach the NHL. He will play in Frolunda next season in the SHL, it will be a change from the Liiga and Habs fans can only hope that he has more success there than ex Habs prospect Sebastian Collberg.’’

 

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Potential: Top 6 forward, comparable: Brendan Gallagher

 

6)      Charles Hudon – LW – Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL

‘’Charles ended his career in the Q with his most productive season. The Alma native who was chosen in the 5th round in 2012 had 76 points 57 games. He also had some prolific playoffs by collecting 21 points in 22 GP and bringing the Drakkar to the finals of the QMJHL playoffs. Although some may consider his performance at the WJC disappointing, he barely saw ice time and whenever he did, he was creating something with his outstanding vision. I believe Hudon will be an NHL player down the road but I have no idea on what his potential is. His vision is impeccable, he’s responsible in his own end and he’s got a NHL release in his wrist shot. The things that are holding him back are definitely his size but also other details in his game that he will have to fix to take his game to the next level like utilizing his lethal shot of his more often and working on his speed. Hudon will play in the AHL next year and his skills should legitimize Hamilton’s offense that’s been lackluster to say the least in the past three years.’’

 

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Potential: Top 9 forward, comparable: Mathieu Perreault
7)      Greg Pateryn – RD – Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL

‘’The story with Pateryn is rather odd. After scoring only 6 goals in 142 total NCAA games, he’s blown up offensively in the AHL. He scored 15 goals in 68 games and set career highs everywhere else. He wouldn’t the first defenseman to be somewhat of a late bloomer offensively, guys like Jason Garrison and Sheldon Souray come to mind. Pateryn showed some promising things at the training camp but he has two major flaws: his lack of mobility and he’s prone to making bad decisions defensively. The defenseman who was acquired in the Grabovski trade with the Leafs still has one season before being required to go through waivers so I expect him to play one final year with the Bulldogs.’’

 

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Potential: Bottom pairing defenseman, comparable: Brent Sopel

8)      Michael McCarron – RW – London Knights, OHL

‘’McCarron had rollercoaster-esque season with the Knights this year; it was filled with ups and downs. Montreal’s first round pick in 2013 had difficulty at the start of the season of finding his game and adapting to the OHL. He was supposedly dealing with a shoulder injury at the time which prevented him for using his body as much as he and management/fans would like. But an unexpected move to center for the American forward was the turning point of his season. The switch to center made him move his feet more and got him more involved in the game. Following the move to center McCarron had 17 points in 23 games. One thing that McCarron will have to work on is consistency. He has games where looks like a monster and he has games where he’s practically invisible. That lack of consistency explains his many multi point games but also the many games where he was held off the score sheet. It’s worth noting that McCarron rarely saw any PP time and played on the team’s bottom 6 for a good portion of the season which can explain his underwhelming stats.

There has been a lot of criticism from Habs fans for this pick due to his lack of production in his first OHL season. Although his first steps need some work, his top end speed is great for a guy of his size. He had a very promising training camp showing what his role will be like if he reaches the NHL. I will start being concerned about McCarron if he has another disappointing season next year. We saw with Tinordi that it takes time to adapt after the making the switch from the US developmental program straight to the OHL. He will know what to expect this year and I expect him to be given more responsibilities from the Hunters. One thing is for sure, he’s a project and there is no need to rush him, I expect him to be in the NHL at the age of 22.’’

 

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Potential: Top 9 forward, comparable: Bryan Bickell

9)      Dustin Tokarski – Goaltender – Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL

‘’Dustin Tokarski had another stellar year in the AHL this season. His .919 save percentage was the 8th best in the league, his GAA of 2.38 was good enough to be in the top 10 of the league, keep in mind that Tokarski played on one of the worst teams in the league. Those numbers got him to participate to AHL All-Star game. Tokarski’s biggest flaw is his lack of size for a goalie. Rare are the goalies that have an impact in the NHL at 5’11. But Tokarski’s positioning and technique is good enough for him to still have success despite his obvious lack of size. The goalie who was acquired in 2013 just knows how to win. Under his resumé he has: a Telus Cup, WHL champion, Memorial Cup, WJC Gold medal and a Calder Cup. He’s proving right now that he’s a battler by keeping the Canadiens’ hope for a Stanley Cup alive. With Peter Budaj not being trusted by coaching staff one has to wonder if Bergevin will make room for Tokarski to be Price’s back-up next season.’’

 

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Potential: Journeyman starter, NHL back-up, comparable: Manny Legace

 

10)   Jérémy Grégoire – RW – Drakkar Baie-Comeau, QMJHL

‘’Grégoire was another prospect who was a pleasant surprise this year. The French Canadian forward who was picked 6th overall by Chicoutimi in 2011 seemed to be a player who peaked early at the Midget level but a trade to Baie-Comeau and an excellent showing (16 pts in 18GP) at the playoffs last year got him selected by the Canadiens in the 6th round last year. He had a great season with the Drakkar by collecting 69 pts in 65 GP and keeping his playoffs reputation alive by contributing 23 pts in 22 GP. Grégoire is a treat to watch because he skates like it’s like his last shift every single time he steps on the ice. He will need to work on his speed but other than that he has every quality required to play a bottom 6 role in the NHL.’’

 

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Potential: Bottom 6 forward, comparable: Nate Thompson

Feel free to comment or share your own list!