The Montreal Canadiens boast one of the top farm systems in the NHL as they have a solid group of talent and depth at every position, and are lead by a strong core of first round picks. With Mike Komisarek, Alex Perezhogin, Chris Higgins, Andrei Kostitsyn and Kyle Chipchura, the Canadiens have put together an interesting combo of size and skill with their more recent first rounds over the last four drafts, and they also have the older by highly skilled Ron Hainsey and Marcel Hossa who were also selected in the first round five years ago.
|1. Alex Perezhogin|
2. Andrei Kostitsyn
3. Chris Higgins
4. Yann Danis
5. Tomas Plekanec
6. Kyle Chipchura
7. Marcel Hossa
8. Ron Hainsey
9. Ryan O’Byrne
10. Mikhail Grabovsky
|11. Corey Locke|
12. Mark Streit
13. Maxim Lapierre
14. Oskari Korpikari
15. Christopher Heino-Lindberg
16. Jaroslav Halak
17. Duncan Milroy
18. Konstantin Korneev
19. Michael Lambert
20. Alexei Emelin
|21. Cory Urquhart|
22. J-P Cote
23. Mark Flood
24. Andrew Archer
25. Greg Stewart
26. Jonathan Ferland
27. J T Wyman
28. Matt Shasby
29. James Sanford
30. Christian Larrivee
Top 30 Prospects
1. Alex Perezhogin- RW. Perezhogin started off the year slowly, spending time in North America to take care of his legal troubles, but made it back in time to catch on with last years RSL champs Avangard Omsk. Playing mostly on the 3rd line, Perezhogin was able to produce offensively as he also saw time on the PP and at times was put on a line with the highly skilled Jagr, as he enjoyed a career year and even spent time with the Senior National team.
2. Andrei Kostitsyn- RW. Kostitsyn had some difficulty making the jump from the Russian league to the AHL, although he was one of the youngest players in the league and often found himself getting ice time on the lower lines. Management has to be happy with the progression he made in his all round game, as he improved his play without the puck and hopefully next season will pick up his offensive production with an increased role with the team.
3. Chris Higgins- LW. Higgins looked like he had a case of the sophomore slump, but he continued to work hard night after and night and soon some of those chances started going his way, as he turned it on in the second half and was one of the few Dogs to have success against Ryan Miller in the first round of the playoffs.
4. Yann Danis- G. Danis was sort of an unknown at the time it was announced he would be joining the Hamilton Bulldogs for their playoff push last year, but there aren’t many fans who haven’t heard of him and his impressive play by now. Considered by some as the Bulldogs MVP this year, Danis showed why the Canadiens were interested in his services for two years, as management tried to sign him after his junior year but Danis wanted to stay for his senior year and what a senior year he had, setting all kinds of school and conference records on a very average Brown University team. In Hamilton this year he showed what a good goalie he really is, often keeping his team in games with his stellar positional and technical play.
5. Tomas Plekanec- C. Plekanec once again led the team in scoring, as he has been the Bulldogs top scorer in two of the three years he’s been with the team. There’s little doubt about how skilled he is after enjoying a great deal of success this year and was even named the MVP of the AHL All Star game. Plekanec along with Chris Higgins made up one of the top PK units in the league this year, with both solid defensive and offensive play.
6. Kyle Chipchura- C. Chipchura was on a role early in the season as he was in the top ten in scoring in the WHL and was making a name for himself to earn a chance to play for his country at the world junior tournament, but a freak accident cost him any shot he might have had and forced him to miss close to four months of the season. But Chipchura bounced back strong, as he rejoined his team in time to help them win the first round of the playoffs and even move on to the third round, putting up a point a game average.
7. Marcel Hossa- LW. Hossa chose to go overseas with the NHL lockout in place, going over to Sweden to play in the SEL where he enjoyed a very successful season scoring goals in bunches. Later in the year he was even joined by his brother, and hopefully will build off the confidence he showed this year.
8. Ron Hainsey- D. Hainsey did not have the kind of season many fans had hoped for, but with the return of his former D partner and fellow countryman Mike Komisarek, his played picked up a great deal and he was able to cut down on the mental errors. Hainsey was able to set a career high in goals surpassing the seven he had the prior year, and also became the Bulldogs all time leader in goals and points for a defensemen in the three season he’s played for Hamilton.
9. Ryan O’Byrne- D. O’Byrne cut back on the physical hockey as he was often getting caught out of position, but the sophomore defensemen was still one of the more physical players in the league and could be counted on for a penalty or two every game. What’s important for O’Byrne is that he improved his defensive play and decision making as well as the speed that he reacts to plays. He should play an even bigger role with the team next year, with the loss to two senior defensemen.
10. Mikhail Grabovsky- LW/C. Grabovsky came out of nowhere to lead his team in scoring and for a time he was in the top ten in league scoring in the RSL, despite the fact of several quality NHLers in the league. With great speed and acceleration, Grabovsky can cover a lot of ground and make things happen in the offensive zone, as he has good vision and even better hands, making him a treat to watch.
11. Corey Locke- C. Locke showed that size doesn’t matter, as he was seventh in the league in rookie scoring in the AHL this year, even though he was often stuck with limited ice time and not the most skilled linemates. Next year Locke should play a bigger role with the team, so he will need to show he can handle the physical play all season long and still be a threat to score on a nightly basis.
12. Mark Streit- D. Streit at 27 is really too old to be considered a prospect, but it’s hard to over look his impressive set of skills and the way he plays the game. After being drafted last summer as an overager, Streit enjoyed a career year in the LNSW, and represented his team at the World Championships, where he showed why the Canadiens were interested in picking him up. Streit isn’t the biggest guy, but he skates well both forwards and backwards, has good speed, but it’s his positional play as well as being very intelligent in reading the plays both defensively and offensively. Looked very strong in his one on one play and along the boards, which must be very encouraging for the Canadiens management including Mr. Gauither who was the brains behind selecting him.
13. Maxim Lapierre- C. Lapierre didn’t have the offensive success he enjoyed while playing on a line with Michael Lambert and Cory Urquhart, but that didn’t stop him from battling night in and night out, despite the fact that PEI was sorely lacking skilled offensive players. Wearing the C this year, Lapierre will do whatever it takes to win, is strong on the PK and on the forecheck, using his very good speed, skating and long reach. Look for Lapierre to end up in Hamilton next year where he can work on his offensive game.
14. Oskari Korpikari- D. Korpikari had a difficult season as the injury bug and military duty forced him to miss most of the season with Karpat of the FNL. After just turning 21, Korpikari has already spent parts of three season in the top mens league in Finland, seeing regular ice time with one of the top teams. It’s unclear when management plans to bring him over, but he would make a very nice addition to the Bulldogs roster next year if possible.
15. Christopher Heino-Lindberg- G. Heino-Lindberg enjoyed a great season playing for Hammarby of the tier-2 league in Sweden, where he was one of the top goalies in the league and was the top U-20 goalie in the country after getting the starting job for Team Sweden at the WJC’s. A shoulder injury cost him some playing time at the wjc’s but his strong play was good enough to earn him a contract in the SEL next year a solid step for the 20 year old.
16. Jaroslav Halak- G. Halak made the jump from the Slovak junior league where he was one of the top goalies in the league and even saw time in the top mens league at the age of 18. He didn’t look out of place this year in the Q as one of the top goalies in the league and should be in Hamilton or the ECHL next season.
17. Duncan Milroy- RW. Milroy rebounded well off a disappointing rookie year last season, picking up a career high in goals, assists and points. Hopefully next season he can build off this year, since he should play a bigger role with the team and will be looked upon to carry more of the offensive load.
18. Konstantin Korneev- D. Korneev was one of the few prospects to be affected by the lockout, since he saw his ice time drop a great deal from middle pairing mostly to lower pairing to not even on the roster at times. But the soon to be 21 year old has played a regular shift in the RSL for the past three years and has even spent a small amount of time with the Senior National team. Korneev would make a nice addition to Hamilton next season if management can convince him to take a major pay cut, but perhaps some words from Alex Kovalev, a teammate of Korneev’s this year, would influence him to make the jump as Hamilton will likely be short on defensemen.
19. Michael Lambert- LW. Lambert struggled at times with Hamilton this year, after coming off a career year in the QMJHL last season. With the arrival of Steve Begin, Lambert did get sent to Long Beach of the ECHL and seemed to play well and even led the team in goals during the playoffs. Next year Lambert will need to step it up and fill in offensively.
20. Alexei Emelin- D. Emelin was another prospect affected by the lockout since he saw very limited ice time, which had to concern the Canadiens management, as they can’t be happy that he play in ten games plus some playoff action for Lada. There’s no doubt Emelin likes to play a physical game, the kind of player most guys don’t like to play against since he makes them pay the price. Even saw time with the National Junior team at the 5 Nations and WJC’s, but it remains to be seen if the Canadiens will want him to stay in Russia, as he could get a ton of ice time over here if he were to make the jump to the CHL if drafted in the CHL import draft, which would help him adapt to North America.
21. Cory Urquhart- C/W. Urquhart played in only one game for Hamilton this year, spending most of the season in Long Beach, where he enjoyed a solid season playing mostly on the second line. While Urquhart did put up solid numbers for one of the youngest players in the league, he didn’t show much if any improvement in his physical game or improve his overall strength. Next year will be an interesting one for Urquhart, as he should make the Bulldogs but will need to work very hard over the summer to be ready for the physical side of the AHL.
22. J-P Cote- D. Cote was given a tryout with the Canadiens two summers ago and impressed management enough to be given a shot with the Bulldogs, where he went on to lead the team in plus minus with an impressive +27. This year injuries got in the way early on, but he came back in time to be one of the Dogs top defensemen, playing some very solid hockey in his own end. A very hard worker who gives it his all and is a team first kind of player, Cote will likely play a major role on the Dogs defense next year seeing top pairing ice time.
23. Mark Flood- D. (Not with the organization anymore) Flood turned down a contract offer from the Habs last summer, as he chose to play in the OHL as an overager this year. While the goals didn’t come, he did enjoy a career year for assists despite missing a small chuck of the season with a broken finger. Hopefully Flood can get a spot with Hamilton next year, if not he may have to spend some time in the ECHL as he can’t go back to the OHL next year and with his all round solid play he would provide good depth for Hamilton next season.
24. Andrew Archer- D. Archer bounced back from a somewhat shaky rookie year, where he saw limited ice time and even spent a few games in the ECHL. This year he started to show a good deal of improvement in his game and became one of the more solid defensively sound defensemen for Hamilton. Not gifted offensively, Archer plays a smart, safe game in his own end and with his long reach he can make things tough for forwards trying to break in on him. Next year he should play a major role with the Dogs defense, perhaps seeing top pairing ice time.
25. Greg Stewart- RW. Stewart was a surprise pick to many in last summers draft, as the rookie winger saw limited ice time on a struggling Petes team. But this year he showed why he was drafted, setting a career high across the board and was a big part of the Petes great turnaround season which ended just shy of making a memorial cup appearance. Stewart is clearly a hard working player that will play a physical game and can put up points with some strong play around the net.
26. Jonathan Ferland- RW. Ferland had difficulty with his offensive game, but he did miss a few weeks in the season due to injury, and he did continue to play a strong physical game as well as good work around the net. Next year Ferland has to step up his offensive production, as it’s likely many key players will not be back assuming the NHL is back on track.
27. J T Wyman- RW. Wyman started off his rookie year slowly, but as the season progressed, so did he and the offense followed shortly behind him. Not a very impressive season stats wise, but Wyman does posses size, skating, speed and a willingness to play a physical game along with solid work along the boards. Next year he will need to step up his offensive production if Dartmouth is to go anywhere in the ECAC next year.
28. Matt Shasby- D. Shasby spent a small part of the year with the Bulldogs, but ended up playing the rest of the season with Long Beach, where he led the Ice Dogs in scoring for a defensemen and was their top D man this year. Injuries forced him to miss some time this year, but hopefully he is given a chance to make the Bulldogs full time next season.
29. James Sanford- D. Sanford was another prospect invited to tryout with the Canadiens after a very solid career in the QMJHL, where he impressed management enough to give him a contract and loan him to the Rivermen of the ECHL. He ended up leading the team in scoring for defensemen and earned himself a trip to the ECHL All Star game but could not play since he had been called up to Hamilton and he never looked back.
30. Christian Larrivee- LW. Larrivee had a solid rookie year in the ECHL last season, and even appeared in two games with the Bulldogs. This year he was sent to Long Beach, where he was one of the top players on the team and even played for the Bulldogs for a few weeks. Next year is his final contract year, so he’ll need to pick up his offensive production, but management should be happy with his improved physical play, as well as his hard work and efforts as well as his all round play.