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Typically, the start of September means two things for us here at HabsWorld. 
One is the eager anticipation for the upcoming season to begin although with the
lockout now in full effect, we may be waiting for a while for that to happen. 
The other is something that the lockout has no bearing on, our annual prospect
rankings.  Our series kicks off today with rankings 36 through 39, a
collection of minor leaguers and players who may not even make it that far.


As we did last season, the top-10 have been voted on
by members of our HW writing staff while the remainder of the rankings were done
by yours truly.  Here are the criteria that each player had to meet to be
eligible to be in these rankings:

1) The player must be 24 years old or younger as of October 1, 2012
2) The player must have no greater than 50 games of NHL experience (including
regular season and playoffs)
3) The player has to be signed on an NHL contract

Here are the departures from last year’s list (in order of their previous

Graduated: Brendon Nash
Released: Mark Mitera, Olivier Fortier, Andrew Conboy, Dany Masse, Hunter
Bishop, John Westin, Scott Kishel
Traded: Brock Trotter


#39) Phillipe Lefebvre
Left Wing, Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL
Undrafted free agent signing in 2009

Instead of being sent to the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers (where he belonged),
Lefebvre got to stay up with Hamilton all season and play in the majority of
their games as a result of the ridiculous rash of injuries that plagued both the
Habs and Bulldogs.  Unfortunately he played about as well as expected,
meaning he did very little.  Now in his second pro season, he will be in a
dogfight simply to make this team even in a reserve role.  At this stage in
his development, he’s probably better off going down a level to try and
rediscover the scoring touch Montreal thought he had when they signed him as an
18-year old years ago.  

2011-12 Stats: 69 GP, 5-6-11, 10 PIMS, -18 rating, 87 SOG
Previous HW Ranking: 39th

#38) Michael Cichy
Centre, DNP – NCAA Transfer
7th round pick (199th overall) in 2009

After opting to transfer to Western Michigan (from North Dakota) at the end
of the 2010-11 campaign, Cichy was forced to sit out all of last season as per
NCAA regulations.  We’ll see this year if the move was worth it but given
the lack of success in his collegiate career to date, I don’t have my hopes up. 
On the plus side, he didn’t lose a year of eligibility meaning that he has two
seasons to prove his worth to the Canadiens’ organization.  Also worth
noting is that he will be coached by long-time NHL bench boss Andy Murray.

2011-12 Stats: DNP – Ineligible
Previous HW Ranking: 38th

#37) Joe Stejskal
Defence, Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL
5th round pick (133rd overall) in 2007

After suiting up in a handful of regular season and playoff games upon his
NCAA team being eliminated in 2010-11, I thought he’d be ready to handle the
rigors of a full pro season.  Sadly, that wasn’t the case as he bounced in
and out of the lineup with regularity, never really earning the confidence of
Clement Jodoin and his staff.  Even with six of Hamilton’s regular
defencemen gone from last years’ squad (they only had eight on the roster for
the bulk of the year), he will be in tough to crack the roster as a top-six
blueliner this season.  If he can’t be a regular, I hope he gets sent down
to Wheeling where he can at least get regular ice time. 

2011-12 Stats: 55 GP, 0-3-3, 26 PIMS, -15 rating, 46 SOG
Previous HW Ranking: 32nd

#36) Maxim Trunev
Right Wing, Severstal, KHL
5th round pick (138th overall) in 2008

Is Trunev the 36th most talented prospect in the organization?  Of
course not, skill wise he should be considerably higher.  However, the odds
of him actually doing anything for the Habs are slim and falling quickly as he
has shown no interest in coming to North America as of yet.  Being stuck in
a bottom six role as he has been in the KHL doesn’t fit his style of play
particularly well as an offensive minded player which is holding his development
back.  He is playing for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv this year, the new team that
has rejoined the league after a tragic plane crash killed their entire team last
September.  He is off to a good start with them early on so there is still
hope for him…if he’d ever consider crossing the pond.

2011-12 Stats: 55 GP, 0-3-3, 26 PIMS, -15 rating, 46 SOG
Previous HW Ranking: 31st