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The second part of our prospect rankings is highlighted by a variety of
newcomers to the organization.  A pair of players from the most recent
draft find themselves in this grouping, as well as one from well inside our
top-20 last season and another with NHL experience.  Three of these players
are longer-term projects although the others will likely be fighting for a
qualifying offer next offseason.


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, 2013
2) The player must have no greater than 50 games of NHL experience (including
regular season and playoffs – Brendan Gallagher has 49 but since he’s a regular,
he has been exempted)
3) The player has to be signed on an NHL contract

Here are the departures from last year’s list (in alphabetical order):

Graduated: Andreas Engqvist
Released: Olivier Archambault, Alexander Avtsin, Alain Berger, Daniel
Pribyl, Ian Schultz, Joe Stejskal, Dustin Walsh
Traded: Danny Kristo, Aaron Palushaj (waivers)


#30) Stefan Fournier
Right Wing, Halifax, QMJHL
Undrafted free agent signing in 2013

It was likely Fournier’s QMJHL playoff performance that got him on the Habs’
radar as he averaged just shy of a goal per game throughout the postseason. 
He is an intriguing power forward prospect as he has shown a willingness to play
physically while his offensive game has improved each year.  There are,
however, knocks on his skating ability and I don’t think he’s going to be much
of a point producer at the pro level.  However, Fournier one of the more
interesting projects in the organization and if he can find a way to provide a
reasonable amount of scoring in Hamilton, he could be an option as a bottom six
callup down the road.

2012-13 Stats: 66 GP, 35-37-72, 100 PIMS, +17 rating, 16 PPG,
Previous HW Ranking: N/A

#29) Joonas Nattinen
Right Wing/Centre, Hamilton, AHL
3rd round pick (65th overall) in 2009

Injuries have completely derailed Nattinen’s development path as he has
missed nearly an entire season worth of games since joining the Bulldogs two
years ago.  He has played well when healthy but has yet to show much in the
way of improvement in the offensive end.  Defensively, he has the smarts to
compete at the NHL level and being able to play both centre and the wing will
work in his favour.  Nattinen will need to be much more of a factor on the
scoresheet or risk being bumped even further down the depth chart.  A
strong season will give him a good shot at getting a qualifying offer but if he
struggles or the injury bug strikes again, he likely will be let go in the

2012-13 Stats: 24 GP, 5-4-9, 8 PIMS, +6 rating, 32
Previous HW Ranking: 16th

#28) Jeremy Gregoire
Centre/Right Wing, Chicoutimi/Baie-Comeau, QMJHL
6th round pick (176th overall) in 2013

Last season was an up-and-down one for Gregoire.  His sophomore campaign
in Chicoutimi didn’t get off to a strong start but when he was dealt to
Baie-Comeau, he took off.  He’s a smart defensive player whose offence is
improving; like Fournier, his postseason performance likely bumped him up on the
Habs’ radar after collecting just shy of a point per game.  Although he’s
not the biggest player, he doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff and often is
the aggressor.  The next step for Gregoire this year will be maintaining
that level of offensive production and becoming a full-time top six forward.  

2012-13 Stats: 62 GP, 19-13-32, 100 PIMS, -9 rating, 5 PPG, 146
Previous HW Ranking: N/A

#27) Connor Crisp
Left Wing/Centre, Erie, OHL
3rd round pick (71st overall in 2013)

Of all of the selections the Habs made this past June, his was the most
puzzling.  After missing most of his first draft-eligible year due to
injury, Crisp rebounded with a decent 20-goal campaign on a weak Saginaw squad
while playing a physical style.  It’s that combination that most likely got
the attention of the scouts as the team is lacking tough guys with skill in the
system.  Unfortunately, his upside is very limited, he’s most likely going
to be a fourth liner and not much else at the NHL level which is why he debuts
this far down our list.  On the plus side, the odds of him reaching his
ceiling is higher than quite a few of players in front of him.  This will
likely be his last year in the OHL (which will be with Sudbury having been
traded in training camp) as he’ll be eligible to play for Hamilton
next season.

2012-13 Stats: 63 GP, 22-14-36, 139 PIMS, -31 rating, 8 PPG
Previous HW Ranking: N/A

#26) Dustin Tokarski
Goalie, Syracuse/Hamilton, AHL
Acquired from Tampa Bay in 2013

The netminder did the seemingly unthinkable when he was acquired – he made
the Bulldogs a much tougher team to play against.  For the bulk of his
games, Tokarski held opponents to two or fewer goals, giving his team a chance
to win pretty much every night (unfortunately the lack of scorers in Hamilton
resulted in them still losing quite a few of those contests).  His size
works against him as at 5’11, he’s quite small for the position which may
explain why Robert Mayer got a contract before he did despite having
significantly inferior numbers; Habs’ management in recent years has valued size
when going after goalies.  If he clears waivers, Tokarski should battle for
the starting job once again with the Bulldogs.

2012-13 Stats: 48 GP, 24-16-4 record, 2.38 GAA, .909 SV%, 6
Previous HW Ranking: N/A