While late March is the heart of the stretch run for the Habs and Bulldogs,
it’s playoff time for their other prospects. The postseason has just
gotten underway for many of them and some early exits could result in some time
with Hamilton to finish the season. Here’s the playoff situation for each
of the Habs’ prospects and a look at which ones could be suiting up at the AHL
level before long.
Connor Crisp (Sudbury): The Wolves are in the 4/5 matchup in the OHL
East with both teams tying in points. Despite that, the 4th seeded Barrie
Colts are considered the favourites and are predicted to get through this series
somewhat quickly. Though Crisp is eligible to return to Sudbury next year,
he can also turn pro. Of all the prospects who could potentially join
Hamilton for a brief cameo, he may be the most interesting one to follow to see
how he shapes up.
Zach Fucale (Halifax): The defending Memorial Cup champs (the #2 seed
in the ‘Q’) are expected to walk over Charlottetown in first round action and
are likely to have another lengthy playoff run. After going 16-1 in last
years’ postseason, it will be interesting to see what he can do for an encore.
Jeremy Gregoire/Charles Hudon (Baie-Comeau): The QMJHL’s #1 seed are
also expected to breeze through the early round(s) for what should be a strong
postseason performance. Hudon got into some action with the Bulldogs last
year but barring a first round collapse and a major miracle in Hamilton, that
won’t happen again this season.
Michael McCarron (London): Despite being the 4th seed, they’re
expected to have a long playoff run in the very competitive West. Don’t
expect big numbers from him but playing regularly into late May (as the Memorial
Cup hosts) will be important for his development.
Jack Nevins (Rouyn-Noranda): The Huskies (#10) are the underdog in
their series against the Remparts (#7) with a notable point gap between the two.
Nevins has been a bit of a disappointment for them since being acquired
mid-season as his offensive prowess didn’t follow him to his new team.
Given that he’s already under contract for this year and the next two, expect
him to go to Hamilton as soon as possible if/when Rouyn-Noranda is ousted.
Martin Reway (Gatineau): There aren’t too many ‘coin-flip’ series in
the Quebec League’s first round but this is one of them as the 8/9 matchup.
For the Olympiques to move on, they’ll need the Habs’ diminutive 4th rounder to
be a go-to guy like he was all year. It has been speculated since the
World Juniors that Reway may be a candidate for Slovakia’s World Championships
entry which potentially could impact any chance of him joining the Bulldogs.
Brady Vail (Windsor): Even though Windsor had a nice run at the end of
the year to get into the #5 seed in the OHL’s Western Conference, it’s a near
David-vs-Goliath matchup against London. If the rumblings about the
Canadiens being hesitant to sign him are true, a trip to Hamilton will certainly
be in the cards if they’re ousted quickly; his effort there may be the
difference between him earning a contract or not.
Both WHL prospects (Tim Bozon and Dalton Thrower) are out for the season,
Bozon due to meningitis (thankfully he is progressing in his recovery) while
Thrower has an ankle injury.
Jacob de la Rose (Leksand, SHL): Leksand lost in the play-in round of
the SHL playoffs so their season is over. de la Rose’s deal is up at the
end of next month and it’s still not yet known where he’ll play next year.
If he wants to play in North America (be it with Hamilton or Windsor who owns
his CHL rights), it might be wise to get him into Hamilton sooner than later.
Just like they did with Sebastian Collberg last year, the Habs may have to give
him his ELC first.
Artturi Lehkonen (KalPa, SM-liiga): He missed 27 games between the
WJC’s and his ankle injury and still led the team in points. Suffice it to
say, his team didn’t make the postseason. However, his ankle injury will
keep him out of any potential action with the Bulldogs as well.
Magnus Nygren (Farjestad, SHL): His team is on the verge of winning
their first round series and not surprisingly, Nygren is a key cog for Farjestad.
Given his comments about the city of Hamilton when he left, it’s hard to imagine
he returns this year, even if there are games left in the Bulldogs’ schedule
when Farjestad is eliminated.
Erik Nystrom (Medvescak, KHL): Nystrom’s team has already been
eliminated from postseason play, getting swept by Lev. The good news is
that he played in three of four games, the bad news is that he didn’t amass four
minutes of ice time combined in those games. The fact that he hasn’t
returned to Hamilton is a strong indication that he won’t be receiving an
entry-level deal by the June 1st deadline.
Andreas Engqvist and Maxim Trunev’s KHL teams both missed the playoffs.
Mac Bennett (Michigan): Bennett’s Wolverines were surprisingly
eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Big 10 tournament which has left them in
a bit of an iffy position in terms of making the end-of-season NCAA tournament.
If they fail to qualify, he should be signing and joining the Bulldogs as soon
Michael Cichy (Western Michigan): The Broncos will be looking to
qualify for the big tournament through the NCHC play-in this weekend. Even
if they don’t make it, it probably doesn’t matter much to Montreal’s management
as Cichy has done nothing to warrant even a minor league tryout for the rest of
Josiah Didier (Denver): For them to qualify for the NCAA tournament,
Didier’s squad must go 2-0 this weekend in the NCHC semi-finals (and finals).
If not, his season is over which means he could turn pro. However, it is
reported that the Habs will not be pushing the physical blueliner to turn
pro right away.
Mark MacMillan (North Dakota): Like Cichy/Didier, the NCHC conference
tournament is what’s up next for MacMillan. Also like Didier, there is no
indication that the Habs want to turn him pro following his junior year which
more or less eliminates the possibility of any action in Hamilton.
Colin Sullivan (Green Bay): This is the one league that is still in
regular season play and will be until early April. Sullivan’s Gamblers
team is in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the East.
Regardless of their ability to make the postseason or not, Sullivan will not be
joining the Bulldogs as that would eliminate his chances of playing for Miami
University, where he just committed to last week.