Part two of our rankings brings into the top 30 of Montreal’s prospect base. This group is highlighted by a pair of long-term projects as well as one player who has spent some time with the Canadiens in recent years.
As we’ve done the last couple of years, 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, 2015
2) The player must have no greater than 50 games of NHL experience (including regular season and playoffs)
3) The player cannot be signed to an AHL contract
Here are the departures from last year’s list (in alphabetical order):
Graduated: Nathan Beaulieu (NHL GP), Mike Condon (age), Magnus Nygren (age), Greg Pateryn (age), Maxim Trunev (age)
Released: Josiah Didier – he signed an AHL deal but Montreal has relinquished his NHL rights
Traded: Patrick Holland, Jack Nevins, Jiri Sekac
Included with each ranking is an estimate of each prospects’ NHL readiness date. For some players, the estimate is a specific season while others whose projected development paths are harder to determine will be in a range.
#30) Gabriel Dumont
Centre, Hamilton (AHL)
5th round pick (139th overall) in 2009
Dumont earned the nod as Hamilton’s captain last year and responded with a career year. He was as feisty as ever, hit the 20 goal mark for the first time (one of only two Bulldogs to do so), and earned himself a brief recall to the Habs as well.
Why is he this low then? The overall upside with Dumont, an undersized fourth liner type, is low while he turns 25 just before the season starts (he barely met the age requirement for this list). He’s a useful player to have in the system and won’t hurt Montreal as an injury call-up but he’s pretty much at his ceiling now and where he is isn’t good enough to be anything more than a short-term fill in.
2014-15 Stats: 66 GP, 20-25-45, even rating, 88 PIMS, 176 shots
Previous HW Ranking: 30th
NHL ETA: 2015-16 – Dumont is as ready as he’s ever going to be. It’s hard to think he has another level to his game after 349 career AHL contests; he is what he is as a pro player. He’ll have to go through waivers to make it to the IceCaps but it’s unlikely he would be claimed by another team.
#29) Joel Hanley
Defenceman, Portland (AHL)
Undrafted free agent signing in 2015
Hanley will be the answer to the question of who was the first UFA that the Habs signed when free agency opened on July 1st this past offseason. The Habs moved quickly to add the 24 year old rearguard who hit the radar after a decent rookie season in Arizona’s system. After a brief stint in the ECHL to start the year, he was recalled to the AHL in late October and was there to stay.
Years ago, Hanley was known for his offensive skills. As his time in college progressed, he became more defensive-oriented, a trait that carried over to the minors last year. Montreal is hopeful that he can rediscover his offensive touch on an IceCaps blueline that does not have a whole lot of firepower as things currently stand.
2014-15 Stats: 63 GP, 2-15-17, +7 rating, 34 PIMS, 86 shots
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
NHL ETA: 2017-18 – Depending on what happens with Mark Barberio, Hanley may play a bigger role than it might seem at first glance. If he becomes more of a two-way threat, he could bump himself up a couple of spots on the depth chart before too long.
#28) Jeremiah Addison
Left Wing/Right Wing, Ottawa (OHL)
7th round pick (207th overall) in 2015
After a couple of quiet years with Saginaw, getting dealt to the 67’s turned out to be great for Addison who turned in his best year in the OHL with his new team. Often playing alongside Dante Salituro in a top six role, his offensive game took a step forward while being relentless on the fore check and playing a rugged physical game.
Addison’s play away from the puck is what should make or break his NHL aspirations as he doesn’t project as much of a scorer at the next level. He profiles as an energy forward capable of killing penalties. He doesn’t have a high ceiling in terms of overall upside but Addison is a very intriguing selection at the back of the 7th round.
2014-15 Stats: 63 GP, 19-28-47, +3 rating, 49 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
NHL ETA: 2018-19 – He’s eligible to turn pro after this coming season as a late ’96 player. Assuming he continues to improve offensively this year, I can see the Habs getting him into the AHL quickly. After a couple of seasons there, he could be on the radar as a fourth line option.
#27) Nikolas Koberstein
Defenceman, Bloomington (USHL)
5th round pick (125th overall) in 2014
It was a tale of two halves for Koberstein’s year. After deciding to make the jump to the more competitive USHL, he found himself in a minor role with Sioux Falls, primarily as a shutdown blueliner. A midseason trade to Bloomington allowed him to take on more responsibility and he responded with a much better second half of the year.
Those of you who like tough, stay-at-home defencemen will like Koberstein as that more or less describes his game perfectly. He doesn’t bring much in the way of offensive skill to the table but loves to hit and is willing to drop the gloves as well.
2014-15 Stats (2 teams): 61 GP, 4-8-12, +10 rating, 138 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: 28th
NHL ETA: 2021-22 – When he was drafted, Trevor Timmins noted that Koberstein was a ‘five year player,’ meaning that he was five years away from turning pro. We’re only one year into that while he’d likely need two years of time in the minors before being ready. He’s a long way away from being ready.
#26) Connor Crisp
Left Wing, Hamilton (AHL)
3rd round pick (71st overall) in 2013
2014-15 was a year to forget for Crisp. At times he was injured, other times he was a healthy scratch, and most of the time when he played he was a complete non-factor. The Bulldogs used Crisp primarily in an enforcer role last season and while he is a willing and competent combatant, his pugilistic skills alone aren’t getting him to the NHL. But that didn’t stop the team from miscasting him in that role.
Earlier this summer, I mused about why it would be best for Crisp to be demoted to start this coming season and play in the ECHL instead. He has some talent, certainly enough to be more than a prototypical goon. With the incoming rookies, it’s hard to think that Crisp will be more than a fourth liner again with St. John’s so if he’s going to get a chance to work on his non-fighting skills, it’ll have to be in Brampton.
2014-15 Stats: 39 GP, 2-3-5, -2 rating, 102 PIMS, 20 shots
Previous HW Ranking: 20th
NHL ETA: 2017-18 – Assuming he gets a chance to play away from the fourth line, Crisp should have a much better sophomore season. The better his all-around play becomes, the better the chance of him making the jump. It’ll take a couple more years before we find out whether he can develop those skills enough to be a serviceable fourth line NHL’er in the future.
With the season quickly approaching, we’re looking to add to our writing team. If you’re interested in writing about the Habs (or their AHL affiliate in St. John’s), please click here for more information.