Training camp and the start of the season are on the horizon which means here at HabsWorld, it’s time for our annual prospect rankings. We begin with the bottom four prospects, 31 through 34.
As we’ve done the last few 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, 2016
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 (previous ranking and reasoning in parentheses):
Graduated: Jacob de la Rose (2nd, NHL GP), Sven Andrighetto (8th, NHL GP), Joel Hanley (29th, age), Joonas Nattinen (34th, age)
Released: Darren Dietz (17th), Mac Bennett (20th), Gabriel Dumont (30th), Morgan Ellis (33rd)
Traded: Jarred Tinordi (7th), Christian Thomas (16th), Stefan Fournier (35th)
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.
#34) Colin Sullivan
Defenceman, Miami-Ohio (NCAA)
7th round pick (198th overall) in 2011
If we could call a player a complete non-prospect, Sullivan would get that distinction. In his third college season, he still couldn’t land a regular spot in the lineup (and it’s not like he’s on a deep team with lots of quality prospects on the back end).
It’s quite the telling sign when you consider that Montreal didn’t have Sullivan on their Development Camp invitation list for the second straight year while there were plenty of other college invites attending…including one of his teammates. He has one year of NCAA eligibility left and would need a miracle and then some to warrant a contract.
2015-16 Stats: 15 GP, 1-0-1, -7 rating, 6 PIMS, 9 shots, 13 blocks
Previous HW Ranking: 36th
NHL ETA: N/A – He has a long way to go to be worthy of an AHL deal let alone an NHL contract. His performance since being drafted provides no evidence that he can return to being an NHL calibre prospect.
#33) Dalton Thrower
Defenceman, Brampton (ECHL)
2nd round pick (51st overall) in 2012
After a poor rookie season, I was holding out hope that Thrower would take a step or two forward. Instead, he wound up with arguably an even worse sophomore campaign. When he was in Brampton’s lineup, he was routinely on the bottom defence pairing and wound up as a healthy scratch in St. John’s at times as well. That’s hardly what you want to see from any prospect, let alone a former second round pick. As a result, he dropped the most from last year’s ranking.
With the Habs letting a couple of right shooting defencemen go in Dietz and Ellis, Thrower bumps up the depth chart a tad. However, it’s still unlikely he will see meaningful action to start the season with the IceCaps and it’s hard to be optimistic about a third year pro starting in the ECHL once again. (Unless they want to try him as an energy fourth liner which I think would give him a bit more of a chance at succeeding.)
2015-16 Stats: 29 GP, 1-3-4, -10 rating, 60 PIMS, 27 shots
Previous HW Ranking: 22nd
NHL ETA: 2019-20 – If he takes enough of a step defensively and earns another deal (which seems highly unlikely at this point), he’s still going to need some time to get his game anywhere near NHL ready. (And that doesn’t even consider his offensive play which has been extremely weak as well.)
#32) Connor Crisp
Left Wing, St. John’s (AHL)
3rd round pick (71st overall) in 2013
Concussion problems wound up sidelining him for the majority of the season, making his second pro season a write-off. However, injuries also made his first AHL year a write-off; he barely has the equivalent of half an AHL season of experience so far. It’s hard to make a positive impression when you’ve missed around 70% of the games in two seasons.
Crisp is nothing more than a fourth liner at the professional level and is more of a fighter than anything else which makes the concussion that much more of a concern. If he can stay healthy all year, he’ll have to pick and choose his battles with the new fighting restrictions in the AHL which might actually be beneficial as it will force him to make the rest of his game good enough to warrant a spot in the lineup.
2015-16 Stats: 10 GP, 0-0-0, -6 rating, 25 PIMS, 8 shots
Previous HW Ranking: 26th
NHL ETA: 2018-19 – His NHL ceiling is fourth line tough guy which doesn’t necessarily take a whole lot of extra development. For that to happen though, Crisp would need to show some signs of an offensive game and defensive awareness to not be a complete liability at the next level. And, of course, he can’t miss most of the season with injuries yet again.
#31) Arvid Henrikson
Defenceman, AIK J-18 (Sweden Jr.)
7th round pick (187th overall) in 2016
I liked this selection back at the draft and still do now despite the low ranking. If you’re going to take a gamble on a long-term project, a big defenceman in the 7th round is a good spot to do so. However, it can’t go without being noticed that Henrikson spent a lot of time in the second tier of the U-18 division. That’s not a good thing when a lot of quality (NHL-drafted) prospects in Sweden will see time at the U-20 level in their draft year.
As he’s now too old for the U-18 level, Henrikson will move up to U-20 where he may be in tough early on to carve out a key spot in the lineup. A reasonable goal for this year will simply be to work his way up that lineup instead of pushing for a role with the men’s team in the Allsvenskan.
2015-16 Stats (J18 Elit): 21 GP, 4-16-20, +21 rating, 24 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
NHL ETA: 2021-22 – The Habs have four years to sign Henrikson and it will probably take that long for him to show he’s ready. The progression is going to be slow and steady if all goes well which makes him a candidate to slowly and steadily move up the rankings in the coming years.