The Habs have had several youngsters make an impact in recent years and that’s likely to continue in 2016-17. Here’s a closer look at how those prospects can help your fantasy team.
Zach Fucale/Charlie Lindgren: As things stand, if Mike Condon makes it through waivers, he’ll be the first netminder recalled if injuries strike in Montreal. If he gets snatched up though, then there might be room for one of these rookies to get a shot if Carey Price or Al Montoya gets hurt. Even at that, whichever one gets the nod would only be in a #2 role; there should be more proven options available in most leagues.
Brett Lernout: With the team choosing to let both Morgan Ellis and Darren Dietz go this summer, Lernout is now the top prospect on St. John’s back end. That doesn’t really say much about his fantasy upside though; if he were to get a shot with the Habs this year (and there’s a decent shot of that happening), it would be in a third pairing role with limited to no special teams time. Down the road he could be a sneaky depth fantasy option with hits and PIMS but that’s still a couple of years away.
Mikhail Sergachev: Personally, if it were up to me, he wouldn’t see NHL action this year. He has only one year of North American hockey under his belt and going from junior to the NHL as an 18 year old defenceman is a tough task (even more so for someone who has played predominantly on international ice until a year ago). But, the thought is that there are those in the organization who think he’s ready now. If he does make it, I could see him getting some power play time as that is one of his strengths which could make him a viable option in a deep pool.
(Philip Samuelsson is the most likely AHL blueliner to see NHL action in 2016-17, assuming he clears waivers in the preseason and at 25, is too old to be classified as a prospect. However, although he is coming off a decent minor league season offensively, he’s not likely to do much in that regard. If and when he does get in Montreal’s lineup, he won’t be of use in a fantasy league.)
Daniel Carr: In terms of merit, he deserves to make the Canadiens based on his play last year where he quietly produced at a 20+ goal pace. Carr could be a victim of his waiver exemption to start so I’d be hesitant to pick him now unless your draft is after final rosters are submitted (if it is and he’s on the team, he’s worthy of a late round pick). While it’s not likely that he’d produce at a 20+ goal pace again this season, he could be a serviceable end-of-roster fantasy option if he’s in that second/third line mix.
Charles Hudon: It was surprising that he didn’t get much NHL time last year which may wind up hurting his chances in training camp of making the team. Hudon is decent enough in his own end to not have to be sheltered and he should be in the battle for a second/third line spot. Given the lack of an NHL track record, I’d be hesitant to add him in a pool (I think in most leagues better options would be there) but his AHL numbers should at least provide some cause for optimism that he could produce with Montreal.
Artturi Lehkonen: Based on his finish to last season, his contract situation (NHL or SHL), and comments from his coach in Sweden, Lehkonen seems to be an early favourite to land a spot with the Habs. He’s not the type of player you ideally want on a fourth line so if he makes it, it’s either in a 2nd/3rd line role or the 13th forward with them not wanting to loan him back to Sweden. If he’s on pace to make it by your draft, he’s a legitimate late round pick in deep leagues that could be around 25-30 points in the right situation.
Michael McCarron: His introduction to the NHL wasn’t the greatest and with the bottom six depth they have, it’s unlikely that he’s in the mix to make the team out of training camp. McCarron should be one of their first options to call up but unless he gets off to a quick start in the minors, it’s hard to envision him getting much time in offensive situations short of standing in front of the net on the power play. Even so, he could be of use in head-to-head leagues as he should pick up plenty of hits and penalty minutes.
Martin Reway: We now know for certain that he won’t break with the Canadiens as he has been hospitalized in Slovakia and won’t attend training camp. Assuming he is able to get back to full health, he could be an option for a late season call-up if the team needs a boost offensively and as a player who is only going to be recalled if he’s in a scoring role, he would become a very intriguing option, particularly in points-based leagues.
Nikita Scherbak: Montreal’s 2014 first rounder is full of offensive potential but his overall game and consistency are far enough behind that he shouldn’t be in the discussion to make the opening night lineup. If he improves in those areas during the year, he could be worthy of a midseason or later recall when an offensive winger goes down. Much like Reway, his skills are good enough that he should be on the radar to pluck off the wire but Scherbak’s track record isn’t as strong so I’d suggest there is more risk if you want to add him whenever he gets the call.
There have been some years where the prospect options haven’t been that interesting from a fantasy perspective but this isn’t one of those. The Habs have several youngsters that could make an impact not only on the ice but in your pool as well. Not only will the battle for the last couple of spots in training camp be exciting, there will also be a season-long battle to jockey for the right to be the first player or two recalled from St. John’s. Following the youngsters should be a lot more interesting this season.