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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
In this instalment of our prospect rankings, we see the first of the players selected back in the June draft. The Hamilton Bulldogs are well represented here as no less than three skaters find themselves slotted in the 31-35 range. Also, one prospect who in the past found himself in our top-20 has slipped into this section.
This year, we changed things up a little. 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, 2011
2) The player must have no greater than 40 games of NHL experience (including regular season and playoffs)
3) The player has to be signed on an NHL contract
As the Habs brought several youngsters up last season, this year's list will look a lot different as many of the top prospects are no longer eligible. Here are the departures from last year's list:
Graduated: David Desharnais, Lars Eller, Frederic St. Denis, P.K. Subban, Yannick Weber, Ryan White, Alexei Yemelin
Released: Patrick Johnson, Petteri Simila, J.T. Wyman
Traded: Mathieu Carle, Ben Maxwell, Ryan Russell
#35) Colin Sullivan
Defenceman, Avon Old Farms, USHS
7th round pick (198th overall) in 2011
Of all of the 7th round gambles the Habs have used on collegiate bound prospects in recent years (Michael Cichy, Scott Kishel, and Patrick Johnson), Sullivan honestly intrigues me the most. Instead of being an offensive player that needs defensive refinement, it's the other way around with him which is something that couldn't be said about the aforementioned players. He is most certainly a long, long-term prospect though as he won't kick off his college career until 2012-13.
2010-11 Stats: 27 GP, 3-12-15, 14 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
#34) Hunter Bishop
Left Wing, Hamilton, AHL
Undrafted free agent signing in 2010
Bishop worked his way back up to Hamilton last season but didn't come close to having the same impact that he did when he signed out of college (2-3-5 in 9 preseason games). Injuries ended his season prematurely and that may have cost him a spot in the Bulldogs' lineup to start this year with the added depth on the wings. Potentially losing your lineup spot heading into a contract season isn't exactly ideal but if he can earn his way back into Hamilton's lineup before the end of the year, it could earn him a new deal.
2010-11 Stats: 34 GP, 4-4-8, 10 PIMS, +7
Previous HW Ranking: 28th
#33) Dany Masse
Left Wing/Centre, Hamilton, AHL
Undrafted free agent signing in 2008
It's all in the interpretation with Masse. On the glass half full side, he made tremendous strides in his defensive game, even earning some penalty kill time towards the end of last season. On the glass half empty side, his offensive game seems to have completely vanished. His versatility position wise should help to keep him up with Hamilton full time this year but he will need to take strides forward in all aspects to avoid becoming a complete afterthought on the depth chart.
2010-11 Stats: 36 GP, 3-6-9, 18 PIMS, +2
Previous HW Ranking: 35th
#32) Joe Stejskal
Defenceman, Dartmouth, ECAC
5th round pick (133rd overall) in 2007
Stejskal plays a very safe defensive game while he isn't afraid to throw the body around. Those elements are what prompted the Habs to give him a pro contract after he finished in college, getting him into some games in Hamilton before their season ended. As it stands, he's likely a reserve defenceman with the Bulldogs heading into 2011-12 so it may be in his best interest to see regular action with Wheeling in the East Coast League. Mind you, we figured the same with Brendon Nash last year and we all know how that turned out.
2010-11 Stats: 33 GP, 3-2-5, 37 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: 30th
#31) Maxim Trunev
Right Wing, Severstal, KHL
5th round pick (138th overall) in 2008
On raw talent alone, there is no way he should be this low on the list. He moved up full time to the KHL in 2010-11 and although his offensive game didn't thrive, his defensive game made some strides. With a full year under his belt, the offence should come along this season. So, why is he so low? To date, Trunev has shown no desire to come to North America which really lessens his chance of having any sort of impact for the Habs short of being trade bait. If he ever has a change of heart though, he'll shoot up this list quickly.
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