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In the final column of this years' Fantasy Focus series, we take a look at the prospects. These players likely won't spend the entire season in the NHL but should see some time with the big club and depending on what role they're put in, they could have some significant fantasy upside. With the injury to Rene Bourque, one player could very well get a chance to play in a potential scoring role coming out of training camp.
Nathan Beaulieu: If injuries arise with the powerplay struggling at the same time, Beaulieu becomes a prime candidate for a short-term recall. His defensive game needs some development so he's not likely a player who is going to be up long-term. Given his offensive abilities though, he's worth keeping an eye on when he is in Montreal.
Michael Bournival: The other junior player in camp (Gallagher) last year got all the attention but I truly believe Bournival was ahead of him in terms of how close either were to making the Habs' opening roster. However, what endeared him to Jacques Martin is why you need to look elsewhere when Bournival is with Montreal - he is a quality, versatile two way forward that has next to no chance of playing in any sort of offensive role at this stage of his career. That made him an interesting 4th liner for Martin but that's not the type of player to help you win your league.
Gabriel Dumont: I see him moving up the depth chart after Michel Therrien gets a close look at him. He's not realistically a candidate to play inside the top-9 up front but even as a fourth liner, he might be worth a pickup in very deep leagues due to the physical, spunky style he plays; he's bound to pick up some penalty minutes along the way. Beyond that though, stay away.
Alex Galchenyuk: The most interesting and exciting rookie forward to come to Montreal in years has a chance to crack the Habs' roster out of training camp. If that happens, he is worth a draft pick in most formats. Where to pick him becomes the question, however. If you think he will stay in the NHL all season long, it's justifiable to take him in the middle rounds. But, if you think he might only play his nine games before being sent back to junior to avoid burning a year off his entry-level deal, you're best off waiting until a late round to pick him.
Brendan Gallagher: Natural goal scorers are a bit of a rare breed which works in Gallagher's favour. If he has another strong training camp, he should have a better than average chance to make the opening night roster. If that happens, he is worth a late draft pick in your fantasy league. If he starts the season with Hamilton and is called up, he would be worth picking up as he likely would be placed into a scoring role.
Blake Geoffrion: This is a make-or-break year for Geoffrion. I would avoid drafting him at all costs - if he makes the roster he likely won't be in an offensive role. As a call-up though, he is an intriguing candidate for a deep fantasy team. When Geoffrion had success in Nashville, it was when he played a top-six role in the AHL and then was brought up to do the same with the Predators. If that situation presents itself in 2012-13 with Montreal, he's capable of another quality stretch of games where he could be worthy of a pickup.
Louis Leblanc: Despite the fact he is widely believed to be the Habs' second best forward prospect and the fact he spent more time in the NHL than the AHL last year, I don't think he brings a whole lot of fantasy upside to the table this year. His offensive game isn't refined enough to be a regular in the top-six with Montreal meaning his role would at best be a third liner who sees some time on the penalty kill. That's not worth using a roster spot on unless you're in the deepest of leagues.
Aaron Palushaj: His play toward the end of last season may help his cause towards earning a roster spot out of camp. Despite that, his potential usefulness is limited on a fantasy roster unless he gets the offensive role temporarily vacated by the injured Bourque. Palushaj can be streaky, if he does play with Montreal and gets on a bit of a hot streak, he's worth picking up but the potential gains would be short-term.
Frederic St. Denis: He's likely to be the first defenceman recalled this year if injuries/trades arise. Despite that, he doesn't have any sort of upside in your pool. He won't see any powerplay time while his offensive game in general is mediocre at best. He's a valuable player to the organization as a depth guy but that's where his value stops.
Jarred Tinordi: The only way Tinordi is worth an addition to your fantasy team is if you believe he is going to drop the gloves with some sort of regularity. Given that he'd immediately become the most talented fighter on the defence corps, that's not entirely unrealistic but it's a risky gamble at best. If he does wind up spending some time in the NHL, someone in a deep league will probably pick him up due to his status as a former 1st rounder but there should be better options than him out there.
The introduction of rookies into the draft in most fantasy hockey sites over the past few years has added another interesting element to the draft. Finding that one rookie that is off of most peoples' radars can be a big boost to your success but on the flip side, drafting that rookie too early, or drafting too many rookies altogether, can be quite cumbersome. Looking at the collection of Montreal rookies/young prospects, there isn't really anyone who looks to provide good value at your draft. Yes, there's Galchenyuk, but as is often the case with players selected in the top few spots of the draft, someone will invariably select him several rounds before most would even start to consider picking him. When it comes to your drafts, look away from the Montreal youngsters.
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