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- With a $5 M cap hit, Sergei Gonchar is one of the most expensive d-men in franchise history. The only ones higher are P.K. Subban ($9 M), Andrei Markov ($5.75 M), Mathieu Schneider ($5.75 M), and Roman Hamrlik ($5.5 M).
Part 3 of our prospect rankings yields some names that fans will be more familiar with. It also is one of the more diverse groupings in terms of playing level as there is a relatively wide gap in terms of age and where they played in the 2011-12 season. One thing that is consistent with these players is that they are particularly strong in one or two areas but need considerable work on their all-around game to be able to take that next step.
As we did last season, 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, 2012
2) The player must have no greater than 50 games of NHL experience (including regular season and playoffs)
3) The player has to be signed on an NHL contract
Here are the departures from last year's list (in order of their previous ranking):
#30) Magnus Nygren
Defenceman, Farjestad, SEL
4th round pick (113th overall) in 2011
After bursting onto the scene in the second half of 2010-11 to get drafted as a 21 year old, last year was a disappointment for Nygren. His offensive numbers on a per-game basis were comparable to his SEL stint the season before but his defensive deficiencies were seriously exposed. It has quickly become evident that it will be his offensive abilities alone that get him to the NHL playing a Marc-Andre Bergeron type of role. With numerous rookies making the jump to Hamilton this year and the potential for a few more to go to the AHL next season, his odds of signing with Montreal prior to his deadline (June 1, 2013) decrease accordingly.
2011-12 Stats: 50 GP, 7-11-18, 6 PIMS, -10 rating (team worst)
Previous HW Ranking: 20th
#29) Greg Pateryn
Defenceman, Michigan, CCHA
5th round pick (128th overall) in 2008 (acquired via trade from Toronto)
I think there is a very good chance that Pateryn will become a favourite of new coach Sylvain Lefebvre in Hamilton this year. With the influx of rookies coming in (four first time pros), the fact that Pateryn is more mature and a bit further along his development curve will be quite beneficial to the Bulldogs. I worry that he is close to his plateau, however. Defensively, he projects as a reliable shutdown type of blueliner but he doesn't bring much of an offensive game to the table. He should see regular third pairing ice time with Hamilton this season.
2011-12 Stats: 41 GP, 2-13-15, 65 PIMS (highest among
defencemen), +16 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 30th
#28) Dustin Walsh
Centre, Dartmouth, ECAC
6th round pick (169th overall) in 2009
If you were trying to pick out the 'sleeper' prospects in the system, Walsh would need to be near the top of that list. His offensive game is above average for the collegiate level, he even averaged over a point per game last season. So why is he down this low? Simple, he can't stay healthy. He has missed the equivalent of an entire collegiate season in his three years with Dartmouth which won't help his cause in trying to get a pro contract before next season. If Walsh can avoid the infirmary this year, he has the chance to be a high end scorer at this level which makes him a prospect worth monitoring closely.
2011-12 Stats: 8 GP, 3-7-10, 2 PIMS, +5 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 26th
#27) Olivier Archambault
Left Wing/Centre, Val D'Or, QMJHL
4th round pick (108th overall) in 2011
In terms of what Archambault is capable of doing offensively, he is a very intriguing prospect. What has held him back to date thus far is his frustrating inconsistencies that have prevented him from becoming more than a secondary junior player. A good chunk of that can be attributed to an effort level that can waver from shift to shift; the same can be said for his defensive hustle. Still, Archambault has the offensive skill set to become a dominant force in the 'Q' and that's what he will need to do to get a contract from the Habs before the beginning of June.
2011-12 Stats: 45 GP, 17-22-39, 24 PIMS, -17 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 28th
#26) Ian Schultz
Right Wing, Hamilton, AHL
3rd round pick (87th overall) in 2008 (acquired via trade from St. Louis)
To his credit, Schultz made the best of his increased ice time as a result of the injuries in Hamilton and Montreal. He saw better than fourth line ice time throughout the season and even earned a short recall with the Habs at one point. That said, I'm starting to see some red flags with regards to his potential - he can fight but he'd be below average at the NHL level in that regard. He has a better offensive game than a typical enforcer does but he'd be below average at the next level there too. As for his defence and skating? They're mediocre at best in the minors. I can't write him off, especially now that the organization has placed a greater emphasis on a physical style of play, but he has to take a big step forward this year to stay in the plans.
2011-12 Stats: 60 GP, 6-17-23, 104 PIMS, (most among Hamilton
forwards), -3 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 21st
- 2012 HW Prospect Rankings: 31-35 posted by B. La Rose
- 2012 HW Prospect Rankings: 36-39 posted by B. La Rose