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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).
Today we reach the halfway point of our 2012 Prospect Rankings series. This group interestingly enough has a pair of players who suited up with the Habs in 2011-12 but whose overall ceilings are pretty low. There are also a pair of prospects out of the 2011 draft here whose stocks are going in the opposite direction of where they were rated last season.
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):
#25) Josiah Didier
Defenceman, Denver, WCHA
4th round pick (97th overall) in 2011
We knew going into last season that Didier would be a long-term project and that he'd be starting out low on the depth chart. Even with that said, last year was a bit of a disappointment as the highlight for him was that he managed to avoid being a regular healthy scratch. His ice time was limited and his performance was sporadic. He's at least two years away from being ready to go pro and with the amount of defencemen either at or nearly ready to play at the AHL level, he may be dropping a few spots on the depth chart by then.
2011-12 Stats: 41 GP, 0-3-3, 36 PIMS, +6 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 14th
#24) Andreas Engqvist
Centre, Hamilton, AHL
Undrafted free agent signing in 2009
This years' biggest dropper on our list (after being voted into the top-10 last year) slides due to a drop in his ceiling. Going into the year, most of us hoped that with some more time in the minors and an improvement in his skating could make him a legitimate third line prospect. Although he played relatively well in Hamilton (after being thrust into a top line scoring role), his deficiencies were more prominent in his stints with the Habs. Now, his ceiling is a fourth liner and with the Habs going towards a more physical fourth line, that doesn't bode particularly well for Engqvist. He is off to a good start in the KHL this year with four assists in seven games but has yet to score.
2011-12 Stats: 60 GP, 20-23-43, 36 PIMS, even rating, 144 shots
(team high in goals)
Previous HW Ranking: 7th
#23) Alexander Avtsin
Left Wing/Right Wing, Hamilton, AHL
4th round pick (109th overall) in 2009
The other prospect who dropped from last years' top-10 into the 20's, Avtsin had a simply miserable season with the Bulldogs last year. After an underwhelming rookie campaign as an underager in 2010-11 he managed to take several steps backwards, at times even being benched in favour of roster fillers on tryout deals. Now with a lot more depth in Hamilton, it's safe to say his spot on the team heading into 2012-13 is far from a guarantee. That all said, he still has the talent to take over games and if he can put everything together, he still has considerable upside which is why he hasn't slid even further down the list.
2011-12 Stats: 63 GP, 6-8-14, 34 PIMS, -24 rating, 101
shots (third worst +/- rating in the league)
Previous HW Ranking: 8th
#22) Daniel Pribyl
Centre, Berounsti Medvedi, Czech second division
6th round pick (168th overall) in 2011
Pribyl got to play quite a bit for a European-based prospect last year but he sure bounced around a lot. As a result, it's hard to really make an accurate assessment of his play as he rarely was in the same spot and the same role for very long. On the plus side, he played most of the year above the junior level and earned a spot on the World Junior team (although an injury stopped Pribyl from having much of an impact) but on the negative side, his offensive game was inconsistent (I suspect the frequent team/role shuffling had a say in that). He remains one of the more intriguing prospects because of his skill set and size but he is still very much a project.
2011-12 Stats: 21 GP, 9-4-13, 4 PIMS, -3 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 23rd
#21) Gabriel Dumont
Centre/Right Wing, Hamilton, AHL
5th round pick (139th overall) in 2009
I know lots of fans were encouraged by his play last year but I think he took a step back. He failed when placed into a regular offensive role and often struggled in the defensive zone. He looked okay in a, quite frankly, undeserved recall to Montreal at the end of the season and improved his discipline so it wasn't all bad. With a lack of depth and talent at centre in Hamilton this year, he once again will be called upon to shoulder a larger scoring load. If he can step up, it would bode well for his NHL future but if he struggles again, he will take a tumble down the depth chart. Suffice it to say, it's a make-or-break year for Dumont.
2011-12 Stats: 59 GP, 13-11-24, 55 PIMS, -15 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 16th
As part of our prospect series this year, we want to hear from you, our readers, about who you think the Habs' top-10 prospects are. If you haven't already, please vote for your top-10, the results will be revealed when we reach the top-10 in our rankings.
- 2012 HW Prospect Rankings: 26-30 posted by B. La Rose
- 2012 HW Prospect Rankings: 31-35 posted by B. La Rose
- 2012 HW Prospect Rankings: 36-39 posted by B. La Rose