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We've finally hit the top-5 portion of this year's prospect rankings. For the second time in the past three years, our writers have voted unanimously for who the top prospect is, a selection that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Did the writers make the same selections as our readers for the rest of the top-5? Read on to find out.
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):
#5) Brendan Gallagher
Right Wing, Vancouver, WHL
5th round pick (147th overall) in 2010
After a 2010-11 season that saw Gallagher finish top-10 in WHL scoring, fans were wondering what he could do for an encore. His year got off to a strong start as he seriously contended for one of the Habs' last roster spots in training camp. From there, he used that momentum to get off to a torrid (and frankly, unsustainable) pace in the WHL, collecting 46 points in 28 games before Canada's World Junior team called. He played more of a secondary role for Canada but still collected a point per game. He cooled off ever so slightly upon his return to Vancouver before picking up 10 points in a first round playoff loss. That was some kind of encore, one that has propelled him into a top role with the Bulldogs as a 20 year old.
2011-12 Stats: 54 GP, 41-36-77, 79 PIMS, +19 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 11th
Fans' Ranking: 5th
#4) Louis Leblanc
Right Wing/Centre, Hamilton, AHL
1st round pick (18th overall) in 2009
Last season didn't go exactly as planned for Leblanc. It was managements' hope that he'd spent the majority of time with Hamilton, perhaps getting a recall or two where necessary. Instead, he suited up for more games in Montreal than he did with the Bulldogs. With Hamilton, he was part of an often depleted top six and saw considerable ice time in all roles while with the Habs, he saw bottom six minutes with hardly any special teams time. As a result, we sit here today with similar questions about his overall upside. We don't doubt that he will be a quality NHL'er but what is his true offensive upside? The lockout will serve him well as he'll finally get a chance to play consistent minutes and hone his offensive skills, provided he stays healthy, something he didn't get too much of a chance to work on last year after being shuffled back and forth.
2011-12 Stats: 31 GP, 11-11-22, 30 PIMS, -10 rating, 112 shots
Previous HW Ranking: 1st
Fans' Ranking: 4th
#3) Jarred Tinordi
Defence, London, OHL
1st round pick (22nd overall) in 2010
After a so-so rookie campaign, a lot of fans were down on Tinordi. His second season, one where he was named captain of the Knights, was much better. He was an anchor on the Knights' blueline, the true definition of a defensive defenceman. He also cut down on the number of fights he got into, realizing that he needed to be on the ice more. He also played for Team USA at the World Juniors and although the Americans struggled, he was one of their better defencemen. He's never going to be mistaken for an offensive threat but he isn't a complete liability offensively either and is improving in that regard; he was notably better during the postseason. Unlike Leblanc though, there are no questions about his role in the future - he will be a physical, shutdown blueliner for years to come.
2011-12 Stats: 48 GP, 2-16-18, 63 PIMS, +39 rating (team and
Previous HW Ranking: 3rd
Fans' Ranking: 3rd
#2) Nathan Beaulieu
Defence, Saint John, QMJHL
1st round pick (17th overall) in 2011
After a pair of nearly identical seasons in terms of scoring, Beaulieu took a step forward in that regard last season as he took on a greater role with the Sea Dogs. On the downside, he found himself involved in a lot more skirmishes after the whistle while he still took too many risks with the puck. That became an issue for Canada at the World Juniors who more or less tried to use him as a powerplay specialist and sparingly at 5-on-5. In terms of what he does well though, he has the chance to be a high scoring defenceman in the pros; his skating will really boost the transition game. Interestingly enough, Beaulieu was the only prospect out of the top-4 to receive a vote outside of the top-5 from our writers' panel, but also received the most second place votes as his offensive potential simply can't be overlooked.
2011-12 Stats: 53 GP, 11-41-52, 100 PIMS, +41 rating, 150 shots
Previous HW Ranking: 2nd
Fans' Ranking: 2nd
#1) Alex Galchenyuk
Centre, Sarnia, OHL
1st round pick (3rd overall) in 2012
A top flight centre with size; for years, that sounded like a pipe dream for Montreal fans. Dream no longer. Galchenyuk was a unanimous selection from our writers as the Habs' top prospect despite hardly playing at all last season due to a knee injury. Even though he is effectively a year behind in his development, it probably won't be too long before we see him at the NHL level as long as he can stay healthy this year. He can dominate the play and is a high quality shooter and passer in the offensive zone. A player of his calibre is something we haven't seen in a Montreal jersey for quite some time; he should be well worth the wait.
2011-12 Stats: 2 GP, 0-0-0, 0 PIMS, -4 rating (6 GP, 2-2-4, 4
PIMS, -6 rating in the postseason)
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
Fans' Ranking: 1st
- 2012 HW Prospect Rankings: 6-10 posted by B. La Rose
- The Fans' Top Prospects, Rankings 1-5 posted by B. La Rose
- The Fans' Top Prospects, Rankings 6-10 posted by B. La Rose
- 2012 HW Prospect Rankings: 11-15 posted by B. La Rose
- 2012 HW Prospect Rankings: 16-20 posted by B. La Rose
- 2012 HW Prospect Rankings: 21-25 posted by B. La Rose
- 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