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The month of September is synonymous with the beginning of training camp and the excitement that the new, upcoming season brings. Here at HabsWorld, September also means that it's time to start revealing our annual prospect rankings. Today, we begin with rankings 31 through 38, a collection of mostly minor leaguers or players who are likely to be nothing more than minor league filler if they wind up signing a contract.
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, 2013
2) The player must have no greater than 50 games of NHL experience (including regular season and playoffs - Brendan Gallagher has 49 but since he's a regular, he has been exempted)
3) The player has to be signed on an NHL contract
Here are the departures from last year's list (in alphabetical order):
#38) Maxim Trunev
Right Wing, Vladivostok, KHL
5th round pick (138th overall) in 2008
When he was drafted, Trunev was hyped up as a future 2nd/3rd liner with good speed and offensive skills. What we didn't expect is that at this stage, he'd be a 3rd liner on an expansion KHL team with good speed but next to no offensive game. He did have a career high in goals last year but that was only six while he has hit the ten point plateau once in five years in Russia's top league. His style of play doesn't lend itself well to a bottom six role either. Given that he is signed through next season, we should expect more of the same which means there's pretty much no chance he ever crosses the pond.
2012-13 Stats: 41 GP, 6-2-8, 24 PIMS, even rating, 67 shots,
Previous HW Ranking: 36th
#37) Michael Cichy
Centre, Western Michigan, NCAA
7th round pick (199th overall) in 2009
Cichy had to sit all of the 2011-12 campaign after transferring from North Dakota due to a lack of playing time. To his credit, the 5'11 centre had his best collegiate season, finishing tied for fourth in team scoring while collecting more points than he had in his first two years combined. However, his numbers weren't all that impressive for a junior in a top six role. He has one more year to prove his worth and will need to at least double his production from last season to even merit consideration for a contract.
2012-13 Stats: 37 GP, 4-14-18, 14 PIMS, 3 PPG
Previous HW Ranking: 38th
#36) Peter Delmas
Goalie, Wheeling, ECHL
Free agent signing in 2011
For the third straight season, Delmas found himself in a battle for the #1 job between the pipes. Unlike the past years though, he wasn't able to get a firm grasp on the starting role and found himself in a time share with Scott Darling. Making matters worse for Delmas is that he posted his worst GAA and lowest SV% in his three ECHL seasons. With the Habs having four minor league goalies under contract, it appears that the best case scenario for him this season is to get a shot to battle for the top job in Wheeling once again. It's likely that this will be his final year in the organization.
2012-13 Stats: 31 GP, 15-12-4 record, 2.72 GAA, .908 SV%, 3 SO
Previous HW Ranking: 31st
#35) Colin Sullivan
Defenceman, Boston College, NCAA
7th round pick (198th overall) in 2011
Freshman defencemen are really hard to evaluate as they often find themselves in a very minor role on their team while they acclimate to the college game. Sullivan is no exception; although he played in all but six games, rarely did he play a regular shift and once in a while found himself at forward. This upcoming season will be critical for him. If he can find his way into a regular role in the lineup (even a third pairing role), he should take some positive strides forward in his development. If the incoming freshman class bumps Sullivan back down the depth chart, it will be a significant setback, as half of his NCAA career will have gone by without accomplishing much.
2012-13 Stats: 32 GP, 0-1-1, 6 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: 34th
#34) Steve Quailer
Left Wing/Right Wing, Hamilton, AHL
3rd round pick (86th overall) in 2008
Quailer had a chance to take the bull by the horns last season. He was a decent offensive player in college and the Bulldogs last season were abysmal when it came to scoring goals. There was a prime opportunity for him to secure a top six role and instead he had a year to forget, putting up fewer points than any of his NCAA seasons despite playing significantly more games. Quailer has a power forward frame but doesn't often use it to his advantage; however, his combination of size and skill is something the Habs don't have much of so he can't be written off just yet. At 24, this is it for him - a strong campaign might secure him a qualifying offer but anything close to his 2012-13 performance will earn him a release in the offseason.
2012-13 Stats: 64 GP, 6-4-10, 54 PIMS, -7 rating, 1 PPG, 91
Previous HW Ranking: 19th
#33) Robert Mayer
Goalie, Hamilton, AHL
Undrafted free agent signing in 2008
The Czech-born netminder improved on his numbers from two years ago despite playing on a dismal Hamilton squad, albeit ever-so-slightly. He has demonstrated at times an ability to take over a game; it's that element that I think got him a new contract from management as his numbers certainly don't justify it. Mayer's biggest issue continues to be his knack for allowing bad, untimely goals on a very consistent basis. Given that he has a two year deal, I expect he'll be given every shot to secure the starting job with the Bulldogs for the third straight season although I wouldn't expect the results to be much different this time around.
2012-13 Stats: 38 GP, 16-17-3 record, 2.93 GAA, .908 SV%, 0 SO
Previous HW Ranking: 35th
#32) Mike Condon
Goalie, Princeton, NCAA
Undrafted free agent signing in 2013
Condon ascended to the #1 role in his final NCAA season and put up some strong numbers despite playing on a relatively weak squad. He also made his professional debut, playing in 12 minor pro games (four in the ECHL, eight in the AHL including three playoff starts) and aside from some postseason struggles (on an injury-weakened team), played quite well. There are some health concerns with Condon moving forward as his hip may become pre-arthritic by the time he turns 30 which could shorten his career. When he was signed, I had him pegged to be the backup in Hamilton but now he will likely battle with Delmas for the starting job in Wheeling.
2012-13 Stats: 24 GP, 8-11-4 record, 2.48 GAA, .923 SV%, 2 SO
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
#31) Erik Nystrom
Left Wing/Right Wing, Karlskrona, Allsvenskan
6th round pick (154th overall) in 2012
Last year was a good one for Nystrom as he graduated the Swedish junior ranks to move into the second pro division where he put up decent numbers. I've held him back a little bit in the rankings due to his situation for this upcoming season - he's on a 25-game tryout in Hamilton as an underager. Although his two-way game has improved, I'm not sure he's going to get too much of a chance with the bottom six depth the Bulldogs have amassed. It's his performance on this tryout (and perhaps a second PTO) that will make the decision on whether or not he gets an entry-level deal. If he proves himself and gets his contract, he could be primed for a nice jump in the rankings next year.
2012-13 Stats: 23 GP, 5-6-11, 4 PIMS, -3 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 32nd