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Part three of our prospect rankings has a unique characteristic to it as this grouping has a player selected in each of the past five drafts. Despite the fact that there are some older prospects here, only one has had a sniff of NHL time while only one other has suited up in the AHL. Patience will be required with most of these prospects as many of them are likely several years away from having a shot at having an impact with the Habs.
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):
#25) Martin Reway
Left Wing/Centre, Gatineau, QMJHL
4th round pick (116th overall in 2013)
In terms of raw skill, Reway would likely be in the top-10 of this list. He's a dynamic stickhandler with good speed while he plays an aggressive style. So why did he slip to the back of the fourth round? He's small. Very small. There are some smaller players who could still be effective in a bottom six role but Reway doesn't look to be one of those, making this a boom or bust selection. He was impressive with the Habs at their training camp and should be a top six forward not only for Gatineau this year but also for Slovakia at the World Juniors where he could contend for a top line role. He's one of the more intriguing prospects to keep an eye on this season.
2012-13 Stats: 47 GP, 22-28-50, 56 PIMS, -1 rating, 9 PPG, 129
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
#24) Mark MacMillan
Left Wing/Centre, North Dakota, NCAA
4th round pick (113th overall in 2010)
For the second straight year, MacMillan played in a top six role along with former Hab prospect Danny Kristo. Despite an untimely slump at the end of the year (pointless in the final seven games), he still managed to best his impressive freshman numbers. Bulking up is also a big part of his development; MacMillan was only 150 lbs when he was selected. Although he has added some weight, he still needs to add a considerable amount as he weighed in at 172 lbs at the Habs' summer camp which is pretty light for a 6'0 player. With three of North Dakota's top four scorers graduating, MacMillan will be expected to shoulder a lot more of the offensive load this season. If he rises to the occasion, he'll make a good case to move back into the top-20 of our rankings next year.
2012-13 Stats: 42 GP, 13-12-25, 28 PIMS, +10 rating, 3 PPG
Previous HW Ranking: 20th
#23) Brady Vail
Centre, Windsor, OHL
4th round pick (94th overall in 2012)
Vail got off to a terrific start last season and was among the league leaders in scoring out of the gate. Unfortunately, he couldn't hold that offensive pace and wound up barely eclipsing his production from his draft year. Some of the late season decline in points can be attributed to the fact he spent the better part of a month as a defenceman when a litany of injuries struck the Spitfires. Arguably the biggest knack on Vail's game is his compete level. It was a concern with Windsor and Hamilton (where he finished) last year and came back to bite him at both USA's World Junior summer camp and the Habs' rookie camp. He will need to take some strides forward in that department as well as becoming a more polished offensive player to earn a contract by June's deadline.
2012-13 Stats: 68 GP, 20-35-55, 47 PIMS, -23 rating, 7 PPG
Previous HW Ranking: 17th
#22) Josiah Didier
Defenceman, Denver, NCAA
4th round pick (97th overall in 2011)
Scoring goals is not going to be what Didier brings to the table; in his first two college seasons, he has yet to get a goal. However, his style of play is something that any team can use. He's a stay-at-home defenceman who hits anything that moves. I think Didier is going to be the type of player who has more success at the pro level than he does in college just based on the way he plays, similar to Greg Pateryn who wasn't a big prospect in his NCAA days but shot up the charts in Hamilton last year. Now entering his junior season at Denver, Didier will be counted on to play a top-four role; if he has a strong year, the Habs may look to get him to forego his senior campaign and turn pro.
2012-13 Stats: 31 GP, 0-7-7, 56 PIMS, +4 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 25th
#21) Gabriel Dumont
Centre/Right Wing, Hamilton, AHL
5th round pick (139th overall in 2009)
Dumont took some strides forward last season, setting a career high in points (despite a career low in games) and led the Bulldogs in scoring, albeit with a total far lower than any other team leader in franchise history. He also fared reasonably well in his stints with the Habs. However, it's becoming clear that his ceiling is rather low; in my opinion, he has pretty much reached it. His aggressive style is nice but his size doesn't make him a fit for an NHL fourth line and his skills aren't good enough to be a top-nine NHL forward. If he gets through waivers, he'll be counted on once again as an all-situations player with Hamilton but he will need to take some more strides forward in the offensive end before he gets a shot at being anything more than a short-term recall.
2012-13 Stats: 55 GP, 16-15-31, 83 PIMS, -2 rating, 3 PPG, 125
Previous HW Ranking: 21st
- 2013 HW Prospect Rankings: 26-30 posted by B. La Rose
- 2013 HW Prospect Rankings: 31-38 posted by B. La Rose