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We have reached the top-10 of our prospect rankings series. Only one of the players in this grouping was part of our top-10 last year; it features a couple of prospects on the rise plus a couple of newcomers to the organization. As was the case with our 6-10 picks last season, this is a collection of players without too much in the way of NHL experience although most have seen time at a professional level.
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):
#10) Jacob de la Rose
Left Wing/Centre, Leksand, Allsvenskan
2nd round pick (34th overall in 2013)
After taking what many would call a gamble selection with their top pick back in June, de la Rose represented a much safer pick for the Habs. His size, playing style, and positional flexibility are all assets; he has often switched roles mid-game from offensive to defensive or vice versa. What dropped him to the second round was the questions surrounding his offensive upside. If he can put it all together, he could be a very valuable two-way second line forward but if he continues to have his limitations, he's likely no more than a third liner. He's off to a good start in the SHL this season after his team was promoted from the second division and his production is on a similar pace to last year despite playing against much better competition.
2012-13 Stats: 38 GP, 6-6-12, 31 PIMS, +8 rating
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
HW Fan Vote Ranking: 8th
#9) Christian Thomas
Right Wing, Connecticut, AHL
2nd round pick (40th overall in 2010) (acquired via trade from NY Rangers in 2013)
Thomas has instantly become one of the more controversial prospects that Montreal has. Not only was he acquired for Danny Kristo, a player who had finally signed with them a few months prior, but at 5'9, he's on the small side as well. However, he is a natural goal scorer and that's something that can't be said for too many of the Habs' prospects. He had a solid rookie campaign in the AHL, finishing tied for fourth in scoring for Connecticut while also making his NHL debut. An important step for him this year will be to become more involved in the play; he has a tendency to not be noticeable unless he has the puck on his stick. However, he'd need to be healthy first for that to happen (he has been injured since late in training camp).
2012-13 Stats: 73 GP, 19-16-35, 15 PIMS, +5 rating, 5 PPG, 148
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
HW Fan Vote Ranking: 13th
#8) Tim Bozon
Left Wing, Kamloops, WHL
3rd round pick (64th overall in 2012)
Bozon put up a 36 goal season in his draft year, drawing the attention of many scouts. Last year he followed it up with another 36 goal campaign while adding 20 more assists en route to 91 points, good for a tie for 8th in WHL scoring. He isn't as dynamic a scorer as Thomas is but on the flip side, Bozon is more of a well-rounded offensive player. His detractors have suggested that his inflated point totals were more as a result of his linemates and not his skill level (much like Patrick Holland's 109 point season in 2011-12); they were vindicated to a point after Bozon struggled early to start the year without his linemates who have moved to the AHL. However, he was just starting to get back on track before getting dealt to Kootenay where he should slide in nicely on their top line. Another high scoring season looks to be in the cards.
2012-13 Stats: 69 GP, 36-55-91, 58 PIMS, +37 rating, 14 PPG
Previous HW Ranking: 15th
HW Fan Vote Ranking: 14th
#7) Charles Hudon
Left Wing, Chicoutimi, QMJHL
5th round pick (122nd overall in 2012)
Going into the draft, many scouts saw Hudon going in the 3rd or 4th round but he surprisingly fell to the 5th where the Habs snatched him up. Although his year-to-year point progression hasn't been all that impressive (60, 66, 71), his improvements in his two-way game have been. He has changed from an offence-only winger to a very reliable defensive forward that can check the opponents' best while still being a consistent contributor on the scoresheet. Hudon made Team Canada's World Junior team last year but was forced out of the tournament with a back injury which still plagues him to a degree today and will continue to for the foreseeable future. That's about the only real question mark facing him at this stage though and at this stage, he looks like another 5th round gem from Trevor Timmins and his staff.
2012-13 Stats: 56 GP, 30-41-71, 66 PIMS, +15 rating, 9 PPG, 269
Previous HW Ranking: 18th
HW Fan Vote Ranking: 9th
#6) Louis Leblanc
Right Wing, Hamilton, AHL
1st round pick (18th overall in 2009)
Last year was nothing short of a disaster for Leblanc. He was injured early and the issue lingered throughout most of the season. Even worse was that he fell into lengthy slumps and often found himself lower on the depth chart than career minor leaguers and minor leaguers on tryout contracts. That didn't scare too many of our writers away from putting him on their list though as there is still some upside with Leblanc. If he can rebound from his struggles last year, he still projects as a lower-end 2nd line or higher-end 3rd line winger. As this is the last year on his entry level deal, the microscope will be out in full force. A good year will probably vault him into a regular spot with the big club next year but a poor one will significantly increase the likelihood that isn't in the organization when training camp rolls around in September.
2012-13 Stats: 62 GP, 10-8-18, 53 PIMS, -18 rating, 3 PPG, 161
Previous HW Ranking: 4th
HW Fan Vote Ranking: 10th
- The Fans' Top-10 Montreal Prospects posted by B. La Rose
- 2013 HW Prospect Rankings: 11-15 posted by B. La Rose
- 2013 HW Prospect Rankings: 16-20 posted by B. La Rose
- 2013 HW Prospect Rankings: 21-25 posted by B. La Rose
- 2013 HW Prospect Rankings: 26-30 posted by B. La Rose
- 2013 HW Prospect Rankings: 31-38 posted by B. La Rose