Caption: Sebastian Collberg and Alex Galchenyuk
There weren't many positives from the 2011-12 season, one that saw the Montreal Canadiens finish dead last in the Eastern Conference. However, one good thing came from their struggles, a substantial boost to their prospect cupboards. The Habs picked 3rd in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and used that selection to acquire Alex Galchenyuk who immediately becomes their top youngster while being among the top prospects in the entire National Hockey League.
Montreal's good fortunes from the draft didn't end there as they selected several other promising prospects: Sebastian Collberg (widely considered a first round pick), Dalton Thrower (also thought by many as a first round prospect), plus Tim Bozon, Brady Vail, and Charles Hudon, all of whom got off to strong starts to their seasons after being drafted.
2012 was all about a youth movement for the Canadiens' organization. Montreal's struggles led to youngsters like Louis Leblanc, Aaron Palushaj, and Blake Geoffrion getting a chance to play in the AHL. The start of the 2012-13 season also brought many first year pro prospects to Hamilton, including defencemen Nathan Beaulieu, Morgan Ellis, and Jarred Tinordi, plus forwards Michael Bournival, Brendan Gallagher, and Patrick Holland. The club has high hopes for all of these players but it will take some time for them to adapt to the new challenges of the AHL.
The Habs also have a strong contingent of NCAA prospects, led by senior Danny Kristo who plays at North Dakota. A strong season from him could put him in Hobey Baker contention while putting him on the fast track to the NHL. Mark MacMillan, a college teammate of Kristo's, and Mac Bennett are also enjoying successful collegiate careers while several other long-term project prospects such as Josiah Didier and Dustin Walsh also continue to improve.
The strong depth doesn't stop there as Montreal's overseas prospects also bring some upside to the table, led by Collberg, a two-time representative for Sweden at the World Juniors. Fellow countryman Magnus Nygren has taken considerable steps forward while Daniel Pribyl, Maxim Trunev, and Erik Nystrom have all earned playing time at the top levels in their respective countries.
Brighter days are ahead for the Montreal Canadiens and it will be this group of prospects that play an instrumental role in their success in the years to come.
Intro written by Brian La Rose - January 2013
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