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The Montreal Canadiens continue to boast an impressive group of prospects despite the loss of recent graduated prospects like Tomas Plekanec, Chris Higgins, and Garth Murray who likely will remain in the NHL for good.  Guys like Alexander Perezhogin, Andrei Kostitsyn, Yann Danis, Jonathan Ferland, J-P Cote, and Maxim Lapierre should all continue to see NHL time at some point this year or next depending on different variables with Perezhogin and Cote currently in the NHL as well as others may not be considered prospects for much longer.


With the struggles of the Habs this year, one positive could be another strong draft after what looks like a very impressive 2005 draft, as many of the picks in that draft are enjoying very solid if not great seasons, a good sign of things to come if they can continue to progress/develop over the years.  One area of concern of been the lack of depth and skill from the defensive prospects, but thanks to big years from Ryan O’Byrne and Alexei Emelin have shown that the team has some interesting D prospects but still a matter that will need addressing over time. 


Speaking of the 2005 draft, guys like Mathieu Aubin, Matt D’Agostini and Siarhei Kostitsyn are enjoying very successful seasons, additionally impressive is the fact that Kostitsyn is playing in his rookie year and first season in North America.  The disappointment of the most recent draft would be the inconsistent play of Guillaume Latendresse and Carey Price who have stumbled out of the gate after generating a major buzz with their debut to the organization.  The good news is that both players have shown a great deal of natural skills, which just can’t be taught, but there is cause for alarm to a degree but it’s also not uncommon for very young players to struggle with consistency as they are still growing into and adapting to their physical abilities.


Top 20


  1. Andrei Kostitsyn- RW/LW- 20

  2. Alexander Perezhogin- RW/LW- 22

  3. Kyle Chipchura- C-19

  4. Guillaume Latendresse- RW/LW- 18

  5. Carey Price- G- 18

  6. Yann Danis- G- 24

  7. Ryan O’Byrne- RD- 21

  8. Mikhail Grabovsky- F- 22

  9. Alexei Emelin- LD- 19

  10. Maxim Lapierre- C- 20

  11. Jaroslav Halak- G- 20

  12. Siarhei Kostitsyn- F- 18

  13. Jonathan Ferland- RW- 22

  14. Corey Locke- C- 21

  15. Christopher Heino-Lindberg- G- 21

  16. Mathieu Aubin- C/W- 19

  17. J-P Cote- LD- 23

  18. Juraj Mikus- C- 18

  19. Oskari Korpikari- LD- 21

  20. Matt D’Agostini- RW- 19

1. Andrei Kostitsyn– Takes over the #1 spot from Perezhogin but it could go either way between the two considering both are highly skilled offensive players.  With Kostitsyn there has been a great turnaround in his overall play after a slow start to the season and an unimpressive camp.  What may aid Kostitsyn over Perezhogin is his body frame which is more suited for North American hockey.  Kostitsyn also appears to play a more physical style that can create more time and space for him.  One could easily say Perezhogin and his skill set should make him the top prospect once again but some recent struggles to produce offense and a real of intensity in his play is a bit of a concern at this point.  Both are highly skilled hockey players with perhaps Kostitsyn having more upside in the NHL but at this point still unproven outside the international level.  Perezhogin has already shown to be a strong player at the international level as well as the Russian Super league and AHL with a good showing to start his NHL career.


2. Alexander Perezhogin– Drops one spot due to the improved play of Kostitsyn and the fact that he has struggled over the past month or so which seems to have affected his confidence.  It’s only a matter of time before the skilled prospect will once again find his offensive touch after having successful seasons with Omsk last year and Hamilton the year before.


3. Kyle Chipchura– Chipchura jumps in the rankings due to his impressive play for Team Canada at the most recent World Junior tournament and for his play with Prince Albert. Chipchura isn’t going to wow you with flashy moves or blazing speed, but he will impress you with his hard work and on ice efforts.  Chipchura has led the way with a struggling Prince Albert team, and after coming back helping Canada win the gold, he’s been named the first star of the game in five games with four in a row. 


4. Guillaume Latendresse– Things haven’t gone as planned with Latendresse, after winning over the rabid fan base with his strong showing at the Canadiens rookie and training camps.  With Latendresse the organization finally has a skilled power forward that they have been lacking for many years.  Latendresse has unmatched natural body strength for such a young player, when he gets it going he can really crush players with heavy hits while also making things tough for players trying to defend him in the crease or along the boards.  In addition to his strength he also has some impressive hands and vision that makes him a true threat in the offensive zone.  The concerns have been with his consistency and that he raised expectations to an unreal level that he just can’t keep pace with.  A strong playoff run could go a long ways for his season, but he will still have to continue to work and improve upon his skills to reach the next level.


5. Carey Price– Price you can say just about the same thing as Latendresse in that he has also raised expectations to a very high level after being picked fifth overall after a very impressive season in his draft year.  You could also say that the Latendresse-Price ranking is in the same situation as Kostitsyn-Perezhogin in that you could rank either one atop the other.  Although Price was taken much higher in the draft, Latendresse at one time was considered a top three prospect by the scouting firm ISS, prior to his shoulder injury in his rookie year.  Both prospects are highly skilled and both should play a major part in the future success of the Montreal Canadiens, but at the same time both have struggled with inconsistent play.  Price has turned around a very poor start to the season, but still struggles to consistently stop the puck from going in, often facing a ton of shots with little help from the defense in front of him. 


6. Yann Danis– Danis has shown to be an excellent goalie so far in his short career as one of the top goalies in the NCAA two years ago and was in the running for the top rookie goalie in the AHL last season.  This year Danis get a taste of NHL hockey which must have been a great amount of joy and pride to him after going undrafted during his junior aged days.  Danis is reaching the end of his prospect status, since he will be turning 25 later in the year and should very well be a regular in the NHL by this time next year.  Currently he has continued to be one of Hamilton’s top players and was rewarded for his efforts with a trip to the AHL All Star game.


7. Ryan O’Byrne– After two solid seasons with Cornell of the ECAC, O’Byrne has shown a great deal of improvement in his overall game during his junior season.  The hulking blueliner brings an impressive package of physical abilities of size, skating, speed and strength but has also shown progression in his offensive game and improvement in his decision making/reaction time.  O’Byrne is now the #1 defensemen for Cornell, which sees him continually rack up the ice time in all situations ranging from running the #1 PP unit to blocking shots on the #1 PK unit.  He’s enjoying a very successful season so far, leading his team in goals scored for defensemen while also learning to cut down on the trips to the box since he’s too valuable to his team to keep making repeat trips to the penalty box but still brings a solid physical presence to the game.


8. Mikhail Grabovsky– A slow start to the season for Grabovsky that saw him score only two goals in the first half was a bit of a cause for alarm but so far he has turned things around in the second half of the season scoring a point a game including six goals in just ten games.  The smallish forward can play both center and wing but his speed and acceleration are his most impressive assets as well as his abilities to create offense with his hands or vision.  Grabovsky can flat out fly and it only takes him a few short strides to reach top gear, which can cause opposing defensemen fits in trying to contain him.  The concerns at this point are how he will handle playing on the small ice surface and the impact a lack of strength will have on his skills.


9. Alexei Emelin– One of the biggest movers up the rankings, Emelin is enjoying a breakout season with Lada and was the top defensemen for Russia’s silver medal winning world junior team.  Emelin is having a huge year in the RSL, after spending most of last season riding the pine, he has become one of Lada’s top players and leads the team in scoring for defensemen as well as the team penalty leaders.  You can expect him to play an intense, highly aggressive physical game but where he’s really shown improvement is in his offensive skills and puck movement.  The young blueliner has to continue to work and develop his all round game but the progress he has shown since being drafted in the summer of ’04 should give Hab fans something to get excited about. 


10. Maxim Lapierre– Lapierre is already showing fans in Hamilton what they can expect to see when he’s on the ice and that’s a very intense style of hockey.  Lapierre is the kind of player that will do what it takes to win hockey games and is consistently one of the hardest working players on the team.  The surprise has been the amount of success he has enjoyed offensively during his rookie year with Hamilton.  For his hard work and efforts he was rewarded with a one game stint in the NHL this year, something he will likely see more of next year.  This season Lapierre has looked good on the PK for Hamilton and formed an impressive line when paired up with Francis Lemieux and Jonathan Ferland.


11. Jaroslav Halak– Halak moves up the rankings taking over Heino-Lindberg’s spot due to his impressive play with the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the ECHL.  Had it not been for injuries early in the season, Halak would likely have been an All Star and among the league leaders in several areas.  With three goalies in Long Beach, Halak has been able to take over the starting job, with some very impressive numbers and helping his team turn their season around.


12. Siarhei Kostitsyn– Kostitsyn is another big mover up the rankings due to his impressive debut in the OHL where he leads all rookies in scoring and is making a name for himself throughout the league.  The younger brother of the Habs top prospect, Siarhei makes the move to North America a year sooner then his older brother did and that may end up helping his career down the road as it gives him two years to adapt to the culture and style of hockey.  Kostitsyn has been impressive with his offensive skills and the fact that he consistently works hard and does not shy away from the heavy traffic areas. 


13. Jonathan Ferland– Ferland has struggled to find his game at the pro level during his first two seasons with Hamilton and a early injury in this season that cause him to miss a chunk of games was not the way he likely wanted to get the final year of his contract going.  But when he returned to the lineup he was able to find offensive success as well still playing a strong physical game with lots of hard work night in and night out. 


14. Corey Locke– Locke is currently leading the Bulldogs in scoring and has even been rewarded with a trip to the AHL All Stars, but things haven’t gone all that well for him this year either after recently being a healthy scratch.  Locke has an offensive skill set that most players can only dream of, an ability to feed the puck to an open space or hit the back of the net, he can really hurt teams while on the PP.  His lack of physical abilities does hold him back at times but with such a skilled player it’s hard to say how he would fare at the next level.  Going by his past accounts and achievements it may not be wise to bet against the young man who has been told for years he’s too small but that didn’t stop him from being the CHL player of the year and twice OHL player of the year.


15. Christopher Heino-Lindberg– After a great season last year that saw him dominate the tier-2 league in Sweden, there was high hopes for Heino this season when he made his debut to the SEL.  The problem that he has faced this year is the same one that Alexi Emelin faced last season and that’s a lack of quality playing time when making the jump into the top league in each of their respective countries.  The cause for concern here is that the recently turned 21 year old has played in only eight games all season which may harm his development/progression.  With the play of Halak with Long Beach, Danis in Hamilton and the fact that Price was such a high pick, it won’t be easy for Heino to climb the depth charts with the Canadiens.  What he does have on his side is a solid amount of natural skills and a aggressive style of goaltending not seen anywhere in the Canadiens system in some time.


16. Mathieu Aubin– Aubin is having a huge year with Lewiston of the QMJHL, which has seen him be one of the most consistent scorers among all the Canadiens prospects.  What’s more impressive is that he is doing so without much help from his teammates who lack the skills of last year’s line mates Alex Picard and Alex Bourret.  Aubin has good size, skating, vision and hands which could see him end up in Hamilton next year since he was picked as an overager and will be 20 next season. 


17. J-P Cote– Cote was just recently called up to the Habs where he has not looked out of place due to his hard work and willingness to play physical.  Cote has been Hamilton’s top defensemen for the past two seasons according to many and he’s the all time leader in plus minus during the Dogs history. 


18. Juraj Mikus– Mikus is coming off a disappointing world junior tournament that saw him go pointless for the tournament as well as generating only one shot on goal and being a minus five.  Mikus has received a large amount of hype from scouting agency ISS who consider him a possible steal of the draft.  So far this year he has put up decent numbers in the Elite league and looks to surpass last season’s totals.  Next year should see him play a bigger role with Team Slovakia.


19. Oskari Korpikari– Korpikari is often overlooked among Hab fans but he is currently enjoying a successful season with Karpat of the Finnish Elite league.  This year has seen him hit career highs in goals, points, pims and more importantly games played.  After playing in parts of four seasons or over 120 games in the elite league, Korpikari finally was able to tally his first goal in the top men’s league this year.  At stay at home defensemen, Korpikari is big, strong, skates well and can move the puck.  There’s no indication of what management plans to do with the Finnish blueliner but he would bring some depth to the position in Hamilton next year or perhaps the year after.


20. Matt D’Agostini– D’Agostini was able to work his way onto the Storm’s roster and since then he’s never looked back.  With his speed and solid all round play, he was selected by the Canadiens in the last draft and is currently having a very strong season as one of the top scorers in the league. 



On the outside looking in:


J T Wyman– Is having a solid season with Dartmouth, the 19 year old plays more of a power game but it remains to be seen what sort of offensive upside he will have at the next level.


Francis Lemieux– Smallish but speedy winger was a free agent signing by Andre Savard but due to his hard work and offensive production he was able to get a contract with the Habs. 


Gregory Stewart– Currently having a strong season with the Petes, plays an honest hard working game, takes the body and brings energy to his team.  The question is what kind of offensive upside he has.


Andre Benoit– Smallish but offensively skilled defensemen, Benoit started off the year with a bang but has since cooled off a bit.


Philippe Paquet– The last pick of the Habs for the ’05 draft, Paquet has a good frame, skates well and can move the puck.  With the lack of depth on defense, he may be able to climb the depth charts in a few years.