HabsWorld.net -- 

We’ve now passed the halfway mark in our annual prospect rankings and this
grouping largely consists of Hamilton-bound players including a few who have
been with the organization for several years now.  A former first round
pick finds himself in this group as well as one of the picks from last June’s
entry draft.


This year, we changed things up a little.  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, 2011
2) The player must have no greater than 40 games of NHL experience (including
regular season and playoffs)
3) The player has to be signed on an NHL contract

As the Habs brought several youngsters up last season, this year’s list will
look a lot different as many of the top prospects are no longer eligible. 
Here are the departures from last year’s list:

Graduated: David Desharnais, Lars Eller, Frederic St. Denis, P.K.
Subban, Yannick Weber, Ryan White, Alexei Yemelin
Released: Patrick Johnson, Petteri Simila, J.T. Wyman
Traded: Mathieu Carle, Ben Maxwell, Ryan Russell

Recently acquired Michael Blunden also does not qualify for prospect
status due to NHL experience while Raphael Diaz does not meet the age


#20) Magnus Nygren
Defence, Bofors IK, Sweden-1
4th round pick (113th overall) in 2011

The 21 year old Nygren burst onto the scene late last season where he moved
up to the Swedish Elite League and put up better numbers (22 GP, 4-11-15) than
he did in the lower division.  For those who are fans of NHL equivalency
points, you’ll love Nygren whose SEL numbers translated to a 44-point NHL
campaign.  The Habs have had some success with drafting overagers before (Streit
and Grabovski come to mind) but will have to wait at least one more year for
Nygren who will spend this season trying to improve his so-so defensive game.

2010-11 Stats: 35 GP, 5-6-11, 10 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: N/A

#19) Andrew Conboy
Left Wing, Hamilton, AHL
5th round pick (142nd overall) in 2007

In his second full season with the Bulldogs, the physical winger put up AHL
career highs in all offensive categories.  That’s the good news.  The
bad news is that his PIM total shot up considerably and he was singled out for a
lack of discipline on several occasions.  Conboy has the tools to be a
physical 4th line winger in the NHL but given Montreal’s current system, he
would do well to continue to develop his offensive game to the point where he
could be more than a 4-5 minute per game tough guy.  Reducing the number of
minor penalties he takes this year will be crucial for his future.

2010-11 Stats: 64 GP, 13-10-23, 116 PIMS, +3
Previous HW Ranking: 24th

#18) Olivier Fortier
Centre, Hamilton, AHL
3rd round pick (65th overall) in 2007

A lot of people have soured on Fortier after he put up rather pedestrian
numbers in his first healthy year in Hamilton.  I’m not as fast to forget
about him as he played every role possible with the Bulldogs last season, often
changing lines on a game-to-game basis.  That type of versatility can go a
long way towards getting an NHL look and also helps explain the lack of
production.  Fortier projects as a hard working
bottom-6 player albeit with limited offensive upside.  Finding a way to
improve his output on the statsheet will be important this year as he’ll be
counted on to shoulder more of the load.

2010-11 Stats: 68 GP, 9-11-20, 20 PIMS, +1
Previous HW Ranking: 19th

#17) Mark Mitera
Defenceman, Syracuse, AHL
1st round pick (19th overall) in 2006 (acquired via trade from Anaheim)

Mitera’s development has been slow and full of bumps so far but there is
still some upside with him as a 3rd pairing stay at home defenceman.  The
biggest obstacle seems to be getting that through to him as he frustrated
Syracuse coaches and fans by trying to lead the rush and show that his offensive
game from college is still there.  Too often, that led to bad things
happening which is why it’s likely that Clement Jodoin will be focusing on
getting him to keep it simple early and often.  If he buys in, the Habs
will have a pretty good prospect in a year or so.

2010-11 Stats: 71 GP, 6-16-22, 50 PIMS, -15
Previous HW Ranking: N/A

#16) Gabriel Dumont
Centre/Right Wing, Hamilton, AHL
5th round pick (139th overall) in 2009

Dumont played exactly as his scouting report was in his first professional
season – small but feisty and tends to elevate his game when it matters most. 
His offensive output during the regular season was underwhelming though given
his breakout campaign in the QMJHL in 2009-10.  He earned more ice time as
the year progressed including seeing some time on both special teams units. 
If he earns the trust of the new coaching staff from the beginning, he will be a
prime candidate for a breakout season.

2010-11 Stats: 64 GP, 5-13-18, 79 PIMS, -4
Previous HW Ranking: 24th