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This next section of our prospect rankings highlights just how poor
Montreal’s goaltending depth is beyond the NHL roster.  Beyond that, the
other players in this grouping are very much long-term projects or ones that
will need several years before we learn whether they have a chance to live up to
the upside we heard about when they were drafted or signed.


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, 2012
2) The player must have no greater than 50 games of NHL experience (including
regular season and playoffs)
3) The player has to be signed on an NHL contract

Here are the departures from last year’s list (in order of their previous

Graduated: Brendon Nash
Released: Mark Mitera, Olivier Fortier, Andrew Conboy, Dany Masse, Hunter
Bishop, John Westin, Scott Kishel
Traded: Brock Trotter


#35) Robert Mayer
Goalie, Hamilton, AHL
Undrafted free agent signing in 2008

On the bright side, he did improve upon his appalling stats with Hamilton
from the 2010-11 season so at least that was a step, albeit a very tiny one, in
the right direction.  However, issues with consistency and concentration
continued to plague him and given the injury problems that Nathan Lawson dealt
with, the team suffered considerably with Mayer having to appear in over half of
Hamilton’s games.  At this stage, he’s not a lock to even make the 2012-13
edition of the Bulldogs; that, coupled with the last year of his contract (in
what is literally year five of a three year deal) means that barring a huge
turnaround, he’s entering his last year in the organization.

2011-12 Stats: 39 GP, 14-18-1 record, 2.94 GAA, .909 SV%, 0 SO
Previous HW Ranking: 36th 

#34) Colin Sullivan
Defenceman, Avon Old Farms, USHS
7th round pick (198th overall) in 2011

When we hear of a defenceman having defensive concerns playing high school
hockey, it doesn’t take long for alarm bells to ring.  Sullivan’s offensive
game took a small step forward in his last year at this level and while his
skating is already above average, the defensive issues are still very
concerning.  Fortunately, he will have lots of time (as many as four years)
to work on his defensive zone coverage so it’s not time to write him off just
yet, especially since he’s going to a Boston College program which was very
strong last season.

2011-12 Stats: 24 GP, 7-9-16, 0 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: 35th

#33) Alain Berger
Left Wing, Hamilton, AHL
Undrafted free agent signing in 2011

If we handed out an award for the biggest prospect disappointment of the
2011-12 season, he’d be one of the contenders.  He was touted as a quality
offensive power forward except with Hamilton he failed to do much of anything
offensively or even play a physical game.  He stayed in Hamilton all year
as a result of the injuries with the Habs and Bulldogs but even then found
himself as a regular healthy scratch.  Berger will be battling to stick
with Hamilton in a fourth line role this year but he likely would be best suited
to go down to the ECHL and try to re-discover his offensive form, it’s his only
hope to return to prospect relevance.

2011-12 Stats: 47 GP, 1-6-7, 17 PIMS, -19 rating, 61 SOG
Previous HW Ranking: 24th

#32) Erik Nystrom
Left Wing/Right Wing, Modo J20, SuperElit
6th round pick (154th overall) in 2012

Nystrom seems to be a prospect who was drafted as a ‘toolsy’ player.  He
is a very strong skater and has good offensive instincts but there’s something
lacking about his overall game.  He had a decent, yet unspectacular, season
in the under-20 league before getting the call to play in the Swedish Elite
League.  That gave him a boost toward having a very strong postseason back
at the junior level.  Nystrom is on Sweden’s radar for the upcoming World
Junior Championships although he was an early cut at their summer camp.  He
has legitimate sleeper upside but will debut here in our rankings with the hopes
that he will be able to climb the ladder over time.

2011-12 Stats: 32 GP, 9-19-28, 16 PIMS, -1 rating
Previous HW Ranking: N/A

#31) Peter Delmas
Goalie, Wheeling, ECHL
Free agent signing in 2011

Although he once again started the season as the backup, Delmas worked his
way up to the starters’ role in Wheeling.  Unfortunately, along the way, he
went from being a dominant ECHL goalie to just a decent starter which certainly
was a step back for him.  Taking that next step forward (becoming a regular
AHL netminder and not just one who gets a couple of games as a call up) is huge
for him to avoid becoming an afterthought.  He is the top goalie prospect
in the organization but unfortunately, that’s not much of a compliment.

2011-12 Stats: 37 GP, 18-14-1 record, 2.50 GAA, .909 SV%, 3 SO
Previous HW Ranking: 27th