HabsWorld.net -- 

We’ve finally hit the top-5 portion of this year’s prospect rankings. 
For the second time in the past three years, our writers have voted unanimously
for who the top prospect is, a selection that shouldn’t come as a surprise to
anyone.  Did the writers make the same selections as our readers for the
rest of the top-5?  Read on to find out.


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

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


#5) Brendan Gallagher
Right Wing, Vancouver, WHL
5th round pick (147th overall) in 2010

After a 2010-11 season that saw Gallagher finish top-10 in WHL scoring, fans
were wondering what he could do for an encore.  His year got off to a
strong start as he seriously contended for one of the Habs’ last roster spots in
training camp.  From there, he used that momentum to get off to a torrid
(and frankly, unsustainable) pace in the WHL, collecting 46 points in 28 games
before Canada’s World Junior team called.  He played more of a secondary
role for Canada but still collected a point per game.  He cooled off ever
so slightly
upon his return to Vancouver before picking up 10 points in a first round
playoff loss.  That was some kind of encore, one that has propelled him
into a top role with the Bulldogs as a 20 year old. 

2011-12 Stats: 54 GP, 41-36-77, 79 PIMS, +19 rating
Previous HW Ranking: 11th
Fans’ Ranking: 5th

#4) Louis Leblanc
Right Wing/Centre, Hamilton, AHL
1st round pick (18th overall) in 2009

Last season didn’t go exactly as planned for Leblanc.  It was
managements’ hope that he’d spent the majority of time with Hamilton, perhaps
getting a recall or two where necessary.  Instead, he suited up for more
games in Montreal than he did with the Bulldogs.  With Hamilton, he was
part of an often depleted top six and saw considerable ice time in all roles
while with the Habs, he saw bottom six minutes with hardly any special teams
time.  As a result, we sit here today with similar questions about his
overall upside.  We don’t doubt that he will be a quality NHL’er but what
is his true offensive upside?  The lockout will serve him well as he’ll
finally get a chance to play consistent minutes and hone his offensive skills,
provided he stays healthy,
something he didn’t get too much of a chance to work on last year after being
shuffled back and forth.

2011-12 Stats: 31 GP, 11-11-22, 30 PIMS, -10 rating, 112 shots
Previous HW Ranking: 1st
Fans’ Ranking: 4th

#3) Jarred Tinordi
Defence, London, OHL
1st round pick (22nd overall) in 2010

After a so-so rookie campaign, a lot of fans were down on Tinordi.  His
second season, one where he was named captain of the Knights, was much better. 
He was an anchor on the Knights’ blueline, the true definition of a defensive
defenceman.  He also cut down on the number of fights he got into,
realizing that he needed to be on the ice more.  He also played for Team
USA at the World Juniors and although the Americans struggled, he was one of
their better defencemen.  He’s never going to be mistaken for an offensive
threat but he isn’t a complete liability offensively either and is improving in
that regard; he was notably better during the postseason.  Unlike Leblanc
though, there are no questions about his role in the future – he will be a
physical, shutdown blueliner for years to come.

2011-12 Stats: 48 GP, 2-16-18, 63 PIMS, +39 rating (team and
league high)
Previous HW Ranking: 3rd
Fans’ Ranking: 3rd

#2) Nathan Beaulieu
Defence, Saint John, QMJHL
1st round pick (17th overall) in 2011

After a pair of nearly identical seasons in terms of scoring, Beaulieu took a
step forward in that regard last season as he took on a greater role with the
Sea Dogs.  On the downside, he found himself involved in a lot more
skirmishes after the whistle while he still took too many risks with the puck. 
That became an issue for Canada at the World Juniors who more or less tried to
use him as a powerplay specialist and sparingly at 5-on-5.  In terms of
what he does well though, he has the chance to be a high scoring defenceman in
the pros; his skating will really boost the transition game.  Interestingly
enough, Beaulieu was the only prospect out of the top-4 to receive a vote
outside of the top-5 from our writers’ panel, but also received the most second
place votes as his offensive potential simply can’t be overlooked.

2011-12 Stats: 53 GP, 11-41-52, 100 PIMS, +41 rating, 150 shots
Previous HW Ranking: 2nd
Fans’ Ranking: 2nd

#1) Alex Galchenyuk
Centre, Sarnia, OHL
1st round pick (3rd overall) in 2012

A top flight centre with size; for years, that sounded like a pipe dream for
Montreal fans.  Dream no longer.  Galchenyuk was a unanimous selection
from our writers as the Habs’ top prospect despite hardly playing at all last
season due to a knee injury.  Even though he is effectively a year behind
in his development, it probably won’t be too long before we see him at the NHL
level as long as he can stay healthy this year.  He can dominate the play and
is a high quality shooter and passer in the offensive zone.  A player of
his calibre is something we haven’t seen in a Montreal jersey for quite some
time; he should be well worth the wait.

2011-12 Stats: 2 GP, 0-0-0, 0 PIMS, -4 rating (6 GP, 2-2-4, 4
PIMS, -6 rating in the postseason)
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
Fans’ Ranking: 1st