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We have reached the top-20 of our prospect rankings, a spot where the depth
in the Habs’ system really begins to show.  Although this group has quite a
few fallers in the rankings, there are a pair whose slot this season is
considerably higher compared to what it was in their first year.  There are
also more defencemen rated in this group than in the first three parts of this
years’ series combined.


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, 2013
2) The player must have no greater than 50 games of NHL experience (including
regular season and playoffs – Brendan Gallagher has 49 but since he’s a regular,
he has been exempted)
3) The player has to be signed on an NHL contract

Here are the departures from last year’s list (in alphabetical order):

Graduated: Andreas Engqvist
Released: Olivier Archambault, Alexander Avtsin, Alain Berger, Daniel
Pribyl, Ian Schultz, Joe Stejskal, Dustin Walsh
Traded: Danny Kristo, Aaron Palushaj (waivers)


#20) Dalton Thrower
Defence, Saskatoon, WHL
2nd round pick (51st overall in 2012)

Thrower narrowly missed out on a top-10 spot last year but a disappointing
2012-13 campaign drops him down significantly on our list.  His offensive
game took a step backwards while a lack of discipline continues to be a concern
for him, highlighted by being suspended at the Memorial Cup for an illegal hit. 
Despite that, his combination of physicality and offensive ability is still
considered as a big asset for Thrower.  He should get a strong opportunity
to rebound this season as he has been dealt to Vancouver of the Western League
where he’ll play in all situations while also captaining the team.  A
strong year should yield an entry-level deal from the Habs and I suspect he’ll
get his contract. 

2012-13 Stats: 54 GP, 6-21-27, 89 PIMS, +18 rating, 2 PPG
Previous HW Ranking: 11th

#19) Sven Andrighetto
Left Wing/Right Wing, Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL
3rd round pick (86th overall in 2013)

The third time was a charm for the 20 year old who was picked in his third
year of eligibility by the Habs this past June.  Although he is an
undersized winger, he still brings a lot to the table.  Andrighetto is one
of the more dynamic offensive prospects in the organization and was one of the
QMJHL’s top scorers (regular season and playoffs) last year.  Montreal
didn’t waste any time signing him, inking him just weeks after the draft. 
He is Hamilton-bound this year and with the extra forward depth the team has to
start the season, I don’t see him getting top six ice time right away which will
hurt his numbers.  Given that he’s the first from this draft class to play
in the AHL, there’s a good chance Andrighetto will become the first player from
the Canadiens’ 2013 choices to make it into an NHL game although that likely
won’t happen this year.

2012-13 Stats: 53 GP, 31-67-98, 45 PIMS, +25 rating, 15 PPG,
Previous HW Ranking: N/A

#18) Patrick Holland
Right Wing/Centre, Hamilton, AHL
Acquired from Calgary in 2012

Similar to what Andrighetto will face this year, Holland entered last season
coming off a high scoring junior campaign, only to spend the early portion in
the bottom six.  As a result, he got off to a very slow start with the
Bulldogs (one goal in his first 17 games) but made significant strides as the
year progressed at both the offensive and defensive sides of the game. 
Holland isn’t likely to be a big scorer at the NHL level but if he continues to
progress, could become a two-way third liner, provided he continues to bulk up,
an area that still requires attention.  He should be a key cog for Hamilton
this year and there’s a decent chance he earns himself a callup to the big club
at some point during the season.

2012-13 Stats: 69 GP, 10-18-28, 8 PIMS, -12 rating, 1 PPG, 131
Previous HW Ranking: 12th

#17) Morgan Ellis
Defence, Hamilton, AHL
4th round pick (117th overall in 2010)

2012-13 was a year to forget for Ellis.  A training camp injury set him
back early and he never seemed to make much of an impact when he played; he was
largely used on the third pairing all season.  Once thought of as one of
the more NHL-ready prospects the Habs had, it’s now looking like he’s more of a
longer-term project.  Ellis is a well-rounded player; although he doesn’t
excel at any one particular aspect of the game, there are no glaring weaknesses
either.  This coming year will be crucial for him.  The departures
(St. Denis to Columbus, Tinordi to the Habs) should open up a top-four spot for
him on the blueline.  However, if Ellis finds himself back on the bottom
pairing after being surpassed by the newcomers, his climb to the NHL will become
an even steeper one.

2012-13 Stats: 71 GP, 4-4-8, 57 PIMS, -16 rating, 1 PPG, 66 SOG
Previous HW Ranking: 9th

#16) Greg Pateryn
Defence, Hamilton, AHL
Acquired from Toronto in 2008

There weren’t many positives in Hamilton last year but Pateryn was one of
them.  It didn’t take long for him to become a top pairing player while he
also displayed a previously unseen scoring touch, scoring more goals in 2012-13
than his four college seasons combined despite missing nearly half the season
with a wrist injury.  He also earned a brief recall to the Habs although he
was overmatched by the end of it.  Despite this, his NHL ceiling is rather
low.  He’s probably going to be a 3rd pairing NHL’er at best which is why
he slots here and not closer to the top-10.  Pateryn needs to work on his
assertiveness and not get as caught up with the highs and lows of each game
which he has admitted has affected his confidence level.  If he can improve
on those and continue his new-found offensive prowess, he will be a strong
candidate to be called up throughout the season.

2012-13 Stats: 39 GP, 7-5-12, 27 PIMS, -12 rating, 4 PPG, 78
Previous HW Ranking: 29th

If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to vote for your top-10
prospects.  Click
for the ballot.  The results will be revealed before we begin
posting our writers’ top-10 later this month.