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We have now reached the top five in our 2013 Prospect Rankings series. 
This is one of the younger groups of players in our rankings with the oldest
player being just 21.  Unlike two of the past three years, our top pick
this time is not unanimous; in fact, three different players received
consideration for the top spot.  Which one rose above the rest to be
crowned the Habs’ top prospect?


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)


#5) Zach Fucale
Goalie, Halifax, QMJHL
2nd round pick (36th overall in 2013)

For the first time in a long time (since Carey Price, really), the Habs can
say they have a legitimate goalie prospect in their system.  Fucale’s
ridiculous win-loss numbers last year were aided by the quality of the team
surrounding him – a good enough core to win a Memorial Cup – but he certainly
played a big role in Halifax’s success as well.  This year hasn’t been as
good of a start for the netminder but at this stage, he still is likely to get a
strong chance to start for Canada at the World Juniors; cutting down on the
untimely soft goals will be critical for that to happen.  One element that
particularly encourages me about Fucale’s development potential is that he got
to be a starter for two full years prior to being drafted.  Lots of 16 and
17 year old goalies are seeing backup duty at that stage, giving the Habs’
prospect a serious leg up on the development curve.  That should come in
handy down the road.

2012-13 Stats: 55 GP, 45-5-3 record, 2.35 GAA, .907 SV%, 2 SO
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
HW Fan Vote Ranking: 5th

#4) Michael McCarron
Right Wing, US NTDP, USHL
1st round pick (25th overall in 2013)

McCarron was the Habs’ most controversial pick in this past draft. 
Although even his biggest detractors would probably acknowledge that he’s likely
to be an NHL’er, the biggest questions seem to be whether or not he can be an
impact top six forward or just a depth physical player.  His offensive game took
a step forward towards the end of last year which likely vaulted him to first
round status after being a consensus second rounder for most of the year. 
Unfortunately for him, McCarron has yet to make much of an impact at the junior
level.  Part of that can be attributed to the fact he’s playing through a
shoulder injury but it’s fair to say that he has disappointed nonetheless. 
Although he has an NHL-ready frame, the Habs would be wise to let him take a
slower development path to increase the chances of him being more than a
physical bottom six forward.

2012-13 Stats: 59 GP, 16-21-37, 182 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
HW Fan Vote Ranking: 4th

#3) Sebastian Collberg
Right Wing, Frolunda, SHL
2nd round pick (33rd overall in 2012)

Consistent playing time was hard to come by for Collberg last year.  As
a result, it’s hard to get a read where he is in his development.  Right
now, he’s an offensive-minded winger who hasn’t put up much in the way of
offence in the past two years, with one exception.  That exception is why
he is highly touted.  Collberg may not do much with his club team but when
he plays against players in his own age group, he dominates.  In terms of
raw offensive potential, he may very well be the Habs’ best in their prospect
group.  The next step for him is to translate some of his success from
playing against junior competition to the top league in Sweden.  If he can
find a way to do that while bulking up to withstand a more physical style of
play, it shouldn’t be too long before he’s making an impact in the Montreal

2012-13 Stats: 35 GP, 6-3-9, 6 PIMS, even rating, 1 PPG, 10:00
Previous HW Ranking: 6th
HW Fan Vote Ranking: 3rd

#2) Nathan Beaulieu
Defence, Hamilton, AHL
1st round pick (17th overall in 2011)

As was the case with many of the newcomers to Hamilton last season, Beaulieu
got off to a rocky start (just two points in his first sixteen games) while
having his challenges adapting to the pro game.  He did take some strides
forward at both ends of the risk as the year went on and didn’t look too out of
place in a brief recall with the Habs.  His offensive skill set and skating
ability make him a safe bet to play in the NHL but it will be his defensive game
that dictates whether he’s a player used in all situations or more of a third
pairing powerplay specialist.  Of the Habs’ top two defence prospects (I’m
sure if you haven’t scrolled down yet you can still figure out who the other
is), he’s the longer-term project as it will take a while yet to refine his
defensive zone play.  He’s off to a slow start this year but having some
stability – instead of being sent up and down multiple times per week – should
allow him to get into a groove.

2012-13 Stats: 67 GP, 7-24-31, 63 PIMS, -8 rating, 1 PPG, 163
Previous HW Ranking: 2nd
HW Fan Vote Ranking: 1st

#1) Jarred Tinordi
Defence, Hamilton, AHL
1st round pick (22nd overall in 2010)

Last year, our writers preferred the offensive upside of Beaulieu to the
defensive stability that Tinordi brings.  This year, the tables were turned
as every writer had the stay-at-home blueliner inside their top-2.  His
combination of size, defensive awareness, and physical play is something that no
other defence prospect on this team has which makes him even more valuable. 
He acquitted himself relatively well during the postseason vs Ottawa but still
needs some time to refine his game, particularly his decision making which
continues to be a step slow into this season.  Tinordi is surprisingly off
to a slow start in Hamilton, suggesting that his eventual permanent ascension to
Montreal may be a tad further away than some anticipated.  That said, it
won’t be too long at all before he becomes a core piece of the Habs’ blueline.

2012-13 Stats: 67 GP, 2-11-13, 70 PIMS, -14 rating, 70 SOG
Previous HW Ranking: 3rd
HW Fan Vote Ranking: 2nd