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Our third group of players in our 2017 Prospect Rankings is highlighted by a trio of recent acquisitions as well as a fifth-year prospect struggling to avoid dropping down the depth chart.


As we’ve done the last few years, the top-10 have been voted on by members of HabsWorld’s writing staff while I ranked the players from 11 through 33.  Voting was done prior to the beginning of training camp.  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, 2017
2) The player must have no greater than 55 games of NHL experience (including regular season and playoffs)
3) The player cannot be signed to an AHL contract

Here are the departures from last year’s list (previous ranking in parentheses):

Graduated: Artturi Lehkonen (2nd), Daniel Carr (6th)
Released: Matt Bradley (23rd), Ryan Johnston (26th), Mark MacMillan (27th), Connor Crisp (32nd), Dalton Thrower (33rd), Colin Sullivan (34th)
Traded: Mikhail Sergachev (1st), Tim Bozon (21st)

Included with each ranking is an estimate of each prospects’ NHL readiness date.  For some players, the estimate is a specific season while others whose projected development paths are harder to determine will be in a range.


25) Markus Eisenschmid

Centre, St. John’s (AHL)
Undrafted free agent signing in 2017

Eisenschmid got off to a stronger start last season simply by staying healthy and did enough to earn an entry-level deal from the Habs although they waited until the required term of the contract was two years instead of three.  As a result, he finds himself playing for a second contract already.

The German centre isn’t a player with a lot of overall upside but he has fit in well as an energetic bottom-six forward in the bottom six at the AHL level.  With his ability to kill penalties and his speed, he’s the type of player that could fit in on the new-look NHL fourth lines.  He has a long way to go to get there though as he will need to stay in the lineup and have more of an impact offensively if he wants to get another contract from the Habs.  He’s off to a strong start with Laval; so far, so good.

2016-17 Stats: 39 GP, 6-4-10, +4 rating, 12 PIMS, 60 shots
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
NHL ETA: 2019-20 – Assuming he progresses enough to get a new deal in the summer, Eisenschmid will probably need another full season in the minors in a more prominent role before realistically being ready.  Right now, his offensive upside is extremely limited so he’d be a lot better equipped if his overall game was more refined before taking aim at an NHL spot.

24) Zach Fucale

Goaltender, Brampton (ECHL)
2nd round pick (36th overall) in 2013

The Habs chose to send Fucale down a level last season in an effort to maximize his playing time and he responded with a year that was a lot like his junior career.  There were a lot of ups and downs but at the end of the day, the Beast won a lot when he was in the lineup despite a GAA and a SV% that weren’t anywhere near the best in the league.  Mixed in between that was a solid showing at the Spengler Cup as well which can’t go without mentioning either.

Fucale finished up with a strong postseason but despite that, I think he has had enough time to show that he’s not going to be a starting goaltender in the NHL as the consistency just isn’t going to be there.  He could potentially be a backup but even that’s not a guarantee so as a result, he takes a big dive in the rankings.  A few years ago, he was the top goalie prospect in the organization but now he’s the fourth-best which is also going to work against him.

2016-17 Stats: 46 GP, 25-12-4 record, 3.17 GAA, .898 SV%, 4 shutouts
Previous HW Ranking: 10th
NHL ETA: 2019-20 – Goalies have a longer waiver exemption which should work in Fucale’s favour in terms of getting him a new contract this summer.  He has two more years without needing waivers and he’s going to need them to show some improvement in his consistency as that won’t come overnight.

23) Jarret Tyszka

Defenceman, Seattle (WHL)
5th round pick (149th overall) in 2017

Montreal’s run on defencemen back in June ended with Tyszka, their fourth blueliner selected.  He’s coming off a season where he played through an injury which likely hurt his draft stock but there are some questions about how much pro upside he ultimately has.

Offensively, his skill set is pretty good for junior but there is no high-end element that could stand out as one that could translate well to the pros.  At the defensive end, he has some good moments and some ugly ones, something that has carried over early on into the year.  Suffice it to say, he probably won’t be a shutdown specialist either.  That all said, even if Tyszka winds up being just a decent organizational defender that primarily is in the minors, that’s still not bad value this late in the draft and if he can make it as a depth NHL blueliner, the Habs will have done well with this pick.

2016-17 Stats: 54 GP, 6-19-25, +5 rating, 28 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
NHL ETA: 2021-22/2022-23 – Assuming he lands an ELC from Montreal, he’s going to need at least a couple of years before being ready to make an impact and given how raw parts of his game are, there’s a good chance he’ll need a bit longer than that even.

22) Antoine Waked

Right Wing, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
Undrafted free agent signing in 2017

There are some players who, based on the previous season, are expected to have a breakout year at the junior level.  Waked wasn’t really in that category but nonetheless had a career year, tallying more points than he had put in the three previous campaigns.  That got him on the radar and ultimately landed him a deal with the Habs.

Despite the offensive jump, no one should be projecting Waked as a big scorer at the professional level.  Like Tyszka, there isn’t really a stand-out skill that he can lean on to produce at the AHL level, let alone the NHL.  However, he’s an energy player that could fit in a bottom-six role so it will be interesting to see if his offensive game can progress in the coming years.

2016-17 Stats: 67 GP, 39-41-80, +41 rating, 67 PIMS, 226 shots
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
NHL ETA: 2020-21 – As is always the case with players that project as energy guys, they could always be brought up a bit quicker but I suspect Waked is going to be a player that progresses gradually so he’ll likely need the full three years of his entry-level deal.

21) Jeremiah Addison

Left Wing, Windsor (OHL)
7th round pick (207th overall) in 2015

Simply looking at the numbers, there isn’t a lot to get excited about, considering that he couldn’t crack the point-per-game mark in his overage OHL season.  However, he has a knack for stepping up in critical moments which certainly helps earn him the benefit of the doubt.

Addison is another player who projects as a lower-end winger but is the type of player who could conceivably still make it despite a pretty low ceiling overall.  He has the gritty style of play that will work on a fourth line, he can kill penalties, and again, has that knack for timely goals.  Those will serve him well at the professional level.

2016-17 Stats: 51 GP, 24-19-43, +2 rating, 62 PIMS, 140 shots
Previous HW Ranking: 21st
NHL ETA: 2020-21 – Addison is someone who if he did not require surgery that will cost him six months could have had his ETA bumped up a year.  However, this year is already a write-off and it’s hard to imagine him pushing for an NHL spot after just one full season in the minors so he is another three-year player.

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