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These next eight picks are perhaps the biggest dead zone for the Habs as these are not players that should be considered with their top pick, but they are likely to be gone by the time they reach the podium for their selection at 26. There has been some noise about trading up for a second pick, but I’m thinking that if the Habs are going to sacrifice assets to get to the podium a second time, they’ll want to do it in the 9-15 selections and not here unless a player they had ranked high slips considerably. Exploring these prospects for the Canadiens is still an exercise that holds value as one could potentially slip and be available for the Habs at 26. 

Here are links for the previously published prospects rankings in this series of articles: 

Second round
Picks 25-32 

#17 – Igor Chernyshov 

MHK Dynamo Maskva (MHL) – LW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 13 Midseason – 17  

Chernyshov is the type of player that teams love. He’s big and plays big, plus he’s already doing versus men. He’s a definite contender for a surprise pick before this number in the draft. He’s the type of player a team requires to find success in the postseason. His willingness to play the dirty areas on the ice and to play a greasy style is matched with a strong work ethic. He’s a safe pick that doesn’t have a huge offensive ceiling, but he will be a player and one that contributes down the road. 

28 points in 22 games in the MHL, but a drastic decline as he only produced four points in 24 KHL games. He will be a regular in the KHL next season, so it will be intriguing to see the progression of the player in such a high-end league. To produce there, he’ll need to see much more quality in ice time. 

The NHL offensive output is the biggest question mark. The Habs have enough depth and really need more higher-end talent. For that reason alone, I would not be moving up to select Chernyshov. It would be quite interesting to see what the Habs would do should he find himself on the board at 26 though. It is highly unlikely but it would be a big win at that point. 

#18 – Liam Greentree 

Windsor Spitfires (OHL) – RW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 29 Mid-Season – 18 

A second 6’2’’ winger in a row on the ranking as Greentree provides a very different style of game if compared to Chernyshov. Greentree’s premier attribute is his hockey IQ. He thinks the game quickly and has the size and skating to back it up. His hands aren’t bad either, but it’s his brains that allow him to consistently find open space in the attacking zone. What’s most intriguing reading up on Greentree is that there doesn’t appear to be many flaws to his game, the only one being mentioned is his tendency to force plays that aren’t there through the neutral zone. 

It was a 90-point campaign on a weak Windsor team for a player who is said to be very mature both on and off the ice. 

I’m not sure how I feel about a player who didn’t really take off until given the reigns to a weaker team. All the skill appears to be there, but he might re-invent himself as a bottom-six support player who can chip in offensively. Greentree is an interesting prospect, but if given the choice, I think I would select Chernyshov ahead of Greentree for the Habs. 

#19 – Trevor Connelly 

Tri-City Storm (USHL) – LW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 21 Midseason – 14 

Connelly’s primary tool is his skating as he’s almost McDavid-like in his skating ability, and he uses it to backcheck too. He has the hands to make it count offensively, though scouts would like to see him use his big frame to win physical battles instead of trying to always rely on the skating tool. He’s also not a great defender, but this is where waiting for the player to mature becomes important to the team that takes the risk. 

Nice production of 78 points in 52 games USHL. Did not play for the WJC gold-winning team due to off-ice concerns.  

This is a very boom-or-bust pick. It’s hard to imagine a player with this much skill finding himself at the lower end of the round, but some are predicting just that over some questions about his game’s translatability accompanied by some off-ice issues that have plagued him. I’m not sure management will want to deal with more off-ice issues after the Logan Mailloux saga, and I can’t say I blame them. Should they choose to face that storm again, much like Mailloux, they will end up with a player with skill far above the draft position value. 

#20 – Sacha Boisvert 

Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) – C 

Previous Rankings: Start – 30 Midseason – 20  

Looking for high hockey IQ, work ethic, and maturity in a 6’2’’ centew? Boisvert possesses these attributes as he’s described as a player who allows a play to develop and then pounces quickly, not requiring a ton of space to complete plays. That last part is very intriguing as he screams translatability of his skills at the next level. With this year’s draft seeing more defencemen and wingers than usual, it would not be surprising to see Boisvert come out sooner than this rank as a team looking for an impact down the middle may have Boisvert higher on their list. 

68 points in 61 games for the rangy pivot who is committed to North Dakota of the NCAA for the 24-25 season. That’s a very consistent scoring effort. 

I really like the description of the player as one that does not require much time and space to make a play. My belief is that this attribute has been the biggest flaw for both recent high picks for the Habs as both Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Juraj Slafkovsky struggle with this, and it was somewhat addressed with Slafkovsky over the last season. That Boisvert still has time to fill the current 6’2’’ 180lbs frame is interesting too. I think another team falls in love with the idea of drafting a C before the Habs can get their hands on Boisvert, but I would be in favour of the pick should Montreal somehow find themselves in a position to do so. 

#21 – Emil Hemming 

TPS (Liiga) – RW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 22 Midseason – 21 

Another tall and rangy player here as the winger finds himself a polarizing player. He’s got the speed, skill and shot, yet lacks consistency in decisions with and without the puck. It is said that he can sometimes look like he doesn’t care despite having unreal hands and shot. Sounds familiar? I feel like I just described Joel Armia. 

Hemming produced 18 points in 13 games in the U20 and was immediately called up to the Liiga where he scored 11 points in 40 games playing in a checking role. Tough to properly evaluate that information for NHL GM’s. 

This is a pass for me for the Habs. Sure, he’s got size, but the offensive potential appears to be limited which is precisely what they don’t need. 

#22 – Michael Hage 

Chicago Steel (USHL) – C 

Previous Rankings: Start – 27 Midseason – 31 

This is a player with decent size at 6’1 and 190 lbs, but he plays a small man’s game as he relies heavily on above-average speed and shiftiness to get pucks, win battles, and make plays. He had some adversity in getting here as he lost some time to injury two years ago and then lost his father in an accident this year. Despite these hardships, he still scored 75 points in 54 games. However, many question if the game translate as he hardly uses his size, and that includes defensively. 

The numbers suggest that the ceiling is perhaps a little higher than I gave it credit for above, I’m just really not sure I see it. A project pick with limited offensive upside is not a fit with Montreal’s current situation. It’s a pass for me as I want to see more offensive upside within the ranks, even if they end up being misses. 

#23 – Ryder Ritchie 

Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) – RW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 16 Midseason – 16 

Ritchie was named the WHL Rookie of the Year for 2022-2023, had a strong Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and started this season off strong. He fell off in December before missing some time with an injury. This caused some scouts to doubt his ability, but he came back to play a strong playoff for the Raiders. Ritchie is said to have soft hands, a willingness to fight for pucks, and a strong ability to read the play and find the dead space in the offensive zone. There seems to be a consensus that his IQ will be the tool that translates at the next level. 

44 points in 47 games for Ritchie which is pretty on par for players in this range.  

I think Ritchie is an interesting prospect, but he falls into a zone in the draft where he won’t be a consideration for the Habs. 

#24 – Andrew Basha 

Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL) – LW 

Previous Rankings: Start – 38 Midseason – 28 

The first word often used to describe Basha is fun and anyone considering this selection must understand that context is the primary reason he doesn’t find himself higher, but context is also why scouts have so many viewings of the player and he even gets this high up considering some of the criticisms of his game. Basha plays for the Tigers who also feature both top-10 hopeful Cayden Lindstrom, and 2026 top pick favourite Gavin McKenna, so lots of scouts in house on most nights for two very prominent reasons. 

Basha’s most obvious strength is his skating as he explodes out of the gate to gain an advantage over defenders in all zones. However, his intelligence and shot are also considered above average. The knock on him is that he lacks consistency and intensity. This is where scouts are afraid that he might be a product of those around him. The other big concern is that he doesn’t engage much physically.  

Basha accumulated 85 points in 63 games this season with far more assists (55) than goals (30) which validates some of the concern about being a product of playing with top-end talent. 

This is a strange player because the evaluation of his play has completely changed from mid-season to now. I wasn’t that interested in Basha at midseason as he was considered a safe pick to be a depth player. Some time away from Lindstrom due to the latter’s injury seems to have created some opening to him having a bit of a higher ceiling. This is very intriguing for the Habs who truly require a home run wing offensively with their 26th pick. I have serious doubts that Basha makes it there, but should he still be on the board, the Habs should be all over this player, even more so if they can get Lindstrom as their fifth selection.