2015-16 Montreal Canadiens Top 10 Prospects

2015-16 Montreal Canadiens Top 10 Prospects

Montreal Canadiens prospects

A look at the Montreal Canadiens top 10 prospects heading into the 2015-16 season.

In the past, both the Habs NHL roster and prospect pipeline were full of undersized players. Help is on the way with some big bodied prospects coming down the pipe.

At the same time the Habs are not sacrificing too much in terms of talent and skill. Despite the current trend in the NHL leaning towards skill and speed, there will always be a need for size throughout an NHL roster.

1. Nikita Scherbak: Right Wing – 6’1” / 175 lbs
Drafted: 26th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Montreal.

Scherbak played his final year of junior with Everett of the WHL, and produced two seasons of over a point per game offensive production. Failing to crack the Russian WJC team was a disappointment to be sure, but may have had some political reasons behind the decision. After amassing 160 career points in 130 WHL games, Scherbak is projected to spend the season honing his skills at the pro level in St. Johns’s with the Habs new AHL affiliate.

Scouting Report:

Scherbak is a highly-skilled two-way forward who is capable of handling physical rigors despite a thin frame. He has outstanding puck skills and is willing to compete in hard areas. His skating speed, quick release. –  Hockeys Future

2. Michael McCarron: Centre – 6’5” / 237 lbs
Drafted: 25th overall in the first round of the 2013 draft by Montreal.

A year after seeing his stock rise with a Memorial Cup run on the London Knights, McCarron took another big step forward after being traded to the Oshawa Generals and a return trip to the Memorial Cup where the Generals were Champions. McCarron played a key role in their Championship and with 68 points in 56 games, established an offensive element to his game. Yet another important element added to his repertoire last season was his ability to dominate at the draw after he was moved to centre. He is big, nasty, can skate, has decent hands and can win draws. It wont take him long to adjust to the pro game before he makes his NHL debut.

Scouting Report:

Good, smooth skater for his size – moves well laterally .. a north-south threat as he attains very good top speed .. not overly quick off the mark though – needs to add quickness to startup .. decent puckhandler aided by a huge reach .. steadily improving physical consistency – learning to exploit his size .. must keep getting stronger and bulking up a mammoth frame .. a future third-line power pivot. – McKeens Hockey

3. Zach Fucale: Goalie – 6’1” / 178 lbs
Drafted: 36th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by Montreal.

Fucale would have liked to have capped off his junior career with a second Memorial Cup Championship. Unfortunately he will have to settle for a WJC Gold Medal. His trophy cupboard is already full as he is poised to begin his pro career and is firmly entrenched as the future starter for Montreal. With Carey Price the reigning top goalie in the world, he will have to be patient however.

Scouting Report:

A focused and timely goaltender most nights – even backing a powerhouse squad .. main strengths include a positional-based butterfly and overall calm demeanor .. brings structure and efficiency on low plays, including post coverage, wraparounds, and jam plays .. does a good job absorbing shots off the chest, stomach, or low-waist area .. plays an effortless style and excels at letting plays and pucks come to him .. reads plays well and understands how to manage depth in the crease depending on the situation .. showcases an economy of movement and stays patient on his edges, waiting for shooters to make the first move .. rebound control is excellent. – McKeens Hockey

4. Noah Juulsen: Defence – 6’2” / 174 lbs
Drafted: 26th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Montreal.

Juulsen had a breakout season in his draft year with Everett in the WHL, seeing his point totals jump from ten the previous year to 52 in his draft year. He began the year as a potential second round pick and a “B” rated prospect, but his stock climbed into the first round.  Juulsen is a right handed defenceman who can run a power play which is a valuable commodity in the NHL. He will play a few more years in junior and then see some time in the AHL before he debuts in the NHL.

Scouting Report:

Noah Juulsen is a strong skater, with a smooth and fluid stride. While he’s not an absolute speedster, he does have good speed and acceleration. Its in his edgework and agility though that he really shines. Juulsen pivots quickly and this allows him to cover large areas of the ice. – Last Word On Sports

5. Charles Hudon: Left Wing – 5’10” / 178 lbs
Drafted:  122nd overall in the fifth round of the 2012 draft by Montreal.

After four seasons of prolific scoring in junior, Hudon had a strong rookie season in the AHL, scoring 57 points and making the All-Rookie team after he finished second in league scoring for rookies.  With Alex Galchenyuk shifting to centre, and Brandon Prust traded to Vancouver, the roster is a little less blocked for Hudon. The diminutive forward may still need some more seasoning in the AHL before he earns the trust of the Coaching staff, but Montreal is in need of offense and Hudon can deliver.

Scouting Report:

Hudon is mainly known for his offensive skills but can also play defensively as seen by his solid plus/minus differential. The talented winger is blessed with superior hockey sense, a great vision and quick hands which allow him to control the play in the offensive zone and create scoring opportunities for him and his line-mates. He has maturity beyond his age while providing leadership, character and a strong work ethic for his teammates. The smallish forward will need to add more muscle mass to withstand the physical play along the boards at the pro level while working on his skating edge control and his four-step acceleration. – Hockeys Future

6. Martin Reway: Left Wing – 5’8” / 170 lbs
Drafted: 116th overall in the fourth round of the 2013 draft by Montreal.

Reway has had three tours of duty for Slovakia at the WJC, including 19 points in 12 games in the last two years. He was also an over a point per game player two years ago in the QMJHL and last year playing pro in Czech against men. He is a gifted dynamic offensive wizard, but is very undersized. With small players dominating in the NHL like Johnny Gaudreau and Tyler Johnson, Reway has a chance to crack the roster, but it needs to be in a top six role. He will play in the Czech league again this year, but would have a better chance cracking the NHL if he played in North America.

Scouting Report:

Reway had a particularly impressive performance at the past World Juniors for Slovakia and there is no denying that he has the skill set, most notably his game breaking speed, to be an NHL player someday. – Hockey Prospectus

7. Greg Pateryn: Defence – 6’2” / 222 lbs
Drafted 128th overall by Toronto in the 2008 draft.
Acquired: Trade with Toronto in 2008.

Pateryn is a big, physical stay at home defenceman who projects as a bottom pairing depth defenceman. He was pointless in 17 regular season games, but recorded three assists in  seven playoff games.

Scouting Report:

Pateryn spent some time with the Habs last season, including seven playoff games and proved he can be effective when keeping things simple and knowing his limitations. Hockey Prospectus

8. Sven Andrighetto: Right Wing – 5-9 / 183 lbs
Drafted: 86th overall in the third round of the 2013 draft by Montreal.

Andrighetto is another small skilled winger in the Habs system. He had another good season in the AHL, but seems to have flat lined his production around the 40 point range. He made his NHL debut, scoring three points in his first three games before going pointless in the following nine before being returned to the AHL. With his lack of size, he either needs to be better offensively or do a lot more than just score.

Scouting Report:

Andrighetto has an excellent slapshot, especially on one timers. It is hard and extremely accurate. He also has a very good wrist shot and an excellent release. Not just a one trick pony though, Andrighetto is as good a playmaker as he is a sniper, with very good vision and passing skills.  Despite his size Andrighetto tries to play a gritty game and get involved in the corners, and he’s more successful than many would expect. – Last Word On Sports

9. Daniel Carr: Left Wing – 6’0” / 194 lbs
Acquired: Signed as a free agent in 2014.

Carr was an undrafted free agent signing out of college, who made his pro debut last year in the AHL. Originally projected as a depth winger,he surprisingly showed some offensive upside scoring 24 goals and 39 points in 76 games. He has better size than a lot of Montreal’s wingers and could surpass the likes of Artturi Lehkonen to the NHL as a more versatile option on a checking line.

Scouting Report:

For the most part, Carr is a simple player. He possesses well above-average work ethic, hockey sense, and shooting ability, but he is by no means a flashy or physical player. While technically-sound, Carr doesn’t own breakaway speed or an explosive first few steps. Instead, he relies on solid edge work, deceptive speed, and smart decisions. One-on-one he will rarely wow, instead opting to push the puck where he wants to go and win the ensuing foot race. As a playmaker, he doesn’t particularly impress, as he tends to elect for shorter, safer passes or beginning the cycle. – All About the Habs

10. Darren Dietz: Defence – 6’1” / 204 lbs
Drafted: 138th overall in the fifth round of the 2011 draft by Montreal.

In his second year as a pro in the AHL, Dietz took a step forward playing in 71 games and scored 17 points. Like Pateryn he is more of a defensive bottom pairing defenceman, but has better offensive potential the Pateryn. Dietz likely will need some injuries to have a look at the NHL this season, but will continue to develop his game in the AHL in the meantime.

Scouting Report:

Dietz is a right-handed shot defenseman who is not afraid to support the offense. He makes a smart first pass and keeps active on the ice, willingly engaging the opposition with physical play. He has the prototypical size for an NHL back liner and is willing to mix things up when the situation warrants. He make things difficult for opposing forwards. Dietz possesses the overall game to play a role on both specialty team units. – Hockeys Future

Recent Roster Graduations: Michael Bournival, Jacob de la Rose, Jarred Tinordi

Honorable Mentions: Christian Thomas, Artturi Lehkonen, Mike Condon, Brett Lernout, Jeremy Gregoire, Mark MacMillan, Jeremiah Addison, Tim Bozon.

Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.

Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling

Catch up on any Top 10 Team Prospect list that you may have missed.

Nikita Scherbak

Michael McCarron

Zach Fucale

Noah Juulsen

Charles Hudon

Martin Reway

Greg Pateryn

Sven Andrighetto

Daniel Carr

Darren Dietz