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We've now passed the halfway mark in our annual prospect rankings and this grouping largely consists of Hamilton-bound players including a few who have been with the organization for several years now. A former first round pick finds himself in this group as well as one of the picks from last June's entry draft.
This year, we changed things up a little. 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, 2011
2) The player must have no greater than 40 games of NHL experience (including regular season and playoffs)
3) The player has to be signed on an NHL contract
As the Habs brought several youngsters up last season, this year's list will look a lot different as many of the top prospects are no longer eligible. Here are the departures from last year's list:
Graduated: David Desharnais, Lars Eller, Frederic St. Denis, P.K.
Subban, Yannick Weber, Ryan White, Alexei Yemelin
Released: Patrick Johnson, Petteri Simila, J.T. Wyman
Traded: Mathieu Carle, Ben Maxwell, Ryan Russell
#20) Magnus Nygren
Defence, Bofors IK, Sweden-1
4th round pick (113th overall) in 2011
The 21 year old Nygren burst onto the scene late last season where he moved up to the Swedish Elite League and put up better numbers (22 GP, 4-11-15) than he did in the lower division. For those who are fans of NHL equivalency points, you'll love Nygren whose SEL numbers translated to a 44-point NHL campaign. The Habs have had some success with drafting overagers before (Streit and Grabovski come to mind) but will have to wait at least one more year for Nygren who will spend this season trying to improve his so-so defensive game.
2010-11 Stats: 35 GP, 5-6-11, 10 PIMS
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
#19) Andrew Conboy
Left Wing, Hamilton, AHL
5th round pick (142nd overall) in 2007
In his second full season with the Bulldogs, the physical winger put up AHL career highs in all offensive categories. That's the good news. The bad news is that his PIM total shot up considerably and he was singled out for a lack of discipline on several occasions. Conboy has the tools to be a physical 4th line winger in the NHL but given Montreal's current system, he would do well to continue to develop his offensive game to the point where he could be more than a 4-5 minute per game tough guy. Reducing the number of minor penalties he takes this year will be crucial for his future.
2010-11 Stats: 64 GP, 13-10-23, 116 PIMS, +3
Previous HW Ranking: 24th
#18) Olivier Fortier
Centre, Hamilton, AHL
3rd round pick (65th overall) in 2007
A lot of people have soured on Fortier after he put up rather pedestrian numbers in his first healthy year in Hamilton. I'm not as fast to forget about him as he played every role possible with the Bulldogs last season, often changing lines on a game-to-game basis. That type of versatility can go a long way towards getting an NHL look and also helps explain the lack of production. Fortier projects as a hard working bottom-6 player albeit with limited offensive upside. Finding a way to improve his output on the statsheet will be important this year as he'll be counted on to shoulder more of the load.
2010-11 Stats: 68 GP, 9-11-20, 20 PIMS, +1
Previous HW Ranking: 19th
#17) Mark Mitera
Defenceman, Syracuse, AHL
1st round pick (19th overall) in 2006 (acquired via trade from Anaheim)
Mitera's development has been slow and full of bumps so far but there is still some upside with him as a 3rd pairing stay at home defenceman. The biggest obstacle seems to be getting that through to him as he frustrated Syracuse coaches and fans by trying to lead the rush and show that his offensive game from college is still there. Too often, that led to bad things happening which is why it's likely that Clement Jodoin will be focusing on getting him to keep it simple early and often. If he buys in, the Habs will have a pretty good prospect in a year or so.
2010-11 Stats: 71 GP, 6-16-22, 50 PIMS, -15
Previous HW Ranking: N/A
#16) Gabriel Dumont
Centre/Right Wing, Hamilton, AHL
5th round pick (139th overall) in 2009
Dumont played exactly as his scouting report was in his first professional season - small but feisty and tends to elevate his game when it matters most. His offensive output during the regular season was underwhelming though given his breakout campaign in the QMJHL in 2009-10. He earned more ice time as the year progressed including seeing some time on both special teams units. If he earns the trust of the new coaching staff from the beginning, he will be a prime candidate for a breakout season.
2010-11 Stats: 64 GP, 5-13-18, 79 PIMS, -4
Previous HW Ranking: 24th
- 2011 HW Prospect Rankings: 1-5 posted by B. La Rose
- 2011 HW Prospect Rankings: 6-10 posted by B. La Rose
- 2011 HW Prospect Rankings: 11-15 posted by B. La Rose
- 2011 HW Prospect Rankings: 21-25 posted by B. La Rose
- 2011 HW Prospect Rankings: 26-30 posted by B. La Rose
- 2011 HW Prospect Rankings: 31-35 posted by B. La Rose
- 2011 HW Prospect Rankings: 36-40 posted by B. La Rose