Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Habs' prospects rankings (15-11) and a few updates

Let's take a look at the news in the Hockey-sphere for the Province.

1) Six players from the 'Q made the U-18 Canadian team that will take part of the Ivan-Hlinka memorial Tournament.

Nathan Mackinnon, Zachary Fucale and Jonathan Drouin from the Halifax Mooseheads, Jérémy Grégoire(Chicoutimi Saguenéens), Yan-Pavel Laplante(PEI Rockets) and Anthony Duclair (Québec Remparts).

Mackinnon, Fucale, Drouin and Duclair were locks from the get-go, but it's nice to see more than two players make that team. It usually is a number smaller than that.

2) Galchenyuk "made" the U-20 USA team that presently plays against Sweden and Finland in Lake Placid. He's pivoting a line with JT Miller (1st round pick of the NYR in 2011) and diminutive John Gaudreau(CGY).

They played a game against Finland last night, I'll try to find out how good, or bad he did.

3) The brand new Palais des Sports Léopold Drolet has been revealed to the Sherbrooke Media and the fans.

click here for more pictures

4) Team Canada U-20 will play its first of four games (I said six in my previous blog) of the Russia-Canada Challenge today at 11PM ET on TSN2.

Charles Hudon will be trying to impress the Canadian brass that he deserves a spot on that team come December. The other players representing the 'Q or the province are Kevin Roy( NorthEastern University), Xavier Ouellet (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada), Philip Danault (Victoriaville Tigres), Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint-John Sea Dogs/Florida Panthers) and Maxime Lagacé (PEI Rockets).

5) A good read on Mike Cichy

6) Sebastian Collberg is unfortunately missing the games against Finland and USA taking place in Lake Placid due to a shoulder injury, but he apparently began to practice again today with his Frolunda squad in the SEL.

Now let's move onto the third group of my Top25 list of Habs prospects.

Previously I ranked and described:

25) Gabriel Dumont
24) Josiah Didier
23) Greg Pateryn
22) Brendon Nash
21) Alexander Avtsin
20) Joonas Nättinen
19) Daniel Pribyl
18) Aaron Palushaj
17) Brady Vail
16) Charles Hudon


[ranking] [name]

[age] - [height and weight] -  [team next year] - [position]

[stats provided by]

[my take]

#15 Darren Dietz 

19 years old - 6'1'' 207 lbs - Saskatoon Blades - RD/F

 I will always remember the first thing I heard about him. Cody Nickolet @WHLfromabove said of Darren that "He will punch anyone's face in".

He was right, fighting is a big part of Dietz's game. He isn't scared of anyone, a trait that seems common throughout the Blades' roster and he will defend a teammate any chance he gets. Dietz is a tremendous skater that loves to carry the puck in the enemy's territory to open up passing lanes. He also thrives when he's playing physical, it's not a fun task to play against him. He has pretty good hands and as he gets more and more confidence in his offensive assets, you'll see him use them more often.

But the best part of Dietz's game is his Defensive play, he labels himself as a stay-at-home D, and always thinks Defense-first. He could eventually become a 2nd/3rd pairing two-way physical D. He has the physical attributes, the skating ability, the skill, the hockey sense and the physical play to become so.

 He's going to play a last year in Junior as the Blades will be hosting the Memorial Cup. It will be interesting to see him play in pressurized situations like that. He should become a Pro the year after.

Here's a name Habs fan should keep in mind come the rookie camp and in the next few years. He could potentially become yet another steal by Timmins later in the draft. That same Timmins apparently raves about Dietz's potential and loves his attitude and his game.

#14 Steve Quailer

23 years old - 6'3'' 201 lbs - Hamilton Bulldogs - LW/RW/C

Steve is one of the most least talked prospect yet he could potentially fill a crying need for the Habs since he's a Power-Forward. He has everything required, the skill, the physical attributes and the playing style.

He's not scared to go in the dirty areas that pay off. While he could still add a few pounds of muscle, Quailer won't get pushed around next year in Hamilton and is physically ready to play against men.
He is a good skater, but could use a bit more explosiveness in his strides. He could also improve his shot, though it's not weak.

He lost a year of development in 2009-2010, due to a knee injury and had a bad year when he came back in 2010-2011. His last season in Northeastern U went pretty well , even though he was once again hit by a knee injury. He was the 2nd best scorer on his team despite missing around 14 games. Steve can play both sides of the ice well and was used in both PK and PP.

Question marks raise when we think about his knee though, something that could prevent him from progressing if he keeps hurting it.

It will be interesting to compare his progression with the other prospects in Hamilton this year, as evaluating a player in the NCAA is not the easiest thing. I think we'll see him in Montréal this year, because a few players are ahead of him, but he could potentially fill the hole the team currently has on the 2nd line beside Plekanec and Gionta  (soon to be Gallagher?) down the road.

#13 Morgan Ellis

20 years old - 6'1'' 196 lbs - Hamilton Bulldogs - RD

Morgan Ellis went last year from being an obscure prospect to some to one of the most talked about prospect the Habs have. You can thank the fact that he was traded to the Memorial cup hostee in Shawinigan, but mostly because he really progressed offensively. People overlooked him because his stats weren't impressive, but he was playing on one of the worst team in the 'Q. I know some scouts that saw his coming-out coming from miles. Morgan always had that game into him, but he didn't have confidence in it, and I still don't think he has enough confidence in it.

Many of you probably wondered why I have Ellis this low, well his lack of confidence in his offensive game is not unfamiliar with it.

Ellis is a two-way D that plays a positional game that doesn't require much speed to be effective. He has a huge shot from the point that takes a lot of time to load though. He has a good first pass in breakouts. He is very calm when he plays, and is flawless defensively. He's a defense-first D that I'd like to see become more physical. He uses his reach to his advantage in board battles and rarely loses those said battles. A very underrated part of his game is his pugilistic skills. He will never fight the Heavyweights , but he can defend himself pretty well. He's also a very adamant shot-blocker, which made scouts draw comparisons between Ellis and Habs' very own Josh Gorges.

He plays a very simplistic offensive game, but sometimes less is more. You rarely see him turn the puck over at the other team's blue line, and goes for the percentage plays. And that type of game seemed to pay off last year. But at the same time, that simplistic game makes me question the transition of his offensive game to the Pros. Hence why I ranked him this low. He could potentially go up on this list if he proves me wrong.

Ellis will join the Hamilton Bulldogs next year and should be pivoting a 2nd pairing, whether it is with Beaulieu to cover him or with Tinordi to form a shutdown pair. If he fulfills his potential, he will become a top4 D that plays in all the situation, a more offensive Josh Gorges, if you wish.

#12 Patrick Holland

20 years old - 6'0'' 176 lbs - Hamilton Bulldogs - C/RW

 Holland completely exploded last year offensively. He formed the most productive line in the WHL with overagers Brendan Shinnimin and Adam Hughesman. He had the least points out of the three though. Playing with those two certainly helped him grow his production, and we have to be careful before overestimating Holland. His numbers were inflated by playing with those two, but nonetheless he recolted an impressive amount of 84 assists.

Holland is a two-way Center. He is usually one of the hardest workers on the ice and is a pretty good skater. He back-checks hard and takes pride in his defensive play. He's a very good play-maker and is pretty good on the point as the passer on the PP. He can play a physical game and still be disciplined. He can play both the PK and the PP well.

His team had a good run during the playoffs, and he was a huge contributor. Unfortunately the stacked Winterhawks of Portland were just too strong for Tri-City.

He will need to improve his overall physical strenght before making the jump to the NHL. I think he could eventually end up being a 3rd line two-way center. His chances of making the NHL are very strong as he's a versatile player and could end being a top6 forward as much as he could become a checker. Only time will tell, and he'll be yet another interesting player to follow next year.  I'm certainly not the only one who's intrigued by those WHL numbers. We might see him getting a call from Bergevin if the team has too many injuries.

#11 Michaël Bournival

20 years old - 5'11'' 197 lbs - Hamilton Bulldogs - LW/C/RW

Bournival is another versatile player and can play all the forward position. He can also play in any situation, whether it is on PP, PK, to shutdown the opponent's best, play the last minute of a game, the first, or when his team needs a goal.

That's a huge reason why he made Team Canada junior last year. Sadly he didn't get much ice-time before the semi-finals against Russia. Don Hay then turned to him when his team was losing 5-0, and Bournival with his hardwork and great forecheck abilities brought the momentum back to the Canadian squad. Bournival is a fierce competitor and he'll fight for every loose puck. He has excellent footspeed, and to me it was a huge factor in his impressive offensive season last year. He is also a leader that leads by example.

I once thought Bournival and Leblanc were twins separated at birth.  Last season, he was truly dominant offensively and was scoring at a terrific pace. But after watching him more closely during the playoffs and the Memorial Cup, I settled down. I don't think he will ever be a scorer in the NHL. Unlike what I think of Leblanc, as you'll eventually see... Bournival to me lacks creativity offensively to become a Top6 forward. He also doesn't have hands as good as Leblanc does. He does have a heavy shot though, and usually settles for a shot instead of going fancy.

I eventually think he'll become a great checker for the Habs. He is a very good forechecker, excels in defensive missions and he's good on the PK. He's already ready physically, and skates fast enough to play at the NHL. So don't be surprised to see him called-up, or maybe even cause a surprise in training camp (even though there might be too many NHL contracts). He will more likely start the year in Hamilton on the 1st line with Holland and Gallagher.

Thanks for reading.

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