Little separation among the Top 20 Montreal Canadiens prospects

By Tyler Campbell

Artturi Lehkonen - Frolunda - Montreal Canadiens

Photo: Recently-signed Artturi Lehkonen had a productive regular season in Sweden and broke Frolunda’s record for most points in the playoffs, previously held by Daniel Alfredsson, with 19 in 16 games (courtesy Martin Rose/Getty Images).

 

10. (NR) Phillip Danault, C, 6.5C
Acquired in a trade with Chicago Blackhawks

Added in the Dale Weise trade at the deadline, Danault was just gaining some traction with the Blackhawks when he was shipped to the Canadiens.  In 21 games with the Canadiens he put up five points and played a very solid two-way game, as has come to be expected from the 23 year old.

The problem facing Danault next season is the depth the Habs have in their bottom six. At center and on the left side, there is a glut of players challenging for those four spots. If a trade isn’t made, Danault could end up back in the AHL to start the 2016-17 season.

9. (5) Sven Andrighetto, LW, 6.0B
Drafted: 3rd round, 86th overall, 2013

Andrighetto slides to ninth on this list, but that has a lot to do with the Habs having a lot of similar players. But make no mistake, they got a player in this kid. With 17 points in 44 games this season, and with 56 NHL games under his belt he is close to graduating from this list.

Canadiens Head Coach Michel Therrien used him on every line this season, and while Andrighetto doesn’t look like a player who’ll be able to carry a line in the NHL, he does look like a perfect complementary player.

8. (3) Jacob de la Rose, LW, 6.0B
Drafted: 2nd round, 34th overall, 2013

While de la Rose isn’t the type of player who will put up big numbers in the NHL, he’s going to be heavily relied upon. But he digressed a little this season after exciting fans in 2014-15; It was a shame that the Canadiens weren’t able to keep de la Rose in St. John’s this season with all the injuries, as that was really needed for his development.

Still, the 6-foot-3 Swede remains an intriguing prospect. Though he lacks high-end offensively ability, he will be a player any coach would love to have as he can be used in just about any situation and on any line.

7. (7) Martin Reway, LW, 7.0C
Drafted: 4th round, 116th overall, 2013

After splitting the season with Sparta Praha of the Czech league, and Fribourg-Gotteron of the Swiss A league where he put up a combined 36 points in 33 games, the Habs signed Reway to a 3 year entry-level contract. He also played well for Slovakia in this season’s World Championship.  

Though not big at 5-foot-9, Reway has a lot of pure skill. He will most likely spend most of next season in St. John’s with the Ice Caps, but Reway is definitely a threat for the top six in Montreal in the not too distant future.

6. (9) Atturi Lehkonen, LW, 7.0C
Drafted: 2nd round, 55th overall, 2013

Lehkonen had a tremendous playoff run with Frolunda where he posted a league-high 11 goals and tied for the lead in playoff scoring with 19 points while leading them to the Le Mat Trophy. It didn’t take the Canadiens brass long to sign him to a three-year ELC.

Most felt Lehkonen was one of the best pure skill players in the 2013 NHL Draft and that the Canadiens stole him with the 55th pick. Now as he prepares for his first season in North America, that projection is looking more like reality.

5. (4) Charles Hudon, C/LW, 7.0C
Drafted: 5th round, 122nd overall, 2012

Though undersized and not overly fast, Hudon is an incredibly intelligent player who can score in a variety of ways.

Hudon had a very solid 2015-16 campaign with the Ice Caps, putting up 53 points in 67 games.  He didn’t look out of place during his call-up to the big club, posting two assists in three games with the Habs. He’ll get a look in the fall to start the season with the big club.

4. (6) Noah Juulsen, D, 7.0C
Drafted: 1st round, 26th overall, 2015

It wasn’t the season the Habs brass were hoping for from Juulsen in 2015-16. A bit of a surprise first round selection, Juulsen’s offensive totals were nearly cut in half from 52 points in 2014-15 to 28 in 2015-16. But he remains a promising prospect for the club.

The goal totals only dipped by two from nine to seven. Everett as a team really dropped off offensively this season; their power-play wasn’t good, and they weren’t nearly as talented. They had four guys in 2014-15 with higher point totals than this year’s highest output from Remi Laurencelle. Finally, he was still a first round pick and he still has all the tools to be a top-four defenseman; one down season isn’t enough to change the perception of Juulsen as a prospect.

3. (8) Zachary Fucale, G, 8.0D
Drafted: 2nd round, 36th overall, 2013

Like Juulsen, Fucale didn’t have a banner season, but he possesses incredible athletic abilities and a willingness to compete in the net. In his rookie season with the Ice Caps, Fucale appeared in 42 games, posting a 3.13 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.

The key to Fucale’s success will be to stop relying on his athleticism, and start becoming a more technically-sound netminder. He does that and he’ll be on the fast track to Montreal.

2. (2) Michael McCarron, RW, 6.5B
Drafted: 1st round, 25th overall, 2013

McCarron wasn’t drafted to be an offensive dynamo. He was, in a way, the crown jewel of Bergevin’s push to make this organization bigger and difficult to push around. So far McCarron has stayed on track to play that role well.

He did struggle in his call-up to the Habs, posting just one goal and one assist and was a minus-10 in 20 games. He’s still a project. It won’t happen overnight, but slowly he can become an effective player for the Canadiens.

1. (1) Nikita Scherbak, RW, 7.5C
Drafted: 1st round, 26th overall, 2014

There really isn’t much separating one and nine on this list, but Scherbak remains the Canadiens top prospect. Injuries ruined his rookie season in the AHL as he only got into 48 games, while posting 23 points and a dreadful minus-26 rating.  

Much like Juulsen and Fucale, this season is basically a write off for Scherbak. He’ll start the 2016-17 season in St. John’s and hopefully he’ll be able to stay healthy and get his game going. He definitely has the skill to be a first line player down the road.

Follow Tyler Campbell on Twitter via @tj_soups

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