Photo: Defenseman Morgan Ellis is one of several first-year players for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Ellis was selected 117th overall by the Canadiens in 2010. (Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)
Last season, the Hamilton Bulldogs finished near the bottom of the AHL and failed to make the Calder Cup playoff, a fate similar to their parent club, the Montreal Canadiens. New General Manager, Marc Bergevin decided to bring in a completely new Bulldogs' coaching staff, adding a good mix of NHL and junior experience with head coach Sylvain Lefebvre, assistants Donald Dufresne, Ron Wilson, and goaltending coach Vincent Riendeau.
Photo: Drafted ninth overall in 2010, Finnish Center Mikael Granlund has made his AHL debut this season. Granlund was widely considered one of the best hockey players not playing in North America. (Juan DeLeon/Icon SMI)
Below is the top-10 section of Hockey's Future's NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year.
Photo: Dartmouth forward and Montreal Canadiens prospect Dustin Walsh looked to be coming into his own in 2011-12 but ended up sidelined for most of the season due to injury (courtesy of Bob Fisher/NHLI via Getty Images)
After having his season shortened last year due to a nasty hip injury, Dustin Walsh is now healthy and is looking to impress.
The Dartmouth forward was on pace for a breakout season last year for the Big Green before he tore his labrum and needed surgery. Walsh was off to a hot start last season with 10 points through only his first eight games. It was the first time Walsh had averaged over a point per game (1.25). He averaged the most points per game for the season for Dartmouth and it would have also been good for fifth-best in the ECAC. Walsh’s previous career high point total was 20, so he was well on his way to breaking that.
Photo: Forward Brady Vail is just one of the many gifted junior players the Montreal Canadiens selected in the 2012 NHL Draft. (CHL Images)
The Montreal Canadiens have seven prospects at the junior level this year; two in the OHL, two in the QJMHL, and three in the WHL. Five of the seven prospects are forwards and the other two are defensemen. The forwards are a skilled mix of size, speed, playmaking ability, and natural scorers that are led by Montreal's 2012 first round selection, Alex Galchenyuk. Both defensemen possess a blend of size, grit, and physicality along with good offensive skills.
Photo: Michael Bournival is one of many Montreal Canadiens prospects to make his professional debut in 2012-13 (Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)
Using the 2012 NHL Draft, the Montreal Canadiens' greatly improved their organizational prospect pool over the past off-season. GM Marc Bergevin has changed the organizational philosophy by adding a bigger management staff, more scouting, and a development team to work with the prospects at all hockey levels and leagues.