Photo: Swiss forward Sven Andrighetto is one of several Montreal Canadiens prospects to miss some time to injury this season. Andrighetto is in his first year of professional hockey following two high-scoring years in the QMJHL. (courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)
After finishing the 2012-13 season in last place, the Hamilton Bulldogs, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, are challenging for a playoff spot at the halfway point of the 2013-14 season.
Photo: Photo: Charles Hudon is one of several offensively gifted forwards in the Montreal Canadiens system. Hudon was selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)
The Montreal Canadiens spent the 2013 off-season addressing various holes in their organizational depth chart and now have good balance throughout their system. Montreal's management philosophy is to give their prospects every opportunity to seize a spot on the NHL roster. The organization is not afraid to put rookies into regular season NHL games for evaluation purposes and the approach has worked very well so far.
Photo: Brady Vail and the Windsor Spitfires failed to make the playoffs in 2012-13. Vail posted 55 points in 68 regular games with Windsor. (Terry Wilson / OHL Images.)
The Montreal Canadiens prospects at the lower professional levels were unable to gain any post-season playing experience as the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) and the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) failed to qualify for their respective playoffs.
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: 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.