Montreal's Top 20 Prospects

Editor's note: As the days of summer move on at a snail's pace in anticipation of the 2011-12 NHL season, the EOTP crew are in the midst of compiling our Habs prospect rankings. One of our readers has composed his own top-20 list. I thought I'd bring it front and center for open discussion.


So I was sitting here, looking over my personal rankings, and I thought I'd ask the question to the rest of Habs Nation for my first post:

Who do you see as Montreal's Top 20 Prospects now that the draft is all done with?  Let's take Subban out of the discussion, since he's the de facto Number 1, and everyone knows he's going to be a stud.  But after that, we'll leave the Eller's, Desharnais' and Weber's in.  Have fun ranking them, and lets get some discussion going.

1)  Lars Eller - I know some people might not have loved his first season, and as Stephan Cooper showed, it's with good reason.  Still, I think this was Lars adjustment year to the pro game, and he showed flashes to me of getting ready to take a step up.  I'd expect 40 points next year, but I think he's a perfect 2nd line center for this team long-term, as he plays a good all-around game.

2)  Louis Leblanc - This kid has everything I want from a center, and with Eller gives me high hopes for the Canadiens future down the middle.  Can take over games with his effort, though I'm not sure there's true high-end skills to be an elite player, he's going to be a very solid top 6 forward for years.

3)  Nathan Beaulieu - First, I'm not sure why SBN has him as Jets property, but that's another issue entirely.  This kid was a steal for Montreal.  I was shocked that he dropped, and when he was there he was an easy pick in my mind.  There were plenty of guys I liked, but I thought he was part of the best top 9 players in the 2011 draft.  He's 6'3", plays a crafty offensive game, and his upside is extremely high all-around.  He's even pro-ready (AHL would be best, but he'll have to go back to the Q since he's not making the Canadiens yet).

4)  David Desharnais - David came up and played well, and for me there's very little reason to doubt the 24 year old.  He's got the same skillset as Nathan Gerbe in Buffalo, and while he's small and an injury risk, I like him to show up big and establish himself as a guy good enough to play in the top 6 with the next two seasons.

5)  Yannick Weber - This is another kid I've seen a lot of, and he's got one of the most impressive shots from the point I've seen.  He's got great offensive instincts, and should man the point on the 2nd PP unit this year.  Subban will always have first PP privileges, but Weber will earn his role as a point-producing defenseman.

6)  Alexander Avtsin - I'll admit, this is a pure upside ranking.  Avtsin hasn't proven anything after a season in the AHL, but his wrist-injury and adjusting to a new game took it's toll on the talented Russian.  There's a lot to work on, but I think if he sticks it out in the AHL for two more years, he will be a top 6 stud for the Canadiens.  My major worry, with every Russian, is that he'll flee to the KHL after not seeing NHL action early enough in his mind.

7)  Aaron Palushaj - A completely under-rated player, Palushaj has done everything asked of him at the AHL level.  He's a former 2nd rounder in 2007, and while he's taken a little time, this kid can play.  Maybe we should continue to pilfer the Blues system for talent.  Many think he's just a checking forward, but I see him as the perfect 2nd or 3rd line winger who plays with intense energy, can check well and scores.

8)  Jarred Tinordi - The big defenseman will be a top 4 guy, and at worst a bottom-pairing D, so he's extremely low risk.  I loved him a little more last year, but I wasn't as impressed with his OHL season as I'd hoped.  I still think he's a lock of a player, but I think his offensive upside is further away then I thought, which will keep him from being a potential top 2 guy.

9)  Danny Kristo - The freak frost-bite incident derailed his season, but he is an energy forward with good upside.  I think he's probably a bottom 9 forward at best, but he's going to be an energy player who makes plays running around the ice.  He'll be fun to watch, that's for sure.  He's got deft hands, so he should fit in on the third line in 2012 or 2013.

10)  Alexei Yemelin - First off, he prefers Yemelin, not Emelin.  Secondly, he's taken an insane long time to get over, but he's finally here.  He's a big hitter, and he's a joy to watch, and he'll be a deadly force for the Canadiens on the blueline, forcing opposing forwards to keep their heads up.  He'll be a shutdown guy from the start, but he's got the abilities to contribute offensively a bit.  Probably a 30 point, lockdown guy.

11)  Brendon Nash

12)  Brock Trotter

13)  Daniel Pribyl

14)  Raphael Diaz

15)  Ryan White

16)  Mark MacMillan

17)  Peter Delmas

18)  Magnus Nygren

19)  Mac Bennett

20)  Joonas Nattinen

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