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After a Memorial Cup win to end his Junior career, will Canadiens prospect Michael Bournival have what it takes to win a championship at the pro level?
The 20-year-old center has finished his Junior career, with the Shawinigan Cataractes, signing an entry-level deal with the Canadiens in December of 2011.
In his first training camp with the Canadiens last fall, he managed to hang around long enough to see some preseason action, primarily due to numerous injuries among the regulars. He impressed all and quickly made fans forget about Ryan O`Byrne, realizing what a steal that trade was.
Now set to engage in his pro career in Hamilton, we will get to see what the young center can bring to the table, and how he holds against the established pro and fellow upcoming rookies in the AHL.
Among the voting panel, Bournival picked up four top-ten votes, peaking at number 7 from Justin Dahan. Chris Ives, Stephan, Robert and myself were less confident, keeping him at the cusp of the top-15.
|Player||Berkshire||Cooper||Peter||Boyle||van Steendelaar||Dahan||Ives||Boucher||La Rose||Rice|
Strengths: Bournival has been a solid two-way player since the first time he suited up for the Cataractes. He plays the tough minutes against the Q's best players and is exceptional in the face-off circle. He's not afraid to work at either end of the rink, and his able to play on the wing if needed.
His skating is strong and finding the net was not a problem for him in 2011-12, scoring 30 goals in just 41 games and adding 26 assists.
He was very effective on special teams in both situations last year, scoring seven power-play goals and three short-handed goals for Shawinigan.
Bournival also shows exceptional leadership qualities. The Cataractes captain was not afraid to show his disappointment in himself, following Shawinigan's loss on the QMJHL playoffs, and rebounded in the Memorial Cup.
Weaknesses: Can he sustain pro-level season? It's hard to tell, as Bournival again did not play a full season, something Andrew Berkshire pointed out last year. He will need to work on his conditioning, and put on the pounds to be able to battle for the puck consistently at the pro level.
Projection: Clearly Bournival posesses NHL level talent. Whether his scoring ability can carry to the pro level will remain to be seen, but he will certainly have a future there. Hockey's Future sees him as a, "top-six forward, but could easily fill the role as third-line checker with some offensive upside at the NHL level."
With the fresh talent pool arriving this season in Hamilton, and established players such as Aaron Palushaj and Blake Geoffrion, he will have his work cut out for him to stand out. That competition will certainly be a motivator for Bournival and given his renowned work ethic, will make it fun to watch the Bulldogs in 2012-13.
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