Eyes on the Prize kicks off our Top 25 Under 25 countdown with Gabriel Dumont, who makes the final cut for the third straight year. The gritty defensive center made his NHL debut in 2011-12, and will look to build on that accomplishment in 2012-13.
Gabriel Dumont continues to slip on the under 25 list. Two years ago Dumont was ranked 18th, last year 21st, this year he kicks off the list at #25. Don't let the drop off fool you, Dumont is coming off his best professional season, bumping his goal totals up from 5 to 11 in five fewer games. He also had a brief stint with the big club playing three games for the Canadiens at the end of the season.
Dumont was drafted 139th overall in 2009 by the Canadiens. Following his draft year Dumont lit it up as a 19 year old for the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, with 51 goals and 93 points for second on his team in scoring (Sean Couturier edged him out by three points).
Voting for Dumont was all over the place as the panelists seemed divided over what he can bring at the NHL level.
|Player||Berkshire||Cooper||Peter||Boyle||Van Steendelaar||Dahan||Ive||Boucher||La Rose||Rice|
Dumont has a low center of gravity and is very tough to knock off the puck. He uses his strength to cycle well in the corners. He has smart hockey sense and a good work ethic; when combining all of his skills he makes a solid two-way forward.
Despite his small stature at 5'9", 180 lbs., Dumont is a bulldog (no pun intended). In his short call-up he made sure to make an impression by throwing his body around. Against the Carolina Hurricanes on April 5, he sent 6'0" Tim Brent into the 'McGuire Box':
Over the course of his AHL career Dumont has shown he won't back down, no matter how much bigger his opponent is. This past year he went toe-to-toe with 6'5" Joe Colborne of the Toronto Marlies, and despite the huge size differential Dumont held his own.
At his size, Dumont cannot be a pugilistic powerhouse, but rather he is a spark plug that won't back down from an altercation. Think of him as the heart and soul guy Montreal fans have been missing for quite some time, a Steve Begin type with a little more offensive potential.
Dumont's penalty minutes have also gone down this past season. He spent 79 minutes in the sin bin two seasons ago, and this past season Dumont dropped that number to 55 minutes in the cubicle of shame despite increased responsibilities. In the past, he had a penchant for taking stupid penalties. Now he's maturing as a player and making sure he doesn't needlessly put his team at a disadvantage.
Dumont has also shown to be a playoff performer in his short career. In 2010, Dumont scored 21 points in 14 games for the Voltigeurs during their QMJHL playoff run. For the 2011 AHL playoffs, Dumont scored 6 goals in 20 playoff games for the Bulldogs, which was an improvement on the 5 goals in 64 regular season games. The problem this year? Both the Canadiens and the Bulldogs failed to make the playoffs, which marks the first time since 2008 that Dumont hasn't played a playoff game.
For a guy who is widely considered a defensive forward he put up some pretty poor numbers in the +/- department. He was -15 for the Bulldogs in 59 games and -1 during his short three game NHL stint. In fairness to Gabriel, the only player in the positive for the Bulldogs this season that played more than thirty games was captain Alex Henry at +2.
Although Dumont's offensive output has been improving at the professional level, his numbers are not yet at the point where he will make an impact in the NHL.
Dumont is a longshot heading into the 2012 Montreal Canadiens training camp to make the team, and a likely assignment in Hamilton awaits after a few preseason games (NHL/NHLPA dispute permitting). He likely fits in as an injury call-up, though ahead of him on the gritty, defensive, right-handed center depth chart is currently only Petteri Nokelainen (or wingers like Ryan White or Louis Leblanc), so with a good start to his AHL season Dumont might earn an audition based on merit, not just injury. The arrival of Michael Bournival to the professional ranks also poses an internal challenge for Dumont, who managed to leapfrog Andreas Engqvist from last year at the very least.
|#25 Gabriel Dumont||#24: Steve Quailer|