15. Martin Reway
Like Brendan Gallagher and Charles Hudon before him, Martin Reway looks like another high end offensive player that Trevor Timmons has managed to nab in the later rounds due to concerns mainly about the player's size. After a very good, but not spectacular pre-draft rookie season last year with Gatineau, Reway has exploded into one of the top 2 or 3 playmakers in the QMJHL as an 18 year old. Unlike Gallagher and Hudon, no one has had any issues with Reway's skating, and his plus playmaking skill will serve him well when he turns professional. He eats junior defensemen alive with his puck skills, but will have to be craftier to create space as a pro. In the World Juniors, Reway helped anchor Slovakia's top line, finishing fifth in tournament scoring and second in points per game to Blackhawks first rounder Teuvo Teravainen. He did feast on the power play, but considering the lack of support Reway's line got from their teammates the performance was pretty remarkable. Reway made the jump from an intriguing package of skills to a prospect to watch in a hurry, and now we'll see if he can maintain our interest.
14. Tim Bozon
Bozon has been a bit divisive of a prospect in Habs circles, with me being an extreme advocate for his talents and others a bit perplexed by the young Frenchman's recent production level and an unimpressive training camp performance. His talent in terms of his skating, his hands, and his wrist shot are all high end, and to my eyes seem like a great advantage to forging a career in the NHL as a complimentary offensive winger. There are other little elements to his offensive game that aren't talked up a lot, like his strong puck protection along the boards and his cycle game. It's obvious something was off with him coming out of the offseason, whether it was recovering from an undisclosed injury or just not upping his conditioning level to that of other 18 and 19 year-olds, Bozon was very unimpressive in the fall. He's picking up his game as the season goes on, and the flashes of his talent are becoming more apparent with his new club, the Kootenay Ice, where he gets to play with top 2014 Draft eligible Sam Reinhart.
I mean, just watch this. (Why they showed goal 1 in slow motion is beyond me, it's the speed that does it)
13. Magnus Nygren
The road that hopefully leads to the NHL for Magnus Nygren has been an interesting one: overlooked twice in the Draft playing in the Swedish lower leagues, a breakthrough playoff run in the Elitserien leading to a surprise Draft selection, two full years in Sweden's top league to earn accolades of being the top defender in the league, and a short stint in the AHL before a return to Sweden to finish off his most recent campaign. That was a terrible sentence, but you catch the drift. Nygren is a high end offensive talent on the blueline but there are questions about his defensive reads. There's no doubt in my mind that he's one of the 7 best defensemen signed by the Habs right now but the Canadiens didn't seem to view it that way and when Nygren realized what winter in Hamilton was going to be like, he went back to his old Swedish club, Farjestad for the comforts of home life and playing in front of a decent sized crowd. There's little at the lower levels I think Nygren has to prove anymore, he needs NHL games to gauge just how good he can be. His progression seems similar to that of Rafael Diaz and hopefully next year sees Nygren getting a chance.
12. Charles Hudon
Hudon is continuing his incredibly impressive junior career with a new club for the remainder of the 2013-14 season, as he was traded to Baie-Comeau shortly after he joined the Canadian WJC club. His talent remains elite, having excellent vision, passing skills, and he remains one of junior hockey's best thinkers, displaying a high intelligence level on the ice. Unfortunately, his body might be the thing that fails him. Concerns are growing about the recurring back problems that kept him out of the World Juniors in 2013 and threatened to keep him out of this past year's tournament. It's the kind of injury that he's been able to play with at the junior level but who knows how he'll be able to adjust to the professional circuit. Hudon could very well end up being one of the top three or four players on this entire list but that injury wildcard, combined with his size issues, could prevent him from becoming the player he's capable of being. We're obviously all hoping for the best outcome for Hudon, as he could be a real difference maker if it all falls into place. Concerns over his health and the rise of some 2013 Draft notables bumped Hudon down a couple spots, but no one is having doubts about his skillset.
11. Louis Leblanc
He's not exactly trending in the right direction, is he? It was a close call, but Louis Leblanc slipped out of the top 10 in our collective ranking here at the midpoint of the 2013-14 NHL season, just shy of his 23rd birthday. It's the first time he's slipped from that spot, although he did make a majority of our panel's individual top 10 lists. He's actually rebounded decently from an injury hindered 2012-13 season, but Leblanc has yet to take that next step that saw him end 2011-12 as a NHL regular. I think at this point we can safely assume that Leblanc can play in the NHL, and he's the first player on our list that can say that. However, how much upside is there in the former first rounder? Will he be more than an average NHL player (should he claim a permanent spot)? Or will he just kind of roam around the league in a depth role from team to team, never really being a player of importance? While he's hardly been put in situations to succeed, one would think a quality NHL player would fare better in the AHL than he has, even when playing with ECHL level linemates. A player like Tom Kostopoulos and Steve Bégin had more distinguished AHL careers than Louis, so his upside doesn't seem to be significant. It's too bad, I really wanted this guy to succeed. Maybe he will, but there is little hope for him to be more than an average player, and even that might not be in the cards.
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