This season the community and EOTP writers ranked 39 players under the age of 25. Several players missed the cut to 25, to the surprise of no one. Let’s face it, not every player is destined for the NHL.
As we approach the unveiling of the Top 25 Under 25, let’s take a closer look at the long shots in the Montreal Canadiens organization.
This year we had 21 panelists submit ballots, including one calculated from the hundreds of community ballots received, as well as two standalone ballots from community members (Naslund and Silvertip).
39. Nikolas Koberstein - Defence - 21 - Alaska Fairbanks (NCAA)
Koberstein was an unknown as a 2014 fifth-round pick, and as such the expectations were quite low. Unfortunately, Koberstein has failed to develop into an interesting prospect, despite mitigating expectations.
Through two seasons with Alaska Fairbanks, Kobertstein has accrued three goals and five assists, for a grand total of eight points in 54 games.
Even in a system that lacks quality defencemen, Koberstein ended up as the lowest ranked player in the Top 25 Under 25 series, receiving eight last place votes.
38. Casey Staum - Defence - 19 - Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
There’s a lot working against Staum in the Top 25 Under 25 series. Not only is he a defenceman, but seeing as most voters have probably never seen him play, he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. In 55 games for Dubuque last season Staum registered 16 assists.
What we do know is that Staum has an explosive first step, and although his skating isn’t quite on par with prospect Victor Mete, he’s among the best skaters in the defensive prospect pool. At 19 years old, Staum is still a long-term project, but despite his limited offensive upside, we probably shouldn’t write him off just yet. Staum, and to a lesser extent Koberstein, show traits that the Canadiens have proven to find attractive in defensive prospects: not explosive offensively, but more than capable of moving the puck.
Casey Staum had a 3A game last week. This one was particularly nice; he draws the PKer in & then sends a diagonal bullet tape-to-tape. pic.twitter.com/q2Z7l6WTY7— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) January 2, 2017
37. Michael Pezzetta - Centre/Left Wing - 19 - Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
You may remember the 2016 sixth-round pick as Captain Suspension.
He was subject to supplementary punishment three times last year, due to his aggressive and reckless style of play. He ended up missing 16 games due to suspensions.
He managed to score 10 goals for Sudbury, as well as adding nine assists, but the fact of the matter is he’ll need to work on his discipline if he’s ever to be considered a legitimate prospect in the organization.
36. Cayden Primeau - Goaltender - 17 - Lincoln Stars (USHL)
Despite finishing 36th in the final rankings, Primeau is the first prospect to receive a Top 25 vote on our list of long shots. Keith Primeau’s son played in the USHL last year, producing an .895 save percentage as well as a 3.16 goals-against average for a mediocre Lincoln Stars team.
Despite his unimpressive stats, scouts have taken note of Primeau’s play.
“I’ve been impressed with Cayden’s athletic demeanour, poise between the pipes, and his hockey IQ. He reads the play well. He always seemed to be top goalie at the USA Hockey select camps each summer. He comes from a family of hockey talent. Give it some time, Primeau has the makings for a solid pro career.” - HockeyProspect.com
35. Jarret Tyszka - Defenceman - 18 - Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
The 2017 fifth-round pick finished near the bottom of the rankings in his first year of eligibility for the Top 25 Under 25 series. Just like Staum, Tyszka has several factors working against him. The defenceman did not have a spectacular draft season in terms of points, but he did manage to be quite heavily involved in his team’s offence last season.
34. Arvid Henrikson - Defenceman - 19 - AIK (J20)
The Canadiens traded into the seventh round of the 2016 NHL Draft to take the tall Swedish defenceman. Henrikson is a project, and like most on this list there is a higher chance he doesn’t play a game in the NHL than he does.
Henrikson played mostly in the Swedish U-20 league last year, picking up two goals and four assists in 37 games. He also played two games at the senior level, but did not get a point.
This season, Henrikson moves to Örebro. While he will likely play in the junior league again, if he gets called to the Senior team, it will be in the top league in Swedish hockey unlike where AIK plays (in the second division). We should know more about Henrikson after this season.
33. Tom Parisi - Defenceman - 24 - St. John’s IceCaps (AHL)
Signed as a free agent out of Providence College, Parisi has shown flashes of NHL potential throughout his tenure with the IceCaps, but he’s yet to put it all together. He was a healthy scratch at times last season, and despite providing a solid defensive presence for Sylvain Lefebvre, he’s quickly running out of time to prove himself.
32. Markus Eisenschmid - Centre - 22 - St. John’s IceCaps (AHL)
Markus Eisenschmid played games at the Bell Centre before ever being a member of the Canadiens organization, representing Germany at the 2015 World Juniors.
He took the long road to the NHL, coming to Habs development camp as a tryout, then signing an AHL contract before getting an NHL contract last season. Eisenschmid saw increases in games (28 to 39), and goals (one to six) in his second AHL season but he has battled injuries throughout his professional career.
He will likely have another year with the Laval Rocket, and while he’s still young enough to raise his profile, he’s likely organizational depth going forward.
He does have skill, though and that makes him intriguing.
31. Scott Walford - Defenceman - 18 - Victoria Royals (WHL)
In 60 games for the Royals last year, Walford produced six goals and 24 assists, which earned him a third-round selection by the Canadiens in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Once again, we find a defenceman ranking quite low in our Top 25 Under 25 series, although odds are it’s due to a lack of evidence.
It wouldn’t be surprising if next season Walford rockets up the Top 25 list, and ends up as one of the most improved prospects, based on 2016 projections.
Despite limited offensive upside, Walford is described as a strong player who’s not afraid to dish out big hits, and uses his size to stay ahead of speedy forwards. He covers a lot of ground, and is a dominant force in front of the net.
What’s next: Tomorrow we will reveal the near misses (30-26)