All Habs Mailbag: Collberg, Galchenyuk, Thrower, Bulldogs, Taxation


By Robert Rice, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

TORONTO, ON — The All Habs Mailbag is as popular as ever! This is the place to send in your questions about all things Montreal Canadiens.

Then check every Thursday to read the answers to the most popular or poignant questions about the Habs. Keep in mind that we will discuss the entire Canadiens organization so questions about prospects and roster players are equally welcome!

Submissions can be mailed directly to [email protected]

Three Guidelines for Submissions:

  • This is not for hate mail or complaints. If you have an issue with what you read on these pages, this is not the place to bring it up. The mailbag is for questions about the Montreal Canadiens organization and the NHL.
  • As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.  Therefore I will not engage in discussion of the validity of rumours — frankly I consider them a waste of time anyway.  For every rumour that was close to accurate, there have been about a thousand duds.
  • Nothing of essay-length please. There will be other people who will have questions and it is a bit unfair if I have to dedicate the Mailbag to answering one very large question or someone who’s asking five questions at once.
So, let’s open the All Habs mailbag!


Do you think the ‘high risk, high reward’ draft choice to get Collberg will pay off? Or will he just continue to be outshone by younger players in the SEL (ie. Forsberg, Lindholm, etc.)?

It is somewhat unfair to compare Sebastian Collberg to Filip Forsberg or Elias Lindholm. Forsberg was on a talent scale, good enough to go in the Top-5 of the NHL Draft in 2012 according to most draft sources. Lindholm is having an exceptional season in the Elitserien and is already favoured to be a top-5 selection in 2013. Collberg was a very talented prospect in the 2012 Draft, but he was favoured as a mid-round 1st pick that fell in the rankings.

It is also important to note that the number of players under the age of 20 who get to play and actually produce in the professional levels of the Elitserien and the Allsvenskan isn’t that large. The first thing to factor is simply, it is a men’s league. We see often in the CHL that the top of the scoring charts have a number of players in their overage season, thriving on the ‘man among boys’ factor that it brings with it. Given the difficulty of teenagers competing against physically mature veterans, it is a short list of players who actually put up notable production in the professional ranks of Sweden at that age. At present, Sebastian Collberg is 4th in goal scoring among players under 20 in the Allsvenskan and 5th in points, while playing 7-14 fewer games than those ahead of him.

Collberg projects with some of the best tools a team can find in a scoring prospect, he has a powerful shot with a quick release, he has excellent skating and it is mixed with strong vision and offensive awareness. It’s too early to tell if he will be an NHL player but he certainly won’t miss because he is not talented enough.


I recently watched the Ice Caps vs. the Bulldogs and it seemed like Dumont and Gallagher were the only players producing on offense. Do you think that Holland, Bournival, and Leblanc are busts? Or are they just slumping?

It’s far too early to declare anyone of the new bodies on Hamilton a bust, especially since Patrick Holland and Michael Bournival are rookies in the AHL and Louis Leblanc is coming off an ankle injury, which often haunt players well after they’ve returned to the lineup. Hamilton’s struggles are a combination of factors, including a lack of veteran AHL scoring talent to lead the way and as some, including myself would note, some questionable decisions by Head Coach Sylvain Lefebvre at times. Players are going to have bad nights as well here and there, especially as they adapt to a new level of play as well is an important thing to consider.

Hamilton is still just a quarter of the way into their season with a rookie-laden lineup finding their legs in the pro level, worrying now about players busting is far too premature.



Ever thought of a system that would regulate salaries across the league (taxes mainly)? Of course players want to win, but it seems pretty unfair that Montreal has to compete with Nashville or Florida regarding tax imposition.

It’s a dream of mine that Canadian teams would get a level playing field against many of their bidding opponents in the United States, but I don’t have much hope for it. One can imagine a few teams that would jump at the change to perhaps have a system where their salary cap scaled against the local tax rates, but I doubt it will ever get much traction. Given the battles in the NHL that are already going on about teams getting creative in their ways to circumvent the salary cap, I don’t believe it will be entertained as likely, teams would try to get creative in the scaling of the salaries against local taxes and create conflicts. Likely a system could never be implemented that would be agreed upon due to concerns about manipulations and opposition by those who are benefiting from the current model.



Which of the rookies seems to be adjusting the best on the Bulldogs? From production alone it seems like it’s Gallagher to me.

Brendan Gallagher’s game tends to work at any level, as his style is such that he is a constant threat, rarely taking a shift off so his opponents can’t take a moment off when he is on the ice. His skills and tenacity have allowed him to make a very good transition so far. After Gallagher, I would give the nod to Michael Bournival, for while not as skilled as Gallagher, he plays a very solid game and it is serving him well. After that, I’d tip my hat to Patrick Holland, who’s kept pace with the team despite concerns his final WHL season was more owed to his linemates than his own talents.

Among the defencemen, I’d give the nod to Jarred Tinordi. He’s adapted quicker to the AHL than I expected and is doing well, his offensive stats are pretty vacant but in the role as a defensive defencemen, he’s fulfilling his duties very well. Nathan Beaulieu is starting to catch up as well I would observe, he’s starting to get points on the board and is helping to generate more offensive zone chances for Hamilton. Beaulieu still has some defensive work to do but he’s catching on well.



 After watching some clips on YouTube, I’m super excited to see more Thrower. Is he going to be the real deal?

 It’s difficult to tell given Dalton Thrower’s body of work to go on for this season and in his WHL career, he had a very strong draft year but overall there isn’t a lot to project from. Thrower doubled his career production in his draft year, but so far this season he’s missed close to half his team’s games so it’s difficult to tell if he was possibly overachieving last season since he hasn’t played often enough this year to give a sense he is going to match and improve on last season’s achievements.

It should be noted that Thrower does have good tools, he has shown an ability to move the puck to create offence for his team that comes from strong skating and good hands, and he also possesses a very powerful shot. Thrower also likes to take the body and will not back down from physical confrontations, despite his average size. On the flip-side  there are concerns about his overall defensive awareness and his size getting him into trouble trying to be the ‘tough’ defencemen at the pro level. Thrower has a good skills package that is mixed with attractive attributes for a defencemen, but it’s hard to call him a sure-fire prospect without more to look at first.



How long will it take Alex Galchenyuk to become a productive NHLer? Can he hit 70 pts or 25 G in his 1st or 2nd season?

70 points in a rookie season has been a very rare event in the last few years. Only five players have scored over that mark since the previous lockout ended, with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin each having 100+ point seasons, Evgeni Malkin’s 85-point season and than Patrick Kane and Paul Statsny’s 70+ point campaigns, all of which occurred in the 2005-2006, 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 seasons. Also important to note is the decline of penalty calling in the NHL in the past three years, which has led to lower overall league scoring as teams find themselves with fewer man advantages than at any point since the lockout ended. Without the power play advantage to help rookies plump up their scoring totals, 25 goals or 70 points becomes a very hard trek for even the most elite prospects to attempt.

According to my advanced stats colleagues, Alex Galchenyuk would project at a 42-point season in the NHL if he were to play a complete season next year using what is known as NHLE (Click for an explanation if you like). In short, the stat is used to calculate the likely percentage of a prospect’s scoring that would be carried from their current league to the NHL.  However I think given Galchenyuk’s set of circumstances and his comeback from injury, one could imagine if he were to play in the NHL in the 2013-14 season, he would more likely contend for at least 50 points, but could even reach the 60+ point area. Galchenyuk is certainly an exciting prospect for Montreal, but with league scoring declining, it means it will be difficult for rookies to mark gaudy numbers as was seen in the first three years following the 2004 lockout. Galchenyuk could potentially take a run at 25 goals or 70 points as a sophomore, but it’s also important to remember the common ‘ sophomore slump’ that haunts many talented prospects.

It’s also important to remember when examining an objective like 70 points, how few players are getting to that mark. There were 30 players hitting 70 points or more in 2009-10, 24 players in 2010-11 and a mere 21 players in 2011-12. Without the league taking a more active step to increase penalty calls and have the rule book enforced once more to create more power play opportunities, people will have relax expectations of the idea of having a 90 or 100-point player in Montreal.


  1. The last equal footing Forsberg and Collberg had to really be comparable, was the 2012- U18 and U20 world juniors and Collberg was the better of the 2 at both tournaments, with 9 and 7 vs Forsberg’s 7 and 1 points. See how they fare in a couple weeks?
    Not much risk in nabbing him in 2nd round, i think 99% would say was more a steal!
    I still will stick with my Collberg = Alfredsson comparison.

    Busts/slumping before even playing 20 games as a pro based on a 1 game snapshot? A bit unfair would be an understatment.

    Agree on rookies and watching Holland play lots last year, his game is translating to pro even better than i had thought and he, Bournival, Leblanc, Hudon should give the Habs the 3rd line checking, PK and add a bit of offensive depth which is lacking from current roster.

    Pateryn was adjusting as expected and just too bad he was injured.

    I think Thrower is a bit of a Bouillon type d-man, with better puck skills. And Dietz may be too much like MAB in his own end (but defense can be taught/learned in AHL i hope). But both have grit, which is severly lacking in current Hab back-end.

    Would love to see Galchenyuk on Eller’s wing ASAP.

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