Catching the Torch – Introducing the 2012-13 Class: CHL, NCAA, Europe

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Catching The Torch
Introducing The Class 0f 2012-2013

Canadian Hockey League, College Hockey and Europe

 

By Robert Rice, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine 

TORONTO, ON — While it appears the NHL is spiraling towards a lockout that will not be resolved to save the whole season, we can take a bit of solace in that the developmental leagues will not be interrupted by this work stoppage. With that in mind, we are fortunate to be able to observe one of the most potent prospect groups the Canadiens have had in many years.

 

As I begin my 3rd year of coverage, I’d likely to briefly review the parameters of the feature. This will not be covering every player drafted or signed to a two-way deal by the Montreal Canadiens. Frankly, a good number of them aren’t going to make it and are marginal prospects to begin with. This coverage will be focused on prospects I consider to be of interest with an NHL future. I’ll also include any prospect that recieves notable support from readers to be tracked.

*Watch for the first regular edition of Catching the Torch for the 2012-13 class here at All Habs on Monday October 22, 2012*

 

The Canadian Hockey League: The umbrella organization of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League, the Major Junior system is considered the premiere pipeline for amateur North American players to reach the professional level.

 

QMJHL:

LW Olivier Archambault: 18 years old, 5’11”, 184 pounds. LH shot.

Junior Team: Drummondville Voltigeurs

Drafted: 4th round, 108th overall in the 2011 Entry Draft

Status: 4th-year player


 

The Essentials: A former 1st overall pick into the Quebec Major Juniors, Archambault has since lived under the expectations that such a selection brings with it. While at times displaying offensive good talent, Archambault has yet to bring together a point per game season in the league and is not trending that way into his 4th season in the QMJHL. He is also not considered much of a defensive player and with his offensive talents not translating enough to excuse that, his star is not currently rising.

 

Last Season (QMJHL):

Regular Season – 45GP, 17G, 22A

Playoffs – 4GP, 1G, 2A

 

LW Charles Hudon: 18 years old, 5’10”, 171 pounds, LH shot.

Junior Team: Chicoutimi Saguenéens – Alternate Captain

Drafted: 5th round, 122nd overall in the 2012 Entry Draft

Status: 3rd-year player

 

The Essentials: A small but talented forward who took a dive on draft day, he was happily scooped up by the Canadiens organization when they came across him in the 5th round. The skilled playmaker shows impressive offensive talents, but concerns about his average skating have soured observers on his ability to turn pro with his small frame. It will be up to Hudon to improve his foot speed and show just how good his offensive talents are to merit consideration for the professional level.

 

Last Season (QMJHL):

Regular Season – 59GP, 25G, 41A

Playoffs – 18GP, 6G, 5A

 

OHL:

 

C Alex Galchenyuk: 18 years old, 6’0”, 194 pounds, LH shot.

Junior Team: Sarnia Sting – Team Captain

Drafted: 1st round, 3rd overall in the 2012 Entry Draft

Status: 2nd-year player

 

The Essentials: The new face of the Canadiens farm system, Galchenyuk is likely the Canadiens best chance for a superstar at forward in the future. Galchenyuk is on the way back from recovering from a torn ACL that essentially cost him his 2011-12 after being a standout as a 16-year old with 31 goals, 52 assists in 2010-11. Galchenyuk will be counted on to be the heart of the offensive machine for the Sarnia Sting and is likely the most talented player in the entire OHL this season. Galchenyuk is credited with having an exceptional work ethic and smooth hands that allow him to thread a pinpoint pass or shoot as needed, paired with great vision and creativity to be a dynamic offensive threat. Expectations are high on Galchenyuk to establish himself as a dominant force in the OHL this season.

 

Last Season (OHL):

Regular Season – 2GP, 0G, 0A

Playoffs – 6GP, 2G, 2A

 

C Brady Vail: 18 years old, 6’, 195 pounds, LH shot.

Junior Team: Windsor Spitfires – Alternate Captain

Drafted: 4th round, 94th overall in the 2012 Entry Draft

Status: 3rd-year player

 

The Essentials: An emerging defensive forward, Vail is starting to flash more offensive talent as he gains more responsibilities with Windsor. Vail emerged last season as a valuable contributor for Windsor finishing 3rd in team scoring with 52 points, after a mere 10 points as a rookie. Vail displays very good intelligence and defensive awareness, allowing him to keep pace with the game and slow down the offence of opposing teams. Vail’s growing offensive displays are a welcome sign he may offer more, but concerns do hold that his puck skills will never grow enough to make him a potent offensive force at the professional level.

 

Last Season (OHL):

Regular Season – 68GP, 22G, 30A

Playoffs – 4GP, 0G, 0A

 

WHL:

 

LW Tim Bozon: 18 years old, 6’0”, 183 pounds, LH shot.

Junior Team: Kamloops Blazers

Drafted: 3rd round, 64th overall in the 2012 Entry Draft

Status: 2nd-year player

 

The Essentials: A breakout import player in the WHL last season, Tim Bozon was a fortuitious find for a Canadiens farm system that was lacking talented scorers and left wingers. Bozon displays an attractive combination of vision, good hands and skating ability that allowed him to score at a point per game clip playing on the North American rink and major junior play. With Bozon now having a good degree of familiarity with the style and pace of the the WHL, his offensive numbers should be expected to trend upwards.

 

Last Season (WHL):

Regular Season -71GP, 36G, 35A

Playoffs – 11GP, 5G, 0A

 

D Darren Dietz: 19 years old, 6’1”, 195 pounds, RH shot.

Junior Team: Saskatoon Blades

Drafted: 5th round, 138th overall in the 2011 Entry Draft

Status: 4th-year player

 

The Essentials: Dietz comes advertised as a defensive defencemen favouring a physical style but has shown a growing offensive talent with Saskatoon, including tying a league record for most goals in a game by a defencemen with 4 in one game last season. Dietz will likely be a defensive defencemen at the pro level, but his developing puck skills will make him more likely to transition well to higher levels. Dietz will need to continue grow both offensively and defensively likely, given the massive competition with the Canadiens system amongst defenders.

 

Last Season (WHL):

Regular Season – 72GP, 15G, 29A

Playoffs – 3GP, 0G, 1A

 

D Dalton Thrower: 18 years old, 5’11”, 200 pounds, RH shot.

Junior Team: Saskatoon Blades

Drafted: 2nd round, 51st overall in the 2012 Entry Draft

Status: 3rd-year player

 

The Essentials: A breakout offensive defencemen in 2011-12, Thrower worked his way up the draft lists by finishing 3rd in WHL defensive scoring behind 2012 Top-10 selections Matthew Dumba and Derrick Pouliot while bringing a physical brand of hockey to the ice. Concerns about his being a bit undersized for a defencemen who favours a physical style and issues in the defensive zone will require he prove himself further and develop his skills.

 

Last Season (WHL):

Regular Season – 66GP, 18G, 36A

Playoffs – 4GP, 0G, 1A

 

 

NCAA: The National Collegiate Athletic Association is the home of the top hockey program in the United States for amateur players. It is a typical route for players who need more time to physically develop or foster their skills before moving on to the professional level.

 

D Mac Bennett: 20 years old,  6′, 180 pounds, LH shot.

NCAA Team: University of Michigan Wolverines

Drafted: 3rd round, 79th overall in the 2009 Entry Draft

Status: 3rd-year player
The Essentials: Bennett is a pretty clear example of a player who benefits from working within the NCAA system for his hockey development. A smooth-skating offensive defencemen who has gradually worked his way to the top of the roster at Michigan, Bennett is poised to establish himself as a leading defencemen in the collegiate hockey ranks. Bennett’s development is in a key phase, as a rapidly growing depth chart of quality defensive prospects in Montreal has placed him in rather thick competition.

 

Last Season (NCAA):

Regular Season – 41GP, 4G, 17A

 

 

RW Danny Kristo: 22 years old, 5’11”, 188 pounds, RH shot.

NCAA Team: University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux

Drafted: 2nd round, 56th overall in the 2008 Entry Draft

Status: 4th-year player

 

The Essentials: The ace of the Montreal Canadiens NCAA prospects for the last three seasons, the fast-footed scoring winger remains one of the team’s best prospects despite his extended stay at North Dakota casting doubt on his commitment to playing at the pro level. Kristo’s speed is his best asset, which he mixes with smooth hands allowing him to execute plays while moving at top speed to be a very potent offensive force. Concerns about Kristo sit on his percieved lack of maturity following several incidences of him being disciplined by his own team and his not signing a pro contract with the Canadiens.

 

Last Season (NCAA):

Regular Season – 42GP, 19G, 26A

 

C Mark MacMillan: 20 years old, 6’, 183 pounds, LH shot.

NCAA Team: University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux

Drafted: 4th round, 113th overall in the 2010 Entry Draft

Status: 2nd-year player

 

The Essentials: The skinny centremen has slowly been working his way towards bigger things since being selected. Weighing a mere 150 lbs on draft day, MacMillan first posted a respectable season in the Junior A British Columbia Hockey League in 2010-11, than moved on to the University of North Dakota. Starting off with limited ice time, MacMillan emerged at the end of the season to lead all North Dakota freshmen in scoring. He’ll begin taking on a larger role with North Dakota this year, albeit the onus will also be upon him to prove his late-season production from last year was no aberration either.

 

Last Season (NCAA):

Regular Season – 42GP, 7G, 9A

 

 

Czech Extraliga: The Extraliga is the top professional league in the Czech Republic.

 

C Daniel Pribyl: 19 years old, 6’3”, 193 pounds, RH shot.

Extraliga Team: HC Sparta Praha

Drafted: 6th round, 168th overall in 2011

Status: 2nd-Year Player

 

The Essentials: A skilled playmaking centre the Canadiens decided to take the reach on in the 2011 Draft, Pribyl found himself in a rather hard set of circumstances in his rookie Extraliga season. Missing on ice time, Pribyl found himself between playing the 4th line in the Extraliga and being shuttled to both Praha’s First-League affiliate and their Under-20 team on a very erratic schedule. Pribyl was further set back by an ankle injury that cost him most of his opportunity to play at the World Junior Championships, leading to a rather unremarkable season. Pribyl will hopefully be able to gain more ice time with his team in a new season and improve his development after a stunted year.

 

Last Season:

Regular Season –

Extraliga: 17GP, 2G, 0A

First League: 21GP, 9G, 4A

 

Elitserien: The Elitserien or Swedish Elite League is the top professional league of Sweden. A prospect playing well in this league is a typical indication they may be ready for the NHL.

 

LW Sebastian Collberg: 18 years old, 5’11”, 180 pounds, RH shot.

Elitserien Team: Frölunda HC

Drafted: 2nd round, 33rd overall in the 2012 Entry Draft

Status: 2nd-year player

 

The Essentials: A solid offensive talent at the World Junior Championships that helped Sweden to their 2nd Gold Medal in the 35-year history of the tournament, Collberg displays a promising offensive skillset. Collberg displays both great skating and a very powerful shot with very good accuracy that makes him an ideal scoring prospect. Concerns sit on Collberg’s slightly below average size and frame, which may limit his ability to battle for the puck or handle physical contact at the NHL level. Concerns are also present about his current development path, as he finds himself buried on the roster of his Elitserien team.

 

Last Season:

Regular Season –

Elitserien: 41GP, 0G, 0A

SuperElit J20: 21GP, 9G, 8A

World Junior Championships: 6GP,  4G, 3A

 

D Magnus Nygren: 21 years old, 6’1”, 191 pounds, RH shot.

Elitserien Team: Färjestads BK

Drafted: 4th round, 113th overall in the 2010 Entry Draft

Status: 3rd-year player

 

The Essentials: Nygren has been establishing himself as a power play specialist in the Elitserien since making the pro league. With a booming shot, Nygren’s offensive value to a team is obvious, albeit his limited defensive ability has limited his ice time and at times made him a liability. Nygren will likely need to grow offensively and defensively this season to challenge for a spot within the Canadiens North American farm system given the competition amongst blueliners.

 

Last Season (Elitserien):

Regular Season – 50GP, 7G, 11A

Playoffs – 10GP, 2G, 0A

***

Feature photo by Rick Stephens | All Habs : 2012 Canadiens Development Camp Part 2

2 COMMENTS

  1. Robert, Good summary of the Habs upcoming prospects.

    I wish you had included a year to date recap of each of their stats so far this year.

    I posted a link to your story on my site, teliopost.com.
    Telio

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