Long time lurker, first time writer.. don't be too harsh..
While many people give Bob Gainey credit for the depth of Habs prospects, I personally believe the seeds were planted during Andre Savard's tenure in Montreal. Feel free to correct me, but this is when I first feel the Habs began the slow re-stocking process.
Feel Free to enjoy this process Leaf Fans...
With the re-stocking nearly finished, I find the Habs, through drafting and signing young un-drafted free agents, via AHL contracts, Montreal now has a very strong farm system. This is very apparent with the Hamilton Bulldogs victory last year, and now possibly in the ECHL with the Cincinnati Cyclone's.
Sporting a 39-8-1-2 record, it is safe to say that Cincinnati has had their way with the opposition this year. Only two other terms are in their class, the Texas Wildcatters (Minnesota Wild) and the Las Vegas Wranglers (Calgary Flames).
While parts of the roster consists of Nashville players, lets focus on the Montreal and potential Montreal prospects...
Out of the following 6 players, only 2 are truly under contract with Montreal, this is mainly due to the 50 player rule, where, obviously, a team can only have 50 players under contract. To get around this, many teams are now signing players through their AHL teams, thus giving them a chance if they want, to sign the player to a NHL contract.
So lets get a move on!
G Cédrick Desjardins (Under contract with Hamilton, NHL = UFA)
Name sound familiar, well it should, he was the star goalie for the Rimouski Oceanic during Sidney Crosby's tenure. While only getting a cup of tea so far in the A, Cédrick has been amazingly solid this season for the Cyclones. Sporting a 16-4-2 record, a stellar 1.92 GAA and a most importantly, a phenomenal 0.934 save % with 5 shut outs. Considering Montreal's goalie pipeline ends after the Price-Halak tandem, Desjardins could develop into a solid goalie for Hamilton, or possibly a NHL backup. Seeing to far ahead?, well not long ago Halak was down this far posting nearly identical numbers.
C Mathieu Aubin (Under contract with Montreal)
The lanky 6'3 center has evenly split this season between the A and the E. While his numbers are under avg in Hamilton, the sophomore has a ppg pace in Cincinnati. In 25 games, Aubin has 14 goals, 11 assists for 25 points, but most importantly has a reasonable +13 showing good defensive awareness and only 4 of his goals have came from PP time. I think anyone can agree that a 5 on 5 scorer is more important than a player who only scores on the man advantage.
RW Thomas Beauregard (Under contract with Hamilton, NHL = UFA)
The second coming of Michael Ryder?, minus the sucky year hopefully. The smallish Beauregard has been great in his rookie year. Having played the entire season in the E, Beauregard has scored 48 pts in 46 games with 22 goals and 26 assists. Unfortunately, Thomas is only a +9 on team that is +95. While he may only be +4 off of Aubin, with his 48 pts he should be higher, thus showing he may need some work on his defensive game before moving up.
LW Jimmy Bonneau (Under contract with Montreal)
I'll be honest.. he's a goon.. a slow goon at that who has never consistently made it in the AHL, only playing 6 AHL games in 3 years. I honestly can't see him going anyway, and this being his last year under contract, I don't expect Montreal to re sign him. Helloooooooo beer leagues.
C David Desharnais (Under contract with Hamilton, NHL = UFA)
Small, you want small, how about 5'6 177 lbs. While short, he is very solid with great speed, shiftiness and vision. The rookie center has never let his size hold him back, continually putting up big points. In 46 games this year, David has 63 pts made up of 14 goals and 49 assists, having him only 3 pts behind the ECHL scoring leader. Of note, tonight David tied a 16 yr old record of gaining an assist in each game. In the last 17 games, David has had at least one assist during this span. (25 assists in 17 games). Having a heart twice the size of his small frame, David will have to keep on fighting to catch Bob's eye.
C Olivier Latendresse (On loan from Phoenix)
The newest member of the Cyclones, Olivier was loaned to Montreal in return for draft bust Cory Urquhart. It is expected that at the end of the season, the loan will be made officially into a trade. Can Olivier follow in younger brother Guy's path to the NHL? Only time and hard work will tell as he has 3 pts (1G, 2A) in 2 games for Cincinnati.
Will any of these players ever make the NHL? Maybe not, but this didn't stop ECHL Alums Ryder or Halak from fighting their way up the depth charts. With some hard work, confident work attitude, these players could possibly someday make it to the show, but if not, be positive role models for the next crop of professional rookies and help them adjust to the higher level of play.