I have been bored out of my mind over the last two weeks, the entry draft is far behind us, free agency has slowed to a crawl, arbitration hearings are the last exiting thing that remains. And we all know how boring arbitration is. Case-48 hours-decision-48hours-another decision. kill me now! So while this summer drags on I have been thinking of how Pierre Gauthier seems to understand very clearly that to be competitive in this league you need to have efficient and talented players still on entry level contracts. So i thought i would compile the top 10 Habs prospects that I am most excited to see at training camp, and beyond! Some who will have a chance to make the team, and some who will need a few more years to develop. Here goes...
1. P.K. Subban: After the stunning performance P.K. put on during the playoffs, I find myself more excited than ever to see this young hot shot defenceman play a full season in the NHL. He was thrown into 2 of the most intense series' this team has seen in years, where they were heavy underdogs, and he helped out by playing several responsible defensive minutes and contributed offensively as well. I see Subban being the most impressive rookie defenceman in the league this upcoming season.
2. Lars Eller: The mystery centerman acquired in the HALAK trade. As I listened to the team 990 on that wedesday, and heard that playoff ZEUS Jaro Halak had been traded, I fought sadness by drooling over the possible return from the youthful talent in St. Louis. When they announced Lars Eller was coming back our way, I was infuriated. Why not Perrron? Why not Berglund? Why not Pietrangelo? But that was then, after reading about Eller, listening to journalists talk about him, and hearing what the man who drafted him had to say, I could not be more excited to see this supposedly NHL ready two way centreman in a Habs jersey. Will he be the deserving successor of Scott Gomez or Tomas Plekanec in coming years? We will have to wait and see. He is a very exciting prospect.
3. Yannick Weber: This swiss offensive powerhouse has been up to the big club a few times over the last few years. He's had some good games and some bad games. In the end though, I truly believe that the Weber-Subban combination will be the future of the Habs on D, as far as offense goes. Defenceman naturally take a longer time to develop than forwards, as we have seen with young D-men like Gorges (who matured to NHL level at 24), and O'byrne (26) who is coming off his first succesful NHL campaign. Weber will get to see some serious time this season if there are any injuries, and with the departure of Gill and Hamrlik next off season, look for Weber to secure a spot in the top 6.
4. Alexander Avtsin: I may only be so intrigued by this player because he is a Russian who actually seems determined to play in the NHL. We got him to come over! And he will surely make less money here than in Russia, which is a solid sign that he is a competitive player, and wants to be in the best league in the world. This kid has size, speed and hands. With the offensive tools to be a successful NHL top 6 forward, he is an exciting prospect to watch. Let's hope we can create our own little Datsyuk.
5. Max Pacioretty: While Max is surely looking to everyone like another first round bust, you have to do your best to stay positive. He is still a very young player, who was drafted because he is talented. There was a stretch last season of 11 or so games where he was almost a point a game player, assisting, finishing his checks, skating hard and even putting the puck in the net once or twice. If he can find that kind of power forward game again that had me drooling for a whole 3 weeks, we have a great top 6 forward on our hands.
6. Danny Kristo: I haven't heard whether or not Kristo will be returning to North Dakota. At 20 years old I sure hope he will hurry up and get to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Doesn't the college route just seem like the slowest possible route to the big leagues? Regardless, this kid tore it up at the WJC for the U.S. team, and anyone who does that is worth a double take. This second round pick could look great in a Habs jersey sooner than we think.
7. Ryan White: White logged some valuable time last year at the NHL level, and he showed he can skate with the big boys. He brings and energetic crash and bang element that the Habs sorely lack. As long as Ryan can keep his game in the +, then I can see him being an effective fourth liner on a team that can really use a player of his skill set.
8. Jarred Tinordi: If Tinordi wasn't so painfully far away from an NHL debut, he would have been much closer to topping this list. The hulking player that the habs traded up to acquire in this year's draft is such an exciting prospect I wish I could just fast forward a few years. This D will be part of the leadership core of the Montreal Canadiens for a long time coming. I can already feel the Tinordi fever in the air. Just give it a year or two.
9. David Desharnais: This is a player who deserves to be much higher on EVERYONE'S list of exiting young kids. He posted 78 points in 60 games with the Bulldogs this year, a huge step up from his 58 in 77GP of the year before. If he was 3 or 4 inches taller, every Habs fan would be blogging and gossiping and raving about him. But the sad truth is that Desharnais is a top 6 kind of player, and considering how small our core of offensive forwards are, there is absolutely no way he breaks into the line up. If he wants an NHL roster spot, he better ask for a trade.
10. Louis Leblanc: I wish I could say I was more excited about this guy. But i haven't heard or seen much that is overly extraordinary about him. Hopefully he can actually make the WJC team this year so we can see him in action. Then maybe he will jump up to the top of next year's list. He's only here because you have to include any18th overall pick.
So those are the kids I am hoping can make a wicked impact on our team sooner or later. Is there anyone I left out that you think can tear it up?