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July 16, 2012
Top 10 Prospects
Montreal Canadiens

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Montreal Canadiens Top 10 Prospects
1. Alexander Galchenyuk, Center
2. Sebastian Collberg, Right Wing
3. Nathan Beaulieu, Defense
4. Danny Kristo, Right Wing
5. Brendan Gallagher, Right Wing
6. Jarred Tinordi, Defense
7. Tim Bozon, Left Wing
8. Charles Hudon, Left Wing
9. Michael Bournival, Center
10. Morgan Ellis, Defense

System Overview: An extremely strong 2012 draft class on top of good development by a couple of other players has helped propel Montreal into a top-tier system headlined by elite prospect Alex Galchenyuk. While they don't have another prospect of his caliber, they have two very good ones in Sebastian Collberg and Nathan Beaulieu. The system has solid depth in terms of talented prospects. In fact, I had to omit several prospects after 15 that I liked. They could use another significant scoring center prospect after Galchenyuk, but that's really a nitpick if anything.

Organizational Ranking: 10th

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1. Alexander Galchenyuk, Center
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 02/12/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 199
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 2 GP, 0 G, 0 P (Sarnia-OHL)
Acquired: First round, third overall in 2012 by Montreal

The Good: Galchenyuk is a high-end offensive talent across the board and coming into the season before the injury his skill set had some scouts thinking he could challenge for the first overall pick. Skating, puck skills, or vision are all plus tools for him and he can hurt a defense in so many ways. On top of his tremendous offensive gifts, he's a very hard worker on the ice who plays a pretty physical style of hockey. He's a diligent defensive player who supports down low and takes his checks hard.

The Bad: Galchenyuk tore his ACL this year and even aside from the injury, there is a cloud of uncertainty over him because he barely played. I go into more detail about that here. Other than that, he has no clear weakness in his skill set other than he'll sometimes overpass.

Projection: His projection is more uncertain than usual, but he has the tools to be an All-Star level center.

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2. Sebastian Collberg, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 02/23/1994
Age: 18
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 176
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 41 GP, 0 G, 0 P, 6:55 ATOI (Frolunda-SEL)
Acquired: Second round, 33rd overall in 2012 by Montreal

The Good: Collberg is a plus skater who has a great combination of agility, acceleration, and top gear speed. He's a good if not great puck handler who is creative and can control the puck very well, be it on the sideboards on the PP or in tight spaces. Collberg has a tremendous shot and while "quick release" if often overused in scouting circles, his really does stand out. He also shows solid vision on top of being a gritty player who drives the net regularly.

The Bad: His size is worrisome and his frame is pretty slight. Despite his good work ethic, he projects as a replacement-level physical player. Despite the low minutes, his production in the SEL is worrisome although he did produce in international play. He will also sometimes get tunnel vision in terms of finding his teammates.

Projection: His ceiling borders between a fringe first-line winger to a great second-line winger.

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3. Nathan Beaulieu, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 1st
Date of birth: 12/05/1992
Age: 19
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 190
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 51 GP, 11 G, 52 P (Saint John-QMJHL)
Acquired: First round, 17th overall in 2011 by Montreal

The Good: Nathan Beaulieu has a tremendous combination of offensive gifts, as he's a high-end skater, puck handler, and passer who can be extremely dangerous in the transition game and on the power play. He has the speed to burn players on the rush, and the four-way mobility to stay with even the fastest forwards. Beaulieu is a very creative offensive defenseman who regularly makes impressive players with the puck with his individual plays or setting up his teammates. His upside is very desirable, and he has the potential to take over games.

The Bad: His physicality is decent, and while he's bulked up this last year, his strength level could still use some improvement. Beaulieu's main issues are his defensive game and decision-making, as he makes way too mistakes and plays a very high-risk game. With his playmaking, he shows flashes of high-end hockey sense, while in many other instances his sense seems below average.

Projection: He has the raw tools of a first-pairing defenseman, but if his hockey sense doesn't improve, he looks like he could be a #3 defenseman who's used on the top PP unit and somewhat sheltered defensively.

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4. Danny Kristo, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 7th
Date of birth: 06/18/1990
Age: 22
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 188
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 42 GP, 19 G, 45 P (University of North Dakota-WCHA)
Acquired: Second round, 56th overall in 2008 by Montreal

The Good: Kristo rebounded from a disappointing sophomore year with a much stronger junior season, looking much more reminiscent of the player scouts saw during his U-20 years. Kristo arguably is a high-end skater, although I didn't always see that level this season, with a great stride and an effortless ability to hit a dangerous top gear. He's also a good puck-handler who on occasion shows plus ability, but this year the extra element I saw from Kristo was making a lot of above-average if not high-end passes. He's also a gritty player who works hard in the physical areas and can be effective as a penalty killer.

The Bad: Kristo's body is his major issue, as it hasn't developed as one would hope and he needs a boat load of strength to excel as a pro. He also forces bad plays still but not as much as prior years.

Projection: He could be a decent second-line winger.

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5. Brendan Gallagher, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 05/06/1992
Age: 20
Height: 5'8''
Weight: 179
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 54 GP, 41 G, 77 P (Vancouver-WHL)
Acquired: Fifth round, 147th overall in 2010 by Montreal

The Good: Gallagher is a a quick skater with good edge work, agility, and quickness. He has above-average puck skills with good hand-eye coordination and regularly shows fine creativity. Gallagher also has good hockey sense, as he's an unselfish player who sees the ice well and can on occasion flash great playmaking ability. He has a good overall feel for the game too in regards to his off-puck play. He has a high-end shot with the ability to score from a distance. Gallagher gets universal industry praise for his intangibles as he's an absolute workhorse who gives it his all every shift.

The Bad: Plain and simple, size is what will limit Gallagher's potential. He's just so small that many scouts I've talked to wonder if he'll be anything more than a third-line player. He's a good offensive player, but he lacks the dynamic high-end tools across the board that players his size usually need to be a legitimate top scorer in the NHL.

Projection: He could be an average second-line winger.

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6. Jarred Tinordi, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 6th
Date of birth: 02/20/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'7''
Weight: 218
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 48 GP, 2 G, 16 P (London-OHL)
Acquired: First round, 22nd overall in 2010 by Montreal

The Good: Tinordi is a 6'7" giant with an elite physical game when you combine his great size, strength level, willingness to use his body, and how often he separates the puck from his opponents. Tinordi had a rough first OHL season, but this year in the OHL and international play his reads were much, much better and he showed more confidence at both ends of the rink. He's a very effective shutdown defenseman due to his physical game and hockey sense who is ready for the step beyond junior level.

The Bad: He's improved his puck moving, but Tinordi is just not an offensive guy by any means and projects as replacement level in the offensive area of the game. He shows decent vision and decisions with the puck, but his coordination and puck skills are pretty bad, so if he becomes more coordinated within his body I could plausibly see that level of his game going up a notch. Tinordi's skating is very good considering his massive size, but on a neutral scale it's below-average.

Projection: He could be an average second-pairing defenseman who logs tough defensive minutes.

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7. Tim Bozon, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 03/24/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 175
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 71 GP, 36 G, 71 P (Kamloops-WHL)
Acquired: Third round, 64th overall in 2012 by Montreal

The Good: Bozon is a pretty well-rounded player. He's an above-average skater and puck-handler who has the gritty element to his game with his speed to be a forechecking pest or effective along the boards. He also has the creativity to make plays on his own and control the puck. He's a pretty good finisher, as he has an above-average shot and arguably a plus one. Bozon gets back on defense well and also plays with a bit of an edge.

The Bad: Aside from needing to bulk up, Bozon doesn't have a clear weakness to his game other than he lacks true standout skills.

Projection: He could be a decent second-line winger.

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8. Charles Hudon, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 06/23/1994
Age: 18
Height: 5'10''
Weight: 170
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 59 GP, 25 G, 66 P (Chicoutimi-QMJHL)
Acquired: Fifth round, 122nd overall in 2012 by Montreal

The Good: Hudon is a very skilled little guy with high-end puck possession skills. He's a fantastic puck-handler and playmaker who thinks the game very well and can shows the ability to make difficult passes with regularity and can be a quarterback from the sideboards on the power play. Hudon has a very good panic threshold and tends to make the right plays even when being tightly checked.

The Bad: His size is his major hindrance and his 5'10" listing may be slightly overstated. He's a decent skater but lacks the dynamic top gear you would want from a smaller player.

Projection: He has second-line tools, but there's quite a bit of uncertainty on his projection.

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9. Michael Bournival, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 10th
Date of birth: 05/31/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 41 GP, 30 G, 56 P (Shawinigan-QMJHL)
Acquired: Trade from Colorado, drafted third round, 71st overall in 2010 by Colorado

The Good: Bournival is a hard-working forward who can push the pace of the game with his speed due to his significantly improved skating ability relative to where it was during his draft year. He has solid if not better hockey sense at both ends and shows the ability to set up his teammates and make good reads in his own end. He's a tough player who does well in the physical game and shows a good work ethic on the ice which translates into effective penalty killing.

The Bad: Bournival isn't really that creative an offensive player and can be a little rigid handling the puck at times. He won't be relied on to be a points guy at the next level.

Projection: He could be a third-line center.

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10. Morgan Ellis, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 04/30/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 200
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 60 GP, 15 G, 52 P (Cape Breton/Shawinigan-QMJHL)
Acquired: Fourth round, 117th overall in 2010 by Montreal

The Good: One scout I talked to called Ellis the most improved defender in the Q this year and several other scouts said things along the same lines. He's a good skater who is mobile in all directions. Ellis' best trait is his hockey sense, which translates into very effective defensive play. He's average-sized, but plays a tough brand of hockey, showing good strength, and can usually outmuscle his checks from the puck. He's got solid vision and can flash some nice puck-moving ability here and there.

The Bad: Ellis lacks average offensive skill and isn't a player who will be on an NHL power play. He's not a null factor in that area, but certainly below average.

Projection: He could be a fringe #4 to a good #5 defender.

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The Next Five

11. Dalton Thrower, Defense: He's a hard-nosed defender who has solid offensive tools across the board but lacks a standout skill.

12. Alexander Avtsin, Right Wing: He's a good skater with a lot of talent, but he just hasn't been able to create chances in the AHL.

13. Darren Dietz, Defense: The hardest guy to rank in this system, and I've heard scouts praise him quite highly on top of hearing divided opinions. He has good hockey sense, and will be a guy to watch closely next season.

14. Mark MacMillan, Center: He showed good puck skills and vision in his freshman season and could be on the verge of a breakout campaign.

15. Patrick Holland, Right Wing: He's a smart player who works very hard and can finish. I've heard different scouts project him as a third liner, fourth liner, or AHLer.

The Sleeper: Olivier Archambault, Left Wing

The former first overall pick in the 2009 QMJHL draft hasn't lived up to expectations, but entering his 19-year-old season, there's always the chance he puts it all together. He's a fantastic skater with the skill to produce.

Montreal Canadiens Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2012 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Alexander Galchenyuk, Center
2. Sebastian Collberg, Right Wing
3. Nathan Beaulieu, Defense
4. Louis Leblanc, Right Wing
5. Danny Kristo, Right Wing
6. Brendan Gallagher, Right Wing
7. Jarred Tinordi, Defense
8. Tim Bozon, Left Wing
9. Charles Hudon, Left Wing
10. Michael Bournival, Center

Montreal has good young key players on their team such as P.K. Subban, Lars Eller, Carey Price, and Max Pacioretty, but in terms of their U-22 players, Leblanc is the only one that is in the NHL. Most of their top young players in that age range are a few years away from either being in the NHL or being notable contributors. Leblanc still needs time, but despite not being the most skilled player in the world, his skating, hockey sense, and work ethic could turn him into an above-average pro down the road.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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Top 10 Prospects (07/19)
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Top 10 Prospects (07/19)

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