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Habsguy26 Future Watch Part 1: The North East


habsguy26

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blog-0851033001343618662.jpgHey guys, how are you doing this fine Sunday afternoon?

Just a little series here to make the summer pass by for you guys. I'll be going through every division and naming each of its Top 10 prospects in the entire division.

And today we start with the North East!

Let's get started! (By the way, not being a Habs' fanboy here, just basically based off who I think will have the best careers)

10) Sebastian Collberg - Montreal Canadiens

drafted by MTL 2(33) 2012

The Canadiens were pleasantly surprised to be lucky enough to select such a high-end talent like Sebastien Collberg early in the second round as the 18-year-old was projected as a possible first-rounder. The young right winger may have fallen in the draft after not obtaining any points in 41 games in the SEL while playing against men. Montreal's management believes that Collberg has a lot of potential and felt that his performances against the best players of his age at the U-18 and the WJC were more indicative of his real game.

Collberg is a very skilled forward with excellent skating skills and speed while possessing excellent one-on-one moves. The Swedish sniper doesn't shy away from the dirty areas, knows how to find the soft spots to score goals, and has an elite wrist shot which he can release in a hurry with great accuracy and velocity. The 18-year-old must add more strength to play along the boards at the more physical men's level and will need improvement on the defensive side of the puck.

Collberg is under contract for another year with Frölunda in the SEL and will most likely have the opportunity to help Team Sweden defend the Gold Medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship. It is very possible that the young sniper could be playing at the professional level in North America as early as the 2013-14 season.

9) Ryan Spooner - Boston Bruins

drafted by BOS 2(44) 2010

Slick, fast and creative, Ryan Spooner is an offensive-minded, puck-possession player. Masterful at carrying the puck, making defenders miss with paralyzing one-on-one moves and then finding the open man. He’s the kind of player who makes his linemates better. Praised profusely by Boston’s head coach Claude Julien for his intelligence. But in junior has shown a tendency to hot dog and lose focus on his defensive assignments.

Spooner was the surprise of Boston’s training camp last fall, making it all the way to the final cut. He’s a year older, stronger and more developed now. But the competition will also be tougher. If he doesn’t make it he has a good chance to represent Canada at the World Junior Championships this winter. His playing style is reminiscent of Claude Giroux though he may not have quite that high an upside.

8) Morgan Rielly - Toronto Maple Leafs

drafted by TOR 1(5) 2012

The Maple Leafs opted to select one of the many highly regarded defensemen in the draft with the fifth overall selection. Morgan Rielly missed most of last season recovering from a torn ACL injury that he sustained at the beginning of November. He was limited to only 18 regular season games where he scored at a point per-game rate with three goals and 15 assists.

Rielly possesses high hockey IQ, top-end skating ability, and a lethal arsenal of offensive tools from the back-end including a high-end puck-moving game. Missing most of the season with injury, it's likely that Rielly will return to junior where he'll have the opportunity to represent Canada at the upcoming World Juniors. He's already made a mark on Maple Leafs brass, standing out at the Maple Leafs Development Camp in early July.

7) Mikhail Grigorenko - Buffalo Sabres

drafted by BUF 1(12) 2012

Flying in the face of the recent practice of staying away from Russian players, Darcy Regier and company opted to make the high risk/reward selection of Mikhail Grigorenko at 12th overall. The Sabres had not picked a Russian in the first round since the forgettable selection of Artem Kryukov in the 2000 draft.

According to Sabres director of pro scouting, Kevin Devine, "He was the number one guy that we wanted. We thought he was the closest one to possibly a number one center so he was a guy that was right at the top of our list."

Grigorenko brings a lot to the table for a Sabres franchise that hasn't had a legitimate number one center prospect since they selected Pierre Turgeon first overall 25 years ago. He has tremendous size at 6'3 and he uses his body well to control the puck when entering the offensive zone. He put up outstanding numbers in Quebec last season, with 40 goals and 85 points in 59 games. His skill level is as good as anyone in this draft and if it weren't for his poor play during the QMJHL playoffs (which later was revealed to be due to Mononucleosis), he likely would have gone in the top five picks of the draft.

Though he has great size already, Grigorenko will need to add some weight to his lanky frame. This could be a major factor in determining whether he makes the team as an 18-year-old, which is another feat last accomplished by Turgeon. Grigorenko will get every opportunity to secure a roster spot in Buffalo but one more year in Quebec wouldn't hurt his development either.

6) Joel Armia - Buffalo Sabres

drafted by BUF 1(16) 2011

Armia is the best goal scoring talent that the Sabres have drafted since Thomas Vanek. The Finnish product is still growing into his 6’3” frame but when he does he could be a combination of size and skill that is rarely seen. He has very good hands and is a remarkable stick handler. He still needs to work on his defensive game and he is not overly physical for his size but he doesn’t shy away from contact either.

The Sabres will be patient with Armia and allow him to develop in Finland where he is most comfortable for the foreseeable future. Playing in the top league in Finland, he will gain valuable experience against professionals, which should give him the upper-hand over other players in his draft year. Armia will stay in Finland until 2013 when his contract his up and then make the jump to Western New York for the 2013-14 season. He could step right in for the Sabres at that time or head to Rochester for a season of maturation in the AHL.

5) Nathan Beaulieu - Montreal Canadiens

drafted by MTL 1(17) 2011

As well as quarterback the play from the blue line, Beaulieu is a highly mobile defenseman, who carries the puck well and can make things happen on the rush. He is smart about limiting the amount of chances he takes. He is still developing physically. Beaulieu is equally adept shooting and distributing the puck.

Beaulieu will play his first seaon of pro with the Hamilton Bulldogs after 3 seasons in the QJMHL for the 2011 Memorial Cup Champions, the St John Sea Dogs. He will work on improving his defensive positioning and physical play in his own zone. The offensively talented blueliner projects into a top-three defenseman in the NHL within the next few years if his development continues on its present pace.

4) Robin Lehner - Ottawa Senators

drafted by OTT 2(46) 2009

A hybrid butterfly goalie with excellent size and good overall skills, he uses his big frame to his advantage and challenges the shooters, although not always with the desired consistency. His rebound control needs work as does his concentration and positioning. He moves pretty well side to side and is tough to beat down low which are testaments to his conditioning and mobility.

Expect to see him play the lion’s share of games this year in Binghamton as the unquestioned starter after winning the Calder Cup, and get in a few NHL starts again to get a feel for the next level.

3) Mika Zibanejad - Ottawa Senators

drafted by OTT 1(6) 2011

There is a lot to like about Zibanejad’s game: offensive skills, intensity, skating and an impressive attitude. His two-way play is mature for a player his age and he just has an innate feel for many of the more subtle aspects of the game such as face-offs and reading the play along with the physical components required to win puck battles and playing tough but within the rules. The offensive skills are there and it’s a matter of more polish and experience at this point. Ottawa will look for him to keep his poise as he develops into a complete NHL power forward.

Zibanejad made the opening roster of the Ottawa Senators based on a great camp and pre-season last year. We can expect him to suit up for up to 9 games as an audition before the club likely makes their decision on whether to keep him and use the first year of his NHL contract or return him to Djurgården IF for one more year of seasoning in the SEL after this years training camp.

2) Dougie Hamilton - Boston Bruins

drafted by BOS 1(9) 2011

Immense, mobile defenseman who excels in all three zones. Born of Olympic bloodlines, Dougie Hamilton’s athleticism shows in his skating, where he has the speed to recover and catch players if he gets beat on a pinch, the mobility to turn and retrieve dump-ins before opposing forecheckers, and the shiftiness to carry the puck and beat defenders one-on-one. As of this writing Hamilton is 6’5” but he’s grown an inch and a half over the course of the season so he may in fact top out in the 6’6” range. In terms of game play, Hamiton is a strong defender, he has an active stick that he uses to break up players trying to beat him one-on-one and to disrupt passing plays. Reads the play well. Jumps up and joins the rush whenever the opportunity presents and, as a converted winger, is also comfortable carrying the puck and leading the rush. His ability to break up offensive forays combined with his ability to join the attack make him a potent transition threat. He sees the ice well, particularly on the breakout and can recognize both short and long-distance passing options, though he could use some work on his touch when going for distance. In the offensive zone he walks the line well, rotates with forwards, and looks comfortable pursuing the play down low. Has a big point shot and a heavy one-timer that he’s eager to use at the top of the umbrella on the power play. Is highly intelligent both on and off the ice. Also has a burgeoning physical game and shows a penchant for big open ice hits.

The sky’s the limit for Hamilton. He has all the tools to become a number one defenseman in the NHL. Comparisons have ranged from Brent Burns to Rob Blake, the former being the comp Peter Chiarelli has used. But patience is needed in terms of his immediate future. He’s grown so much, so fast that he’s rail thin, and needs at least another year to fill out his massive frame.

1) Alex Galchenyuk - Montreal Canadiens

drafted by MTL 1(3) 2012

Bergevin and Timmins were absolutely beaming after selecting Alex Galchenyuk with their third overall pick of the NHL draft and the 18-year-old was very excited to be a part of the historic franchise. The American-born player is the big, impact playmaking centerman that the organization has needed so desperately for many years. Bergevin indicated that Galchenyuk was chosen for his excellent offensive skills, vision, hockey sense, character along with a deep desire and commitment to be the NHL's best player.

After undergoing ACL surgery to start his second year in the OHL, the talented centerman was considered a high risk pick, having only played the last two regular season and six playoffs games in 2011-12. Galchenyuk showed his work ethic by coming back earlier than expected while showing no ill-effects from the knee injury, and impressed people at the NHL combine with his solid results. After the past problems concerning NHL defenseman Andrei Markov's knee, the Canadiens management did their due diligence multiple times before selecting the big centerman as the third overall pick.

Galchenyuk put up excellent numbers as a 16-year-old rookie, scoring 31 goals along with 52 assists and a minus-eight rating in 68 OHL games. The Canadiens believe that the highly skilled forward would have only improved on those numbers. He needs to improve his first step acceleration, physicality, and defensive zone positioning to be successful at the NHL level. The knee injury has lagged his development for this year and it might be better for 18-year-old to play the upcoming season in the OHL. However, if he continues his hard work and gains more strength over the summer, nobody should bet against Galchenyuk making the Canadiens starting roster for the 2012-13 season.

Honourable Mentions:

Nazem Kadri - Toronto Maple Leafs

drafted by TOR 1(7) 2009

Boy, his stock has fallen ALOT, hasn't it?

Jakob Silfverberg - Ottawa Senators

drafted by OTT 2(39) 2009

Silfverberg is a strong skating two-way forward with good hockey sense. He is a very smart and mature player and is solid both offensively and defensively.

Brendan Gallagher - Montreal Canadiens

drafted by MTL 5(147)2010

A dangerous scorer in the WHL, Gallagher has terrific quickness, as well as a hard and accurate shot. He is always active and never passive on a shift, able to find open space, while entering high-traffic areas as well. Gallagher is an intense, cerebral player with good overall skills. He utilizes his smaller size to his advantage.

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Anyways guys, have an awesome week and I'll see you when I post part 2. Leave a vote and a comment!

Habsguy26

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Young talent takes time to develop from the junior level into the minor league. The player also must be ready to play at an 82 game season. Are these players ready the compete for the ice time. How long have they been at the level they are at.

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These are just players that I thought will someday make a significant impact in the NHL. Maybe not next year (but might be the case for some of them) but somewhere down the line. Thanks for the comment

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I had to choose yes only because the most fitting answer was not available. "I have no idea, but I enjoyed the blog" .....consider that fourth choice for future blogs. :)

One player I might move up in the list would be Spooner, mainly because he has a legit chance for making the Bruins roster. It will also be interesting to see if Grigorenko and Hamilton are able to earn roster spots out of camp this fall.

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Just off the top of my head, I'm thinking Bournival could make an impact next year and Mark Stone from Ottawa has a real knack for lighting the lamp. Overall though, good job!

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Thanks @Jammer2. I was thinking about putting Bournival in there but I didn't want to put any more Habs players in there because I didn't want to seem like I was just another Habs' fanboy.. but I also thought about putting Mark Stone in here but I just thought these 10 players were better. No doubt Stone could make an impact in Ottawa but expect him to make the roster after Alfie retires..

@hf101, I'll be sure to put that in tonights blog!! Thanks for the feedback guys!

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