2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #10-6

Welcome back to my second annual top 30 Habs prospects. This profiles prospects ranked #10 to #6. Prospect #9 begins another new tier of prospects, featuring the organizations high-end skill. This grouping features four 2013 draft picks, including three undersized forwards, as well as a defender who could become a full-time NHLer next season.

Series Navigation:
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: Ranking Methodology and Honourable Mentions
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #30-26
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #25-21
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #20-16
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #15-11
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #10-6
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #5-1
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: Prospect Awards & Final Thoughts

 

10) Jeremy Grégoire
Last Year: #13
Draft: 2013, 176th overall (6th round)
RW | 6’ 192 | Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
Regular: 32GP 20G 21A 41P | 12GP 10G 11A 21P

Photo: Ghyslain Bergeron, Canadian Press

Grégoire averaged a staggering five shots on goal per game, which increased to 5.75 in the postseason. | Photo: Ghyslain Bergeron, Canadian Press

Although Grégoire missed the first half of the season, it still was a productive one for the fourth year forward. While sidelined, he assisted his coaching staff behind the bench. When back in action, Grégoire proved that last year’s offensive explosion was no fluke.

The average-sized forward is a quality goalscorer. Although Grégoire has improved as a long-range threat, he certainly doesn’t fit the role of a “true sniper.” Instead, he relies on smart positions, quick hands, and a fast release to bury below the hashmarks and in. He’s very strong around the blue paint, which makes him a force during goalmouth scrambles. His vision is slightly above average, but he prefers to utilize short passes, particularly the give-and-go. His hands are fairly clunky, but he protects them extremely well.

Grégoire’s relentless style has always been hindered by his lack of footspeed. Although he continues to improve his feet, his top-end speed, acceleration, and agility all need improvement. He makes up for this at the QMJHL level with a high degree of smarts in terms of deceptiveness and body positioning.

Defensively, Grégoire is a standout, especially for a winger. He’s an intelligent backchecker, who sometimes takes unique routes to cut off passes and disrupt the puck carrier. In sustained pressure scenarios, he’s often more reliable than his centre by virtue of dedication and high-end hockey sense. He has the rare ability to always be open for a pass from the defender.

It’s hard to see Grégoire as a notable scorer at the NHL level due to lack of high-end skills and footspeed. However, he’s made it clear that he has the goalscorer’s touch, especially in the playoffs (strangely enough). What he lacks in vision and hands he makes up for it with pure shot generation, a rare asset for a player who lacks pure skill.

Ranking Explanation: I find Grégoire to be a safe bet to make the NHL in a fourth line capacity. His hockey sense, competitiveness, and goalscoring ability make him a constant two-way threat. It wouldn’t surprise me if Grégoire became better than a fourth liner because he continues to pot NHL-style goals. However, at this stage he lacks upside, which holds him back behind the forwards above him, who all have much better skill sets.

 

9) Martin Reway
Last Year: #9
Draft: 2013, 116th round (4th round)
LW | 5’10” 174 | HC Sparta Praha (Czech)
Regular: 34GP 9G 28G 37P | Post: 8GP 1G 6A 7P

Reway led all junior-aged players in Czech Extraliga scoring by 25 points. | Photo: Jan Benes, HC Sparta Praha

Reway led all junior-aged players in Czech Extraliga scoring by 25 points. | Photo: Jan Benes, HC Sparta Praha

At first glance, Martin Reway had a dominant, record-setting 19-year-old season in the Czech Extraliga. However, 82% of Reway’s 44 points came with the man-advantage, rendering his even-strength production to just eight points in 42 games. At five-on-five for the majority of the year Reway was completely invisible. Reway continued to showcase high-end skill at the WJC, where he led Slovakia to Bronze.

Reway is a tremendously skilled player, with excellent stickhandling ability. In tight spaces, one-on-one, one-on-two, breakaways, Reway demonstrates fabulous hands. Combining his elite-level edge work and stickhandling allows Reway to weave his way through the opposition with ease. He’s extremely slippery, which makes him difficult to check and contain. He showcases great anticipation and hand-eye coordination, particularly in the neutral zone, where Reway excels at intercepting passes.

Despite not being much of a long-distance shooter, Reway has a decent touch around the goal. He has a quick release, but his playmaking remains by far his best offensive asset. His playmaking ability is best demonstrated on the powerplay, from a variety of positions, including the point, half wall, and below the goal line. His head is always up, locating targets, and his hands and feet are always moving, creating space. He has the ability to make passes of high-difficulty, especially during sustained pressure scenarios. Off the rush, he’s still a fabulous playmaker, but it wasn’t apparent this season.

Although Reway is possibly the most purely skilled prospect in the pool, he’s also one of the prospects with the most red flags. Reway continues to play selfish hockey, committing needless turnovers and not properly utilizing his teammates. His defensive game continues to be suspect, especially during sustained pressure scenarios. Reway made improvements at the beginning of the year, but subsequently went back to his lackadaisical ways. Although he’s extremely agile and deceptive, he lacks separation speed. Perhaps the biggest concern of them all simply comes down to production: Reway is tremendously skilled, but he was a top QMJHL scorer for just two months and was essentially a powerplay-only contributor this year.

Ranking Explanation: Reway is tremendously skilled, but the red flags continue to pile up. Reway’s high-end offensive skill, particularly his agility, stickhandling, and playmaking land him a spot in the top-10; however, his lack of defensive awareness, selfishness, and concerns about production keep him from going any higher. While he arguably has more offensive upside than all but one player above him, he appears far more unlikely to reach it.

 

8) Artturi Lehkonen
Last Year: #5
Draft: 2013, 55th overall (2nd round)
LW/RW | 5’11” 163 | Frölunda (SHL)
Regular: 47GP 8G 8A 16P | Post: 13GP 3G 3A 6P

Although Lehkonen's production was highly inconsistent, he managed to pot a pair of hat tricks in the latter portion of the season. | Photo: Carl Sandin, Bildbyrån

Although Lehkonen’s production was highly inconsistent, he managed to pot a pair of hat tricks in the latter portion of the season. | Photo: Carl Sandin, Bildbyrån

After leading KalPa in scoring last year, despite missing half the season, Lehkonen headed next door to play for Frölunda in the SHL. After a solid start to the season, Lehkonen’s summertime battle with mono caught up to him. He struggled for the greater part of the season, but had a strong finish to the season.

Lehkonen is a goalscorer, one of the only true snipers found on this list. He’s a silent player, who sneaks away from defenders and pounces on scoring opportunities. But he doesn’t just do this down low, he does all around the offensive zone. This ability to find open ice along with his excellent wrist and snap shots (his release would be among the best in the NHL already) make him a clinical scorer, at least on paper.

Furthermore, Lehkonen is a decent playmaker with the ability to dangle around defenders in spectacular fashion (which he doesn’t do nearly enough). His feet aren’t the quickest, but the routes that he takes around the ice are so efficient that it doesn’t hinder his game. Despite being undersized, he’s surprising well-balanced and effective at winning board battles.

Unlike most snipers, Lehkonen is an advanced two-way player, especially for a winger. He’s tremendously dedicated on the backcheck and is typically positioned correctly to aid defenders. He’s a determined player, who lays it all out on the line every game (see: 2014 WJC).

The flaw with Lehkonen’s game is this: He looks great on paper, but on the ice he’s not noticeable. He’s a tremendous complimentary player, which could transfer to the NHL, but cannot lead offence. Looking at his tools alone, he possesses the ability to be a play drive, but on ice it’s simply not the result. Next year, Lehkonen will finish the final year of his contract with Frölunda, where big things are expected.

Ranking Explanation: For Lehkonen it’s this simple. The remaining forwards prospects (save for one) are all play drivers—Lehkonen is not. While he appears to be a somewhat safe bet to play in the NHL at some point (which gives him the edge over Martin Reway), he lacks the overall upside of those around him.

 

7) Jarred Tinordi
Last Year: #3
Draft: 2010, 22nd overall (1st round)
LD | 6’6” 203 | Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL)/Montréal Canadiens (NHL)
AHL: 44GP 1G 6A 7P | NHL: 13GP 0G 2A 2P

Tinordi has 43 games of NHL experience spread of three seasons. In those games he has tallied six assists.  | Photo: NHL.com

Tinordi has 43 games of NHL experience spread of three seasons. In those games he has tallied six assists. | Photo: NHL.com

After last year (2013-14) in the NHL and earning 22 games in the NHL, Tinordi looked on the cusp of making it full-time. However, the 23-year-old defender played just 13 games this year, in which he wasn’t particularly impressive. Strangely enough, Tinordi continued to have a positive Corsi For % along with a below-average PDO. In the AHL, Tinordi’s year was mostly stagnant.

We all know Tinordi’s game by now; he’s a towering, smooth-skating, shutdown defender. Tinordi is difficult to beat one-on-one due to his patience, long reach, and ability to read forwards. There’s no denying that Tinordi benefits from his long reach and size, as forwards often take the outside route. Tinordi’s reach allows him to disrupt plays and block lanes on the penalty kill. While Tinordi has the strength and size to continually punish the opposition, he prefers a less aggressive, puck-first style, but make no mistake, he can absolutely destroy players if need be. He could stand to be more aggressive along the boards and around the net, but he has made improvements there.

The combination of size and skating are what makes Tinordi such a unique prospect. Despite looking fairly awkward at times (due to his slightly hunched over skating style), he gets around the ice quickly. It’s rare to see a large player have excellent four-way mobility like Tinordi does, which makes him a tough defender to beat off the rush.

With the puck on his stick, Tinordi’s game looks fairly clumsy. Two seasons ago, he made notable improvements with his puck skills, but this season he didn’t make any notable progression. He’s not a particularly good shooter, as he needs an amount of space that you simply don’t get in the NHL to get a quality shot off, and his passing is painfully inconsistent. Tinordi is prone to making slow decisions, often leading to turnovers. It’s clear that Tinordi doesn’t have an offensive brain, but there’s still time to improve with the puck.

Once Tinordi hastens his decision-making, becomes slightly more aggressive, and gains confidence, he will become a solid NHL defender. However, next year he’s no longer exempt from waivers, which could force him into the NHL too early. If he’s ready, it’s perfect timing, if not, things could get ugly.

Ranking Explanation: Here’s a prospect that very well could’ve been lower on the list. He lacks offensive upside and is in a very tricky spot developmental wise. However, he still has room to grow and his tools are simply too good to pass up. Best case scenario, Tinordi becomes an above-average #3 defender or a good compliment to P.K. Subban, worse case scenario I think he’s probably a decent, although inconsistent bottom pairing defender. Where will end up? Probably somewhere in between, which coupled with his near NHL-readiness is good enough to place him above the offensively-gifted Martin Reway and Artturi Lehkonen.

 

6) Sven Andrighetto
Last Year: #6
Draft: 2013, 86th overall (3rd round)
RW/LW | 5’10” 181 | Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL)/Montréal Canadiens (NHL)
AHL: 60GP 14G 29A 43P | NHL: 12GP 2G 1A 3P

Andrighetto already has 87 career AHL points in just 124 games, an impressive for player selected a third-year re-entry. | Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs

Andrighetto already has 87 career AHL points in just 124 games, an impressive for player selected a third-year re-entry. | Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs

Is there a prospect that had a more confusing season than Andrighetto? I doubt it. Andrighetto started with 18 points in 21 AHL games, earning him a 12-game NHL stint. He scored in his first NHL game, played nearly 15 minutes in his second, and had three points career points by the time his third game was done. Yet in the fourth he found himself on the fourth line, and was basically forced out of the NHL. When he returned to the AHL, he was massively inconsistent.

Andrighetto is speedy well-rounded offensive threat. Although Andrighetto isn’t a high-end goalscorer, his shot is absolutely fantastic. His slap shot and wrister are both powerful, with deadly releases. While he has demonstrated the ability to bury goals in traffic, he doesn’t appear to have high-end goalscoring instincts.

Andrighetto’s excellent shooting ability is complimented with high-end playmaking ability. The 5’10” forward has excellent vision and creativity, which allows him to be a tremendous powerplay threat. Off the rush, he’s difficult to handle because of his unpredictability and able to draw attention toward himself.

Furthermore, Andrighetto is a great skater. His top-end is excellent, which he gets to in a hurry thanks to an explosive first few steps. His agility is above average, which, along with his great hands and dangling ability, allows him to maneuver through traffic. Andrighetto’s skating and stickhandling allows him to combine both north-south and east-west styles, which makes him an unpredictable threat. He utilizes his quick feet to consistently engage in the forecheck, often finishing his checks and regaining possession.

While Andrighetto’s forechecking is notably good, his defensive game is not. As mentioned last year, Andrighetto works hard; he just doesn’t understand how to properly play defence in sustained pressure scenarios yet. He moves his feet in his own zone, just doesn’t always move to the right areas. Additionally, Andrighetto is prone to committing turnovers, mostly due to over stickhandling.

Andrighetto is clearly a tremendous offensive player. While he lacks high-end goalscoring instincts, he has a great skill level and playmaking ability that could one offset it. Andrighetto very well could see plenty of NHL action next season.

Ranking Explanation: Andrighetto is dynamic, speedy, competitive, and offensively gifted. While he lacks hockey sense equivalent to his skill level, his tools could make him a valuable NHLer in the near future. However, it’s that lack of hockey sense, along with lack of consistency that holds him back. While he’s more dynamic than Artturi Lehkonen, smarter and nearly as skilled as Martin Reway, he’s not smart enough or safe enough to crack the top-five. He earns a spot above Jarred Tinordi because they’re both nearing NHL-readiness, with Andrighetto having more reasonable upside.

 

Check back soon for prospects ranked #5 to #1!

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