2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #15-11

Welcome back to my second annual top 30 Habs prospects. This profiles prospects ranked #15 to #11. Prospect #15 begins another tier of prospects, consisting of players who are either very close to making the NHL in some capacity and/or have top-four/top-nine upside. This grouping consists of a potential full-time NHLer next season, last year’s pleasant surprise for the ‘Dogs, two Swedes with great upside, and the top ranked goalie on the list. All five of these prospects are extremely close and interchangeable.

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

 

15) Greg Pateryn
Last Year: #11
Draft: 2008, 128th overall (5th round) (TOR)
RD | 6’2” 220 | Hamilton Bulldogs(AHL)/Montréal Canadiens (NHL)
AHL: 53GP 3G 12A 15P | NHL: 17GP 0G 0G 0P

pateryn

While struggled to rediscover his offensive groove in the AHL, in the NHL he demonstrated that he was ready for the big league. | Photo: Frederick Breedon, Getty Images

After emerging as an offensive threat at the AHL level, Pateryn’s offence all but dried up this past season. However, his season concluded with a solid NHL showing. Pateryn didn’t progress much this year, and in fact he remains a slow-footed, low-upside prospect.

Defence is the name of Pateryn’s game. He plays a smart, physical brand defensively while being disciplined. Along the boards and around the crease he’s quite aggressive. Although not a regular open-ice hitter, he has the ability to crush players. Off the rush, his lack of footspeed is a major hindrance, but he’s smart enough to balance it out at the AHL level. In sustained pressure scenarios Pateryn’s great at relieving pressure thanks to excellent positioning, but he tends to hammer the puck off the glass too much.

Pateryn’s offence is generated almost entirely from his heavy shot. He is intelligent, keeping his shots low and hard unless the opportunity to arises to blow the puck past the goaltender. He makes a decent outlet pass, but under pressure he has a nasty tendency to make poor, hastened decisions. Although he’s not the fleetest of foot, he possesses the unique ability to continually hold the blue line in a variety of fashions.

Footspeed continues to be Pateryn’s biggest problem. He lacks lateral agility and he often handles the puck poorly in his own zone. For a defensive defender, he cannot make mistakes with his limited touches. However, he’s very much a finished product, nearing NHL-readiness. Next year it’s very possible that he spends the year with Montreal.

Ranking Explanation: I don’t see Pateryn’s upside as being as high as Darren Dietz’s, at least offensively. Dietz’s vision and stickhandling are far more advanced than Pateryn’s, with their shots being about equal. However, Pateryn is on the cusp of becoming a full-time NHLer (Although it’s at least in part by virtue of waivers). It’s tough to see Pateryn as anything more than an average bottom pairing defender, which holds him back from this list, despite his NHL-readiness.

 

14) Daniel Carr
Last Year: #18
Signed as an undrafted free agent (April 24th, 2014)
LW | 6’ 194 | Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL)
Regular: 76GP 24G 15A 39P

Was a more pleasant surprise than Carr this year? Union College's all-time leading scorer was impressive from the season opener this year. | Photo: Jean-Yves Ahern, USA TODAY Sports

Was a more pleasant surprise than Carr this year? Union College’s all-time leading scorer was impressive from the season opener this year. | Photo: Jean-Yves Ahern, USA TODAY Sports

Last year’s NCAA free agent signing paid off big time for the Hamilton Bulldogs this past season. The rookie winger led all AHL rookies in goal and had a tremendous second half, culminating with a 10-goal month of February. Although he struggled with consistency on the scoresheet, he was a constant contributing night in and night out.

Carr continued to demonstrated what he showed at Union College, where he’s the all-time leading scorer. A tremendous goalscorer, Carr is a threat anywhere in the offensive zone. His powerful arsenal of shots (including a ridiculous backhander) allow him to score from long-range and a combination of determination, hand-eye coordination, and positional awareness make him lethal below the hashmarks. A preference for short, quick passes makes him an unspectacular, yet solid playmaker.

Perhaps what makes Carr such an effective player is his hockey sense. He’s an aware, smart player who anticipates the play quite well. Although he’s not the fastest skater or fanciest stickhandler, he always finds ways to beat defenders and remain implicated in the play. Without the puck, Carr’s an effective forechecker and dedicated backchecker. He’s seemingly always in the right position defensively and rarely makes a mistake.

Carr’s unspectacular style of game doesn’t make him a “sexy” prospect, but his talent level place him in the NHL within the next season. He lacks dynamism and has a tendency to be fairly unnoticeable, but he’s a consistent contributor. Carr, already 24, will have to continue to improve his playmaking and skating, but it’s hard to see him taking a significant step up in terms of physical development.

Ranking Explanation: Relatively speaking, I was quite high on Daniel Carr last year. Although his production was around what I expected, his overall play was significantly better. I doubt he has true top-six upside, mainly due to his lack of high-end skills (excepting for shooting) and age. His age is hindrance because he has many areas in which he can significantly improve upon, but the clocking is ticking. Carr’s production and proven history place him quite high on the list. His upside is approximately the same as Bozon (Bozon being a slightly more “standout player,” while Carr having the defensive edge), but is much closer to reaching the NHL, giving him the edge.

 

13) Magnus Nygren
Last Year: #10
Draft: 2011, 113th overall (4th round)
RD | 6’1” 192 | Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL)
Regular: 15GP 4G 6A 10P

The past two years have been frustrating, but there's no denying that Nygren possesses great upside. | Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs

The past two years have been frustrating, but there’s no denying that Nygren possesses great upside. | Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs

It was a shortened and rather estranged season for Nygren, who once again headed back to Sweden and now has a two-year contract with Färjestad. However, Nygren is quite possibly the second most purely skilled defensive prospect the Canadiens own and definitely has top-four upside.

Nygren’s most notable asset is his shot, which has been measured at over 104 mph. It is extremely hard and accurate, accentuated with a crazy one-timer and ability to change his wind-up pattern depending on the angle of the pass. He has an above-average first pass, but his vision is best demonstrated in opposition’s zone.

While Nygren’s defensive game has often be criticized, his improvements last year paid off in his short stint in Hamilton. He’s an aggressive defender (not at all that dissimilar to Dalton Thrower), who loves to punish the opposition with crushing body checks. His gap control is quite good, but in sustained pressure scenarios he has a tendency to chase. However, he’s prone to getting beat out wide and loses too many footraces. He’s certainly lacking in terms of hockey sense, especially in his own zone, which is major issue.

On paper, Nygren looks like he very well could be a solid NHL defender; however, he’s not a cerebral player and his skating (while not bad) isn’t good enough for his style of play.

Ranking Explanation: Keep in mind that Nygren’s off-ice struggles with Hamilton and his contract with Färjestad were NOT considered in this ranking. Nygren is the second most skilled defender in the prospect pool. While there’s no denying that he has tremendous offensive upside, defensively he’s merely okay. Keeping in mind just his ability and performance, Nygren earns a spot higher than the NHL-ready Greg Pateryn. It’s important to remember that Nygren, before the concussion, was arguably the top defender on the ‘Dogs, looked NHL-ready, too.

 

12) Mike Condon
Last Year: #24
Signed as an undrafted free agent (May 28th, 2013)
G | 6’2” 194 | Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL)
Regular: 48GP, 2.44 GAA, .921

Mike Condon's .921 SV% was .011 higher and 2.44 GAA was 0.33 lower than the much more experienced Joey MacDonald's. | Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs

Mike Condon’s .921 SV% was .011 higher and 2.44 GAA was 0.33 lower than the much more experienced Joey MacDonald’s. | Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs

Condon has excelled everywhere has played recently. He was tremendous with Princeton University, dominant with the Wheeling Nailers, and incredible this past season with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Even though Joey MacDonald is the far more experience netminder, he didn’t perform at even half the level Condon did.

The 6’2” netminder’s best asset is his technique. Condon utilizes his angles extremely well. He’s quite disciplined in the sense that he doesn’t wander much and sticks to a simple game. Down low, Condon is absolutely fabulous. He’s rarely beat five hole because of his lightning fast reflexes. His lateral movement is quick and precise—he rarely over moves. However, Condon does drop into the butterfly too early.

Upstairs, Condon is quite as impressive. While he has a quick glove hand, that he keeps open and appropriately positioned, he sometimes struggles to freeze the puck. Blocker side isn’t excellent, but well above-average.

Condon reacts to the play extremely well. He excels at fighting through traffic and tracking the puck. Due to his tremendous positioning Condon rarely has to make a highlight reel stop, but has shown the ability to with great athleticism.

The next goalie to graduate will most likely be Mike Condon, but it really comes down to Dustin Tokarski. Condon will start the year in St. John’s, where he be the team’s undisputed number one goaltender.

Ranking Explanation: Goalies are difficult to predict, but Condon’s looking more and more like a safe bet. He has the size, athleticism, and technique that teams are looking for. Furthermore, he’s been tremendous at every level he’s played at. While it won’t happen in Montreal, Condon could probably become an NHL starter, but maybe not a particularly good one. His upside is around the same as Zach Fucale’s, while he’s much closer to reaching the NHL. His upside, combined with track record and statistics, land him a spot fairly high on the list, but his position holds him back.

 

11) Lukas Vejdemo
Last Year: N/A
Draft: 2015, 87th overall (3rd round)
C | 6’ 194 | Djurgården J20 (SuperElit)
Regular: 34GP 23G 25A 48P | Post: 7GP 4G 2A 6P

Vejdemo led his team to the SuperElit title this year. On the way he earned championship MVP. | Photo: Djurgården Hockey

Vejdemo led his team to the SuperElit title this year. On the way he earned championship MVP. | Photo: Djurgården Hockey

Vejdemo is basically an unknown commodity. He spent the vast majority of 2013-2014 in the J18 Allsvenskan, and followed up by playing in the J20 SuperElit this year. Despite being a second-year eligible, it’s worth mentioning that he missed large chunks of time over the past two season due to injury. He led the SuperElit in points-per-game with 1.41 and was named SuperElit Championship MVP.

Vejdemo is a large, talented centre. He plays a fairly north-south game, not showing any hesitation to drive the net or aid in the backcheck. Despite usually being the best offensive forward on the ice at any given time, he comes back and helps his defenders often. Although intelligent, he could stand to more aggressive to force turnovers in his own zone.

While capable defensively, it’s offence where Vejdemo shines. He loves to lug the puck through the neutral zone with his excellent top-end speed and quick hands, sometimes too much, but typically does it extremely well. He possesses good vision, but prefers short, simple passes. Thanks to his powerful and accurate shot, he’s a long-range threat; however, it’s around the net where he scores most of goals. He’s extremely coordinated and aggressive in puck pursuit, which makes a constant threat around goal. Additionally, he’s a threat off the cycle because he protects the puck so well and takes direct routes to the net. Without the puck in offensive zone his feet are always moving, which makes him hard to defend against.

Vejdemo clearly has a high skill level. He’s an offensive threat around the offensive zone, while being a solid two-way player. Although he looks bigger than his 6’2″ listing, he’s not a physical player at all. He has a tendency to carry the puck for too long, leading to unnecessary turnovers. Despite being quite skilled, he lacks the level of dynamism that most scorers in the NHL possess.

Ranking Explanation: Vejdemo might have been an unknown second-year eligible, but the more I watch him play, the more I’m a believer. The lack of the dynamic gear that most big scorers in the NHL have holds him back on the list. Most of those above him have at least some level of dynamism with a similar or higher skill level. His higher skill level puts him slightly above Daniel Carr, while his two-way game and somewhat safe projection put him above Magnus Nygren and Mike Condon (albeit marginally).

For more on Vejdemo, check out A Look at the Habs 2015 Draft Choices.

Check back soon for prospects ranked #10 to #6! 

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