2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #30-26

Welcome back to my second annual top 30 Habs prospects. This is real beginning of the list, featuring the first five prospects in the top 30. This grouping features two grinders, a pair of two-way defenders, and a highly-skilled player who hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Series Navigation:
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: Ranking Methodology and Honourable Mentions
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #30-26
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #26-21
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

 

30) Connor Crisp
Last Year: #22
Draft: 2013, 71st overall (3rd round)
LW | 6’4” 225 | Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL)
Regular: 39GP 2G 3A 5P

Photo: AM900 CHML

After a solid seven game stint in 2013-2014, Crisp struggled for much of his first full AHL season. | Photo: AM900 CHML

If Koberstein was the surprise selection of 2014 (and Vejdemo the surprise selection of 2015), then Crisp was the one of 2013. Crisp’s 2013-2014 campaign gave some hope to Habs fans. He improved to the point where on any given night he was among the best players on the ice, demonstrated above-average skill, and emerged as a solid two-way player. This year, Crisp battled injury once again and when he made it into the lineup, he struggled to create anything but fights.

Going back to Minor Midget AAA, Crisp’s biggest problem has been his inconsistency. He has skill, and always has. He’s a surprising good stickhandler, especially in tight areas. He has a decent level of offensive creativity and a cannon of a shot. His hand-eye coordination, particularly his redirection ability is among the best in the prospect pool. But he simply doesn’t utilize this skill enough, and the number of games in which he showed skill this past season can be counted on one hand.

Crisp is a tough customer. He can play the game hard, but he doesn’t apply himself in the correct manner. He’s quite undisciplined, mainly due to laziness. He has the ability to lay destructive open ice hits (ask Sergei Tolchinsky), but too often he prefers aimless pokes at the puck instead of engaging himself. But the worst aspect is that when Crisp is looking to fight, he completely removes himself from playing a skill game.

Crisp’s feet continue to be problematic, but he’s not your typical “grinder.” His skill level is much higher than most players who fill that role, but he simply struggles to put it together. Furthermore, he lacks hockey sense and a consistent competitive fire. Sometimes, there are games (see: Feb. 18 vs. Rochester) where it all comes together, but those happened so rarely.

Ranking Explanation: Although Crisp’s package of skills might very well be more enticing than those above him his inconsistency holds him back. Crisp’s issues are mostly mental, not physical, and have plagued him for years, which isn’t particularly encouraging. Although his physical tools are better than Addison’s, Addison’s better motor and skating make him a better candidate to be a fourth-line grinder type than Crisp.

 

29) Jeremiah Addison
Last Year: N/R
Draft: 2015, 207th overall (7th round)
LW | 6’ 183 | Ottawa 67s (OHL)
Regular: 63GP 19G 28A 47P | Post: 6GP 6G 4A 10P

After posting just 33 points in his first two OHL seasons, Addison tallied a very respectable 47 points, good for third in team scoring. | Photo: Terry Wilson, OHL Images

After posting just 33 points in his first two OHL seasons, Addison tallied a very respectable 47 points, good for third in team scoring. | Photo: Terry Wilson, OHL Images

Addison, a top pick in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection, finally broke out this past season. Addison finished third in team scoring, while improving his rugged two-way game. The Brampton, ON native capped on the season with a dominant series against Niagara in the OHL playoffs.

Addison is a grinder through and through. He works for every inch of ice he gets, is willing to battle it out for loose pucks, and loves to play the body. Utilizing his powerful skating stride he’s able to effectively forecheck and step into defenders. He’s excellent along the boards and around the net, where he’s hard to move. The robust winger is also an intelligent defensive player, who competes really hard, especially on the backcheck.

Apart from the odd flash here or there Addison seemed almost devoid of offensive ability. However, he’s made noticeable improvements in that regard, specifically in terms of shooting and puck control. The puck comes flying off his stick quickly and hard; however, it’s quite erratic. Rarely does Addison beat a defender one-on-one with a nice move, but in tight areas (such as around the boards or crease) his hands are good. His passing game has fallen behind the rest of his game. He is a heads up type player, but his passing mechanics need quite a bit of work.

There’s most likely not much upside with Addison. He’s a warrior with a tremendous compete level and above-average shot; however, he skill set is limited. Although he has progressed significantly, his upwards development needs another massive leap forward.

Ranking Explanation: I feel like this one could bite me on next year’s list. He’s a tremendous competitor with plus skating ability, which makes a better candidate to fill the role of grinder than Connor Crisp or Stefan Fournier. The fact that his offensive ability is limited to his shot is what prevents him from climbing the list.

For a more detailed read on Addison, check out “A Look at the Habs 2015 Draft Choices.”

 

28) Simon Bourque
Last Year: N/R
Draft: 2015, 177th overall (6th round)
LD | 6’ 185 | Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
Regular: 68GP 10G 28A 38P | Post: 17GP 1G 4A 5P

Bourque emerged as an excellent defender this past season, as he formed a formidable shutdown duo with Jan Kostalek. | Photo: Getty Images

Bourque emerged as an excellent defender this past season, as he formed a formidable shutdown duo with Jan Kostalek. | Photo: Getty Images

After a solid rookie season, Bourque’s development leaped forward with the QMJHL champions, the Rimouski Océanic. Bourque quickly shot up the Rimouski depth chart, finding himself as half of quite possibly the best shutdown pair in the QMJHL with Jan Kostalek.

A trend is emerging with these draft picks: Hockey sense is all of their greatest asset. Bourque is no different. Bourque is a steady, two-way defender who works hard every shift. Utilizing an active stick and above-average four-way mobility he is able to defend quite well off the rush. His excellent stop and starts combined with his smarts and competitiveness make him quite effective at relieving sustained pressure.

Bourque has some upside offensively, too. He’s a capable powerplay quarterback, as he loves to move the puck and demonstrates a fair amount of creativity while doing so. However, his shot isn’t particularly notable. It’s his ability to move the puck from his own zone that really stands out. His breakout preference is his crisp, accurate breakout pass, but he won’t hesitate to rush the puck if need be.

There’s certainly talent here, but as expected for a sixth rounder, Bourque lacks upside. He’s intelligent, but none of his physical tools notably stand out. While he’s quite consistently good, he rarely has a game where he’s the most noticeable defender.

Ranking Explanation: Here’s another player that I feel could be a tremendous riser. However, I can’t justify having him over Ellis, who might have been a slightly worse prospect in his draft year, but reached a level in his Draft+2 year (QMJHL Top Defensive Defender, Near PPG-Pace, Dominant Playoffs + Memorial Cup) that is probably Bourque’s upside in the Q. Bourque is a better skater than Ellis, but lacks Ellis’s shot, which is the best offensive asset from either player.

For a more detailed read on Bourque, check out “A Look at the Habs 2015 Draft Choices.”

 

27) Morgan Ellis
Last Year: #26
Draft: 2010, 117th overall (4th round)
RD | 6’1” 196 | Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL)/Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)
AHL: 27GP 3G 6A 9P | ECHL: 39GP 13G 13A 26P

Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs

Although Ellis was a regular last year, a stint with the Wheeling Nailers this year might’ve been the best thing to happen to him. | Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs

With the additions of Bryan Allen, Mac Bennett, Joe Finley (unfortunately), and Magnus Nygren (briefly), Morgan Ellis was the odd man out in Hamilton. The defender was sent down to the ECHL for more than half of the season. He racked up 26 points and over 100 shots, regaining his offensive confidence. Although it at first extended into the AHL during his stint toward the end of the season, he cooled off.

First and foremost, Ellis is a defence-first defender. He’s effective in all situations, as he plays smart positional hockey. Although at the AHL level he’s mostly been an off-the-glass-and-out type, he has demonstrated the ability to connect with quality outlet passes. He’s not particularly physically assertive, but can through his weight around when necessary.

Ellis’s best offensive asset is by far his shot. His shot is an absolute howitzer, and it’s quite accurate. However, his heavy feet prevent him from consistently finding open shooting lanes. He could stand to be more aggressive offensively, especially considering good things typically happen when he joins the rush.

Ellis has some decent tools, but he simply looks slow out there. As mentioned, he possesses heavy feet, which hinder his ability to defend off the rush, and his decision-making isn’t yet good enough to make up for it. Furthermore, he lacks the talent to be a true puck-mover/rusher, and doesn’t play with much of an edge. Next season needs to be a big one.

Ranking Explanation: Ellis continues to be a frustrating player. It seems so long ago that he was a dominant QMJHLer. However, his tools are clearly still there, merely appearing at sporadic intervals. His better junior career and shot pushes him above Simon Bourque and Nikolas Koberstein, but his lack of apparent upside prevents him from being any higher.

 

26) Dalton Thrower
Last Year: #21
Draft: 2012, 51st overall (2nd round)
RD | 6’0” 196 | Brampton Beast (ECHL)
Regular: 37GP 3G 3A 6P

Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs

More was definitely expected of Thrower in the ECHL this year, especially after his tremendous 2013-2014 campaign. | Photo: Hamilton Bulldogs

It seems like every other year Thrower struggles. Thrower followed up a breakout 2011-2012 campaign with quite possibly the worst post draft+1 year I’ve seen from a Habs prospect in years. He bounced back with a fabulous overage season. This past year, Thrower was ECHL fodder, where for a much of the season he struggled.

Thrower isn’t your typical defender: His skill level would be impressive for a forward, let alone a defender. He has a filthy set of mitts–he can dangle through teams like a warm knife through butter. He owns an absolute howitzer of a shot (slap and wrist), though his accuracy is quite lacking. His vision is a bit lacking, but he has good passing technique.

Defensively, Thrower’s game is all about the rough stuff. He loves to lower the boom, sometimes too much. He’s quite undisciplined with his stick, but that characteristic has helped give him a mean streak. However, he runs around far too often. His backwards skating, which improved in his final WHL season, was exposed once against in the ECHL. His pivots continued to be problematic, which is especially frustrating considering his above-average top-end speed.

Thrower has quite the package of skills. He’s a high -ctane player with a highlight reel that many highly-skilled forwards can’t match, but there’s not much to him than that. His lack of hockey sense really hinders him. But there’s one thing giving me a shard of hope: He’s almost entirely eliminated the laziness on the ice, and that could go a long way.

Ranking Explanation: Although Thrower hasn’t been nearly consistent enough to puncture the top-10 of this list in recent years, his skill level very well may be among the best. Overall, Thrower’s biggest issue is poor development curve and lack of hockey sense. His tools are significantly better than Simon Bourque and Morgan Ellis.

Check back soon for prospects ranked #25-21! 

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6 Responses to 2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #30-26

  1. Seriously?! No Daniel Carr?!

    Montana Dunn July 21, 2015 at 9:12 pm Reply
    • Have patience. Daniel Carr is too good to be put at #30-26. He will probably be at least in the top 10 if not top 5.

      Jeff July 22, 2015 at 1:17 pm Reply
      • Awesome! I will have patience. I’ve just been so used to seeing him not even make the ratings through college. He’s almost always underrated. Good to see that its changing!

        Montana Dunn July 22, 2015 at 1:19 pm Reply
        • Obviously there are no guarantees for his placement (I don’t run this site). However with all the buzz his 24 goals created this past year in the AHL, I can’t imagine he would be ranked anywhere out of the top 10 (at least). Also among the prospects he projects to being one of the more NHL ready as he has already played a full year in the AHL and being a college grad he is a bit older and more mature. I am betting though that Nikita Scherback will probably come out as # 1.

          Jeff July 23, 2015 at 2:59 am Reply
          • Oh yeah I understand that. And I’ll bet you’re right about Nikita. Just before the season began, everyone was saying Connor Crisp was the better of the two. I watched Daniel all through his college career and he has always been one heck of a hard working player!

            Montana Dunn July 23, 2015 at 9:07 am
  2. Hey Jeff, great article so far! When are no.’s 26-21 coming out?

    Samuel Slowinski July 23, 2015 at 11:50 am Reply

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