2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: Ranking Methodology & Honourable Mentions

Welcome to my second annual top 30 prospects here on All About The Habs! This will attempt to explain the methodology behind the rankings, as well as begin the list with honourable mentions.

Series Navigation:
2015 Top 30 Prospects Ranked: 30-26
2015 Top 30 Prospects Ranked: 25-21
2015 Top 30 Prospects Ranked: 20-16
2015 Top 30 Prospects Ranked: 15-11
2015 Top 30 Prospects Ranked: 10-6
2015 Top 30 Prospects Ranked: 5-1
2015 Top 30 Habs Prospects: Prospect Awards & Final Thoughts

Eligibility:

Players who are eligible are aged 25 or under and have played less than a half a season’s worth of games in a single season.

This criteria makes Nathan Beaulieu, Michaël Bournival, and Bud Holloway ineligible. Furthermore, Josiah Didier, as the Habs relinquish his rights on August 15th, 2015, will not be considered for this list (however, he did sign an AHL deal with the IceCaps). The newly-signed Ryan Johnston will be omitted from this list (much like Nikolas Koberstein and Jiri Sekac in last year’s edition) because I have no viewings of the player.

Methodology:

Many of these players are separated by very little. In fact, many of the prospects are so close that I changed my mind multiple times before finally settling.  I’m sure while posting the rest of the list I’ll continue to make minor changes.

Factors considered include:
-Physical tools (skating, stickhandling, shot, size, etc.)
-How a player utilizes these tools (hockey sense, tactical awareness, hockey IQ, etc.)
-The likelihood of a player reaching the NHL (i.e., a prospect’s “floor”)
-The prospect’s upside in the NHL (i.e., a prospect’s “ceiling”)
-Statistics (mainly focused on a player’s relative stats)
-Development curve (bonus points for a prospect trending upwards)
-On-ice motor/work ethic

There’s a heavy emphasis placed on offensive upside, particularly among junior and NCAA players. While the likelihood of a player reaching the NHL is considered, by no means is it a major factor. Basically, I weigh the “ceiling” heavier than the “floor.”

Factors NOT considered:
-Character (who am I to judge?)
-Nationality (an overrated concern…)
-The likelihood of a player “coming overseas” (I have no way of knowing this)
-Off-ice work ethic (I also have no way of knowing this)
-Injury history (1. Just because it happens once doesn’t mean it will happen again, 2. See above brackets)

Necessary Disclaimer: I’m not a scout. I’m not a scout. Also, I’m not a scout. I just watch lots of hockey. 

Honourable Mentions

32) Nikolas Koberstein
Last Year: N/A
Draft: 2014, 125th overall (5th round)
RD | 6’2” 201 | Sioux Falls Stampede/Bloomington Thunder (USHL)
SIO: 30GP 1G 0A 1P | BLO: 31GP 3G 8A 11P

Photo: Vincent Éthier

Photo: Vincent Éthier

Koberstein is now a year removed from being a surprise selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Koberstein made the leap from the AJHL to the USHL this past season, where his play was marred with inconsistency. A trade from Sioux Falls to Bloomington saw Koberstein’s confidence increase.

Koberstein is far from the “goon” or “defensive defender” that many labeled him immediately after the draft. In fact, Koberstein is a fairly steady, unspectacular two-way defender that could use some refining defensively and physically.

Koberstein possesses a fair amount of natural instincts on both ends of the puck. He’s a fairly heady player, as he makes decisions at a reasonable pace while keeping his head up. Occasionally he’ll demonstrate well above-average puck-moving ability, with an excellent pass or rather spectacular end-to-end rush, but those were few and far between this past season. On the powerplay is where he’s probably most effective. His heavy shot allows him to generate chances, but he must work on finding open shooting lanes.

Defensively, Koberstein has a tendency to run around. His sluggish feet hinder his ability to defend of the rush, particularly against speedy forwards that force him to pivot. He aggressively clears the crease and recklessly swings the lumber in the corner, but passes up good opportunities to separate the puck from forwards with his body.

Koberstein is a long-term project. He has some decent tools, but the hope is that when he leaves the WCHA’s Alaska Nanooks program that those tools evolved and new ones emerged.

Ranking Explanation: Koberstein needs an immense amount of refinement. Although he does possess upside, maybe not at the NHL upside but as a professional player, he is quite far away from reaching it. His rawness and lack of apparent upside at this point in time prevent him from breaking into the top 30.

 

31) Hayden Hawkey
Last Year: #27
Draft: 2014, 177th overall (6th round)
G | 6’2” 174 | Omaha Lancers (USHL)
Regular: 15GP, 2.99 GAA, .896 SV%

Photo: USHL.com

Photo: USHL.com

It wasn’t an easy year for Hawkey. Hawkey regressed after his 2013-2014 USHL Goaltender of the Year award and also blew out his knee limiting his season to just 15 games. His SV% dropped by .30%, while his GAA average increase by exactly one goal.

Hawkey’s game is all about athleticism. He lives and dies by it. Lateral movement and down low play are both well above-average. His quick lower-body allows him to make stops in succession, which is valuable because of his below-average rebound control.

Hawkey continues to trend of calm and composed goaltenders in the Canadiens organization. He rarely seems phased and bounces back in a hurry. Although he has a solid glove hand, he needs to work on freezing the puck, along with shutting the door on the blocker side.

The 20-year-old goaltender will head to Providence College next season, where he could immediately step in as the starting netminder. Nick Ellis, Jon Gillies’ backup, has played just 12 games in his two-year NCAA career.

Ranking Explanation: Last year I felt that Hawkey was one of the most difficult prospects to rank; this year he very well might’ve been the hardest. There’s a ridiculous inconsistency in projecting goaltenders, and with Hawkey having one dominant year followed by one shortened, horrid season, it becomes even harder. He’s a tremendous athlete, but he lacks a strong technical game. If he emerges as Providence’s #1, he could propel himself up the list.

Check back soon for prospects ranked 30-26!

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