2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #10-#6

Welcome back to Mitch Brown’s 2016 top 30 Habs prospects. This installment begins the strongest top-10 I’ve seen since I started three years ago.

This segment features five quality prospects, including two who have already seen extensive time in the NHL. One of the prospect pool’s most flashy players also makes an appearance, along with a 2016 third round draft choice. The fifth player on the list saw his production take a major tumble, but his overall play improve.

The top 7 begins an important tier, featuring seven players who I believe are top-six or top-four candidates without requiring a significant development in their toolkit.

Series Navigation:
2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: Ranking Methodology
2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #30-#26
2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #25-#21
2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #20-#16
2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #15-#11
2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #10-#6
2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #5-#1
2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: Prospect Awards and Parting Thoughts

CHL/AHL statistics courtesy of Prospect-stats.com. NHL Statistics courtesy of Corsica.Hockey and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.

 

#10) Jacob de la Rose
Last Ranking: 4th
Draft: 2013, 34th, 2nd round
Position: LW/C | Shoots: L
Birthdate: 1995-05-20 | Place of Birth: Arvika, SWE
Team: St. John’s IceCaps/Montréal Canadiens | League: AHL/NHL
Height: 6’2” | Weight: 214

GPGAPPrim. PP/GPPrim. P/GPSOGSH%SOG/GP
AHL34771490.4120.2655412.9631.588
NHL2201110.0450.045200.0%0.909
 | Photo: Colin Peddle, St. John's IceCaps

In the rare instances that Jacob de la Rose has played in his own age group, he has been a quality scorer. | Photo: Colin Peddle, St. John’s IceCaps

The statistics aren’t flattering, and in fact his North American professional career thus far has been underwhelming. This season, he was far and away the worst possession forward on Canadiens.

Just as I was starting to doubt de la Rose’s offensive potential shown throughout his extensive international play (including three U20 WJC), his strong finish in the AHL rekindled my suspicions.

Jacob de la Rose

 

Overview: A immediately noticeable 200-foot forwards thanks to his smooth, upright stride and 55+ skating ability…Smarts are well above-average, but puck skills ranging from 45+ (stickhandling) to 40+ (shooting) limit him.

De la Rose’s smarts allow him to make plays across the ice. A capable defensive player who has already found the appropriate balance between anticipation and aggression. He’s not overtly physical, but has strength and awareness beyond his years to win battles. An intense forechecker, de la Rose creates havoc across the offensive zone to quickly regain possession.

Offensively, de la Rose is quite the conundrum. He takes sniper’s positioning in open ice, but lacks release speed and accuracy to utilize these smarts. Sometimes he’s weighed down with tunnel vision, other times he pulls off passes that only high-end playmakers can. Too often he passes up opportunities for “safe plays” that result in changing possession, which in turn lead to him defending more often.

Confidence in his stickhandling ability has all but disappeared, as he was previously an effective carrier at top speed. Now he just attempts to blow past players without much creativity involved.

At the tail-end of his AHL season, de la Rose was hammering pucks at goaltenders and creating chances across the ice. There’s no doubt that de la Rose has skill, it’s perhaps locked away because he has been forced into playing mistake-free hockey at the men’s level since the age of 16. At just 21, de la Rose has time to develop.

Ranking Explanation: Although his defensive play in the NHL has been second-rate, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt considering his age, situation, and my belief that he is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. His dramatic drops in my rankings is mostly the result of the improvement of others. Jake Evans, Lukas Vejdemo, Martin Reway, de la Rose, and Daniel Carr are all basically interchangeable in my mind.

 

#9) Martin Reway
Last Ranking: 9th
Draft: 2013, 116th, 4th round
Position: LW/C | Shoots: L
Birthdate: 1995-01-24 | Place of Birth: Praha, CZE
Team: HC Sparta Praha/HC Fribourg-Gottéron | League: Czech Extraliga/NLA
Height: 5’9” | Weight: 170

GPGAPPrim. PP/GPPrim. P/GPSOGSH%SOG/GP
Czech Extraliga1451015121.0710.8571921.05%1.36
NLA1981321181.1050.9473522.86%1.667
 | Photo: Fribourg-Gotteron

Martin Reway has streamlined his erratic offensive game with a more straightforward approach since joining the professional hockey ranks two seasons ago.  | Photo: Fribourg-Gotteron

One of the most intriguing prospects in the organization. Martin Reway is a skilled forward with plenty of flash. This season saw Reway take a much needed step in the Czech Extraliga, but soon made the jump to the NLA. At the World Championship, he was expected to be a key part of the team, but struggled.

Reway improved his ES-PP splits this season, after a 2014-2015 season that saw him exclusively produce on the powerplay. His primary points this season were also very impressive, although inflated shooting percentages certainly had an impact.

Martin Reway

Overview: Highly-skilled and flashy winger with wildly inconsistent contributions…Projects as a 65 stickhandler, but decision-making and defensive play both lack severely…50+ skater…45 shooter.

There’s no denying Reway’s skill level. His stickhandling prowess (in both one-on-one and through traffic) alone makes him an offensive threat. What he lacks in separation speed, he makes up for with rapid and strong edge work that adds another dimension to his slipperiness.

Reway is best as a passer, although I hesitate to call him a true “distributor.” There’s no denying his vision, as he can find players with high-skill passes, and on the powerplay he takes it to the next level. However, he doesn’t consistently distribute the puck, and in fact spends far too much time trying to make highlight-reel plays off his own stick instead of taking more effective routes. The wider ice allows Reway to rely heavily on a “peel-off” move to the boards with space he wouldn’t get on an NHL-sized rink.

Not a particularly great finisher, Reway’s shot power is underwhelming. He has shown the abilty to pick corners, but he doesn’t have the awareness/positioning or shot to be a real goalscoring threat. Most proficient on breakaways.

I’ve begun to shift my views of Reway’s without-the-puck play. Unlike other offence-first players in the pool, he doesn’t spend a majority of his time in the offensive zone, and he commits an abnormal amount of turnovers. However, he racks up the takeaways through anticipation and good timing. Cutting down on the turnovers would result in a large uptick in offensive, and subsequently, defensive prowess.

Simply put, Reway is a talented player with an underrated defensive component to his game; however, with the puck he’s hit-or-miss. Sometimes possession turns into scoring chances, but too often it’s a wasted opportunity. As he makes the jump to North American professional hockey this season, his upside will become more apparent. If his puck distribution improves, he could be a top-six scorer, but I have my doubts that required progression can be made.

Ranking Explanation: It’s important to keep in mind that I was unable to find any NLA streams this season. Ultimately, I was uncomfortable shifting Reway’s ranking dramatically because of my lack of NLA viewings. While skilled, skillful plays (i.e., plays of high-difficulty that result in scoring chances for) are not routine for Reway. His skill and scoring résumé are both the best on the list to this point, but I can’t help but shake the countless problems.

 

#8) Daniel Carr
Last Ranking: 14th
Draft: 2010 undrafted, free agent signing
Position: LW/RW | Shoots: L
Birthdate: 1991-11-01 | Place of Birth: Sherwood Park, AB
Team: St. John’s IceCaps/Montréal Canadiens | League: AHL/NHL
Height: 6’0” | Weight: 192

GPGAPPrim. PP/GPPrim. P/GPSOGSH%SOG/GP
AHL24101121160.8750.6676615.152%2.75
NHL2363960.3910.2603915.4%1.696
 | Photo: James Guillory, USA-TODAY Sports

2014-15’s AHL leading goalscorer among rookies was the best IceCap in his 24 games this season, and followed it up with a strong run in the NHL. | Photo: James Guillory, USA-TODAY Sports

First game. First shift. First shot. First goal. That moment set the stage for Daniel Carr’s rapid ascent to a fan favourite in Montreal. If it weren’t for an unfortunate injury, Carr wouldn’t even be eligible for this list. Carr is an NHL’er. No doubt about it.

Daniel Carr

Overview: A true exploiter of space…Carr’s smarts allow him to find soft spots in high-danger areas…Roughly average in all facets…50+ shooting, 45+ stickhandling, 50 skating, 45 playmaking, 55 defensive play.

The typical Carr shift goes something like this: Skate until regaining possession, set up shop in front of the net, constant movement until locating seam, then get a chance.

With a fast release on both his snap and backhand, along with soft hands and great patience, Carr finishes at a decent rate. He’s a highly intelligent player who constantly finds soft spots without taking much punishment, a rare trait for a net front presence.

Without the puck, Carr demonstrates solid value. His awareness and anticipation allow him to create turnovers on both the forecheck and backcheck. He’s too reliant on dump-ins, and will sometimes pigeon-hole himself with the puck, but for the most part he makes smart decisions. Furthermore, his impact on possession with the Canadiens, albeit in a small sample, is too substantial to ignore.

Carr’s game lacks one-on-one moves, separation speed, and high-skill passes, but he always remains implicated in the play. He understands his limitations, and thus plays the best version of game that he can. He will be an NHL forward next season.

Ranking Explanation: I am convinced that Carr will be an NHL regular, but whether or not a play can play in the NHL isn’t a focal point of this list. Prospects ranked #12-#9 all have the same or slightly superior upside, but Carr is closer to making the NHL, giving him the slim edge. After Carr begins the top-7, which consists of the only seven players I believe can make the NHL as quality scorers given their CURRENT toolkits.

 

#7) Will Bitten
Last Ranking: N/R
Draft: 2016, 70th, 3rd round
Position: RW/C | Shoots: R
Birthdate: 1998-07-10 | Place of Birth: Gloucester, ON
Team: Flint Firebirds | League: OHL
Height: 5’10” | Weight: 168

GPGAPPrim. P.P/GPPrim. P/GPSOGSH%SOG/GP
67303565500.970.74614620.548%2.179
A bright spot on the disastrous Flint Firebirds inangural season, Will Bitten's tenacity, speed, and skill won't last long if he makes it to Day Two. | Photo: Jake May, MLive.com

A bright spot on the disastrous Flint Firebirds inangural season, Will Bitten’s tenacity, speed, and skill could make him a quality NHLer in the not-so-distant future. | Photo: Jake May, MLive.com

The heart and soul of the Flint Firebirds during the franchise’s disastrous inaugural season, Will Bitten single-handedly won them games this season. A smidgen below a point-per-game, but was one of the OHL’s top draft eligible even-strength primary point producers.

will bitten stuff chart es prod

Overview: Turbocharged forward who could become an all-around scorer in the NHL with 55+ skating (60+ acceleration, 50+ agility), 55 playmaking, 55 stickhandling, and 50 shooting…Defensive play also scores well.

Bitten’s intelligent positioning and short explosive steps makes him a lock for a breakaway per game. Add in economical, quick hands and a deceptive hands-in-front release point and Bitten can finish on these opportunities with regularity. A power deficiency handicaps Bitten’s ability as a long and even medium-range scorer.

A playmaker by trade, Bitten can dish in situations and in any position. His saucer pass is deadly, but his ability to exploit the tiniest of spaces to fire a tape-to-tape is even better. However, he’s not a true lane creator, and has a tendency to force passes.

Bitten is a capable defensive player at both right wing and centre. His energetic style never wavers, which makes him a constant puck hound. Despite his light weight, he’s a physical player who can run over players, but most importantly wins battles and fights through checks.

Perhaps Bitten isn’t quite as creative or flashy as other highly-skilled sub-6’ players, but he’s incredibly effective. Although he rarely makes scoring chances out of thin air like others, he’s an exploitative threat who makes plays everywhere (give him an inch, and he will take you a mile).

Bitten lacks a true standout physical tool, but he has the ability to become one of the top OHLers as soon as next season. In the future, he could become a second line forward or luxury third liner.

Ranking Explanation: Considering Bitten’s diverse skillset and quality execution, he is the first player that I believe could become a top-6 forward or top-4 defender (in a scoring role) without needing a significant change in their toolkit. This distinction is important, as gradual progression is expected, while significant leaps are uncommon. Bitten shares similarities with Charles Hudon, except in turbocharged form. While I see Hudon and Bitten’s upsides as similar, Hudon’s substantially better résumé gives him the edge.

 

#6) Noah Juulsen
Last Ranking: 2nd
Draft: 2015, 26th, 1st round
Position: D | Shoots: R
Birthdate: 1997-04-02 | Place of Birth: Abbotsford
Team: Everett Silvertips | League: WHL
Height: 6’2” | Weight: 185

GPGAPPrim. PP/GPPrim. P/GPSOGSH%SOG/GP
63715628220.4440.349N/AN/AN/A
 | Photo: Everett Silvertips

When the ‘Tips #1 defender went down with injury in round two versus Seattle, it all sealed their fate. | Photo: Everett Silvertips

On the surface, this was a year of regression for Noah Juulsen. The point total was undeniably disappointing, but his even-strength primary points remained constant, while his secondary assists and powerplay production dropped. The drop in secondary and PP points can, at least in part, be explained by his weaker supporting cast and increased role.

Noah Juulsen

Overview: A fast-pace defender who brings consistency and stability…55 skater, 55+ defensive play, 55 shooter…Breakout pass could be 55+, offensive zone vision is trails considerably behind at 50.

The integral gear on the controlled breakout machine that was the Everett Silvertips this season. Although end-to-end rushes aren’t common, Juulsen still makes them look easy. He’s a true transitional defender who locates his passing options rapidly

To be highly-effective in the transition, a defender must be able to de-possess and win battles. Juulsen fits the description, and brings with it a desire for destruction via shoulder. He’s powerful and strong, allowing him to win battles; while his anticipation puts him in the right places for interceptions.

The biggest flaw in Juulsen’s defensive game, and one that could jeopardize his NHL future altogether: Slot coverage. The proactive style that he plays everywhere else becomes reactive in the from hashmarks and down, and he gets burned for it regularly.

In the offensive zone, Juulsen is often relegated to a booming shot. It became increasingly clear to me that the ‘Tips’ blue liners are given two options: fire a puck towards goal or in the corner. Juulsen doesn’t consistently create his own shooting lanes, despite having the necessary combination of agility and stickhandling to do so. The risk-averse ‘Tips style also limits Juulsen to moving pucks along the perimeter, rather than through traffic (despite showing the ability to do so).

Juulsen is unlikely to be a top-pairing defender, but he projects nicely as a middle-pairing defender. Juulsen has never been truly dynamic from the back-end, but he has more offence to give. Perhaps not a true defensive or offensive stalwart, rather a quality all-around defender who orchestrates the breakout with his vision.

Ranking Explanation: It was tough to put Juulsen at sixth, but it’s a testament to the strong performances of those above him. Juulsen’s projection (#3 defenceman) gives him the highest upside among defenders (and of any player) to this point.

 

Check back Sunday for prospects ranked #5-#1!

NOTES:

  1. This list, just like every other installment, is for entertainment purposes only. The information in each prospect profile is far more valuable than the actual ranking.
  2. The information is always “in my opinion.”
  3. I am neither a professional scout nor an amateur scout. In fact, I hesitate to use the word scout at all. (I’m an amateur amateur scout, I guess). Watching the future of the NHL is my passion, not my job.
  4. Feel free to send me your questions, comments, concerns, or complaints in the comments, on twitter (@MitchLBrown) or email (mitchbrown31@gmail.com). Or just tell me I suck. I don’t care.
Share Button

12 Responses to 2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #10-#6

  1. The era of Trevor Timmins has to end soon, how can he get such praise when out 3rd and 4th lines will be players from other teams, ie Mitchell, Flynn, Shaw, Danault, Farnham etc..He has drafted for the Habs for 12 years and he cannot produce decent third and fourth line players. Terrible.

    DocketRocket July 28, 2016 at 6:33 pm Reply
    • LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

      PK July 29, 2016 at 12:48 pm Reply
    • Please tell me this is sarcasm…

      Caleb July 29, 2016 at 12:50 pm Reply
    • DocRoc….All the 3rd and 4th liners are with other teams.

      zak July 29, 2016 at 1:15 pm Reply
  2. I totally agree with Docket there, not one of our own draft picks on our third and fourth lines is kinda embarrassing.

    Ken July 30, 2016 at 6:08 pm Reply
  3. Montreal’s top 6 of Plekanec, Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Radulov, Pacioretty and Desharnais is sad, and no Stanley Cups in almost 24 years is the pROOF.

    Caleb July 30, 2016 at 6:10 pm Reply
    • I like how you pretended to be the first Caleb… We can see e-mails used you know.

      Michael Gomez July 31, 2016 at 1:01 pm Reply
  4. Timmins picks Jarred Tinordi, Leblanc.Kristo, David Fischer, Kostitsyn, Chipchura, some of our top picks in the Timmins era are a joke, Missed out on Getzlaf, Perry, Giroux, the list goes on. He is a very overrated scouting director.

    PK July 30, 2016 at 6:27 pm Reply
  5. Trevor Timmins time in Montreal, like Bergevin and Michel Therrien is about up, this year is a make or break for all three.

    Sandy July 30, 2016 at 6:29 pm Reply
    • 1. Timmins was extended
      2. Kind of weird you respond to yourself using different names but same e-mail

      Michael Gomez July 31, 2016 at 1:06 pm Reply
  6. Hey Sandy, what are you wearing right now??

    Caleb July 30, 2016 at 7:46 pm Reply
  7. Jacob de la Rose, Wrahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    DocketRocket July 30, 2016 at 9:32 pm Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

12 + 8 =

Habs Acquire Keegan Lowe in Trade with Carolina

With the 2017 National Hockey League (NHL) trade deadline being a week from Wednesday, the trades are beginning to pick up. The Montreal Canadiens have acquired Keegan Lowe from the Carolina Hurricanes. Heading down south of the border to the Hurricanes organization is Philip Samuelsson. Keegan Lowe Position: Defence (Left Shot) Age: 23 Birthplace: Greenwich, CT, […]

Share Button

JOIN THE CONVERSATION