2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: Prospect Awards & Parting Thoughts

Welcome to the final segment of Mitch Brown’s top 30 Habs prospects. This wraps up this year’s edition with some parting thoughts on the rankings and the prospect awards.

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

The Tiered List

The most important bits of information in this series are the individual prospect profiles. The ranking itself is a method of organizing these profiles.

The “list” shouldn’t be looked at as simply as #1 > #2 > #3 >#4 > #5, etc. It should be looked at as a group of similarly talented hockey players that are interchangeable. As a result, I believe that a tiered list is the most effective way to rank these prospects.

But first, I want to make a quick note on why I value upside and how these rankings are formulated. This list only somewhat reflects NHL-readiness, and that’s intentional. I see far more value in projecting these players 5, 10, 15, and 20+ years down the line than I do in ranking them based on who will get called up first. Analyzing in the long-run combines talent, luck, and lengthy research, and therefore I use these lists as way to improve my ability.

As time moves forward, upside and likeliness of reaching it becomes more apparent. I am the progressive type, and do not like to get stuck in the past. Just because a player has a longer track record or higher draft position doesn’t mean that I will perceive that player as having greater upside than one with a shorter record and lower draft position.

I’m not particularly concerned what a player’s “floor” is (which is a difficult subject in itself), and therefore NHL-likeliness is merely used as a secondary factor for distinguishing the difference between players with similar upside. What I perceive as upside is the primary factor used in this list, and the primary factor in establishing the “tiers” of prospects.

Without further ado, here’s the tiered list, sorted by colour:

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 10.56.13 AM

Tier #30-#25 consists of low-upside (i.e. fourth line/depth forwards) prospect or very long-term projects. Max Friberg has a better track record than many prospects on this list, but he’s most likely an NHL depth forward at best. All the players after that still have extensive time to develop and become better, worse, or the same as Friberg.

Tier #24-#21 is all bottom-pairing defenders or most likely fourth line players, IF they make the NHL. Tim Bozon is an exception to this, but he’s clearly far off from reaching his upside as a fringe third line player. Meanwhile, Stefan Matteau has accomplish much in the NHL (relative to most prospects), but projects as a fourth liner.

Tier #20-#19 is a two-player group featuring two decently talented prospects, but with volatile projections. Michael McNiven was inconsistent and needs serious developmental time, whereas Daniel Audette has failed to improve throughout his junior career to the point where I would consider him a lesser prospect now than at draft time.

Tier #18-#14 seeing potential fringe second pairing defenders (#4-#5) and fringe third liners, all of which require significant improvement in one, or more area(s) to reach that upside. Zach Fucale has lower-end starting potential, but goaltenders are harder to project, and the past two seasons have been below replacement level.

Tier #13-#9 is a closely ranked, yet clearly defined tier of third-line upsides. These forwards–Martin Reway, Jacob de la Rose, Lukas Vejdemo, and Jake Evans–have second-line or fringe second-line equivalent tools, but other aspects require unexpected and substantial improvement for them to reach that upside. For example, Evans and Vejdemo need to improve their shots, while Reway needs to create more chances. What separates these forwards is their scoring prowess in their leagues: Reway has a fantastic track record, which drops significantly once reaching de la Rose, and then slowly the track records lessen.

Tier #8 is the Daniel Carr tier. Carr’s upside falls into the lower-end of tier #13-#9 (below Reway), but the fact that he is essentially an NHLer plants him in a tier of his own.

Tier #7-6 begins the important group of prospects that have second-line (or greater in one case) or legitimate top-four upside without requiring unexpected and substantial improvement to reach it. That does not mean that they will become second-liners if they make the NHL, rather that they already have the necessary equivalent tools that could reach the top-six level IF expected development occurs (which isn’t always the case).

Tier #5-#2 continues the trend started with tier #7-#6, but brings with it players with lengthier track records and more projectable NHL-level tools. It is NOT a coincidence that these four players are all professional hockey players, while tier #7-#6 consists of junior players. This tier is extremely close, and I made legitimate arguments for each player to be over one another.

Tier #1: The Mikhail Sergachev tier. The only player with legitimate top-two defender upside/first-line upside with a decent shot at reaching it.


Prospect Awards

Just like year’s previous, these segment is merely for fun (like everything here!). The difference between these prospects is extremely thin, and cross-comparing leagues is difficult.

Shooting-Related Awards

Best Wrist Shot (Awarded to the prospect that demonstrates the best combination of accuracy, power, and quickness with the wrist shot.)

1. Artturi Lehkonen
HM: Charles Hudon

Best Snap Shot (Awarded to the prospect that demonstrates the best combination of accuracy, power, and quickness with the snap shot.)

1. Artturi Lehkonen
HM: Mikhail Sergachev

Best Slap Shot (Awarded to the prospect that demonstrates the best combination of accuracy, power, and quickness with the slap shot.)

1. Mikhail Sergachev
HM: Charles Hudon, Noah Juulsen

Best One-Timer (Awarded to the prospect that demonstrates the best combination of accuracy, power, and quickness with the one-timer.)

1. Mikhail Sergachev
HM: Charles Hudon, Noah Juulsen


Skating-Related Awards

Best Edge Work (Awarded to the prospect with the best agility.)

1. Victor Mete
HM: Martin Reway, Mikhail Sergachev

Fastest Skater (Awarded to the prospect with the most effective top-end speed.)

1. Victor Mete
HM: Will Bitten, Mark MacMillan, Mikhail Sergachev

Best Overall Skater (Awarded to the prospect that combines acceleration, agility, four-way mobility, top-end speed, and technique the most effectively.)

1. Victor Mete
HM: Mikhail Sergachev


Passing-Related Awards

Best Outlet Pass (Awarded to the defender with the most effective outlet pass from their own zone.)

1. Mikhail Sergachev
HM: Noah Juulsen, Tom Parisi

Best Saucer Pass (Awarded to the prospect with the most effective saucer pass.)

1. Nikita Scherbak
HM: Charles Hudon, Will Bitten

Best Playmaker (Awarded to the prospect that most effectively combines vision, intelligence, technique, and efficiency in regards to passing.)

1. Nikita Scherbak
HM: Jake Evans, Martin Reway


Stickhandling-Related Awards

Best Stickhandler (Awarded to the prospect that most effectively combines quickness and softness to routinely beat the opposition.)

1. Nikita Scherbak
HM: Martin Reway, Mikhail Sergachev


General Awards

Best Bodychecker (Awarded to the prospect that most effectively (and destructively) separates the puck from the carrier.)

1. Michael McCarron
HM: Brett Lernout, Michael Pezzetta

Best Puck Possessor (Awarded to the prospect that most effectively combines body positioning, stickhandling, edge work, and intelligence to main possession.)

1. Nikita Scherbak
HM: Michael McCarron, Mikhail Sergachev

Best at Controlled Zone Exits (Awarded to the prospect that most effectively exits their defensive zone with either a carry-out or pass.)

1. Mikhail Sergachev
HM: Noah Juulsen, Ryan Johnston

Best at Controlled Zone Entries (Awarded to the prospect that most effectively enters the offensive zone with either a carry-in or pass.)

1. Nikita Scherbak
HM: Mikhail Sergachev, Lukas Vejdemo

Most Dynamic Prospect (Awarded to the prospect that consistently creates the most scoring chances.)

1. Mikhail Sergachev
HM: Nikita Scherbak

Most Improved Prospect (Awarded to the prospect that improved the most from the end of the 2014-2015 season to the end of the 2015-2016 season.)

1. Jake Evans
HM: Artturi Lehkonen, Charlie Lindgren

Most NHL-Ready Prospect (Awarded to the prospect that is most likely to see the most NHL action in the near future.)

1. Daniel Carr
HM: Jacob de la Rose, Charles Hudon, Charlie Lindgren


2015-2016 Prospect of the Season (Awarded to the prospect that had the most success individually and with their team.)

1. Artturi Lehkonen: Lehkonen was the top scorer in the SHL playoffs after a strong regular season. With notable improvements to nearly every aspect of his game, Lehkonen emerged as a legitimate force in his second SHL season. Lehkonen seems on the cusp of making the NHL, and could do so in scoring role as soon as this season.



It is important to remember: 7-8 prospects having impactful NHL careers from this list would be a success. If the Habs develop even two top-six/top-pairing players it would be successful. Just because I say a player has x-upside, doesn’t mean that they will attain it. For the vast majority of prospects on this list, attaining what I perceive as their upside would be incredibly, incredibly successful, and that includes Mikhail Sergachev.

I want to thank all of those who followed along, as well as those who provided feedback and encouragement. It has been a blast writing this series!

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4 Responses to 2016 Top 30 Habs Prospects: Prospect Awards & Parting Thoughts

  1. Nice job Mitch. I (not an expert just a fan) agree with much of what you wrote. The one thing I do believe is Sergachev looks to me to be the real thing and someone Habs fans should get excited about. Watched hi play in junior and he has all the tools to succeed. Top tier prospect who has the size and skill to make the team after a Memorial Cup run this year. I just hope he stays in junior for 1 more year.

    Dave August 2, 2016 at 2:15 pm Reply
  2. Dave, it would be foolish for the habs to burn the first year of his entry level contract if they not going to play him much. Like you said , he’s better of in the juniors

    zak August 2, 2016 at 2:27 pm Reply
  3. Thanks Mitch,
    Good job!

    Cristian Moldovan August 2, 2016 at 9:14 pm Reply
  4. Very informative Mitch. My only comment is that the organization, with the exception of Sergachev & Scherbak seems to be light on legit prospects that could have a positive impact on the Habs system. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence but the big club and prospects seem to be similar, 4th line forwards and bottom pair defencemen. I would like to see the Habs take more of a chance, especially on skilled, scoring potential forwards. Such as Dan Sprong (RW) over Joulson. Sprong has good upside as a top 6 and Joulson looks at best a bottom 6. Watched him in this years summer classic and he barely played. I doubt if he even makes Canada’s world jr team, not good. Sprong looks to have much better top 6 upside and was drafted after Joulson. Not blaming Trevor Timmons, I think Bergevin is making decisions on who to draft. We need better talent. Let Trevor do his job.

    Dave J August 14, 2016 at 9:58 am Reply

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