2017 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #30-#26

Welcome to the beginning of Mitch Brown’s Top 30 Habs Prospects. This installment covers the two honourable mentions and begins the top 30. All-in-all, this bonus edition contains reports on seven players.

This installment also examines the NHL success rates of USHS defenders and Swedish defenders. There’s a brief discussion on the importance of skating in the AHL featuring a former top-10 prospect in this series, an examination on shooting from the slot in the OHL, and an ode to Greg Pateryn. You’ll find a prospect in a class of his own… at the very bottom.

Notes:

  1. All the information is “in my opinion.
  2. The ranking likely has limited-to-no value. Think of the ranking as a way to catalogue players, notes, and data in a non-alphabetical way. The information within the profiles is far, far more valuable.
  3. I mentioned I’m not a scout right? If not, I’m not a scout.
  4. I appreciate all questions, comments, and criticism. You can reach me on Twitter (@MitchLBrown) or email (mitchbrown31@gmail.com). You can also tell me I suck. I don’t care.
  5. AHL/CHL/USHL Stats: Prospect-Stats.com | NCAA Stats: CollegeHockeyInc.com | SuperElit Stats: Stats.SweHockey.se | NHL Stats: Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com

Series Navigation:
Top 30 Prospects: Ranking Methodology – Integrating Statistics into Analysis
Top 30 Prospects: #30 – #26 – Success Rates of Swedish Jr. and USHS Defenders
Top 30 Prospects: #25 – #21 – Success Rates of CHL Overage Forwards
Top 30 Prospects: #20 – #16 – Balancing Players with Opposing Skill Sets and Development
Top 30 Prospects: #15 – #11 – Weighing perceived NHL-readiness with NHL Upside
Top 30 Prospects: #10 Will Bitten – Why His Season Was Better Than You Think
Top 30 Prospects: #9 Victor Mete – How Undersized Defenders Can Excel Defensively
Top 30 Prospects: #8 Josh Brook – Improving Shooting Location Through Movement
Top 30 Prospects: #7 Michael McCarron – Do Big Players Really Take Longer to Develop?
Top 30 Prospects: #6 Charlie Lindgren – The Reverse-VH and When Skill Takes Over
Top 30 Prospects: #5 Charles Hudon – A Case Study on the Impact of Aging for NHL Chances
Top 30 Prospects: #4 Joni Ikonen – Multidimensionality in Attack
Top 30 Prospects: #3 Nikita Scherbak – Comparing Scherbak In and Out of Form
Top 30 Prospects: #2 Noah Juulsen – How to Excel at Defending the Blue Line
Top 30 Prospects: #1 Ryan Poehling – Full Breakdown, Importance of Little Details, and More

 

#32) NIKOLAS KOBERSTEIN
Midseason: #29 | 2016: #31 | 2015: #31 | 2014: #31
Acquired: 2014, 5th round, 125th overall
Position: D | Shoots: R
Birthdate: 1996-01-19 | Nationality: Canada
Team: University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks (WCHA-NCAA)
Height: 6’2 (188cm) | Weight: 201 lbs (91kg)

Overview: Mobile blue liner with okay offensive tools that have yet to translate to the NCAA.

GPGAPP1SOGSH%G/GP1A/GPP/GPP1/GP5v5 P1/GPTM.INV%
312465316.45%0.060.10.190.160.167.60%

In the three years since being a shocking fifth round pick back in 2014, Koberstein has done nothing to show that the pick was anything but wasteful. There has been notable progression in his game, notably improved skating and an increase from 0.09 P/GP to 0.19 P/GP.

Despite the wholly disappointing results, Koberstein has improved quite a bit through his NCAA career. Koberstein is a slight above-average NCAA skater with a decent top-end speed and smooth mobility, after a year in which his skating was exposed time-and-time again.

Although Koberstein was immediately slapped with the title of “goon,” he has never really been a big-time physical presence. In fact, getting him to add more physicality to his game would be a great addition defensively. He’s too passive on forwards around his net, making slot protection a weakness. He chases, but unlike other puck chasers he doesn’t actively eliminate someone from the play. Gap control remains a major problem, and he’s not proactive in his reads.

Despite such limited production, it’s Koberstein’s puck skills that are likely the best aspect of his game. His telegraphed wind-up isn’t too problematic given the velocity of his shot, and he can hit the odd one-timer, too. Surprisingly coordinated with the puck, Koberstein can escape forechecking pressure. There isn’t much in the vision, but a crisp breakout pass isn’t out of the ordinary for the 6’2 defender.

Entering his third NCAA season and fourth post-draft year, it’s time for Koberstein to demonstrate that his tools can have an impact on the game. At this point, he’s hardly a presence at either end in the NCAA.

Ranking Explanation: I suppose it is fairly self-explanatory, but it’s a formality. Koberstein is arguably the least-talented of the prospects on this list. To top it off, there’s no guarantee he would even get ice at a program of higher quality. He makes the odd skill play, but the execution is so limited that he remains an afterthought for now.

 

#31) TOM PARISI
Midseason: #17 | 2016: #18
Acquired: 2016, Free Agent (Draft Year: 2011)
Position: D | Shoots: L
Brithdate: 1993-07-15 | Nationality: USA
Team: St. John’s IceCaps (AHL)
Height: 6’0 (183cm) | Weight: 194 lbs (88kg)

Overview: Smooth-skating, powerful defender with defensive smarts and proactive positioning, but limited offensive ability.

GPGAPP1SOGSH%G/GP1A/GPP/GPP1/GP5v5 P1/GPSOG/GPTM.INV%GF.Rel%
451896561.79%0.020.110.20.130.131.246.80%-4.62%

Tom Parisi was solid in his rookie AHL season–when he played. He was the odd man out as the IceCaps rotated seven defenders, and his performance weakened as the season progressed. While he led all IceCaps blue liners in CF.Rel% with 9.66%, his GF% took a massive tumble in the second half coinciding with his increasing partnership with Brett Lernout. The pairing had a 38.5 GF% together, but Lernout skyrocketed to 54.3% and Parisi to 50% when separated.

A long, powerful stride gives Parisi that prototypical ease to his skating. With the ability to cycle gears and locate his teammates with slick breakout passes, he’s strong in transition. He was third in controlled exit attempts per game among IceCaps blue liners, and first in percentage of total attempts being with control.

Parisi was among the IceCaps best defenders off the rush. In a limited sample, he led the team in percentage of entry attempts against prevented. His mobility is the big asset here, but he’s also very strong and compact in battles, enabling him to thwart entries if the attacker ventures too close to the boards. His in-zone defence is solid, particularly his ability to win battles, but has the odd struggle tracking pucks around his own net.

The big issue for Parisi is that he just can’t produce. He wasn’t a scorer in the NCAA, and he certainly wasn’t this season. The mobility and clever passing are non-existent in the offensive zone. He’s a below-average shooter, in terms of power, accuracy, and volume. Plus, he can’t create shooting lanes for himself. He’s far too stationary in the offensive zone, and makes the “ultra-safe” play with nearly every touch, negating his ability to make any impact.

There’s still upside with Parisi, but perhaps more as an AHL defender than NHL. He’s an intelligent defender with mobility and strength–undeniably three key assets. Next season, it’s a do-or-die season for Parisi as his entry-level deal expires.

Ranking Explanation: Beginning Tier 6 is the oldest player in the system, Tom Parisi. This is a tier of NHL long shots with replacement level upside, at best.

Last ranking, I saw Parisi as the best prospect of this group, but things changed quickly. Given the circumstances of Parisi’s season, such as his infrequent usage relative to his results, I’d generally be more forgiving on the ranking. But there’s one big problem: Age.

In the Ranking Methodology, I discussed the importance of age. Recall that defenders typically peak around age 24 in the NHL–Tom Parisi is 24, and hasn’t shown enough upside to indicate NHL potential.

He reminded me a bit of thinner Greg Pateryn. While there are disparities in their size and skating, both were strong defenders with low-scoring NCAA careers. However, at this point in Pateryn’s career, he was coming off a 15-goal, 34-point season in the AHL.

This is not to say that Parisi can’t have a massive turnaround next season and thrust himself into the picture once again, but rather that his age and weak season work against him.

 

#30) MICHAEL PEZZETTA
Midseason: #28 | 2016: #25
Acquired: 2016, 6th round, 160th overall
Position: C | Shoots: L
Birthdate: 1998-03-13 | Nationality: Canada
Team: Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Height: 6’1” (185cm) | Weight: 205 lbs (93kg)

Overview: Hard-hitting grinder with decent skating and a powerful shot, but rest of tool kit falls significantly below replacement level.

At this point in time, Pezzetta looks like another in a long string of failed “moar size” picks–but it would be incorrect to assume that he doesn’t have talent. | Photo: Terry Wilson, OHL Images

GPGAPP1SOGSH%G/GP1A/GPP/GPP1/GP5v5 P1/GPSOG/GPHD+MD SOG/GPTM.INV%GF.Rel%
5410919161198.40%0.190.110.3450.30.222.20.9611.56%-16.10%

A shockingly controversial sixth round pick on draft day, Pezzetta only made things worse with a season of regression and suspension. Pezzetta was involved in 11.56% of his team’s goals, and was a team-worst -16.1 GF.Rel%. He found himself demoted to the fourth line for a stretch. In the playoffs, Pezzetta played his best hockey of the season, but found himself suspended for the third time this season, ending his season early.

A generally unimpressive saw tiny glimpses of upside. He saw success in the latter part of the season, just as his SOG elevates around game #46.

Pezzetta is a grinder with a ton of physicality. He’s a body hunter on the forecheck, and will miss easy puck retrievals to throw his weight. He positions himself well in the DZ, which makes him effective on the penalty kill. He does cross the line fairly regularly, and will have to clean up his game.

While Pezzetta did grab just 19 points in 54 games, he has the talent to score plenty in the OHL. He has a laser-beam wrister, but hampered by a mediocre release. He can dish the puck fairly well, and is pretty consistent at finding his targets. He’s a below-average stickhandler, but his top-end gear will give him the odd separation burst. Not a space creator or a dynamic player, but has enough skill to grab 60+ points next season.

In order to do so, there has to be serious changes in Pezzetta’s style, beyond playing cleaner. Firstly, Pezzetta will have to consistently utilize his skills, both with and without the puck. He has to be more patient and target the puck. Secondly, his decision-making, particularly with regards to when to pass or shoot and dump-in or enter with control. He wastes a lot of opportunities by failing to recognize the space given to him.

Finally, Pezzetta has to get to the net. Without the puck, he likes to disrupt and screen around the crease. But without it, he’s a bit of a perimeter player. His 0.963 HD+MD SOG/GP ranked just above the 60th percentile of all regular OHL forwards. For comparison-sake, fellow Canadiens prospect and playmaker Will Bitten ranks a smidge outside the 80th percentile. HD+MD SOG/GP and G/GP carried a R-square of 0.77 this OHL season, indicating there’s a strong relationship between players who shot in the slot and players who scored at high rates. (HD+MD SOG/GP and P/GP had a R-square of 0.76). In fact, only two players this past season shot from the inside less than Pezzetta and scored a point-per-game or more.

Ranking Explanation: Regression from an already underwhelming bar is why Pezzetta is the 30th ranked prospect. TM INV% dropped 4.53%, GF.Rel% cratered to a team-worst -16.1%, and his P/GP dropped to a mere 0.35. These aren’t the results of a decent junior player—let alone an NHL prospect. Although he has tools to be far better, he hasn’t been. Entering his fourth year of junior, Pezzetta needs to finally start using his tools properly.

I leaned Pezzetta over Parisi because of age. There’s still time for Pezzetta to become a scorer in junior, while Parisi has already reached what is generally peak age.

 

#29) ARVID HENRIKSON
Midseason: Unranked | 2016: #26
Acquired: 2016, 7th round, 187th overall
Position: RD | Shoots: R
Birthdate: 1998-02-23 | Nationality: Sweden
Team: AIK J20 (SuperElit)
Height: 6’6 (198cm) | Weight: 209 lbs (95kg)

Overview: Towering defence-only defender with shockingly soft feet and legitimate nastiness.

The 2016 draft class’s man of mystery, Henrikson.  | Photo: Vincent Éthier, RDS

GPGAPSOGSH%G/GPP/GP5v5 P/GPSOG/GPTM.INV%GF.Rel%
44257405%0.050.160.160.575.10%3.89%

One of those truly perplexing prospects whose skill level and contributions are not close to his point totals. He started the year off a top-pairing player in the J20 SuperElit, but quickly slipped into a second/third pairing PK specialist role. AIK took off in the playoffs, led by Henrikson from the back-end. The hulking defender was credited with two assists in the final, including one with a slick pass, as AIK went from losing 16 straight games in the regular season to winning the Bronze Medal.

Henrikson’s GD was brutal to start the season, but he improved, so did his GF%. He finished the season with a strong playoff run, in which he was arguably his team’s most important defender.

A defence-first defender with who spends most of his time in the offensive zone—a testament to his efficiency. Best at defending in transition, where he uses his reach, light step, and four-way mobility to initiate a tight gap. He keeps his stick inside at all times, and loves to throw the body along the boards. Slot protection is a strength of his, and he proactively clogs lanes with an active stick and head on a swivel. Balances down-right nastiness with a shocking amount of discipline.

While in transition is where Henrikson is at his weakest. Flashes of slick plays combining his hands and mobility are rare, but were more common in the playoffs. His head is up, looking for options, but he struggles to make decisions while moving (and/or on his backhand), so he gets forechecked quite easily. He often has the right idea of what to do with the puck, but the passing technique and decision-making speed let him down.

The offensive zone sees Henrikson make the odd nice play from time-to-time, but once again the decision-making and skills require refinement. He lacks a heavy shot, but can make slick saucer passes high-to-low. He doesn’t create lanes for himself, and is too often glued along the boards.

Henrikson is probably even a bigger question mark after last season. He progressed in the J20 SuperElit, but he remains a season behind the regular development curve. He’s a mobile defender, especially for his size, with soft edge work, decent top-gear, and smooth pivots. Unfortunately, he lacks key details: Stops moving feet with puck decision, uncomfortable on the backhand, and has troubles receiving passes. But there’s something here, it needs time.

Ranking Explanation: Long-term projects who haven’t scored at any level are most often amount to little. The execution, even at the J20 level (his own age group) is so disconnected from the tools that I wonder if it’s worth even discussing the tools at all. The fact that he’s attacking so often does give me a sliver of hope, and legitimate reason to continue following his development closely.

So, I took a long look at defenders who were drafted from Sweden in two manners. From an individual development standpoint, and a probability-based look based on league and production.

There are just two NHL defenders who played a sizeable chunk of their season at the J18 level: Offensive dynamo John Klingberg, and Red Wings veteran Jonathan Ericsson. While Klingberg and Henrikson both produced at 0.8 P/GP at the J18 level, Klingberg played the majority of his DY in the J20, and in his D+1 was an SHL regular while torching the J20 for fun. He is far beyond Henrikson at the same point in development.

Trevor Timmins compared Henrikson’s style to Ericsson’s post-draft. They are similarly built, and both decently mobile for that size. Ericsson’s D+1 was spent Division 1 (third tier of men’s hockey in Sweden), where he recorded a 0.2 P/GP. Ericsson skipped the J20 level almost altogether, but was never a point-producer in his 24 games (0.38 P/GP). Ericsson was an SHL regular in what would be this upcoming season for Henrikson.

However, one example is essentially meaningless projecting prospects. Therefore, I feel the need to supplement these with league-based percentages.

From league standpoint (2000-2013, Henrikson’s league italicized):

  • Draft Year:
    • J18: 8 NHL-drafted prospects, 1 NHLers (13%, small sample size due to rareness of situation)
    • J20: 52 NHL-drafted prospects, 12 NHLers (23.5%; two players with just 1GP)
    • Allsvenskan: 12 NHL-drafted prospects, 5 NHLers (41.7%, four players with 300+ GP)
    • SHL: 19 NHL-drafted prospects, 13 NHLers (68.4%, seven have played 100+ GP)
  • Draft+1:
    • J20: 28 NHL-drafted prospects, 4 NHLers (14.3%, three NHL regulars)
    • Allsvenskan: 21 NHL-drafted prospects, 6 NHLers (29%, three NHL regulars)
    • SHL: 27 NHL-drafted prospects, 12 NHLers (44.4%, 8 NHL regulars)

Defenders who play at the men’s level of Swedish hockey in DY have been over twice as likely to make the NHL than their J20 counterparts, and more than four times as likely than their limited number of J18 peers.

This trend remains true in D+1; however, the overall success rates for all prospects decreases as more players advance up the levels.

All-in-all, the higher the level the prospect plays, and the earlier the prospect plays at that level, the higher their chance is of making the NHL.

From the production side, a mere 13 drafted NHL defenders have scored as infrequently in the SuperElit as Henrikson. Only two made the NHL. One was Carl Gunnarsson, but he spent the entire previous season in the Allsvenskan. The other is Petter Granberg (44 NHL GP), but he racked up 23 SHL GP in his D+1.

Since there isn’t really any historical precedent for Henrikson, and his chances, just based of the level he has played at, there’s a slim chance Henrikson makes the NHL. Given the production and tools, I’m not convinced there’s much, if any NHL upside here. The fact he improved as the season wore on led me to putting him over Pezzetta, but not enough to push him any higher.

 

#28) CASEY STAUM
Midseason: #21 | 2016: Unranked
Acquired: 2016, 5th round, 124th overall
Position: LD | Shoots: L
Birthdate: 1998-01-08 | Nationality: USA
Team: Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
Height: 6’1” (185cm) | Weight: 181 lbs (81kg)

Overview: Smooth skating blue liner with an explosive first step…Flashes of offensive upside, but generally falls into the background.

GPGAPP1SOGSH%G/GP1A/GPP/GPP1/GP5v5 P1/GPSOG/GPTM.INV%GF.Rel%
55016165370%00.090.290.090.050.678.60%-6.77%

Although a different breed of defender than Henrikson, he’s similarly perplexing. A borderline high-end skater with legitimate passing skills, yet somehow tallied just 16 points this season. Dubuque rolled four defensive pairings all season, and Staum continually rose up them, even seeing occasional PP time, where held his own. He was thrusted into more of defensive role, and did fairly well.

Staum had two five-game stretches with zero SOG, and was generally ineffective at shooting. However, a seven-assists-in-nine-games run (#18 – #27) demonstrates Staum’s under-utilized playmaking ability.

Staum’s defence continually improved throughout the season. His first step is explosive, and he pivots quite smoothly. He aggressively defends his blue line with tight gap control. He marks his man well, and does a good job clogging lanes. He needs to be more active with his stick, and he’s not particularly physical.

If this season were any indication, Staum is not yet a puck-moving defender, but certainly has the tools to become one. He often defers to his defensive partner. He doesn’t yet make decisions quick enough, but makes the odd nice rush, typically a product of his acceleration and smooth hands.

Offensively, the tools exist, but the execution is not up to snuff—just like the rest of his game. He’s smooth and sure-footed, enabling him to walk the line and create lanes, but he doesn’t always do this. In a seven-points-in-nine-games stretch, Staum showcased a lethal cross-ice pass multiple times, hasn’t been it consistently. So while he has vision, but he doesn’t create enough lanes. With zero goals and 0.67 SOG/GP, it’s clear that Staum isn’t much of a shooter.

Staum will head to the University of Nebraska-Omaha next season. Likely a regular off the hop, hopefully Staum can put it together. It’s clear he’s a skilled player, but decision-making and inconsistent execution mean that he’s a long-term project.

Ranking Explanation: There’s a lot to untangle here. While Staum is smaller than Henrikson, he’s a better skater and more capable with the puck. Even though it’s rare, there are hints of offensive creativity. But whether this gets harnessed and focused or buried in the NCAA remains to be seen—so I will patiently play the waiting game. With that said, I was more impressed with him than a couple of the prospects ranked above him, but concede that he’s too far from the pro level to place him higher.

Of all USHS defenders drafted to the NHL from 2005-2013 (n = 49) a mere 15 have played in the NHL (seven >200 NHL PG). 74.20% of the 49 scored at a higher P/GP clip than Staum in USHS.

Between the 16 players who followed Staum’s DY: USHS -> D+1: USHL -> D+2: NCAA development curve, not a single NHL game has been played and a mere three ELCs inked, and only one of that group scored less than Staum.

Compare this to a group of USHSers that went to the NCAA in D+1. Of that group of 23, nine have played in the NHL, seven of which have played over 200 games. All nine eclipsed 0.29 P/GP in first NCAA season, with the average being 0.53 P/GP, while the USHS -> USHL -> NCAAers averaged 0.22 P/GP despite being a year older.

Therefore, it’s reasonable to expect Staum to score around (or likely under) 0.22 P/GP in his first NCAA season, but he needs to score a substantially greater rate to make himself a legitimate NHL prospect.

 

#27) JÉRÉMY GRÉGOIRE
Midseason: #18 | 2016: #16 | 2015: #10 | 2014: #13
Acquired: 1995-05-08
Position: RW/C | Shoots: R
Birthdate: 1995-09-05 | Nationality: Canada
Team: St. John’s IceCaps (AHL)
Height: 6’ (183cm) | Weight: 194 lbs (88kg)

Overview: Energetic grinder with a quick release and quality defensive ability…Foot speed is biggest hurdle.

Once of the most promising prospects in the organization, Grégoire seems like more a case study on how detrimental a lack of foot speed can be. | Photo: Jeff Parsons, St. John’s IceCaps

GPGAPP1SOGSH%G/GP1A/GPP/GPP1/GP5v5 P1/GPSOG/GPTM.INV%GF.Rel%
569312127312.33%0.160.050.210.210.181.137%-2.86

Formerly a top-line, 35 goalscorer in the QMJHL, Grégoire has since become a fourth liner in the AHL. In both seasons of AHL action, he performed better than the point totals indicate. He filled up in the lineup adequately when called upon, but across the board improvements were negligible. Formed a solid Corsi trio with Mark MacMillan and David Broll, largely because of Grégoire’s contributions at both ends.

After a quick start, Grégoire produced sporadically until a three-goals-in-five-games stretch to close out the season.

Grégoire has a problematic style quirk of being primarily a shooter, yet not racking up shots on goal (431st in SOG/GP in AHL). He owns a slightly-above shot, with a decent accuracy. He doesn’t create shooting lanes, but doesn’t hesitate to drop the shoulder and go to the net. The odd nice move or slick display of hand-eye coordination are few and far between.

Not a flashy playmaker, but makes smart passes in his own zone for controlled exits. He develops a bit of tunnel vision in the offensive zone.

Defence is Grégoire’s primary attribute. He’s a puck hound with a knack for disrupting plays. Smart, proactive positioning allows him to pick off passes with consistency. He’s strong in support along the boards and also quite effective in battles with his strength and relentlessness.

There’s a significant discrepancy between Grégoire’s abilities and execution. After two professional seasons, it’s clear his skating is a deficiency—even if it has improved. Grégoire leans too far forward hampering his knee bend, which in turn hinders his agility and acceleration. This creates the illusion of a powerful stride, but in reality that his stride results in overexertion for the speed generated. He has learned to adapt on the backcheck and forecheck, but simply can’t get to HDSC areas quick enough—even when he recognizes the opportunity.

Ranking Explanation: The skating. I didn’t realize how problematic it was until he made the AHL transition.

The mechanics: In his draft year, he leaned too far ahead while skating and had a wide stride. This scored him below-average in every category at the QMJHL level. After being outfitted with orthotics, Grégoire was able to achieve deeper knee bend while staying more upright. While he sits a bit further back now, his straight ahead acceleration is still marred by his leaning too far forward and wide stride.

The results: As mentioned, he looks powerful as his legs push aggressively but doesn’t generate much power. His skating mechanics hamper his speed generation, but most importantly his acceleration and agility.

At the professional level, it’s imperative that players can stop and start quickly. Grégoire stops fine (as expected for pro hockey player), but accelerates slowly. Because of Grégoire’s mechanics, he has to lean to achieve push off, which is essentially an extra step compared to better skates. Then, because he has a wide base, he lacks the smoothness (crossovers) that top-end skaters rely on to accelerate. So, he’s seemingly a step behind the play as a product of his acceleration. Some players can mask an acceleration deficiency (although Grégoire’s deficiency is severe) with agility and edge work. But once again, the wide stride hinders his lateral movement, to the point where it’s not uncommon to see him moving the wrong way during cycling situations.

Additionally, Grégoire was a top goalscorer in the QMJHL as a product of his smarts and soft touch around the crease. Although a solid net front presence, he scored mostly by slipping away from defenders and pouncing on loose pucks. But, his footwork is simply too slow and clunky for him to do this. He has the right idea, but he’s reaching for pucks as a product of his feet, instead of being on top of them to get a proper shot off.

For his style of game, he’s just not fast enough off the hop, and he’s not naturally skilled enough to overcome this.

Even taking the skating into consideration, I gave him the edge over Staum and Henrikson because he has a scoring résumé and morphed into a decent checker at the AHL level.

 

#26) MARKUS EISENSCHMID
Midseason: Unranked
Acquired: 2017 Signing
Position: C/RW | Shoots: R
Birthdate: 1995-01-22 | Nationality: Germany
Team: St. John’s IceCaps (AHL)
Height: 6’ (183cm) | Weight: 178 lbs (81kg)

Overview: Separation speed and quality vision make him a transition machine, but lacks offensive pop.

The ultimate AHL utility player, Eisenschmid has played all three forwards positions, plays both special teams, and adds a dash of skill to any line. | Photo: Colin Peddle, St. John’s IceCaps

GPGAPP1SOGSH%G/GP1A/GPP/GPP1/GP5v5 P1/GPSOG/GPTM.INV%GF.Rel%
39641076010%0.150.030.260.180.151.5411.00%9.30%

While it seemed more like a reactionary signing to injuries, Markus Eisenschmid is rare AHL-signing turned NHL-signing. He showcased well in this, his sophomore AHL season, despite limited point totals. He had a 2.73 CF.Rel%, and led all forwards in GF.Rel% with 9.3%, meaning that he was a driver in his shortened season.

Eisenschmid found a nice stretch of play between games #13 and #20, which is when he found himself playing with the dynamic Nikita Scherbak.

Eisenschmid is a speedy defence-focused forward with flashes of separation speed. He’s aggressive tracking his man, and covers down low diligently. He’s forceful but disciplined with his stick to create a large number of turnovers. Given his strengths, and Nikita Scherbak’s deficiencies, it’s no surprise that these two played their best hockey when together.

A valuable penalty killer thanks to his speed and anticipation, Eisenschmid has a variety of dazzling SH rushes in his AHL career already. He’s not physical in the least, but handles himself well in battles and has a knack for just beating defenders along the boards.

Offensively, Eisenschmid is better than numbers of his AHL and WHL career indicate, but likely not NHL-worthy. North-south speed and net drives are his primary weapon. He’ll make the odd play in stride in the OZ, but there’s a noted lack of creativity. Best in transition, where he showcases smart distribution to string together controlled exits and entries.

It’s fascinating to take peek at Eisenschmid’s GF% splits. Whether he was playing with Scherbak (100% GF% together) or with Bobby Farnham (75% CF% together) and a revolving door of wingers, it’s clear that Eisenschmid made an impact no matter where he was in the lineup. Next season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eisenschmid play a top-nine AHL role and start producing. It

Ranking Explanation: I’m not sure what to make of Eisenschmid when it comes to the ranking. He was never a high scorer in junior, and he’s not much a scorer in the AHL either. There’s nothing that screams NHL-upside here. I leaned Eisenschmid over Grégoire because of footspeed, and he has reached a higher level of hockey than Henrikson and Staum.

Eisenschmid wraps up Tier #6. This was a tier of low-upside prospects who are long-shots to make the NHL. Either they don’t have scoring records, haven’t scored in an extended period of time, or are extremely far away from the NHL and I’m uncomfortable attaching upside to the skill sets.

 

The list so far:

 

Share Button

One Response to 2017 Top 30 Habs Prospects: #30-#26

  1. Excellent work Mitch. Really enjoy reading your detailed prospect updates.

    Terry Fisher July 26, 2017 at 8:42 am Reply

Leave a Reply

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

16 − 15 =

Is Victor Mete the Reason Mikhail Sergachev Was Traded?

After trading Subban last year, not re-signing Markov, losing Emelin to Vegas (now in Nashville) and trading Beaulieu to Buffalo, it is crazy to think that Montreal would trade a future top defenseman for a French superstar and not have a backup plan on defense. Marc Bergevin has been known for making questionable trades over […]

Share Button

JOIN THE CONVERSATION