Allure of Draft-eligible Prospects Eases Habs Fans’ Pain



Not surprisingly, Nail Yakupov heads up this year’s draft class according to many close to hockey. But is he a fit for the Habs, should the opportunity present itself?

MONTREAL, QC. — For the breed of skeptic who refuses to give in to the Habs’ recent winning ways and is already thinking ahead to the not-too-distant future (read: late June), the good news is: at least one network has your interests at heart. Released yesterday, the TSN mid-season NHL draft rankings provide a comprehensive look at the top prospects headed into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Currently, the top 10 are all of particular interest as far as the Canadiens are concerned. Regardless of the final results, all of them present their various strengths and weaknesses.

Nail Yakupov
LW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
5’11”, 189 lbs.
McKenzie Ranking: 1
Central Scouting Mid-Season: 1 (North America)

Last year’s CHL Rookie of the Year with 101 points, Yakupov has racked up 55 points in 29 games with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting this season. Has explosive speed, is agile and unafraid to be physical, and is sometimes referred to as a mini-Ovechkin (emphasis on mini because he lacks the size of Washington’s Great Eight). Yakupov is said to be more adjusted to the North American style than his compatriot Grigorenko.

Hab-Friendly: ★★★★1/2
While he likely won’t be available when the Habs step up to the podium in June, it’s obvious that he has all the necessary attributes of a number one overall pick.

Mikhail Grigorenko

C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
6’3”, 200 lbs.
McKenzie’s Rank: 2
Central Scouting Mid-Season Rank: 2 (NA)

Big playmaking centre with formidable on-ice vision that even makes Frederick Roy look good (ha!) that has tallied 65 points in 43 games with the Remparts this season. Grigorenko has the force of a strong skater but the finesse and hands of someone who may not necessarily have such an imposing frame. One knock on him is consistency, and he suffers in comparison to the smaller Yakupov because he doesn’t always use his size to his advantage.

Hab-Friendly: ★★★★
Centre that has actual size…if we need to remind you of the context that Vincent Damphousse continually gets brought up in these days, perhaps you haven’t been paying enough attention lately. Or in the last thirteen years.
Need a visual? Click here. (If you’re not in, say, a library or equally quiet place.)

Ryan Murray
D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
6’1”, 201 lbs.
McKenzie’s Rank: 3
Central Scouting Mid-Season Rank: 3 (NA)

Murray returned from injury in time for the World Juniors this season. He’s the complete package in a blueliner and prefers a mistake-free game to the flashiness of the more offensive defensemen of the draft class.  The dependable, savvy, smooth-skating defenseman has eight goals and twelve assists in 28 games this season with Everett.

Hab-Friendly: ★★★1/2
While the Habs are overloaded in defensemen at the moment, it’s difficult to pass up on a guy like Murray.
Need a visual? Click here.

Filip Forsberg
LW, Leksands (SWE)
6’2”, 181 lbs.
McKenzie’s Rank: 4
Central Scouting Mid-Season Rank: 1 (European)

One of the younger prospects available in this year’s draft with an August birthday, Forsberg played on the gold medal-winning Swedish national team at the World Junior Hockey Championship. While he only picked up one assist in those games, he shone at the Ivan Hlinka Under-18 tournament where he picked up four goals and one assist in five games.  Currently he has seven goals and as many assists in Leksands, which may suggest he has not become as offensive as he has been touted to be, but his hockey sense and skill-set are promising.

Hab-Friendly: ★★★1/2
Due to his limited exposure to North-American viewers, it’s a little difficult to tell.
Need a visual? Click here.

Mathew Dumba
D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
6’0”, 183 lbs.
McKenzie’s Rank: 5
Central Scouting Mid-Season Rank: 7 (NA)

Having earned 39 points in 49 games with Red Deer this season, Dumba has been characterized as a defenseman with explosive physicality whose prime quality is his need—and ability—to make a difference on every play. Heavy praise has also been accorded to his skating (with a nod to speed in particular) and his shot. However, with these attributes, it sometimes becomes easy to take the wrong kinds of risks.

Hab-Friendly: ★★★★
Dumba has been referred to a younger version of current Hab PK Subban, with an improved hockey sense. The two certainly do have risk-taking in common.
Need a visual? Click here.

Jacob Trouba
D, US U-18 (USHL)
6’2”, 196 lbs.
McKenzie’s Rank: 6
Central Scouting Mid-Season Rank: 9 (NA)

Trouba is a future University of Michigan defenseman with 19 points in 32 games for USA’s Under-18 program, and he played at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships as a seventeen-year-old and despite their dismal turnout, he was referred to as one of the bright spots.  Said to be a punishing defenseman whose only drawback is that he needs a sense of refinement to his defensive game.

Hab-Friendly: ★★★1/2
Trouba fits the Canadiens’ drafting pattern well. Perhaps a little too well. Still, he has a great shot and is a team player, taking hits to make plays when necessary.
Need a visual? Click here.

Alex Galchenyuk
C, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
6’1”, 198 lbs.
McKenzie’s Rank: 7
Central Scouting Mid-Season Rank: LV (Limited viewing: has not played a game all season)

It’s unfortunate that the US-born Galchenyuk has been forced to sit out this season, recovering from ACL surgery. Perhaps the most saddened by this turn of events are Sarnia Sting fans, who would have had an opportunity to watch him play alongside Nail Yakupov as they did last season. At 16 years old, he registered 83 points and impressed many with his good hands and great shot.

Hab-Friendly: ★★★★
Missing all this time (he’s supposed to return in March) might hurt his development, but it’s worth noting that before his injury, it was thought that he might possibly emerge ahead of Grigorenko and Yakupov in the draft discussion. A wild card in the shape of a power forward.
Need a visual?

Morgan Rielly
D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
6’0”, 190 lbs.
McKenzie’s Rank: 8
Central Scouting Mid-Season Rank: 5 (NA)

Another unfortunate ACL injury who had 18 points in as many games before getting injured. Said to be the best pure offensive defenseman in the draft who has skill, hands and strong skating skills. Needs to add physical strength and defensive vision to his overall game.

Hab-Friendly: ★★★1/2
Again, the injury makes him a bit of a question mark for every team, not just the Canadiens. There are concerns that his mobility won’t be the same when he recovers, but that remains to be seen. A date for his return has not been set, and it’s doubtful he’ll return this season.
Need a visual? Click here.

Griffin Reinhart
D, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
6’4”, 207 lbs.
McKenzie’s Rank: 9
Central Scouting Mid-Season Rank: 8 (NA)

If you want a guy with a strong hockey family, Reinhart fits the bill. Former Flame Paul Reinhart is his dad, and brothers Sam and Max are also playing in the WHL. Max is a Flames’ prospect and Sam is highly touted coming into 2014’s draft. Griffin himself has a lot of size (6’4”!) and accuracy.  He currently has 25 points, eleven of them goals, in 38 games this season.

Hab-Friendly: ★★★1/2
Reinhart has the mobility and two-way ability to become a top-tier blueliner in the NHL. If he can upgrade his level of commitment and consistency, he could become a valuable asset.
Need a visual? Click here.

Radek Faksa
C, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
6’3”, 202 lbs.
McKenzie’s Rank: 10
Central Scouting Mid-Season Rank: 4 (NA)

Playmaking centreman whose experience at the World Juniors on a surprising Czech squad allowed him to score two goals, but since his return to the Kitchener Rangers he has moved up to 22 goals and 48 points in 43 games. Is a good competitor with good hockey sense and two-way ability.  

Hab-Friendly: ★★★
For his size, it’s difficult to find someone with impeccable skating skills, but that is one point Faksa could improve upon. Until then, he may have problems keeping up with the Habs’ small forwards.
Need a visual? Click here.


  1. good post.
    i just dont think Hab will do badly enough to get in top 5 and see a Gaunce/Faksa as likely best fit at 7th-10th, where i figure they will end up. But couldnt pass on a Dumba/Rielly/Murray if available, no matter how bad need a top centre, unless Grigorenko/Galenchyuk are still available, which will be unlikely.


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