Habs Young Guns Shooting to Make an Impression

Injuries and elimination make for an unusual chance for Canadiens’ prospects

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If there is one thing that this ugly season has allowed Canadiens’ fans and management to do, it’s to better analyse some of the organization’s top prospects by seeing them perform in the NHL. Some are taking full advantage of the chance they are being offered while others realise that they might still need some time developing their game and/or conditioning in order to take the next step in their career.

With just over a dozen games left to the Canadiens’ season, time is running out for those young players to leave a positive impression on the organization for the next training camp. While things can rapidly change, you can notice a tendency so far with some of them and here are the top 10 young players and the impression that they have made on yours truly. You will notice that I have left out Morgan Ellis, Darren Dietz and Charles Hudon as the sample size is just too small to make an educated assessment at the time of writing those lines.

10- Victor Bartley #20

POSITION: Defenseman SHOOTS: Left
HEIGHT: 6′ 0″ WEIGHT: 215
BORN: 17 FEB 1988 (AGE 28)
BIRTHPLACE: Ottawa, ON, Canada

Bartley was acquired in the trade sending Jarred Tinordi to the Arizona Coyotes back in mid-January. He has since played six games with the Canadiens, accumulating 16 hits and a respectable plus – 3. Definitely not flashy, he is a stocky and hard-nosed defenseman with limited abilities, a depth player. At 28, he is scheduled to become a UFA and it remains to be seen if the Canadiens will offer him a new contract or not. If they do, it will come cheap and he is a candidate for either the Ice Caps or as a seventh defenseman with the big club.

9- Stefan Matteau #21

POSITION: Left Wing SHOOTS: Left
HEIGHT: 6′ 2″ WEIGHT: 220
BORN: 23 FEB 1994 (AGE 22)
BIRTHPLACE: Chicago, IL, United States (grew up in Blainville, Quebec)

The former first round pick by the New Jersey Devils was recently acquired by the Canadiens. In five games so far with his new team, Matteau has one point and nine hits and is minus – 2. This is nothing to write a book about but as a local talent who speaks the language, he will be given every chance to show what he can do. In a recent interview, he said that he had met with GM Marc Bergevin who confirmed that this is a great opportunity for him to take the next step with his career, playing in front of friends and family. Time will tell if the gamble paid off, but in the short time that we’ve seen him, he has not impressed anyone… yet.

8- Jacob De La Rose #25

POSITION: Left Wing / Centre SHOOTS: Left
HEIGHT: 6′ 3″ WEIGHT: 214
BORN: 20 MAY 1995 (AGE 20)
BIRTHPLACE: Arvika, Sweden

The big Swede opened many hockey connoisseurs’ eyes last season when he stuck with the Canadiens and it was a bit of a surprise, to him included, when he was sent down at camp this last fall. Injuries and timing have slowed him down but he is finally back up with the big club. While he’s only 20, it has already become apparent that he will not be one to fill the net but with his size and skating ability, he could very well become a very important bottom-six player for years to come. He is also one whose name has been in trade rumours and he could be sacrificed in a package to get that elusive Top-six player.

7- Lucas Lessio #53

POSITION: Left Wing SHOOTS: Left
HEIGHT: 6′ 1″ WEIGHT: 212
BORN: 23 JAN 1993 (AGE 23)
BIRTHPLACE: Maple, ON, Canada

When, back in December, the Canadiens announced that they had given up on Christian Thomas and acquired Lessio in return, many fans were puzzled by the move. Today, few will say that it was a bad deal. While he only has played six games so far with the Canadiens, the big left-winger has displayed NHL speed and grit that is needed on this rather skittish team. I personally would like to have him fill a permanent spot on the bottom-six next season, with some time on the penalty-kill.

6- Michael McCarron #34

POSITION: Centre / Right Wing SHOOTS: Right
HEIGHT: 6′ 6″ WEIGHT: 231
BORN: 7 MAR 1995 (AGE 21)
BIRTHPLACE: Grosse Pointe, MI, United States

If McCarron has done on thing only this season, it’s to bring back hope that he can and should become a good contributor one day on a NHL team. The jury is still out as far as deciding if he will ever become a true top-six, but he has shown in his first professional season, that he will likely be a good middle-six centreman, good on faceoffs while playing a physical game. He is however only 21 and if I’m Marc Bergevin, I give him at least another half season with the Ice Dogs to gain more confidence, especially offensively, before pencilling him in with the big club.

5- Mike Condon #39

POSITION: Goaltender CATCHES: Left
HEIGHT: 6′ 2″ WEIGHT: 197
BORN: 27 APR 1990 (AGE 25)
BIRTHPLACE: Holliston, MA, United States

This guy stole a job that was almost guaranteed from Dustin Tokarski straight from training camp and when Carey Price was hurt the first time, he shined. However, when the league MVP went down long term for the second time, Condon simply wasn’t ready to fill-in such big shoes and his inexperience became apparent. Still though, under such difficult circumstances, he has kept his cool and kept on battling day in and day out, displaying near perfect work ethics and that he has ice in his veins, playing in front of what is perhaps the toughest crowd in hockey. Because of that, he should be back next season as Price’s backup.

4- Sven Andrighetto #42

POSITION: Right Wing SHOOTS: Left
HEIGHT: 5′ 10″ WEIGHT: 187
BORN: 21 MAR 1993 (AGE 22)
BIRTHPLACE: Zurich, Switzerland

Andrighetto is one guy who has impressed quite a bit since being called up earlier this season, both by his speed and his offensive awareness. While not the biggest, he is impressive physically averaging around two hits per game and his six goals and 13 points in 34 games show that he can become a contributor on a team desperately seeking offensive help on the top-six. At 22, he still has a lot of development potential, especially when he gains more confidence and maturity but his name has also surfaced in a few rumours, particularly at the past trade deadline and he may be involved in a trade to get a bigger fish this summer.

3- Phillip Danault #24

POSITION: Centre SHOOTS: Left
HEIGHT: 6′ 0″ WEIGHT: 201
BORN: 24 FEB 1993 (AGE 23)
BIRTHPLACE: Victoriaville, QC, Canada

Danault is yet another former first round pick acquired by Bergevin at the trade deadline and it did not take long for the Victoriaville native to feel right at home in a Habs’ uniform. He took over the third line centre spot which could very well mean the end of Lars Eller with the Canadiens, he who has been in trade rumours for quite some time. If I were a betting man, I would keep a close eye on Edmonton who would like to have Eller as third line centre once they trade Nugent-Hopkins. Danault will be a regular player for the Habs for many years to come.

2- Mark Barberio #45

POSITION: Defenseman SHOOTS: Left
HEIGHT: 6′ 1″ WEIGHT: 207
BORN: 23 MAR 1990 (AGE 25)
BIRTHPLACE: Montreal, QC, Canada

Few will have taken full advantage of their call-up as much as Barberio. In 28 games, he has shown constant progress in his defensive game while contributing 9 points. In the last game against the Minnesota Wild, coach Michel Therrien trusted him to replace P.K. Subban and paired him with veteran Andrei Markov. Barberio is showing that when he keeps his game simple, he is a great addition to the Habs’ blue line and the smooth skating defenseman might have even surpassed Nathan Beaulieu in the Canadiens’ depth chart, especially that Beaulieu’s name has been in a few trade rumours at the deadline. Barberio’s play might make this option possible.

1- Greg Pateryn #6

POSITION: Defenseman SHOOTS: Right
HEIGHT: 6′ 2″ WEIGHT: 223
BORN: 20 JUN 1990 (AGE 25)
BIRTHPLACE: Sterling Heights, MI, United States

No young player has taken advantage of their opportunity more than Pateryn who, by January, had only appeared in a handful of games. With trades and injuries, the coaching staff put him back in the line-up and the big rugged defenseman has shown excellent progress ever since. He should definitely be a regular on the third pairing on the right side behind Subban and Jeff Petry next season, as he brings some much needed physicality on the back end.

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