Some of you who have followed my work at www.habseyesontheprize.com know of the collective work done to break down the Habs future based on a top 25 under 25 list. This is just coming to a close with the final player profile released on Monday for the Habs brightest young star.
But a list is useless without context and comparison. Thus I have assembled rankings for the Habs immediate peers, the 4 teams that it shares the NE division with.
For convenience I have paired down a the U25 list to a more manageable 15, beyond that point my opinion is largely worthless for a general NHL team depth chart. The rankings are based off of EOTP’s and Pension Plan Puppets U25 rankings for Montreal and Toronto and my own personal rankings for the other 3 teams.
First glances seem to show a broad parity. Each team has a current or future positional star player at the top, either their teams top defenseman or a ~30 goal scoring winger. Karlsson seems the cream of the lot based on his previous season but long term any of these five could be the best player in the division in a given season. Each team also as certain share of blue chip prospects near the top. Zinbanejad, Hamilton, Rielly, Grigorenko and Galchenyuk with either Hamilton or Galchenyuk seen as the top prospects according to most prospect pundits.
Bruins and Habs are the kings of the top young NHLers to my eyes, Lucic and Marchand, Pacioretty and Eller outclassing the likes of Van Reimsdyk, Turris etc.
Toronto’s group is the oldest, which reflects a general trend for their organization. They have few over 30 veterans which lowers their average age, but by and large they are a team whose talent is concentrated in their prime years (23-28). Generally speaking they have nothing to fear from diminishment of age but neither can they expect overall grand improvements from maturity.
Boston is in an interesting situation with age, their average is pretty low and they have two very young potential stars in Seguin and Hamilton. But the strength of their system is at the top and its cut in half with Lucic and Marchand moving up. Overall this is not a team that expect heavy internal improvements or a large number of effective new graduations. Keep in mind that their depth is very poor, not much to speak off past the first nine.
Ottawa and Buffalo are generally the youngest groups here and the deepest in terms of non-established NHL players (many close to making the jump). Ottawa’s group is particularly strong on potential put not very good with proven NHL ability past Karlsson. But Buffalo has the most worrisome questions surrounding them. Myers has lagged behind Karlssson and Subban, while Hodgson, Armia and Grigorenko have major concerns about translating their game to the NHL. Buffalo can boast of a terrific 08 draft group with Myers, Ennis, Hodgson and Adam.
Montreal has the best top three in my opinion but is generally somewhat older. However, that is due to the dominance of their 07 cohort. Notable in their absence is the 06, 08 and 09 drafts. Montreal’s group is strongly bimodel, with one peak of ability around 07 and another centered on 4 years later at 11.