Stock Watch for Montreal Canadiens' Top Prospects
The Montreal Canadiens prospect pool is deep and their stocks are worth checking on from time to time throughout the season.
Habs fans were able to get a good look at some of the team's top prospects during the recent World Junior Championships in Sweden.
Some played well and were able to increase their value, while others were disappointments. Others either didn't make their national team or were ineligible due to age.
Here is a stock watch for the Montreal Canadiens' top prospects.
Martin Reway: Way Up
If Montreal Canadiens fans didn't know who Martin Reway was a few weeks ago, they should now after the impressive display of offense he put on at the World Juniors.
Reway, Montreal's fourth-round pick in 2013, had four goals and six assists in just five games for Slovakia. He finished tied for the lead in team scoring and tied for fifth in overall tournament scoring (although the four players ahead of him all played in seven games).
What's even more impressive is that he did it as an 18-year-old. He will be eligible to compete in next year's WJC as well.
The knock on Reway is definitely his size, as he stands just 5'8" and weighs 170 lbs. He'll need to bulk up in order to make it anywhere near the NHL. A late growth spurt would be helpful as well.
Yet Reway showed at the WJC that his scoring ability is special. Players with that kind of offensive talent often make it to the NHL despite their size.
Reway has definitely played his way the conversation about Montreal's top prospects. For now, he'll continue to light the lamp for Gatineau of the QMJHL, where he has 15 goals and 28 assists in just 26 games.
Zachary Fucale: Up
Zachary Fucale did not have the start he was hoping for at the World Junior Championships as he was named the backup to Jake Patterson.
After Patterson faltered in Canada's round-robin loss to the Czech Republic, however, Fucale got his shot at the starting job and held on to it for the remainder of the tournament.
Fucale ended up playing in four games and posted a 2.42 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. He was on the losing end of Canada's final two games to finish with a 2-2 record.
Team Canada's losses were certainly not the fault of Fucale. He played well all tournament but did not receive much help from his teammates.
He played brilliantly in their round-robin game against the USA, making save after save until Canada finally found their legs and took over the game in the second period.
He also played well in their semi-final game against Finland, a game in which Canada was dominated from start to finish. He kept Canada in it until late with saves like this (1:40 mark), which was arguably the best of the entire tournament.
Fucale proved once again he was capable of playing well on the big stage, an important quality for a Montreal Canadiens goaltender to have. That's a ways off, however.
For now, he'll focus on a playoff run with the Halifax Mooseheads and another chance at gold with Canada in 2015. His stock is on the rise.
Michael McCarron: Down
The jump between the United States under-18 squad and the Ontario Hockey League is a big one and it's showing in Michael McCarron's game.
The Habs first-round pick from 2013 has just six goals and 11 assists in 40 games with the London Knights. His struggles resulted in him being left off of Team USA for the World Junior Championships, a team he was expected to make as of last summer.
McCarron isn't the first highly-touted prospect to find the OHL difficult to adjust to. Both Jarred Tinordi and Patrick Kane, who followed the same career path, took a few months to adapt.
London Knights coach Dale Hunter had this to say about the transition, via Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press:
Any time you come into a league like this, it’s a step up and it is from his league last year. It takes a while to get a feel for the league. Same thing as (former Knights’ captain and Habs prospect Jarred) Tinordi. Remember how he took some time, then got rolling.
Now 40 games into his first OHL season, perhaps McCarron is ready to show the hockey world why the Canadiens picked him 25th overall last year. For now, however, his stock is down.
Jacob De La Rose: Up
Jacob de la Rose is an intriguing prospect because he is a talented center with speed and size. Those kinds of players don't seem to come around Montreal very often.
The 18-year-old was lucky enough to center a line with Filip Forsberg on his wing for Sweden at the WJC. He did not let the opportunity go to waste. He looked fast on the ice, strong on the puck and comfortable with the tournament's top player at his side.
In seven games, De la Rose had three goals (two game winners) and three assists as his team fell just short of gold.
He'll finish the year with Leksands IF of the Swedish Hockey League where he currently has five goals and five assists in 33 games. He'll look to build on an impressive WJC showing that has his stock trending upwards.
Sebastian Collberg: Down
Sebastian Collberg leaves the World Junior Championships behind with an impressive resume, but the final tournament will likely be the most disappointing, both from a team and an individual standpoint.
At the team level, Sweden was unable to capture its second straight gold medal on their home soil, losing to an underdog Finnish team 3-2 in the final.
Statistically, he actually fared better at the two previous World Juniors he competed in.
Collberg, who had 13 career WJC points at the previous two championships, finished the tournament with just one goal and five assists in seven games. Surely more was expected from him as a 19 year old.
He will finish the season playing for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, where he currently has two goals and three assists in 28 games.
Nathan Beaulieu: Up
Nathan Beaulieu had a disappointing first half of the season, but he's sure been playing well of late.
The 21-year-old offensive defenseman has five points in his last five games for the Hamilton Bulldogs. On the season, he's up to four goals and 10 assists in 32 games.
Beaulieu was surely down on himself upon being returned to the AHL after five games with Montreal early in the season. The disappointment showed in his game as he was mediocre at best throughout Hamilton's first half.
Hopefully he has turned a corner and will continue to improve as he finishes the year in Hamilton.