Montreal Canadiens' Most Underrated Prospect at Each Position
The Montreal Canadiens have a solid pool of prospects. Their talents were on full display a few weeks back at the 2014 World Junior Championships.
Habs fans became much more familiar with players like Zachary Fucale, Jacob de la Rose, Sebastien Collberg, Charles Hudon, Artturi Lehkonen and Martin Reway. All played quite well on the big stage.
Add older prospects like Nathan Beaulieu, Louis Leblanc and Jarred Tinordi, as well as 2013 first-rounder Michael McCarron, to the list, and you have a pretty solid group to grow as an organization with.
But who are some other prospects that could find their way to Montreal in the near future?
Here is the Montreal Canadiens' most underrated prospect at each position.
Center: Brady Vail
Brady Vail was drafted 94th overall by the Canadiens 2012. He is currently playing for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.
Hockey's Future describes Vail as a smart, defensively minded center. But his offensive game has really taken off this season, and that's why he's the Habs' most underrated prospect at center.
The 6'1", 190-pound center put up 55 and 52 points (in 68 games) over the last two seasons, respectively. This year, he has already passed that total.
In 46 games Vail has 23 goals and 37 assists for 60 points. He is also an impressive plus-28.
Vail has always been solid in his own end but seems to be finding an offensive touch. He'll likely make the jump to Hamilton next season where he'll look to further his development.
Left Wing: Tim Bozon
Tim Bozon was Montreal's third-round pick, 64th overall, at the 2012 draft. He's a 19-year-old French national who is currently playing for Kootenay in the Western Hockey League.
Bozon is a good-sized, offensive winger. He stands 6'1" and weighs 186 pounds, making him one of the bigger offensive prospects in the Canadiens' system.
Hockey's Future says he has a "good shot and a quick release, two attributes that make him a dangerous scorer." He also has the speed needed to be dangerous in the offensive zone.
His statistics reflect his talent analysis.
In 2012-13 with the Kamloops Blazers, he notched 36 goals and 91 points in 69 games.
This season, he got off to a slow start with just seven points in 13 games and was then traded to the Kootenay Ice. Since then, he has 39 points in 35 games and seems to have found his game again.
Because France did not qualify for the 2014 World Junior Championships, Canadiens fans did not get to see Bozon compete against the top competition of his age. He's a name to remember, however, as he seems to have the talent to suit up for the Habs in the next couple of years.
Right Wing: Christian Thomas
Christian Thomas was originally drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft by the New York Rangers. The Montreal Canadiens acquired him last summer in a trade for Danny Kristo.
The son of former NHLer Steve Thomas is undersized at 5'9", 162 pounds, but is highly skilled. He has "excellent speed and outstanding hands", according to Hockey's Future.
He had a solid junior career that saw him score 137 goals and 257 points in the OHL with London and Oshawa. He also scored 19 goals as a 20-year-old in the AHL last season.
Thomas missed the first portion of this year with an injury, but since has 11 points in 20 games. He'll likely finish the year in Hamilton but could get a chance with the Canadiens in the very near future.
Defense: Greg Pateryn
When Montreal Canadiens defensive prospects are mentioned, Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi are usually the names discussed. But let's not forget about Greg Pateryn.
The 6'2", 214-pound native of Michigan was Toronto's fifth-round pick back in 2008. He then decided to play for the University of Michigan for four seasons before signing with the Canadiens in 2012.
Pateryn is having a solid second season in the AHL. His numbers are actually better than both Beaulieu's and Tinordi's.
Through 32 games, he has seven goals and nine assists. He's also a team-leading plus-9.
General manager Marc Bergevin decided to give Beaulieu the first chance at helping Montreal's defense. He'll be in the lineup for the second straight game when Montreal takes on Pittsburgh on January 22, according to Brenda Branswell of Hockey Inside/Out.
Don't be surprised if Pateryn is next in line for a call up, however. If that doesn't happen this season, he'll likely compete for a top-six spot in the 2014-15 training camp.
Goalie: Dustin Tokarski
It might be a stretch to label 24-year-old Dustin Tokarski a prospect, but outside of Zachary Fucale, the Canadiens don't offer much at the goaltender position.
Tokarski was drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft by Tampa Bay. He appeared in seven games with the Lightning between 2009-2012, posting a 1-3-1 record, a 3.54 goals-against average and a .871 save percentage.
He was acquired by the Canadiens last year in exchange for Cedrick Desjardins.
Tokarski is currently the starter for the Hamilton Bulldogs and is having himself a very nice season. Through 27 games, he has a 15-8-2 record with a stingy 2.09 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.
It isn't likely that Tokarski is going to turn into an NHL star, but he does seem capable of being a reliable backup in the near future. He'll be the first goalie the Habs turn to in case of injury to Carey Price or Peter Budaj.