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montreal 01-26-2004 08:12 PM

Prospects to sign
 
To sign or not to sign, that is the question that Bob Gainey will be asking himself and his staff when the summer rolls around, as he will chose which prospects are to make the jump to the next level, and what prospects may not remain in the organization.


This is summer will have a host of names for Gainey and his staff to look over and make the best decision they can for the young players future and the building blocks of the future team. The first place to start is the CHL, where 2 players must be signed by June 1st or they reenter the selection draft later that month. Michael Lambert and Andre Deveaux will be getting attention from the staff to see if they will be offered a contract come June, or if they are headed back to the draft once again. Yes it is still four months away, but you can be assured they have been keeping a close eye on these prospects, as no decision will come easy, yet the results can have a major impact. Not only will they look to see who has to be signed, but also they will look to see who can contribute to the farm club, and who should be given a chance with another organization.

This will be no easy task for Gainey and company, as there are several players to consider in various leagues and levels of play. From the CHL, aside from Lambert and Deveaux, there's last years CHL player of the year in Corey Locke, also eligible to move up a level is Cory Urquhart from the Q. Mark Flood can also make the jump if management feels it will help his game. Over in the NCAA, Ryan Glenn and Scott Selig will finish their careers and be looking for a team to play for next season. Then theirs the Euro leagues, with talk of interest in signing recent first round pick, Andrei Kastsitsyn, with Konstantin Korneev, Johan Eneqvist, Joni Puurula and Alex Buturlin who have gained valuable experience playing in the top leagues in their respective countries.

So of note are prospects currently in the system, but are up for a new contract when the summer gets under way. In the ECHL, Marc-Andre Thinel and Jerome Marois will be first time RFA's. In the AHL, J-F Damphousse, and Olivier Michaud will be RFA's as well, with J-P Cote being a FA this summer as he was on a one year contract from the Hamilton Bulldogs. And if that's not enough, there's also non Hab prospects from around the various leagues that may spark interest from management due to the four roster spots that should open once the Tampa Bay prospects are returned to their organization.



Michael Lambert- LW. After a somewhat disappointing season last year, the 19 year old will either be offered a contract or reenter the NHL draft. As the leading scorer of his team the PEI Rocket, Lambert has put up impressive numbers as he enjoys a breakout season. Will this be enough to get him a contract with the Habs, who at one time traded up to the 99th overall pick in order to grab his services, or will they not be able to come to terms? If he continues to work hard and produce, it will be hard for management not to sign the good sized winger, as he can play in PEI, Hamilton or the ECHL next year.

Andre Deveaux- C. In the same boat as Lambert, Deveaux will either get a contract or head back to the draft. Although he has improved his numbers, it appears he is still having a hard time improving his consistency which has been a continuos problem for the big center. Now that the second half of the season has started, Deveaux will need to step it up to show he should remain in the organization. Will his improved numbers, impressive face-off abilities and good size be enough? Well heís had a lot of trouble scoring goals lately and his plus/minus has taken a big hit after being near the top of his team. With the Habs lack of size down the middle, one would think a strong finish to the season and playoff performance he could get picked up. Deveaux can play Owen Sound, Hamilton or the ECHL next year which gives the team options.

Corey Locke- C. While the Habs are not required to sign Locke this summer, they may want to consider moving him up to the AHL or perhaps the ECHL if need be. After being named the CHL player of the year as an 18 year old, Locke is currently the leading scorer of the OHL once again. The AHL will be a big test to see if Locke can produce against the much bigger, stronger, faster players of the American league, the question is wether or not management feels heís ready physically as he has shown quite the ability to score in the OHL with over 230 points in the last year and a half.

Cory Urquhart- C. The Habs are also not required to sign the recently drafted Urquhart, but as the second leading scorer on his team, they may feel heís ready to move to the next level in the AHL or ECHL. Thereís no pressure to sign him, as he can return to the QMJHL next season if management feels heís not ready to play at the next level. But a strong second half, and some more physical play could force management to take his development to the next level.

Mark Flood- D. Also does not need to be signed this summer, as he was recently drafted this past June. But with the possibility of a lack of depth on defense next year in Hamilton, and the fact that Flood is enjoying a career year on the blueline, things could get interesting for Flood with a solid showing in his own end in the remaining season. His size and strength may keep him in the OHL for another year, but his puck moving skills could be used in Hamilton or the ECHL as well.

Ryan Glenn- D. With Glenn the Habs are not required to sign the senior, but if they donít he will need to find a team to play for next year as he finishes his final year in the ECAC. But with his good play of late, solid frame, and a possible lack of defensemen next year, Glenn may get the chance to follow in the steps of other recent NCAA signees, Matt Shasby, Mike Komisarek, Ron Hainsey, and Chris Higgins.

Scott Selig- RW. After having a solid career in prep school, and a good start to his NCAA career, Selig has had his troubles producing on offense for the last three years. This is a tough way to earn a contract, especially when the right wing depth chart is filling up quickly with several quality prospects. Injuries and a disappointing season so far are not a good sign for Selig who could find himself without a team come this summer if the Habs do not find room for him, as he ends his NCAA career as well.

Andrei Kastsitsyn- LW/C. With recent talks that the Habs would like to sign their latest first round pick, there seems to be a good chance he will be offered a contract this summer. The soon to be 19 year old could stay in Russia under the famed Russian coach, or if signed add some offense to Hamilton or even to a CHL team if necessary. One has to think that Coach Doug Jarvis would be able to help the young Belarus star improve his all round game, while adding a strong presence in the goal scoring department.

Konstantin Korneev- D. Last year there were high praises for Korneev from the then GM Andre Savard, who expressed interest in bringing over the young blueliner. With his two years experience playing in the RSL, and for the Russian National Junior and Senior team, Korneev could bring some depth to the defense on the right side. Heíll turn 20 years old this summer, so another year in Russia certainly isnít a bad thing, but perhaps management will consider getting him accustomed to the North American game sooner rather then later.

Johan Eneqvist- C/LW. After turning heads at the Habs rookie camp in the past, Eneqvist has since left the SEL, and gone to the tier-2 league where he is seeing a lot more ice time playing for the top team in that league. Perhaps now would be a good time to give the 2-way player a shot as he is coming off a good season for Hammerby who could end up in the SEL next year.

Joni Puurula- G. Was named the starter for his team HPK in the sm-liiga last year, after a solid playoff performance the year before. But injury and reduced ice time has slowed down the progression of Puurula, and with the Habs having only two goalies under contract for next year, there could be a spot up for grabs.

Alex Buturlin- RW. Although the previous management felt Buturlin was asking for too much money, perhaps it is time to consider getting him signed if possible. Playing in the RSL, and for the Russian National Senior team, Buturlin could interest management with him impressive play over the last two seasons.

M-A Thinel- RW. Thinel was signed at or near the buzzer as he would have gone back into the draft if Savard had not reached a deal. With some very limited ice time in Quebec, and then being loaned to Utah of the AHL and Lexington of the ECHL, things did not look very good for Thinelís future in the organization. But this season he has been successful in the ECHL, and with continued production, could find himself resigned to play in Hamilton or the ECHL next year.

Jerome Marois- LW. After being sent down from the ECHL to the Central league, things did not look good for Marois either. But this season he did get a brief chance in Hamilton, and until an injury to his ankle he was producing for Long Beach of the ECHL. It may be tough for him to be brought back, with so much talent on the farm as it is, but a strong second half when he returns from injury will be necessary to get managements attention.

J-F Damphousse- G. One of Bob Gaineyís first moves was to pick up Damphousse to help out in Hamilton. The former first round pick has fallen out of favor and has been moved around in the past, but you can never have enough depth in nets and Damphousse has posted impressive numbers in the past. One would think he would be back next year, as he was able to step in for an injured Eric Fichaud, and play well while given the chance, until he was recently injured.

Olivier Michaud- G. Signed as a free agent, Savard saw something in Michaud at camp, but now the question is, has he progressed enough to be brought back. After some decent play in the ECHL, Michaud had to of gotten managements attention with back to back shutouts and his first and second wins ever in the American league. A strong performance in the chances he gets from here on out will force management to think long and hard who they want in nets in Hamilton next year, with no goalies currently signed for those positions.

J-P Cote- D. Signed as a free agent from the Hamilton Bulldogs, Cote will be free to sign with any team this summer, but with his solid play in his rookie season, perhaps the Habs will consider picking him up, as he could add depth on defense, while adding a physical presence.


Then thereís always some overage CHLer or FA NCAAers that can be brought in to fill any holes that may be open next year.

Rene Bourque- C. Playing his final year in the NCAA, the senior brings something the Habs donít have much of. Size down the middle. The big kid skates hard and drives to the net, and should get the interest of some NHL teams when his season is over.

J-F Plourde- C/RW. Currently under contract with Toronto of the AHL but playing in Columbus of the ECHL, Plourde for now will be a FA come this summer. Plourde already has experience playing with Habs prospects Larrivee and Thinel, while showing the ability to produce on offense.

Yan Dannis- G. Although we currently have two quality goaltenders and two more promising ones in Hamilton, but you can never have too much goalie depth, and Dannis is putting up very impressive numbers in the ECAC. Heís fast and sound positioning could put him as a Hobey Baker finalist, which would generate a lot of interest for him once his NCAA career is over this spring.

Guillaume Fournier- RW. Small but a skilled offensive winger, Fournier may be worth a look at to add some offense.

Francois Gagon- LW. Good sized winger who could fill a hole on the lower lines in Hamilton.

Karl Gagne- LW. Good offensive skills, could fill a hole if some forward positions are avaible.

Daniel Spare- LW. Small but speedy may be worth taking a look at.

Yannick Tifu- C. Not great size but good skills on offense and gives us depth down the middle.

These are just some ideas as to who could be invited to camp this summer. Pascal Pelletier, Justin Laverdieve, Yan Gaudette, Gabriel Balasescu, Doug Hennigar, Ryan Vesce, Alex Shinn, are some other hopefuls to be given a look at over the summer.

Rahan 01-26-2004 10:11 PM

Good read. But I wonder what's hockeysfuture waiting to put up something to automatically update your team's page, that way it would be wayy faster to get the articles on the site.. oh well, maybe they don't feel it would be very secure.

Erngueva 01-26-2004 10:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by montreal
J-F Plourde- C/RW. Currently under contract with Toronto of the AHL but playing in Columbus of the ECHL, Plourde for now will be a FA come this summer. Plourde already has experience playing with Habs prospects Larrivee and Thinel, while showing the ability to produce on offense.

Plourde and Larrivee played several times together in minor hockey as well here in Gaspe.

montreal 01-26-2004 10:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Erngueva
Plourde and Larrivee played several times together in minor hockey as well here in Gaspe.


Yea I read that in an interview HF did with Plourde. I've listened to some of their games on the radio, and Plurde, Thinel and Tessier have been creating a lot of offense.

Jeffrey 01-26-2004 10:41 PM

what about umberger?

NWT Habs Fan 01-26-2004 10:54 PM

I wonder how management will view some of our more experienced Euro guys like Buturlin and Eneqvist. Buturlin seems to have developed into a well rounded player and is getting solid ice time on a decent RSL team. He has been rewarded with an appointment to the Russian senior national team, which is no small feat in itself. Eneqvist has been producing on the top Tier 2 team in Sweden. Both are a little older and should adapt better to the more physical play in Hamilton and North America than some of our younger Euro prospects. I really would like to see how Buturlin can do here in NA.

As for the younger guys, I would imagine some roster spots should open up in Hamilton, so management will likely make some moves to fill some of those voids. With Dykhuis and Traverse both likely gone (although I like Karl as a leader of the youngsters, but $1.6M is a pretty penny for those services), I would imagine the need to fill some D spots will be a priority. I would imagine Shasby's good play in the ECHL will have him looking pretty good for a spot with Hamilton next season.

As for CHL must sign or lose 'em folks, I would imagine that Michael Lambert's improved play must have management feeling a lot better than they did at the beginning of this season. He is almost a shoe-in for a Hamilton-bound contract. Deveaux is a question mark. His early play was very promising, but has slacked off some as you point out. However, with the general lack of size up the middle, they may still sign him and send him to Hamilton or the ECHL to see if he can become a late bloomer.

From the soon-to-graduate NCAA class, I would expect Glenn to get a good look as we are still in need of some D depth in Hamilton (assuming above noted departures) and I would imagine that Selig gets the thanks-but-no-thanks hand shake due to his rather unproductive play over his 4 year NCAA stint.

As for the potential for some free agent or junior tryouts, I would imagine that Bob Gainey has sent his scouting staff on a mission to find some more grit and size. We shall see this summer what they come up with.

p.s. Almost forgot, thanks for the good read, Dan!!

legaspesien 01-26-2004 11:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by montreal
To Sign or not to Sign


By Dan Linn



J-F Plourde- C/RW. Currently under contract with Toronto of the AHL but playing in Columbus of the ECHL, Plourde for now will be a FA come this summer. Plourde already has experience playing with Habs prospects Larrivee and Thinel, while showing the ability to produce on offense.

.

Plourde sign his contract with the Oilers,and belongs to the Oilers organisation,it's the roadrunner that send him down just like Hamilton assign some of their overflow,and J.F will never be more than a AHLer

montreal 01-26-2004 11:12 PM

Thanks NWT, I argree Buturlin should be considered and with a new GM, perhaps they reconsider as long as he doesn't ask for too much money. Eneqvist I'd like to see him brought over, but if his team is moved up to the SEL, I wonder if he would leave there to play in Hamilton, unless he takes a shot at the 3rd or 4th as thats where we could have some spots open next year.

I think Lambert gets a contract, but Deveaux I think is on the bubble. I watched him play the other day and he looked good, but it all depends on what day you watch him. Still I think he should be signed, as he could help Hamilton next year down the middle, bringing size, face-offs, physical play (at times) and will drop the gloves (since Blouin, Carpentier could be gone and Dwyer is a RFA).

Glenn should get a shot even if it's in the ECHL. Selig it's not looking good for him. Kind of like Craig Murray out of Michigan a few years back but with less production.

As for the FA's and OA's, I like Bourque, he's big and works hard. There's also a guy on Cornell, Hornby, who reminds me of Begin but slightly bigger. He's a real engery crash and bang player, but limited offensive skills outside of NCAA.

montreal 01-26-2004 11:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by legaspesien
Plourde sign his contract with the Oilers,and belongs to the Oilers organisation,it's the roadrunner that send him down just like Hamilton assign some of their overflow,and J.F will never be more than a AHLer


Well I took my info off the HF interview with him. But it's not the point if he will ever be more then an AHLer. We should have several spots open in Hamilton, so I listed some ideas as to who they could get to fill those spots. Just opinions. Plourde is a rookie on a one year contract, who made the ECHL All Stars, and is one of the top players on his team. If he's not resigned, he might be worth taking a shot at, as it won't cost much at all, if not there's others like him out there. Last year I thought Charles Linglet or Oliver Fillon would have been a good idea to give a tryout at camp. I'm always interested in what guys they give tryouts to and it's fun to specalate.

surixon 01-27-2004 12:03 AM

Is Urquhart even eligable to play in the AHL next year. I was under the impression that you had to either of completed 4 years in junior or needed to be 20 to play. The reason why Locke can play in the AHL next year is because he decided to hold back on his draft a year.

Wildcat 01-27-2004 03:05 AM

How about Halak? Do you see him coming to North America in the not so distant future or would it be more appropriate to leave him in Slovakia for 3-4 years or more. With Theo and Garon I wouldnít think weíd rush him over too early.

montreal 01-27-2004 03:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by surixon
Is Urquhart even eligable to play in the AHL next year. I was under the impression that you had to either of completed 4 years in junior or needed to be 20 to play. The reason why Locke can play in the AHL next year is because he decided to hold back on his draft a year.



He wouldn't be on the list if he couldn't play. Urquhart will be 20 in Octobert 1st, so if they want him in Hamilton, he can go there.

Locke will be 20 this May that is why he can play in the A. Lambert will be 20 this March. Flood 9-29-04.



Halak, I have no idea. I hope they bring him over at some point in the near future, but for now, I just hope he continues to play well, and get a shot at the mens league full time next year.

NWT Habs Fan 01-27-2004 03:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by montreal
I think Lambert gets a contract, but Deveaux I think is on the bubble. I watched him play the other day and he looked good, but it all depends on what day you watch him. Still I think he should be signed, as he could help Hamilton next year down the middle, bringing size, face-offs, physical play (at times) and will drop the gloves (since Blouin, Carpentier could be gone and Dwyer is a RFA).

It looks like I will be in Ottawa with work late next week and plan on seeing the Ottawa 67's play Owen Sound on February 6th. It will be a chance to see Locke and Deveaux tangle up head to head, so I rather looking forward to it. There is also a game across the river in Gatineau that night as well, with some kid named Crosby playing, but that sucker is sold out!!

jcpenny 01-27-2004 03:54 AM

Deveaux is Mighty strong with good hands but he takes some shifts off. We should sign him and show him how to work in Hamilton.

NWT Habs Fan 01-27-2004 04:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by montreal
I argree Buturlin should be considered and with a new GM, perhaps they reconsider as long as he doesn't ask for too much money. Eneqvist I'd like to see him brought over, but if his team is moved up to the SEL, I wonder if he would leave there to play in Hamilton, unless he takes a shot at the 3rd or 4th as thats where we could have some spots open next year.

It looks pretty good that Hammarby will move up into the SEL next season, so you are right that is a dilemna for a player like Eneqvist. However, the potential lure of the NHL is often a tempting prize for these European players. That is currently offset with the CBA uncertainty in the NHL next season, so some of these "bubble" players may just play it safe and stay home.

I think I read on Habrus over the summer that Buturlin still wanted a shot at the NHL despite the fact that he wasn't signed earlier. He talked about being only 19 when that happened, so he likely has a different perspective on things now with another 3 years under his belt.

Corey 01-27-2004 04:11 AM

Is there room in the organization for all these warm bodies if they are signed at once?

habsfan11 01-27-2004 10:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Corey
Is there room in the organization for all these warm bodies if they are signed at once?

theres 4 spots opening up when the bolts players leave, and one would imagine that Blouin, dwyer, traverse and dykuis will all be gone. Plus we dont know who else might be let go or graduate to the big club.

Holly Gunning 01-27-2004 02:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by legaspesien
Plourde sign his contract with the Oilers,and belongs to the Oilers organisation,it's the roadrunner that send him down just like Hamilton assign some of their overflow,and J.F will never be more than a AHLer

Not according to the Oilers, and not according to Plourde himself. I would think he would know who his contract is with.

goalchenyuk 01-27-2004 03:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NWT Habs Fan
It looks pretty good that Hammarby will move up into the SEL next season, so you are right that is a dilemna for a player like Eneqvist. However, the potential lure of the NHL is often a tempting prize for these European players. That is currently offset with the CBA uncertainty in the NHL next season, so some of these "bubble" players may just play it safe and stay home.

I think I read on Habrus over the summer that Buturlin still wanted a shot at the NHL despite the fact that he wasn't signed earlier. He talked about being only 19 when that happened, so he likely has a different perspective on things now with another 3 years under his belt.

tanks Dan and NWT..i am happy to have more news about Buturlin and Eneqvist

NWT Habs Fan 01-27-2004 03:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Corey
Is there room in the organization for all these warm bodies if they are signed at once?

As for spots on the two teams, I would imagine that there will be couple of Bulldogs getting a pretty good crack at the Habs' lineup next season. That would open up some playing spots in Hamilton. And as Mikey mentioned, there are players that aren't likely going to be back next season (Traverse, Blouin, etc.). And then there is the uncertainty if we offer Tampa 4 spots on the lineup next season. Don't know how long that deal goes for. There is also the three guys who just have contracts with Hamilton: Carpentier, Cote and Plante. If the Habs don't see these guys being a long term part of their plans, they could always free up their spots for Habs' prospects to get them playing time in Hamilton. All in all, lots of options for management to work with IMO.

NWT Habs Fan 01-27-2004 03:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mark0v
tanks Dan and NWT..i am happy to have more news about Buturlin and Eneqvist

I also checked out Russian Prospects site, where they have all the RSL boxscores, and it appears as though Buturlin has been getting pretty steady first line time for Lada for most of January. That is another positive in his favour. He is not racking up tons of points (only 14 in 33 games at last count, with 40 pim), but he is known for playing a bit more physical (good two way guy perhaps?).

legaspesien 01-27-2004 03:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HollyG
Not according to the Oilers, and not according to Plourde himself. I would think he would know who his contract is with.


http://www.hockeysfuture.com/article.php?sid=6116

Holly Gunning 01-27-2004 04:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by legaspesien

So? He was invited to camp. That doesn't mean he is Oilers property. I interviewed him, and asked about his contract just to be sure. He told me it was with Toronto. End of argument.

TroyM 01-27-2004 04:09 PM

Nice read montreal. I live on PEI and have the pleasure of watching Lambert and Urquhart play and I would be surprised if they didn't get a chance, they slowed down after the Russian Selects game and are just starting to pick it up again. They are great together, PEI has them playing with Lapierre now too, a full Habs line :D

montreal 01-27-2004 06:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TroyM
Nice read montreal. I live on PEI and have the pleasure of watching Lambert and Urquhart play and I would be surprised if they didn't get a chance, they slowed down after the Russian Selects game and are just starting to pick it up again. They are great together, PEI has them playing with Lapierre now too, a full Habs line :D


Thanks. I am hoping they give both a shot in Hamilton next year, but we'll have to wait and see. The big question I have is if Urquhart can handle the increased physical play, as that's not his game, and it will be interesting to see how he translates/adapts in the A. Lambert has the skating, size, speed to be successful in the A, imo, but the question is if he will be willing to pay the price or not when theirs a lot less room out there.


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