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Canadiens Watch: Prospect pool runs deeper than Price

You don’t have to look far to see the Montreal Canadiens’ future.

Every year The Hockey News produces a special magazine devoted to evaluating and ranking each NHL team’s prospects. Future Watch 2008 is on newsstands now and Canadiens fans will definitely recognize the cover boy. It is, of course, the No. 1-ranked prospect in hockey and current No. 1 goalie for the Habs, Carey Price.

At the time we put the magazine together, Price was still more prospect than full-time NHLer because Montreal had yet to trade goalie Cristobal Huet.

The Canadiens’ stable of prospects – including NHLers who had yet to turn 22 by February 2008 – rated seventh among the 30 teams in our annual ranking.

But since anyone who tunes into Montreal games knows what Price is all about, let’s take a quick peak at a couple of the other prospects the Habs are counting on down the road.

With two first round picks in last year’s draft, the Canadiens opted to select a couple of American players entering their first year of NCAA hockey.

The first name the Canadiens called – when many expected it to be local boy Angelo Esposito – was Ryan McDonagh, a 6-foot-1, 204-pound defenseman.

McDonagh put up modest totals in his freshman year with the Wisconsin Badgers (five goals, 12 points in 36 games) and did not make Team USA’s entry at the ’08 World Junior Championship. But don’t let that fool you. The 18-year-old is a good skater who can contribute in every facet of the game. He’s the kind of defenseman opposing forwards hate playing against.

The other 2007 pick making an impression is Max Pacioretty, who went 22nd overall. The 19-year-old left winger was a point-a-game player for Michigan in his freshman year, producing 14 goals and 32 points in 31 games. His game is that of a power forward, precisely what the smallish Canadiens could use.

McDonagh and Pacioretty ranked 31 and 37, respectively, among THN’s top 50 prospects in hockey.

For the rest of Montreal’s stable of youngsters, pick up a copy of Future Watch 2008.

This column also appears in Montreal's Metro newspaper.

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every second Friday.

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