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In the pipeline

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL - With training camp now less than one month away, you can bet there’s no shortage of butterflies in the stomachs of the Canadiens’ top prospects as they prepare to strut their stuff for Guy Carbonneau and Co. We begin our look at the Habs of tomorrow with a handful of proud owners of championship rings as members of the Calder Cup-winning Hamilton Bulldogs, who are now looking to make the jump to the NHL this season.

#17 Kyle Chipchura (C)

Chosen 18th overall by the Canadiens at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Kyle Chipchura is a gritty two-way player and a born leader. Former captain of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, Chipchura also captained Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championship. In his first complete AHL season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Chipchura put up 12 goals and 39 points in 2006-07, leading the team with five game-winning goals.

#31 Mikhail Grabovski (C)

Blink and you just might miss him. Speed demon Mikhail Grabovski’s stock has only continued to rise since he was snagged in the fourth round, 150th overall, by the Canadiens at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. After making his mark internationally for Belarus at the World Juniors and the World Championships, Grabovski made his North American debut this season with Hamilton. The shifty centerman led all Bulldogs rookies and finished third in team scoring with 54 points in 66 games.

#2 Ryan O'Byrne (D)

The Canadiens' third round and 79th overall selection at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, hulking defenseman Ryan O’Byrne has emerged as an anchor on the Bulldogs’ blue line. Standing 6-foot-5 and tipping the scales at over 230 pounds, O’Byrne cut his teeth at Cornell University,spending three years at the Ivy League school before heading to Hamilton. O’Byrne was one of three Bulldogs to suit up for all 80 games in 2006-07, piling up 129 penalty minutes in the process.

#22 Matt D'Agostini (LW)

Rugged, gritty and always a thorn in the side of the opposition, Matt D'Agostini was drafted by the Canadiens in the sixth round, 190th overall, at the 2005 NHL Draft. The heart and soul of the Guelph Storm for two seasons, D’Agostini put up 21 goals and 49 points in 63 games as rookie with Hamilton in 2006-07. With versatility as his biggest asset, D’Agostini did it all for the Bulldogs this season, earning ice-time in all situations from the power play to killing penalties.

#29 Carey Price (G)

Selected fifth overall by the Canadiens at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Carey Price became the highest goalie drafted by Montreal since Michel Plasse was chosen first overall in 1969. Price became a national hero by backstopping Team Canada to gold at the 2007 World Junior Championship in Sweden. He also left his mark at the junior level by leading the Tri-City Americans to a franchise-best 96-point season while becoming the winningest goalie in team history with 83 victories.

Manny Almela is a writer for
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