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30 in 30

Top prospects for Montreal Canadiens

Forwards Michael McCarron, Daniel Carr on track to see more time in NHL this season

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Montreal Canadiens.

The Montreal Canadiens tested their organizational depth to its limits during an injury-plagued 2015-16 season. As a result, two of Montreal's top prospects, forwards Michael McCarron and Daniel Carr, each made his NHL debut and gained valuable experience. The Canadiens also obtained an outstanding prospect at the 2016 NHL Draft when they selected defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. 

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Each of Montreal's first-round picks since Alex Galchenyuk was taken No. 3 in the 2012 draft is making consistent progress toward playing in the League, albeit on different timelines.

The Canadiens have a few prospects on the verge of making the leap to the NHL, and the opportunities are there for the taking. There is even the potential of a surprise or two.

Here are the Canadiens' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

1. Mikhail Sergachev, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 9 pick of 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Windsor (OHL): 67 GP, 17-40-57

A top-10 pick in the 2016 draft offered the Canadiens a ray of hope at the end of their dismal season. Sergachev, who turned 18 the day after he was drafted, arrived in North America for the 2015-16 season with a burning desire to reach the NHL as quickly as possible.

If Sergachev is as determined to reach that ambitious goal as he was to quickly learn English, it would be wise not to bet against the 6-foot-2, 208-pound native of Nizhnekamsk, Russia, achieving it sooner rather than later.

Sergachev was named the Ontario Hockey League's top defenseman in his rookie season. Windsor, which is hosting the 2017 Memorial Cup, would love to have him back to spearhead its championship bid. That's the most likely scenario for Sergachev, the second defenseman taken in the draft (Olli Juolevi, No. 5, Vancouver Canucks), but expect him to make that decision a difficult one for Montreal in training camp.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: Canadiens draft D Mikhail Sergachev No. 9

2. Nikita Scherbak, RW

How acquired: Selected with No. 26 pick of 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: St. John's (AHL): 48 GP, 7-16-23

Scherbak was 19 years old when he made his professional debut for St. John's of the American Hockey League last fall after two productive major junior seasons in the Western Hockey League with Saskatoon and Everett.

"He's a late birth year (Dec. 30, 1995) and after he gets drafted, he plays one more year and turns pro; that's a big adjustment," director of player development Martin Lapointe said at the end of Montreal's development camp in July. "Nikita took last year to develop, to know the AHL. You know the AHL is not easy, and he's got some things that he needs to work on, but we all can see his talent. His skills are NHL skills."

An ankle injury limited the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Russian to 48 games in his first AHL season.

"It's a good league," Scherbak said during development camp. "It's pro, it's older guys, it's more physical, faster, and it's hard to play there."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

3. Michael McCarron, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 25 pick of 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Montreal: 20 GP, 1-1-2; St. John's (AHL): 58 GP, 17-21-38

Though McCarron made a big impression at 6-foot-6, 231 pounds, he took note of the fitness of the NHL players around him when he debuted in the League last season. And that made a big impression on him.

"I just know what it takes to play in the NHL," McCarron, 21, said at the end of development camp. "I was there for 20 games and I saw how hard those guys worked and how well-maintained their bodies are. And I was there at the end of the year and their bodies were still well-maintained. Those guys are machines, and that's what I need to look like to play in the NHL, and I've just got to continue to work on my body and continue to get better."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

4. Daniel Carr, LW

How acquired: Signed as free agent, April 24, 2014

Last season: Montreal: 23 GP, 6-3-9; St. John's (AHL): 24 GP, 10-11-21

Signed by the Canadiens as a free agent after winning an NCAA championship with Union College in 2014, Carr had 24 goals and 39 points in his first pro season with Hamilton of the AHL.

Carr, 24, signed a two-year contract on July 1. He made a strong impression in his NHL debut when he scored with his first shot on goal, a wraparound on his first shift, in a 3-2 loss at the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 5, 2015. The 6-foot, 191-pound left wing was consistently one of Montreal's better players during a dreadful stretch in December and January, but he inured his knee in his 19th game and did not return until the Canadiens' final four games.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

5. Martin Reway, LW

How acquired: Selected with No. 116 pick of 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: HC Sparta Prague (Czech): 14 GP, 5-10-15; HC Fribourg-Gotteron (Swiss NLA): 19 GP, 8-13-21

After two major junior seasons with Gatineau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Reway returned to his hometown of Prague to play professionally in 2014-15. The Canadiens kept an eye on the skilled 5-foot-8, 170-pound forward during his two seasons in Europe and signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract on May 18.

"I feel it's the right time to come back, and it's a new challenge for me as well," Reway, 21, said at development camp in July. "It's a bigger competition. It's going to be hard for me to make it to the NHL and I'm looking forward to doing it."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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