The Canadiens have a veritably plethora of up and coming defenseman in various leagues across the world. Here's a look at several of the most promising names.
1. Ryan McDonagh (NCAA) - 12th overall, 2007 entry draft - The Habs got McDonagh at 12 and many teams had him rated even higher than that. He missed the US team's development camp over the summer and as a result was left off the US team at the recent World Junior Tournament. Should be there next year. A big body on the blue line who has drawn comparisons to Mike Komisarek. Winner of the 2007 Minnesota Mr Hockey award as the best High School hockey player in the state and currently patrolling the blueline at University of Wisconsin-Madison in NCAA division I and has 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points in 28 games. Considered a blue-chip defensive prospect which many teams are rumoured to be interested in adding to their lineup as soon as next season.
2. Yannick Weber (OHL) - 3rd round, 73rd overall, 2006 entry draft - A later round gem for Trevor Timmins and co, Weber recently won the OHL hardest shot contest at the all-star game with a 99.2 mph shot. In his second year for the Kitchener Rangers, Weber has emerged as one of the top defenseman in the OHL with 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 41 games. Played for his home country of Switzerland at the World Juniors and received some consideration as the tournament's top d-man.
3. Alexei Emelin (RSL) - 3rd round, 84th overall, 2004 entry draft - Emelin is still playing in the Russian Super League and has had success there. A mobile defenseman who makes a good first pass and plays with a mean streak. 111 pim in 48 games and a big part of that mega-brawl which took place earlier this year in Russia.
4. Pavel Valentenko (AHL) - 5th round, 139th overall 2006 entry draft - Valentenko possesses a hard shot, good skating ability and has shown some flashes of pro potential in the last few weeks as he's been asked to play a bigger role for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Good size at 6'2 and 212 lbs.
5. Mathieu Carle (AHL) - 2nd round, 53rd overall 2006 entry draft - Carle impressed the Habs brass in training camp before getting hurt. He has since bounced back and is giving coach Don Lever quality minutes in Hamilton and is a quality prospect at this point.
6. PK Subban (OHL) - 2nd round, 43rd overall 2007 entry draft - Subban is one of the fastest defencemen in the OHL and a gold medallist for Team Canada at the 2008 World Junior Tournament. He played a limited role on that team but should play a major role on next year's squad. Subban is confident, funny and looks like a future NHLer at this point. Subban grew up cheering for the Habs and was on the verge of tears of joy on draft day.
7. David Fischer (NCAA) - 1st round, 20th overall 2006 entry draft - Fischer is another Minnesota Mr Hockey winner with size and ability. His viability as a professional has been called into question on numerous occasions, especially recently but has had a strong second half of the season for Minnesota and looks to be emerging as a quality prospect.
The theme here is the Canadiens wealth of the talent on the blue line is one of those "good" problems you hear about. They are far less deep at centre and right wing but with the amount of defensive talent they have coming up in the system, you'd have to think that some space will be created. Some questions still surround all these guys but the future on the blueline certainly looks bright.