March 24, 2023

Montreal has one of the deepest and most talented prospect pools in the NHL. What is really striking about that statement is it does not include the rookies and under 25 year old players already on their roster!

Captain Nick Suzuki, sniper Cole Caufield, Kirby Dach, and 2022 first overall selection Juraj Slafkovsky are the forward core. Their defense is comprised of a near all-rookie team with Arber Xhekaj, Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, and Johnathan Kovacevic have all recently graduated.

The Canadiens had four picks in the first two rounds of the 2022 NHL Draft they hosted and made outstanding selections in Slafkovsky, Filip Mesar, Owen Beck, and Lane Hutson. These homerun picks help to compensate for their brain fart when they elected Logan Mailloux with the 31st selection in the 2021 Draft.

With two more first-round picks in the 2023 Draft coming up, Montreal will be loaded for bear with youth and prospects that will position them to be a very competitive team again for the foreseeable future. It is always good for hockey to have one of its most storied franchises on top of their game.

  1. Joshua Roy, C/W – Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)

Age: 19
Ht/Wt: 6-0/187
Drafted: 2021 round five 150th overall by Montreal Canadiens

Montreal found a draft gem in the fifth round of the 2021 draft. Traded from the Saint John Sea Dogs to the Sherbrook Phoenix during the COVID-shortened season, Roy produced 35 points in 35 games. In his D+1 year, Roy had an offensive breakout to lead the CHL in scoring with 119 points in only 66 games.

His play earned him a spot on the August Team Canada WJC roster where his eight points in seven games helped Canada to a Gold Medal. He returned to Canada to play in the recent 2023 WJC playing a top role and scoring 11 points. His defensive game and penalty killing prowess became evident on the big stage as well.

Skating has been the biggest concern in his game, but it has improved significantly. Combined with his above-average combination of hockey sense and compete level, he more than compensates for any mobility issues at the junior level. We will see next year when he turns pro how he manages the increased pace. Roy has a top-six offensive ceiling and a middle-six two-way floor.

  1. Lane Hutson, LD – Boston University (NCAA)

Age: 18
Ht/Wt: 5-8/148
Drafted: 2022 round two 62nd overall by Montreal Canadiens

If Lane Hutson were 6-1, he would have been a top-five selection in the 2022 Draft. But he is 5-8 and weighs less than 150 pounds, so he dropped to 62nd overall. I don’t care what size he is; Hutson has elite-level hockey sense; his skating is above average and his puck control skills are through the roof.

Hutson has kicked in the front door of the NCAA as a freshman with the Terriers scoring at a 1.12 point-per-game pace. That is a mighty impressive production for a freshman defenseman. Hutson played for USA at the recent WJC as well against the elite of his peer group and was outstanding scoring a goal and three assists.

When the puck is on Hutson’s stick his vision and mobility often lead to exciting offensive opportunities. A future with Lane Hutson, Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, and Juraj Slafkovsky on the Canadiens power play should have Montreal fans excited.

  1. Sean Farrell, C/LW – Harvard University (NCAA

Age: 21
Ht/Wt: 5-9/175
Drafted: 2020 round four 124th overall by Montreal Canadiens

Another draft gem, and another undersized player. Despite those two strikes against him, Farrell ranks high on the Montreal depth chart as his play and production can not be ignored.

After being drafted, Farrell returned to the Chicago Steel of the USHL and racked up 101 points as the league-leading scorer and Player of the Year leading the Steel to a Clark Cup Championship. Ho-hum. Following that performance, he produced over a point per game as an NCAA freshman with 28 points in 25 games leading Harvard to an ECHC Championship, not to mention playing for USA at both the Olympics and World Championships with six points in each event. Not bad.

Currently, in his sophomore year, he is simply dominating with a 1.57 point-per-game pace in what will likely be his last year before signing and finishing the season in Montreal or Laval.

  1. Justin Barron, RD – Laval Rocket (AHL)

Age: 21
Ht/Wt: 6-2/201
Drafted: 2020 round one 25th overall by Colorado Avalanche

Acquired from the Avalanche in the Artturi Lehkonen trade, the Canadiens added the ever-coveted, big, mobile, right-shot defender. Barron is now in his sophomore season as a professional having played games in the AHL with the Eagles and Laval and has hit the ground running.

His offensive production from junior has carried over, his defensive play has adjusted quickly to the size and pace, and he has earned multiple NHL recalls for a few cups of coffee. The Canadiens have a rookie-laden roster already, but Barron will force his way into the mix one way or another in the very near future.

  1. Owen Beck, C – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Age: 18
Ht/Wt: 5-11/190
Drafted: 2022 round two 33rd overall by Montreal Canadiens

Beck was one of many players to miss an entire season of development when the OHL shut down during the pandemic. He returned for his draft year scoring 51 points in 68 games and has raised his production to a projected 83-point pace in 62 games.

Beck was a late cut for Team Canada for the WJC, but when injury struck, he was added to the team for the final three games. He is a faceoff wizard and was used in a support role for Canada but still hit the score sheet and won the Gold.

Beck is a can’t miss prospect as he has a ceiling of a first-line offensive center, and a more probable floor of middle-six or second-line, that is strong on draws, and plays a 200-foot game.

  1. Filip Mesar, RW – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Age: 19
Ht/Wt: 5-10/176
Drafted: 2022 round one 26th overall by Montreal Canadiens

Drafted seven spots ahead of Beck, Mesar ranks slightly back as there is a little more boom and bust potential with Mesar. The Slovakian winger made the move to North America after the Habs selected him in the first round and he had a terrific training camp.

His play had Montreal place him in the AHL with Laval to begin the year, but after just one game, decided his best development path was to play in junior and assigned him to the OHL. He kicked in the front door with a four-point game that started a four-game, eight-point streak. Mesar was excellent at the WJC for Slovakia scoring six points in five games. While still eligible for another year in the OHL, he can move up to the AHL for his second season in North America as he was drafted out of Europe giving the Canadiens the option.

  1. Nicolas Beaudin, LD – Laval Rocket (AHL)

Age: 23
Ht/Wt: 5-11/168
Drafted: 2018 round one 27th overall by Chicago Blackhawks

The Chateauguay native was once a highly touted prospect. The former first-round pick has been struggling since his draft in the Hawks system with poor production with the Rockford IceHogs and was surpassed on the Hawks depth chart by several prospects. Montreal acquired the reclamation project in exchange for Cam Hillis, and the Canadiens have been rewarded.

Early returns from Beaudin are promising with 13 points in his first 16 games in Laval. Beaudin has a steep hill to climb to get into the Canadiens roster. He would have once been considered a lock to be an NHL player with his transition game and he is back trending in the right direction.

  1. Riley Kidney, C – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

Age: 19
Ht/Wt: 6-0/176
Drafted: 2021 round two 63rd overall by Montreal Canadiens

Kidney had an offensive breakout in his D+1 year with 100 points and was a depth player for Canada at the WJC winning the Gold in August. He failed to crack the roster again for Canada at the 2023 tournament as a very late cut and has been traded from the Titan to Gatineau for a playoff run to end his time in junior. The playmaking center has not matched his 100-point pace thus far. But the Titan are a weaker team this year. Watch what he does in Gatineau and the playoffs, and more importantly next year in the AHL. He is one to keep an eye on.

  1. Oliver Kapanen, C – KalPa (Liiga)

Age: 19
Ht/Wt: 6-1/179
Drafted: 2021 round two 64th overall by Montreal Canadiens

Kapanen has rich hockey bloodlines as the cousin to Kasperi, and Nephew to Sami. Oliver had a rough D+1 year after Montreal selected him in the second round in 2021, he played on six different teams in five different leagues and tournaments. This year has been much better for his development as he has played big minutes for KalPa in the Liiga (Finland’s top professional league) and is on pace for 24 points in 55 games. Kapanen was also the Captain for Finland at the WJC where he tallied three points in five games but failed to win a Medal. Kapanen could find himself in the AHL next year with Laval as he continues to develop into a potential middle-six NHL player.

  1. Jesse Ylonen, RW – Laval Rocket (AHL)

Age: 23
Ht/Wt: 6-0/168
Drafted: 2018 round two 35th overall by Montreal Canadiens

The sand is running out of the hourglass for Ylonen to make the NHL. Still only 23 years old he is young, but he already has 114 career AHL games with 80 points. He has played in 15 career NHL games and has a respectable five points yet remains in the AHL. He is very close to the NHL which earns him the tenth-place ranking, but his low upside keeps him no higher. Ylonen is quickly trending towards a career AHL player and may need a fresh start in a new organization.

Honorable Mentions:

Cayden PrimeauHis stock is falling. Once considered to be one of the elite goalie prospects, and the Canadiens next great goalie following Roy, Dryden, and Price, Primeau is now a questionable NHL goalie.

Jayden Struble – In his senior year at Northeastern, the physical defender has offensive upside but may go the free agent route this summer for a team with less competition for a roster spot.

Jared Davidson – Playing his overage season in the WHL on the loaded Seattle roster, the Habs ’22 fifth round pick is on pace for a 103-point year and will chase the Memorial Cup.

Logan Mailloux – More like a dishonorable mention. Despite his off-ice resume, the London Knight defender has 11 goals and 19 points in 26 games.

Vinzenz Rohrer – The Ottawa 67’s are the top team in the Eastern Conference and Rohrer is an offensive leader for them. He was a top player for Austria at the WJC as well.

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