By Bob Trask – It is critical for any team to have a solid pipeline of prospects in order to remain competitive. When Marc Bergevin took over the reins as the Habs GM he inherited a cupboard that was relatively bare. We recently explored the team’s depth chart and one of his legacies will be the replenishing of that cupboard with legitimate prospects.
Some of these have garnered a lot of attention while others have flown under the radar. It remains to be seen how each of them develop.
High Profile Prospects
At the moment there is probably no prospect gaining more attention than Kaiden Guhle. He was named team captain for the Canadian entry into the World Juniors Championship, he may have an opportunity to compete in the Olympics and was acquired by the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL for a hefty price in anticipation of a run to the Memorial Cup.
Other high profile prospects include Jordan Harris, Sean Farrell and Joshua Roy – all of whom have proven to be later round bargains at the draft table.
There is a general air of uneasiness surrounding the Harris situation as Habs fans wait for the end of the NCAA season with anticipation. However, it has been reported that on Tuesday night, Kent Hughes stopped at Northeastern to watch his two sons play on his way to Montreal for Wednesday’s press conference introducing him to the Canadiens’ media. Hughes sons are teammates of Harris…
This group seems to be where the bulk of the propects lie. These players seem to have decent opportunity to carve out an NHL career if there development progresses. It includes names like Jayden Struble, Jan Mysak, Riley Kidney, William Trudeau and Oliver Kapanen.
None of the forwards is likely to become a top 6 in the NHL but Struble seems to have the potential to become a top 4 defenseman.
Under the Radar
Leading this group is Arber Xhekaj. For many he is not a high profile prospect but he may be one of the most intriguing in the entire organization. A bruising defenseman with a big shot, Xhekaj is putting up almost a point a game in the OHL. He was, perhaps, one of the casualties of the cancelled OHL season last year and as a result went undrafted.
Also flying under the radar are three goaltenders in the persons of Jakub Dobes, Frederik Dichow and Joe Vrbetic. All three have shown flashes of brilliance this season but their names rarely come up in the discussion of Habs prospects. Perhaps it’s because they play overseas but as their careers progress, that could change.
An under-sized but talented Xavier Simoneau can be added to the list. His phyiscal stature may have discouraged many teams from drafting him but his skill, determination and leadership abilities make him a good bet to continue his career once his junior days are over.
Luke Tuch had a rough start to the season and missed a month of play with an injury. The power forward hasn’t found the rhythm to his game yet but remains a legitmate prospect. The tools are there but he will need to break out in the last half of this year or next season to remain in the mix.
All others are long shots at best.
The Wild Card
The wild card in all of this is Logan Mailloux. His situation could develop in any number of ways from continuing his career in the Canadiens organization to having the team cut ties with him altogether.
For a big man he doesn’t seem particularly physical but he is a good passer, an excellent skater and has a bomb of a shot. He oozes offensive talent but his ability to play the defensive side of the game and his decision making abilities have yet to be determined.
In the end it is easy to identify the high level prospects but sometimes it is those that emerge from the shadows of obscurity that grow to become key contributors in a successful lineup.
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