Getting To Know The New Habs

With trade deadline behind us, the Montreal Canadiens have made a few changes and rookie GM Kent Hughes has done a pretty good job, or so it seems. I say that because all will depend on how the young players he has picked up in trades will develop. But let’s just say that from the way he has sold us on a couple of them, he seems pretty enthusiastic about the prospect of having them in the Habs’ prospect pool.

I imagine that most fans were just like me and rushed to Google to find out who these young players were. Aside from Justin Barron, I didn’t know any of them. Admittedly, I don’t follow prospects as closely as some do. I much prefer focussing on them when these young men start making it to rookie camp and the main training camp.

I have, however, done a bit of research and thought that some of you would appreciate if I shared my findings with you. Notice that I have added William Lagesson, although he’s not a prospect anymore.

1- Emil Heineman

SHOOTS:LeftDRAFT:2nd rd in 2020 #43 overall by FLA

ACQUIRED: From the Calgary Flames in the Tyler Toffoli trade.

Kent Hughes knows him well, as his two sons play against him. Hughes describes him as a fast skater who has a good scoring touch. The Elite Prospects Draft Guide says that he’s the type that can fit anywhere in the lineup and play any role. There’s a strong push to his stride, which gives him added acceleration and top speed while skating in a straight line. He’s always got his feet moving, always maintains a high battle-level, and never shies away from making personal sacrifices to improve the two-way health of his team.

Flames assistant GM Craig Conroy likened Heineman’s work ethic and attention to detail to that of current Oilers forward Zach Hyman last year when Calgary acquired his rights. Flames development coach Ray Edwards lauded Heineman’s motor and uptempo style earlier this year.

“Not afraid of physicality. He’ll attack the net. He’s really good on the forecheck. He’ll hunt down pucks,” Edwards added in that Calgary Sun article. “To me, that’s the most impressive thing about him. This is a young player that isn’t afraid to compete against men. He’s not afraid to go into tough areas. He’s not afraid to attack. He’s a very direct player, and he wins battles. It’s that competitiveness, that energy, the willingness to win races, to be first on pucks, to drive D wide. He does all that stuff, and he does it as a young player against way older players.”

2- Ty Smilanic

SHOOTS:LeftDRAFT:3rd rd in 2020 #74 overall by FLA

ACQUIRED: From the Florida Panthers in the Ben Chiarot trade.

Per Elite Prospects Draft Guide, Smilanic is a complete talent who can be relied on in all situations. He anticipates passes and can cut them off using his long reach. In defensive zone battles, Smilanic uses his frame efficiently to outmuscle competition and dig pucks out of scrums. Dobber Prospects adds that he has a laser for a shot and uses it often. He can play both center and wing.

Smilanic is a 2002 birth year. Jeff Gorton, Kent Hughes and Martin St. Louis all have kids who played against him. They know his game and pushed the Panthers for him.

3- Nate Schnarr

SHOOTS:RightDRAFT:3rd rd in 2017 #75 overall by ARI

ACQUIRED: From the New Jersey Devils in the Andrew Hammond trade.

Schnarr displays excellent two-way skills and a high hockey IQ. He rarely makes crucial mistakes in terms of positioning or passing when he’s on the ice. He does have some good scoring upside but he’s not the best skater out there.

4- Justin Barron

SHOOTS:RightDRAFT:1st rd in 2020 #25 overall by COL

ACQUIRED: From the Colorado Avalanche in the Artturi Lehkonen trade.

A right-handed defenseman was a huge need for the Habs. Elite Prospects Draft Guide describes Barron as able to produce points in two ways: through the rush and with his shot from the blue line. He loves to transport the puck up-ice, accelerating away from forecheckers while switching from one skating lane to the next. When he breaks in the offensive zone, he looks to cut to the slot or drop a pass to a teammate. Dobber Prospects adds that he’s a “Jack-of-all-trades” defender. Good in every area of the ice. Barron isn’t flashy but he is effective.

5- William Lagesson

SHOOTS:LeftDRAFT:4th rd in 2014 #91 overall by EDM

ACQUIRED: From the Edmonton Oilers in the Brett Kulak trade.

It is important to note that Lagesson must play 18 of the Canadiens’ last 19 games in order to retain his RFA status. Otherwise, he will become a UFA this summer. He owns good size for the NHL, plus some all-around ability. His 6.3 hits/60 minutes this season is in the ballpark of Darnell Nurse in Edmonton. That puts him in the category of David Savard on the Canadiens. This means that Lagesson can play a physical brand of hockey but he is also a decent puck mover. He also has a heavy shot from the point.

More reading…

Kent Hughes So Far

Podcast Episode 2: 2022 Trade Deadline Edition

Grading the Trades – Toronto And Montreal by Bob Trask

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