Rookie Camp Preparations On The Way

By JD Lagrange – Fans are chomping at the bit to see their loved ones on the ice and the wait is almost over. After a couple of shortened off-seasons due to a hectic COVID schedules, things are back to normal and this off-season seems longer than usual. It is particularly true in Montreal as the Canadiens were eliminated from even a chance at the post-season activities early last season.

But rest assured, Habs’ fans, your wait is almost over. The Baby-Canadiens will be participating in a rookies’ tournament in Buffalo. The Prospects Challenge features rookies from six NHL clubs: the Canadiens, the Boston Bruins, the Buffalo Sabres, the New Jersey Devils, the Ottawa Senators, and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Prospects will be reporting to rookie camp on Wednesday, September 14th and the games will start the next day. Here’s the Canadiens’ schedule:

DATEVISITORSHOMETIME
Thursday, Sept.15SabresCanadiens7:00 pm
Friday, Sept.16CanadiensDevils7:00 pm
Sunday, Sept.18SenatorsCanadiens12:00 pm

All games will be played at the Sabres’ practice facility (LECOM Harborcenter), which is attached to their main rink at KeyBank Center.

While the roster hasn’t been released, we can anticipate seeing the team’s top prospects in action. Juraj Slafkovsky and Filip Mesar should be there, as should Xavier Simoneau, Joshua Roy, Jan Mysak, Oliver Kapanen, Riley Kidney, and Arber Xhekaj as well. Kaiden Guhle and Logan Mailloux, who missed the Canadiens’ development camp due to injuries, should also be present if healthy.

Only a couple more weeks folks… it’s coming.

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Youth Movement Well Underway

It seems like every time a team is rebuilding, or doing a reset, we look at their young core and claim that the future looks bright. Fact is that with prospects and young players, one never knows how it will turn out. Young players have success in their respective leagues but rare are those who can predict when a prospect will reach his ceiling in development. Further, so many factors can impede a young player’s development, from injuries to outside influences. That’s why you have high end prospects being flops and some players turn out to be excellent, but at a later age.

With their reset of 2018, the Canadiens are definitely on the right track. They have a good core of young players slowly becoming impact players in the NHL. Others are dominant in their respective leagues and some are ready to turn professional. Whether that is in the NHL or the AHL remains to be seen. At the time of writing this, the Habs have six young men who are showing great things.

Nick Suzuki

Suzuki was a key piece in the trade that sent Max Pacioretty to Vegas for him, Tomas Tatar and a pick that later turned out to be Mattias Norlinder. If the duo of Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes didn’t know who Suzuki was, they have since been convinced that they have a legitimate young number one center in their hands, likely a future captain. In what turned out to be a dreadful season in Montreal, the 22 year-old has 50 points in 67 games so far (0.75 Pts/GP). In 22 games under Martin St-Louis, he averages 1.05 points per game.

Cole Caufield

Lots has already been said about Caufield. He dropped to #15 at the 2019 Draft and some teams who picked ahead of the Habs are kicking themselves for not calling his name. He was clutch in last year’s playoffs and suffered some set backs this season. While too many people put it all on Dominique Ducharme, that’s ignoring that the young man had some growing pains to go through. Those challenging times helped make him what we’re seeing today. He is the top rookie since February, and he’s been producing at a pace of 1.14 points per game under St-Louis.

Alexander Romanov

As the season progressed, even under the old management and coaching, Romanov was coming along nicely. With the injuries and trades, he now finds himself into a bigger role. Yes, he does make mistakes but that’s how young players learn. The 22 year-old will be a solid top-4 on this team for years to come, bringing that physical edge at the same time. Something tells me that he has yet to tap into his offensive upside yet either.

Rem Pitlick

We qualified him as the new Paul Byron, being picked off waivers and all. We also tend to forget that he is a rookie in the NHL and he’s only trailing Caufield by two points in the rookie scoring race. He has definitely earned a spot on this roster and he should be penciled in as a top-9 winger for years to come. Even more so when considering that he can play both at center or on the wing.

Jesse Ylönen

The 22 year-old Finn was having a good season in Laval before being called up. In spite of very limited ice time on the Canadiens’ fourth line, Ylönen has four points in nine games in the NHL so far and he’s riding a two-games points streak, getting an assist against the Devils and the Panthers. Good skater, great shot, he seems to always be in good position defensively as well. He just needs to add some meat on those bones, as 167 lbs on a 6-foot frame just isn’t enough at the NHL level.

Justin Barron

Cole Caufield and Justin Barron

Acquired in the trade sending Artturi Lehkonen to Colorado, Barron has played his first two games for the Canadiens. The 20 year-old defenseman played 17:55 minutes against the New Jersey Devils, including three shifts at 3-on-3 overtime. In his second game in Florida against the Panthers, Barron was trusted for over 20 minutes of ice time, paired with Joel Edmundson. He collected his first NHL point, an assist on Edmundson’s first goal of the season. Barron received a text from Habs prospect Kaiden Guhle after the trade and later spoke with him on the phone.

“I think we both realize that there’s a decent chance that we’ll be playing here together again some day,” Barron said. “He’s a great player. I think we did pretty well together last year at world juniors and had some good chemistry. I’m looking forward to hopefully getting to play with him again.”

Jordan Harris and Joshua Roy signing

The cat is out the bag, the Canadiens have signed two of the team’s prospects. A few days ago, Jordan Harris, who could have become an unrestricted free agent in August, signed a two-year entry level contract with Montreal. The 21 year-old defenseman has since joined the team on the road and it’s just a matter of time before he plays in his first NHL game.

Today, the team announced that they have signed one of their top offensive prospects, with Joshua Roy putting his name at the bottom of a three-year entry level contract. The Canadiens’ fifth round pick at last year’s draft has had a breakthrough season with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The 18 year-old is sitting second in QMJHL scoring with almost two points per game.

Others

Thanks to the famous reset of 2018, the Canadiens have a solid and deep prospect pool and several are impact players in their respective leagues. Here’s a list of 20 prospects and their offensive production so far this season.

NAMEPOSAGEGPGAPTSPTS/GP
Joshua RoyW/C18503656921.84
Xavier SimoneauC20351844621.77
Riley KidneyC19502550751.50
Sean FarrellC/W20241018281.17
Jan MysakC/W19533026561.06
Brett StapleyC23391625411.05
Kaiden GuhleD2042733400.95
Logan MaillouxD18123690.75
Rafaël Harvey-PinardW/C23531622380.72
Arber XhekajD21471122330.70
Jesse YlönenW22451218300.67
Blake BiondiC19421711280.67
William TrudeauD1952727340.65
Oliver KapanenC1837914230.62
Rhett PitlickW2129513180.62
Ty SmilanicC20411310230.56
Jordan HarrisD2139515200.51
Justin BarronD2043515200.47
Emil HeinemanW2038115160.42
Jayden StrubleD2034311140.41

And here’s what the Canadiens have in 2012 when Marc Bergevin took over as Canadiens’ GM.

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