Depth at Left Defense

By Bob Trask – The Montreal Canadiens are deep at LD throughout the organization and, for the most part, it is a very young group from the Habs roster on down through Laval and the amateur levels. A quick look reveals that there may be more bodies than positions available and that points to some movement in personnel.

The Canadiens

The oldest player on the list is 29 year old (soon to be 30) Joel Edmundson and from there it quickly becomes young and full of promise. Keeping in mind that four LD is probably the maximum that the team would like to carry, this list will likely be shortened before next season.

  • Joel Edmundson
  • Mike Matheson
  • Kaiden Guhle
  • Arber Xhekaj
  • Jordan Harris

One of these players could possibly play RD but that seems less likely with the development of Barron, the steady play of Kovacevic and the veteran presence of David Savard.

Top trade candidate: Joel Edmundson

The Rocket

The recent signing of Jayden Struble adds to the depth charts on LD in Laval. While Otto Leskinen and Corey Schueneman are unlikely to return and Nicolas Beaudin is an RFA that is expected to return and there are still a lot of defensemen in the fold.

  • Nicolas Beaudin
  • Mattias Norlinder
  • Gianni Fairbrother
  • William Trudeau
  • Jayden Struble

Top trade candidates: Mattias Norlinder, Gianni Fairbrother

The Prospects

The prospect list is no less crowded than the situation at the pro level and it is an excellent problem to have, especially when you consider the quality of the prospects. The two players on this list have had exceptional seasons.

  • Lane Hutson
  • Adam Engstrom

Petteri Nurmi is also a prospect and played in Finland’s top league (Liiga) as a 21 year old this season. Nurmi played for his home country in the World Junior Championships, but he ranks below both Hutson and Engstrom and seems like a long shot to ever play in North America.

Top trade candidates: none

Paring Down the List

It is not hard to envision the Canadiens moving on from at least one player currently on the Canadiens’ list and at least one from the Rocket’s list while adding another at the draft. There is only so much ice to go around at each position and when there is a glut on one position and a shortage at another, you have to think that Kent Hughes is eyeing this situation closely. Don’t be surprised if a left defenseman (or two, or three) is traded at the draft table or over the summer.

Joshua Roy Was Gold For Canada

By JD Lagrange – Of course, and with reason, the 2023 World Junior Championships will be remembered for Connor Bedard’s record-breaking performances. The 17 year-old was absolutely dominant in the tournament and was a whole level above everyone else, even if he was two years younger than most. No one will ever take that away from him and he has shown, in his post gold-medal winning interview, being a quality individual as well when refusing to talk about his own performance, but focusing on the team instead.

Roy recognized

There were many heroes for Team Canada during this tournament but three players were most consistent and could be relied on game in, game out: Bedard, goaltender Thomas Milic and… Joshua Roy. And Roy received high praise from the TSN panel consisting of Bob McKenzie, Cheryl Pounder, Jeff O’Neill and anchor James Duthie, something rather rare for a Canadiens’ prospect. Even Bedard has some choice words for his linemate, saying that he is one of the most intelligent players he has ever played with.

Out of nowhere

Let’s remind everyone that Roy hasn’t always been a high prized prospect. In fact, he was passed on 149 times by NHL teams before the Canadiens made him their fifth round selection at #150 overall at the 2021 Draft. His skating was an issue, and his work ethics were questioned back then. But credit to the young man, he used that as a slap in the face. After meeting with Rob Ramage, he used that as a source of motivation and the very next season, he turned his career around.

Roy has consistently been at the top of the Canadiens’ prospects in points per game on our feature In The System, and he has continued along the same line at the World Juniors this year. But more than points, Roy has proven to be a very reliable 200-foot player and unlike many offensive juggernauts of his age, he prides himself with his play without the puck, an aspect of his game the Canadiens asked him to continue working on. He was named top-3 players for Team Canada, alongside linemates Connor Bedard and Logan Stankoven.


The Canadian hero will rejoin the Sherbrooke Phoenix to finish his junior career and continue his development. What happens next fall, where he plays next season, we don’t know. The Canadiens have two wingers who are set to become UFAs and are likely not coming back, in Jonathan Drouin and Evgenii Dadonov. But they also have AHL players chomping at the bit to earn a spot in the NHL in Jesse Ylönen, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Anthony Richard, amongst others. Roy, along with Filip Mesar and Emil Heineman, will try to surprise management enough to earn his spot… and he has as good of a chance as anyone.

On Monday, we will update all Habs’ prospects performances at the World Juniors in our weekly feature “In the System”.

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