Rookie Tournament – The Recap

By JD Lagrange – Well there you have it. The Rookie Camp/Tournament is over and fans got to see some of the Canadiens’ top younger prospects in action. After what seems like forever since being able to watch our favourite team, watching the rookies wearing the red, white and blue provided a sense of hope for a fan base who hasn’t had much to cheer for in a long time.

It is important to point out to some Habs’ fans that a rookie tournament like this one is not to judge the team record (wins/losses), the special teams or overall team chemistry. These young men play all over the world in different leagues and never got to seriously practice together, nor does the coaching staff work on systems. Such tournaments are solely to see the teams’ top players against their peers, and gauge the progress these young men have accomplished since the last time they were on the ice.

With that being said, there were some players who have drawn interest. For some, it was to be expected but for some other cases, there were some very pleasant surprises. I have watched most of the three games and here are some of my observations for some of the team’s key prospects. I’ve divided them in three categories.

This past Draft

Juraj Slafkovsky

He came as advertised, as far as I’m concerned. He wasn’t dominant but showed flashes of why the Canadiens made him the first overall pick. A powerful skater, he protects the puck extremely well using his big frame to do so. Perhaps to most surprising to me is his playmaking ability. He sees the ice well and dishes the puck accurately and at the right time, for the most part. You could definitely see the chemistry he has with countryman and good friend Filip Mesar.

Filip Mesar

He performed beyond my own expectations, I have to admit. At 5-foot 10-inches and 167 lbs, he’s a bit undersized but you can definitely see why the Canadiens selected him late in the first round. He was a constant threat in the offensive zone and managed a couple of goals. New came out during the tournament that he will be playing in the OHL next season instead of heading back overseas and that’s a good news for the Canadiens who will get to watch him closely.

Owen Beck

He was perhaps the most surprising prospect for me out there. We had heard about his 200-foot game and he displayed it well. But it’s through his offense that he surprised as he was arguably the Baby-Canadiens’ best center – or most noticeable – out there. Big body, good skater, he was effective at both ends of the ice and on faceoffs. He was rewarded by centring the top line in the last game.

Miguel Tourigny

The 5-foot 8-inches, 168 lbs defenseman surprised when called upon. Excellent skater, he wasn’t afraid of carrying the puck and join the offense… sometimes a bit too much for my liking but that’s something that can be worked on. He wasn’t out-muscled as much as I was expecting him to. He was paired with Arber Xhekaj at times, and with William Trudeau other times. A positive camp for the diminutive defenseman.

Trade acquisitions

Emil Heineman

A very pleasant surprise, we saw why Kent Hughes was speaking so highly of him after the Tyler Toffoli trade. He scored a couple of nice goals and was around the puck regularly. Good at both ends of the ice, he was at his best when on a line with Jan Mysak.

Justin Barron

Perhaps the prospect I was most disappointed about based on the expectations I have on him. He didn’t have a bad camp but many pencil him as starting the season on the big club as the third right-handed defenseman with David Savard and Chris Wideman. He was better in the last game when he was paired with Kaiden Guhle, with whom he had played with for Team Canada junior.

Bergevin/Timmins era

Kaiden Guhle

Coming back from shoulder injury, he only played one game but he hasn’t missed a beat. He was a force to reckon with at both ends of the ice. Physical, mobile, good first pass, well positioned, you can tell that he has gained confidence on the offensive aspect of the game. At one point, he deked his way through a maze of players all the way to the net. He will battle for a spot on the big club for sure.

Arber Xhekaj

Of course, people will remember his fight against Sens’ prospect Zachary Massicotte, but it’s by his steady play that he stood out for me. He displayed more skilled plays than I was expecting from him. I used to think that he reminded me of Alexei Emelin in his style, but I’m starting to see more Ben Chiarot in him, due to that unexpected offensive creativity. He moves extremely well for a big guy.

William Trudeau

One of the last players cut at camp last season, Trudeau flew under the radar… until this rookie tournament that is. Many Habs’ fans re-discovered him. He reminds me of Patrice Brisebois at the same age and yes, that’s a good thing! Decent size, mobile, he is usually in good position but has the odd brain cramp and gets caught. That can be thought and worked on though.

Mattias Norlinder

Smooth skater, his game resembles Jordan Harris, although not as sound defensively. I absolutely love the way he quaterbacks a power play and the way he skates the puck out of trouble. At 6-feet and 185 lbs, he could use another 10 lbs or so of muscles. In my opinion, he has improved over what we had seen of him the last time.

Jordan Harris

Jordan Harris

It seems like nothing phases Harris and he plays with the composure of a veteran player. I did not like him on the right side however, where he got exposed a few times with players getting around him and with some awkwardness receiving passes and getting the puck out on his back-hand because of it. He does the little things well and the way he positions himself defensively (and defensively only), he reminds me of Andrei Markov with his active stick.

Jan Mysak

The more I watch this guy play, the more I see Tomas Plekanec. Good skater, he does the little things right on the ice and he was dominant in the faceoffs’ circles. Centring the third line for the most part, he didn’t produce as much offense as we know he’s capable of but his defensive play was stellar.

Xavier Simoneau

I wasn’t expecting much from Simoneau and did he ever open my eyes! Of course, we will notice his two goals against the Baby-Sens, but he had a good tournament overall. His good instincts make it seem like he’s one of those guys who always finds himself at the right place at the right time offensively. He wasn’t afraid of getting in traffic either but let’s face it, those weren’t big NHL men out there. The true test is coming.


Logan Mailloux

I tried getting some updates on Mailloux’ shoulder to no avail. We know that he’s been skating but when his surgically repaired shoulder will be ready for contact is still unknown at this time, at least by common mortals like yours truly.

Joshua Roy

Joshua’s hand injury was said to be minor but he did not take part into any of the games in this tournament. We will likely see at the main training camp to see when he is in his development.

There you have it. Of course, I didn’t touch on every player but those are the ones that really stood out for me during those three games. In fact, I would dare say that no one looked out of place in that tournament for the young Habs. Some showed flashes of greatness and disappeared for long periods too. Your assessment could very well be different and that’s okay. We can all agree that it was great to see some hockey though, right?

More reading…

HabsTracks – September 15, 2022

By JD LagrangeHabsTracks is a review, retracing the recent hot topics. This week, we’re looking at the rookie tournament, the battle on right defense and the options available, Jake Allen’s potential extension and the battles at camp, amongst other things. Please feel free to comment and share with your friends.

The Prospects Challenge starts today in Buffalo, and 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 competing in a mini-tournament.

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

Joshua Roy joined Logan Mailloux on the injured list, and will stay in Brossard to receive treatment for a minor hand injury. Mailloux is still rehabilitating a shoulder on which he had surgery several months ago.

The Canadiens took advantage of their annual golf tournament – which raised over half a million dollar – to name Nick Suzuki as the new team captain. Brendan Gallagher and Joel Edmundson will be his alternates. Likely due to his hip injury, Paul Byron is losing his “A”. Josh Anderson would have been another good candidate for alternate.

Wishing for yet another fresh start, Canadiens’ left winger Jonathan Drouin has decided to change his number from 92 to 27, number that he wore in junior hockey and in Tampa Bay. Alexander Romanov was wearing that number, he who was traded to the New York Islanders in the first of two trades by the Canadiens allowing them to get young center Kirby Dach.

Speaking of numbers, here are the additions and changes in numbers:

  • Jonathan Drouin: 27
  • Kirby Dach: 77
  • Evgenii Dadonov: 63
  • Sean Monahan: 91
  • Juraj Slafkovsky: 20
  • Mike Matheson: 8
  • Chris Wideman: 6

With the news of Carey Price’s injury, Jake Allen confirmed Kevin Weekes’ information to the effect that there has been talks with the Canadiens on a contract extension. Talks are in the preliminary stages but both sides want to get it done. He is entering the last year of a contract with a cap hit of $2.875 million.

The Price bad news opened up a battle for the backup position between Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau. Both goaltenders signed a one-way deal this summer. The only difference being that Montembeault has to clear waivers while Primeau doesn’t, at least for the first part of the season. As we recently touched on, fans shouldn’t be too quick in handing the position to Monty as there are a couple of options for Primeau.

The Canadiens created controversy amongst the fan base this week as they announced that there would be advertising on their legendary jerseys. Former Canadiens now radio host Georges Laraque has learned that Royal Bank has paid $31.5 million for a five-year sponsorship, so an average of $6.3 million per season.

While some fans are okay with it, seeing it as inevitable, others feel like the Canadiens are selling their soul to the devil and that after the ads on helmets, it’s one step closer to looking like European leagues jerseys.

The battle on defense is lining up to be a good one, as youth will be battling at training camp for three spots. We know that Mike Matheson, Joel Edmundson, David Savard and Chris Wideman will be on the team. Pending no trades or signature, the battle for the remaining three spots will be between:

  • Justin Barron
  • Kaiden Guhle
  • Jordan Harris
  • Arber Xhekaj
  • Corey Schueneman
  • Otto Leskinen
  • Mattias Norlinder

Only Barron is right-handed so technically, considering how well he played after being traded to Montreal, this is his job to lose. But he is still only 20 years old. On that list, it is important to note that according to Capfriendly, only Schueneman has to clear waivers. Everyone else is waivers-exempt. Because of it, you can expect constant traffic between Montreal and Laval as these young men could very well be going back and forth between the big club and the farm team.

After the Jeff Petry trade, Kent Hughes had mentioned wanting to add a veteran right-handed defenseman. But what exactly are his options this late in the off-season?

  • UFAs: Anton Stralman and PK Subban are still unsigned. I would not sign Subban but Stralman, I would take in a heartbeat. Quality veteran defenseman.
  • Trade: The New York Rangers are shopping Nils Lundkvist and speculations are rampant around the Canadiens. Some less reliable rumouroids are tying the Habs to Oilers’ veteran Tyson Barrie. I could definitely see either one of them as a good option.
  • Waivers: Another options is to wait and see the right-handed defensemen cut by other teams. Having finished 32nd, the Canadiens have first dib on whomever is placed on waivers. Keep an eye on Ethan Bear in Carolina…

The Cheering the Logo podcast will be returning this fall. We had a soft launch last season but we are planning on being more steady this season. Sylvain Perreault will be my co-host, and we are planning on involving some contributors and guests as well. We’re targeting the middle of next week so… stay tuned! In the meantime, subscribe to our Youtube Channel at the link below.

Did you know that you can find us on multiple platforms?

Also subscribe to this site and you will be notified when a new article is published! It’s free!

Last but not least, all merchandise will be free shipping until Saturday, September 17th! Show your pride, show that you are Cheering the Logo in front and not the name in the back!

More reading…