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Filip Mesar Signs With Montreal Canadiens, To Play In North America

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Montreal Canadiens

Filip Mesar officially signed his entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, a sign that he will likely be playing in North America next season.

Similarly, to Juraj Slafkosvky on Wednesday, the Montreal Canadiens made sure to sign their 1st round pick right away, as it now gives them full control over where he plays next season. The Montreal Canadiens had to make up their minds quickly though, as they had up until July 15th to sign their European prospects prior to the transfer deadline per the NHL’s transfer agreement.

The transfer agreement between the NHL and European leagues allows for 1st round picks drafted out of Europe to be able to jump to the pro level in North America despite being under contract. The rule offers the Montreal Canadiens a unique opportunity to sign Mesar to his entry-level contract and then assign him to any level they so please in North America.

This shouldn’t come as a major surprise, as Mesar has been upfront about his desire to cross the pond and play hockey in North America. In fact, upon being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, Mesar categorically admitted to wanting to take the next step and move on from the Slovak Extraliga.

“I don’t want to go back to Poprad,” said Mesar on where he’d like to play next year. ” I would love to come to North America or look at other leagues like SHL.”

Where Will the Montreal Canadiens Send Him?

Like Slafkovsky, Mesar is a 1st round pick, which means that the Montreal Canadiens now have the liberty of choosing where he plays next season. That means that Mesar can play in the AHL if the Montreal Canadiens deem him ready. The 20-yea-old rule that inhibits CHL players from playing in the AHL would not be a problem for Mesar, as he was drafted out of Europe; giving him a distinct over his peers if he were ready for that kind of a jump.

A more interesting avenue could be Canadian Major Junior, as the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL currently own his rights. Mesar would be able to sign a contract with the Montreal Canadiens and be loaned to the Kitchener Rangers, or whichever OHL team owns his rights come the fall. Because Mesar was drafted out of Europe, he wouldn’t have to play in the OHL until the age of 20. If the Canadiens feel he only needs one season of junior hockey to acclimate to the North American style, he could jump to the AHL in 2023-2024 at age 19 without any limitations.

When asked where he envisions Filip Mesar playing next season during his most recent press conference, general manager Kent Hughes wanted to let the youngster dictate what level he was ready for before making a decision.

“I think it’s something we’ll evaluate over time. We’ll let him show us what he can do. We want him to continue to have success offensively. If we can’t offer this in Laval, we’ll see about Kitchener,” said Kent Hughes on Filip Mesar’s future next season.

It will be very interesting to see where the Montreal Canadiens decide to play the young Slovak next season, but it is best for his development if he hits the ground running in North America to better prepare himself for what lies ahead.

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