The Montreal Canadiens have a wide variety of promising prospects, but only a few have the tools to be special down the road.
When looking at the Canadiens prospect pool, there’s a lot of depth, but there are about a handful that project to have top-end talent and the potential to be impact players down the road. When evaluating the prospects that Montreal has added to its prospect pool over the years, we often evaluate prospects by their potential and likelihood to one day live up to that potential. In this exercise, we look at the tools of each prospect to flesh out which of the Canadiens’ prospects have the highest ceiling (the potential to be elite players) in the organization.
After much reflection, here are the five Canadiens prospects with the highest potential in the organization:
1. Juraj Slafkovsky
Juraj Slafkovsky is, without a doubt, the most talented player in the Montreal Canadiens’ prospect pool at this point. His rare combination of size, elite skill and surprisingly strong skating make him a unique prospect in the NHL and could become the premier power forward the Canadiens have been looking for since they traded John Leclair. Slafkovsky has all the tools to make a strong and lasting impact in the NHL for the Canadiens and is the most likely of the Canadiens’ prospect pool to be an impact player in the NHL.
Putting Slafkovsky at No. 1 was the easy part, but now comes the difficult evaluation. Kaiden Guhle just narrowly edges out Sean Farrell here as the prospect with the highest ceiling in the Canadiens’ prospect pool. The 20-year-old rearguard was once seen as a safe draft pick that would, at worst, top out as a No. 4 defenceman down the line. However, some believed that he had the tools to be much more than a simple shutdown defenceman, and Guhle not only showed flashes of that this season, those flashes became consistent performances that became more and more frequent as the games became more important. Guhle’s sharp improvement in transition and offensive zone decisions have changed how people perceive his top-end potential, seeing him now as the only prospect in the Canadiens’ organization with clear top-pair potential should his development continue this sharply.
Sean Farrell was deemed a steal by Cole Caufield the day of the 2020 NHL Draft and he might just prove him right after two very convincing years of rapid progression. Farrell has gone from putting up 100 points in the USHL to over a point-per-game pace as a rookie in the NCAA to representing his country at the Olympics and World Championships; all in the same season. During that time, the doubt around Farrell’s top-end talent has quickly begun to dissipate; as he continues to develop his game and improve on an almost nightly basis. Farrell has the potential to be a creative and speedy top-6 forward down the line, should he continue to improve the way he has over the last two years. His play against men at the Olympics and the World Championships was especially eye-opening, as the 5’9 175lbs forward did not back down from the physicality or rough play; but instead burned his opponents with his speed and vision.
Lane Hutson has the potential to be a special player for the Montreal Canadiens down the line, as he possesses elite skill and speed that could see him become the Canadiens’ go-to guy on the backend for all things offence. Hutson was ranked by many scouting services in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft, but ultimately fell due to his stature (5’8, 148lbs). Hutson is the prime definition of a “boom or bust” pick at the draft, as he could either become a premier powerplay quarterback capable of playing 20 minutes a game and generating offence at will, or he could fizzle out before making the NHL. Given Hutson’s well-equipped toolbox of skills, the speedy defender has the potential to top out as the offensive-minded top-4 defenceman the Montreal Canadiens have been lacking since the departure of Andrei Markov, he just needs to continue to get bigger and stronger in the NCAA.
Logan Mailloux has been a hot topic since the moment he was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens at 31st overall in the 2021 NHL Draft. Although the focus with Mailloux has been geared toward off-ice issues, he remains a very intriguing prospect on the ice. Unfortunately for Mailloux, he hasn’t played many games over the last 18 months due to the pandemic, OHL suspension and injuries that have come his way. When he has played, it is very easy to see why former general manager Marc Bergevin decided to select him in the first round; as his offensive potential is intriguing, to say the least. The combination of size, speed and offensive tools make him a rare commodity in the Montreal Canadiens’ prospect pool and, once he’s healthy in early October, he should be ready to start a very important season in his development. He has the potential to one day play a top-4 role in the NHL, if all goes right; it’s now just a question of taking it step by step.
HM: Joshua Roy, Justin Barron, Riley Kidney, Jordan Harris, Filip Mesar