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Montreal Canadiens

The Debate Around Montreal’s Best Defensive Prospect

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens have assembled a deep cast of defensive prospects over the years, but there continues to be debate over who is the most promising.

On a recent segment for BPM Sports, TVA Sports’ Marc-André Perreault said that he’s come away from many calls with the impression that Montreal Canadiens 2021 1st round pick, Logan Mailloux, is the club’s most promising defensive prospect.

“I spoke to four people and they believe that Logan Mailloux is the most promising prospect on defence for the Montreal Canadiens,” said Perreault. “He doesn’t have the same style of play as Kaiden Guhle for sure, but it was important to mention.”

It’s a worthwhile debate to be had, as former Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin believed so strongly in Mailloux’s potential that he put his hand in literal fire just to select him a little over a year ago in the first round. Mailloux is an exceptional physical specimen, standing at 6″3 and already over 200lbs. He plays a position of great value as a right-shot defenceman and possesses offensive tools that the Montreal Canadiens sorely lacked in their prospect pool. When he’s on his game, Mailloux brings shades of Brent Burns on the ice, due to the similarity in size, skating ability and potent shooting mechanics; but also the defensive lapses and questionable gap control.

When compared to Kaiden Guhle, it’s a pretty difficult comparison to make. Guhle was arguably the most dominant defenceman in all of Canadian Major Junior last season. He led the Edmonton Oil Kings to a WHL championship, where he was named MVP and, above all, his offensive game took off in a very impressive way. In fact, the sharp progress in Guhle’s development has opened the eyes of many to the possibility that there was much more to his game than simply being a crushing defensive defenceman. His game being so close to NHL-ready and mature for such a young player, Guhle is far likelier than Mailloux to be able to hit his perceived ceiling, or even surpass it, than Mailloux. Some even believe that Guhle is NHL-ready as is, and looked pro-ready two years ago during a short stint with the Laval Rocket.

This is not to knock Mailloux’s ability, not for one second. The young man is skilled and deserves to be in this conversation without question. The issue is not his potential ceiling, but his likelihood of hitting that ceiling. The reason being is that Mailloux has only played 12 games in almost two years now due to covid, suspensions and injuries. That’s an incredible amount of prime development time to lose at such a crucial time in a player’s career, and, no matter how much you can like a player, it’s a reality that it makes the developmental process moving forward less certain.

If Mailloux is able to remain healthy, then we can begin to see some growth in his game and further evaluate if he seems on pace to be that top-end offensive defenceman moving forward, but, as it stands, Guhle is the closest bet the Canadiens have to become a potential top-pair defenceman. He’s far likelier to get there, being so close and having much less risk to his game; and he’s diversified his game to such a degree, be it offensively or in transition, that it could afford him extra usage down the road.

The irony of it all is that it’s also possible that neither of these two end up being the best defenceman in the Canadiens’ current prospect pool, as, if we’re talking about top-end talent, Lane Hutson possesses skill and poise that neither of the aforementioned two have ever shown. Development is such a tricky thing to foresee, but at this current moment, Kaiden Guhle is the player who has the highest combination of potential ceiling and likelihood to hit said ceiling and that should make him the most promising in consequence.

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Brian Chandler

On the topic of D prospects is Kieren Ruscheinski still considered a prospect a 7th rd pick from 2019?

mikeysl

Arbers baby!!

Robert Lee

Right now it’s all ‘potential’. Inside of 5 years, we’ll know for sure.

John Spearing

Guhle is our best all round D prospect, but if looking for best offensive ceiling it is Hutson… I like Logan, but he’s considerably behind Guhle as the best all round prospect and he does not have anything close to Hutson’s offensive ceiling…
But don’t count out Barron or even Xhekaj… Barron keeps improving and Xhekaj is a physical beast

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