The Montreal Canadiens have had a month to evaluate the play of Filip Mesar, and they’re now deciding where he should play this upcoming season with the youngster’s camp.
Mesar has spent the last week with the Laval Rocket during their training camp and has looked like he belongs amongst the group, but belonging and thriving are two different things.
During his press conference, general manager Kent Hughes spoke of his ongoing discussions with Mesar’s agent as to where his client will play this upcoming season. Hughes believes that Mesar is good enough to play in the AHL right now, but feels it would be to the detriment of his offensive game.
“I think Filip Mesar is better off scoring 80 points in the OHL than he is scoring 40 points in the AHL,” said Kent Hughes regarding his viewpoint on why Mesar would be better served in the OHL than the AHL.
Although the OHL is likely the preference for the Canadiens, it’s not the only option available to Mesar, and this is likely what is causing a delay in the negotiations.
Kitchener Is The Preference
If it were up to Hughes, Mesar would be lining up with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.
Should Mesar be loaned to Kitchener, he would get prime usage on a nightly basis and would instantly become their most prominent forward right from the jump. The Canadiens could also make the request that he continue developing at a lower level with prime minutes at centre, rather than as a winger. That’s an advantage that should not be undersold; as Mesar would be able to focus on optimizing his performance in such a pivotal role, pun intended,
It would make for a very interesting environment where Mesar would be able to further refine his offensive game as well, in a less physically demanding setting. He could then be recalled to join the Laval Rocket at the end of the season if Kitchener fails to make the playoffs or is eliminated early.
Back To Europe?
If Filip Mesar doesn’t want to go to Kitchener and prefers to return to Europe for the year, rather than play in junior; the Canadiens also have some options.
Mesar’s contract with HC Nitra of the Slovak Extraliga expired at the end of last season, meaning that Mesar could be loaned to any team that’s willing to take him on.
This could open the door for a loan to a club in the Swedish Hockey League or the Finnish Liiga, where Mesar could continue developing against men in a competitive setting, all while earning a respectable wage. The major downside to this route however, is that Mesar would not be able to rejoin the Laval Rocket or Montreal Canadiens until the season of his European club has concluded.
Whether it be Kitchener or Europe, the Canadiens management staff will have to come to an agreement soon on where the 18-year-old will play this season. It will be interesting to see which avenue is taken in the coming days.