The Montreal Canadiens have loaned Filip Mesar to the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers for the season to continue to develop his offensive game.
The club announced that they had loaned their 2022 1st round pick to the Kitchener Rangers on Saturday morning after giving him a trial run in the Laval Rocket’s home opener.
Mesar showed he had the skills to stick in the AHL, but ultimately, the club felt that he needed to focus on optimizing his offensive game first, before moving onto the tougher and faster pace he faced Friday Night.
As general manager Kent Hughes expressed in his last press conference, the belief is that Mesar will be a high-octane offensive player at the next level, and the AHL might not have been the best place for him to grow his offensive game at this stage in his development.
“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.
Opportunity in Kitchener
For Mesar, this presents an interesting opportunity, as the Rangers are currently 0-5-0 in their first five games, but have recently added 2022 OHL champion Marco Constantini in nets from the Hamilton Bulldogs. With their goaltending covered, the club is in desperate need of scoring punch and speed, and Mesar will likely be able to provide that right off the bat; giving him a prime opportunity to develop his offensive game even further.
In the event that the Rangers are out of the playoff picture by the holidays, there is always the option to have Mesar traded to an OHL contender, as the likelihood of him coming back in 2023-2024 is not very high. Having been a last-minute cut from Laval, the chances that he could stick around next year would be even higher, and could prompt the Rangers to try and get the best value for their import selection possible.
If Kitchener is able to turn it around with Mesar, it provides him with a great opportunity to chase a playoff spot with a team that has underwhelmed so far this season. Whether Mesar lines up at centre or on the wing, he will have some interesting forwards to play with, most notably LA Kings’ 2nd round pick Francesco Pinelli.
With the Canadiens sending Mesar down to the OHL, they cannot recall him again until his season in the OHL is over. He would then be able to join the Laval Rocket in the tail-end of their season and into another potential playoff run.
He will however be eligible to participate in the World Junior Hockey Championships this holiday season in the Maritimes, likely playing a starring role on the club as they try to continue Slovakia’s impressive run on the international scene.