Montreal Canadiens prospect Jayden Struble is entering a very important senior year in the NCAA, one he wants to make the most of before having to make a big decision.
It’s the season of big decisions for Struble, as he weighed the pros and cons of staying his senior year in the NCAA with the Northeastern Huskies.
After watching former teammate and current Montreal Canadiens’ defenceman Jordan Harris go through the experience of being the go-to guy for the Huskies last season, Struble, who was deprived of his senior year in high school to jump to the NCAA a year early, wanted to take benefit from the same experience this season.
“I love Northeastern and I love all the guys. I saw what Jordan (Harris) was able to do in his senior year. I didn’t even get my senior year in High School, so kind of pushing it out and be a senior on a team; one of the older guys the younger guys look up to.. It was such a great opportunity for me,” said Struble on his decision to return to Northeastern for his senior year. “I just needed to give it a go because this team can do something this year.”
Struble felt there were still a few things he’d like to improve before turning pro, like diversifying his offensive game by increasing his shooting frequency and offensive chance generation.
“I think I need to shoot more and get more pucks on net. When I have the opportunity, even from the point, you look for the guy to tip it in or bang home a rebound,” said Struble on aspects of his offensive game he would like to improve. “I’ve always been a pass-first guy, but getting the puck on net more frequently will raise the odds of generating offensive chances.
Being the go-to-guy on the Huskies’ defence also means that Struble will be one of their top shutdown players as well; and he views it as a perfect test to take the speed of his execution up a notch.
“Defending fast, be quicker in the corners. Closing gaps quickly and getting my feet back up the ice quickly,” said Struble on subtle changes he’d like to make to his defensive game. “It’s stuff that sounds simple, but when you’re doing it consistently, that’s what helps you stick in the pros. If I can find a way to do that, I’m pretty confident in the direction my career will go.”
With his mindset focused on growing his game to become more pro-ready, Struble feels he’ll be able to set his team up for success, as they chase the prospect of bringing home an NCAA championship this season.
But he knows a bigger decision looms.
A Future In Montreal?
When the season comes to an end, in early April 2023 if Struble has his way, the 21-year-old will have to decide whether he wants to turn pro right away by signing with the Canadiens, or whether he’d like to pick his destination by abstaining from signing until he’s a free agent on August 16, 2023.
For Struble, he knows it’s an eventuality, but he’s not sweating the process.
“When the senior year reaches an end, I’m sure there’s going to be many phone calls to be made and push through, but we’ll figure it out,” said Struble about the future. “I definitely, ever since I got drafted, thought it would be awesome to play in Montreal.”
Struble wants to keep his attention focused on his team and their success, as one of the leaders of the group. He’s looking to focus on helping the younger players reach new heights and lead by example; and to do that, you can’t have distractions.
“Right now, I’m not really thinking about that,” said Struble, who remains laser-focused on a potential championship season at Northeastern. “I want to take my last year day-by-day and make sure I have the best year possible.”
However, once all is said and done, could Struble see himself playing for the Montreal Canadiens?
“Yeah, for sure. They’re the team that drafted me and I’ve always had good relations with the people in Montreal; and now obviously with Kent and all,” said Struble on whether he can see himself playing for the Canadiens. “It’s such a cool city too; the fanbase and everything about it and the organization itself. All the stories and legends; I can see myself around that.”
With former family advisor Kent Hughes at the bar of the Montreal Canadiens and a strong relationship with members of the club; Struble isn’t sweating his future just yet.
All good things have their time.