Montreal Canadiens prospect Filip Mesar is getting used to life in the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers and he plans to take advantage of the opportunity.
In an interview with Montreal Hockey Now, the 26th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft spoke about his development and his goals for the season now that he’s in the Ontario Hockey League.
After spending some time with general manager Kent Hughes figuring out his next steps for the season, both camps concluded that it would be best for the youngster to continue his development in junior, where he had more of a chance to play the role he would one day occupy for the Canadiens.
For Mesar, it was an opportunity to work on aspects of his game he might not have been able to do with the Laval Rocket.
“They told me that they know I could play at the AHL level, but that it would be better to get 80 points in the OHL than 20 points in the AHL,” said Mesar on the positioning management gave him about going to the OHL. “The AHL is not an easy league. If I had stayed in Laval, I would have been playing third or fourth line. They would rather send me to Kitchener, where I would get big minutes, power play time and all that. I think it was a good decision for this year.”
Although there was significant outcry regarding his transition from playing with men in the Slovak Extraliga to playing with junior-level players in the OHL, Mesar believes there are many positives that he can take from playing with the Kitchener Rangers that he might not have had in Laval.
“The benefit is to learn how to play big minutes and be a leader in a team. Scoring some important goals for the team and getting a lot of points,” said Mesar on what he feels is the benefit of going to junior over playing in the AHL. “Last year, I played with men, but I played third or fourth line and didn’t get enough points, so this year, I can get more points, better confidence and be better (overall).”
The Montreal Canadiens 2022 1st round pick has been trying to emulate some of the things he picked up from Montreal Canadiens training camp, a process he felt helped him greatly in preparing him for life as a pro hockey player.
He recounted how he would watch Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield in practice and pay attention to the little details in their game that he could eventually emulate himself, especially relating to Caufield, given their similar build.
“I was looking at Nick Suzuki because, every practice, he’s the smartest player on the ice. I don’t know how, but he’s so smart,” said Mesar on who impressed him the most at Montreal Canadiens camp. “I was also looking at Cole Caufield because he’s smaller. Like me, he’s so skilled and fast on the ice with a good shot. I want to have a shot like his and be smart on the ice like Suzuki. I want to learn from them.”
But his on-ice experience isn’t the only thing Mesar took from his time in Montreal. He and fellow countryman Juraj Slafkovsky also got into the local culture of the city, especially from a culinary perspective.
“Oh yeah, I love Poutine!,” said Mesar about Quebec’s famous dish. “With Slafkovsky, we sometimes ordered it to our apartment. We love it.”
To listen to the full interview with Mesar, where he outlines some more tidbits from training camp and his time in the OHL, see the video below: