The Montreal Canadiens have surprised early on this season, but so too have some of their prospects; in ways perhaps even general manager Kent Hughes didn’t foresee.
The Canadiens have a good group of youngsters playing in the pros as we speak, but some of their amateur prospects are making some serious noise so far this year.
When the 2022 NHL Draft came and went, it was believed that the Canadiens had secured a solid group of players with strong chances of playing in the NHL, but a handful of those players have blown expectations right out of the water, and it has caught the attention of fans and management alike.
Day 2 Wonder
One need look no further than Owen Beck.
The 18-year-old centre had a tremendous training camp with the Montreal Canadiens, but then started off relatively slow for the Mississauga Steelheads.
After posting 51 points in 68 games last season as a rookie in the OHL, the expectations were that Beck’s offensive contributions would hover near or slightly above the point-per-game ratio.
Not only has Beck blown by those expectations, but he’s also nearly doubled his offensive pace from last season.
Beck has potted 15 goals and added 14 assists for 29 points in just 20 games so far this season, good for 1.45 points-per-game, a major jump from his 0.75 points-per-game ratio from last season.
He’s also maintained his excellent defensive game in the process, playing in all situations and maintaining a 58% faceoff success rate.
Beck’s sudden explosion so far this season has earned him some serious consideration for Team Canada’s upcoming World Junior camp, and could help him wear the maple leaf during the holidays if he continues to impress.
Oh, I've got all the time in the world for Owen Beck.
Kid just went ham in OT and we love to see it.
He's a first-rounder. pic.twitter.com/7xjuUgK5gc
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) April 24, 2022
The Best Defense Is A Good Offence
Lane Hutson was expected to be an offensive force as a rookie in the NCAA, but not like this.
Hutson has jumped out of the gate with seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in just 13 games, giving him the best points-per-game ratio among all rookie defencemen in all the NCAA.
What’s more impressive is, unlike other top offensive defencemen like Henry Thrun, Luke Hughes or Seamus Casey, Hutson has been at the very heart of the Boston University Terrier’s success.
Scoring big goals at clutch moments and dazzling on the ice with his elite skating and deceptive play. His three game-winning goals have him tied for 2nd in all the NCAA amongst skaters and tops the league for defencemen.
What’s most impressive, is he’s doing this mostly at even strength, as none of Hutson’s goals have come from the man advantage.
Even General Manager Kent Hughes has gotten in on the action as of late, being spotted at this weekend’s set of Boston Terrier games to take Hutson’s performance.
There is still a long path to the NHL for Hutson, his early season success shouldn’t deter the club from being patient, but this kind of success this early is a very encouraging sign.
Lane Hutson with a wicked goal in the dying minutes to force OT in Boston. pic.twitter.com/At33JHlRzD
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 30, 2022
Right Place, Great Time
When Cedrick Guindon was selected in the 4th round of the 2022 NHL Draft, the belief was that the Canadiens had just selected a good character player with a penchant for scoring goals.
During Canadiens Rookie Camp and Training Camp, Guindon played a feisty game, focused on a strong forecheck and intelligent play in the high-danger area.
Since being returned to the Owen Sound Attack, he’s been one of the most productive players in the entire OHL.
Moving away from being a shoot-first kind of player for the Attack, Guindon has put his playmaking ability on full display, notching 23 assists, along with nine goals, for 32 points in just 23 games.
Guindon is currently ranked fourth in the OHL for points this season, and second when it comes to the amount of apples he’s collected.
On top of his offensive outburst, his defensive game remains stellar, as he’s tasked with the most difficult defensive situations, and continues to play brilliant hockey next to 2023 NHL Draft eligible Colby Barlow.
He may not get any consideration for Team Canada’s selection camp this winter, but he’s certainly risen in the esteem of the management team that matters most to him: The Montreal Canadiens.
Picture perfect passing sets up the eventual game-winner for the @AttackOHL! 🎯@CanadiensMTL prospect Cedrick Guindon goes water bottle hunting on this wrister for the third straight win for the Bears 🐻 pic.twitter.com/CnHEPkHAD4
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) October 30, 2022
HM: Xavier Simoneau
Had you told anyone that Xavier Simoneau would have 16 points through his first 19 games of pro hockey with the Laval Rocket just two months ago, you would have likely gotten a few laughs.
Now Simoneau is the one laughing as he has been the biggest surprise for the Rocket so far in this early season and one of the few bright spots amidst their slow start.
Simoneau’s combination of skill, endless effort and fear of absolutely nothing make him a treat to watch on a regular basis.
There may be an NHL future for him yet.
Xavier Simoneau continues his fantastic run of form in the Laval top six.
His third goal of the year makes it a 4-4 game! pic.twitter.com/8nM1yCf5Yh
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 12, 2022