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Canadiens Prospect Watch: Filip Mesar Catches Fire In OHL



Montreal Canadiens prospect Filip Mesar

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Sometimes it’s easy to forget Canadiens prospect Filip Mesar is just 18 years old.

But the bar is set rather high for the first-round pick, given he spent the last two seasons playing professional hockey in Slovakia.

He started his OHL career in style, scoring three goals and three assists in his first two games, but his torrid scoring pace quickly cooled, which is always a worrying sign.

Since he returned from an upper-body injury, Mesar has found his scoring rhythm, earning an impressive four goals and two assists in three games.

The uptick in goals is particularly encouraging because we have to factor in a few things when evaluating Mesar’s play with the Kitchener Rangers.

They’re not a very good team. They sit seventh in the western conference with a record of 13-13. There have been rumblings Mesar may be part of a trade relatively soon, as to ensure the Rangers can acquire future assets while allowing the Canadiens’ prospect to flourish in a winning environment.

MUST READ: Marco D’Amico’s interview with Filip Mesar

But even if the Rangers can’t offer Mesar a very high-quality of teammate during any given shift, you expect a player of his ilk to stand out via individual efforts, particularly goals.

And after a significant drop in production following his hot start, that’s exactly what we’re starting to see from the 26th overall pick in the 2022 Draft.

His secret? He’s taking a lot more shots.

If we evaluate Mesar’s shot rate since the start of the season, we can determine he started the season at a peak and quickly dipped into a valley before emerging from his scoring drought in the last few games due to a significant increase in shots.

It’s worth pointing out Mesar hit a season-high eight shots in his two-goal effort on Dec.6 against the Guelph Storm.

Canadiens prospect Filip Mesar's shooting pace

Of course, there’s more to it than simply taking more shots, but if Mesar can maintain his current shooting pace, his scoring pace should follow suit.

Mesar will play a crucial role for Team Slovakia at the World Junior Championship, which, in addition to his recent uptick in scoring, could provide the skilled sniper with a much-needed boost in confidence, regardless of which team he ends up playing for to conclude the OHL season.

Progress Signs

One of the most interesting players in the Canadiens’ prospect pool is the 31st overall pick in the 2021 Draft, Logan Mailloux.

The 6’3″ defenceman possesses a very healthy frame, which allows him to overwhelm his opponents when combined with his raw talent.

But there are red flags in his game. Significant red flags.

Missing an entire season because he was suspended indefinitely for distributing an explicit photo without consent certainly didn’t help his overall development, and he has no one to blame for the lack of opportunities that season than himself.

A subsequent shoulder injury complicated things further, which meant he entered his Draft+2 season with just 16 games of experience under his belt, and it was quite noticeable.

But after a streak of 12-15 games in which Mailloux relied on his raw talent to control the play, something interesting occurred.

Mailloux started making better decisions, especially when it came to his positioning away from the puck.

The bar was rather low, but you could tell he was processing the information at hand rather than simply reacting to it, a crucial step for any young hockey player.

Talent can only get you so far. To transition your game to the NHL, your mind needs to be one of your greatest assets.

Canadiens fans will have to be patient when it comes to Mailloux. Despite already being 19 years old, it would be safer to classify him as a long-term project than a player that will provide any semblance of value in the near future.

However, if he can continue to refine the weak points in his game, that long-term project may just yield a healthy return on investment.

Miscellaneous Canadiens Prospect News And Notes

  • Oliver Kapanen scored his seventh goal of the season in the SHL.

  • Owen Beck returned to his scoring ways thanks to a three-point effort against the Hamilton Bulldogs
  • With Matthew Phillips’ call-up to the NHL, Anthony Richard took sole ownership of the AHL’s goal-scoring race, with 17 goals in 25 games.
  • Lane Hutson was held off the scoresheet for the second game in a row! Sure, he’s still one of the most dominant defencemen in the NCAA and one of the most exciting players in the history of the Canadiens’ prospect pool, but…I forgot where I was going with this. Oh yeah, Lane Hutson. He’s great.
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