Canadiens Prospects: Draft Experts Discuss NHL Readiness
As the hockey season winds down, we can look ahead at some of the Montreal Canadiens prospects who may make their professional debut this season.
We gathered information from various Draft experts, as well as Habs prospect aficionados to give us a better idea of what to expect from players such as Sean Farrell, Riley Kidney, and Joshua Roy.
Essentially, you will read the opinions of the experts who I speak to before forming my own opinion on the various players in the Canadiens’ prospect pool.
Both Roy and Kidney could spend another year in the QMJHL, seeing as they’re both 19 years old, however, for this article, we’ll assume they’re set to make their start in the professional hockey ranks.
You’ll note an NHLe chart tied to all three players. These charts give us a better idea of their overall potential by comparing their Draft, Draft+1, Draft +2, and Draft +3 seasons to players who produced similar results to the Canadiens prospects in question.
Sean Farrell, C/LW, Harvard University (NCAA). Drafted: 124th overall (2020), Age: 21.
Season Stats: 33 Games Played, 20 Goals, 32 Assists, 52 Points.
David St-Louis: Farrell diversified his skills a lot in college. He remains a playmaker first and foremost, but his shot has gotten a lot more threatening. What he does best is manipulate the opposition off the rush. He makes defenders hesitate, deceives them, and then passes to teammates in open areas. He’s agile, but on the smaller side, so adding an extra gear to his skating would help his NHL transition. He is one of the smartest NHL prospects we’ve followed this season at Elite Prospects.
Hadi Kalakeche: Farrell is NHL-ready in terms of his tools and toolkit. He just needs to bulk up, add some more core strength and he’s good to go — he’s got true top-six potential. I wouldn’t be against seeing him play for the Canadiens before the season’s end if he chooses to turn pro. Farrell’s an insane playmaker and is probably the smartest Habs prospect not named Lane Hutson.
Florence Normand: He possesses a tremendous amount of natural talent. His ‘Hockey IQ’ is through the roof, and his ability to create scoring plays out of thin air is exceptional. In my opinion, he’s much closer to a playmaker than a goal-scorer. His small frame leads him to be vulnerable in some situations, and he will have to learn to protect himself once he makes the jump to professional hockey.
Sebastian High: Farrell can already outthink most NHL players. His playmaking and intensity will also really ease his transition to professional hockey. His skating remains a work in progress, if he improves upon his skating this summer, he could be a top-nine contributor right out of the gate in the Fall, but if it doesn’t, acclimating to pro hockey and its pace in the AHL for a season would likely be beneficial.
Riley Kidney, Centre, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL). Drafted: 63rd overall (2021), Age: 19
Season Stats: 58 Games Played, 28 Goals, 77 Assists, 105 Points.
David St-Louis: Kidney is a great Junior scorer. Contrary to Roy, however, he hasn’t changed his game all that much since his draft year. Rather, he improved the skills he already had. He’s a puck-dominant forward, a good handler and playmaker, who needs a lot of quality puck touches to dominate. Those are hard to come by in the AHL. We’ll see how he handles the transition. Improving his defence and the overall pace of play would help him translate his scoring game to the professional ranks.
Hadi Kalakeche: Kidney still doesn’t have the speed or strength to play full-time pro hockey, but he’s probably the most improved out of all the Canadiens’ prospects. He’ll need a couple of years. On that note, Kidney’s stickhandling is really fun to watch.
Florence Normand: Kidney’s development has been rather impressive. He’s a dynamic player. His speed of execution is fantastic. His ability to produce offence comes from his penchant for being able to read opposing players. His anticipation allows him to disrupt passing lanes. He lacks size and will have to work on his strength, especially if he’s to win 1v1 puck battles. His shot isn’t necessarily elite, either, it lacks speed. I think he’s an interesting prospect, but despite his exceptional production in the QMJHL this season, I’m not convinced he will be able to translate his skill set to the professional ranks. I see him as a player with a top-9 potential, at most.
Sebastian High: Kidney has been Adam Nicholas’ biggest success story with the Canadiens so far (honourable mention goes to Josh Anderson). As recently as this summer I was still skeptical about his projectability to the NHL game due to his reliance on time and space to create, but most importantly his tendency to avoid attacking the middle, which is an especially big red flag in the QMJHL. This season, however, Kidney has become impressively middle-driven and has ramped up the pace of his play. His upside is likely as a skilled second-liner, but he’ll need at least a year or two in the AHL before making the jump.
3. Joshua Roy, Right Wing, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL). Drafted: 150th overall (2021), Age: 19
Season Stats: 53 Games Played, 42 Goals, 50 Assists, 92 Points.
David St-Louis: A prospect rarely manages to improve and develop his game as much as Roy has in Junior. He was pretty much only a rush scorer in his draft year, but now he’s so much more. His playmaking game has improved significantly and his defensive game, too. He has a shot that can score in the NHL, but now, if he doesn’t make it as a scorer, it’s possible to envision him filling more of a defensive role.
Hadi Kalakeche: Roy was pro-ready last year, but I’m all for letting him get accustomed to the AHL’s pace of play before making the jump to the NHL, at least for a year. QMJHL to NHL is a massive step, it’s better to go about it gradually with him. Roy’s board game has become my favourite thing about him, even though his shot is great.
Florence Normand: Roy already possesses a professional hockey shot. His Hockey IQ is well above average. He’s seen a significant improvement in his consistency since his first year in the QMJHL. His skating remains average. It’s not that he’s a bad skater, but it’s clearly not a strength. He tends to control the play by slowing it down. His playing style runs much more east-west than north-south, and he’ll have to work on his 200-foot game to succeed in professional hockey. I’d argue he has top-9 potential.
Sebastian High: Roy is ready for a step up in competition, and he has been for the past year. Laval is the best place for him to start, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he won a spot with the Canadiens in training camp. He plays a calculated game and can hold his own in a role as a two-way checking forward, which makes him an easier player to put on a fourth line than most of the other prospects in the Habs’ system.
NHLe charts provided by Byron Bader, via HockeyProspecting.
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Not a good idea to rush these guys to the top league in the world from junior or college . With a possible playoff appearance no sooner than 2 years away , why rush it . Too many injured young players as it is .
Farrell will win out a job if for no other reason then to help Dach with Faceoffs.
He’s actually compared to a Great 2nd line Center for a reason despite being drafted a LW his 3rd best NCAA line was comprised of all Wingers. Coronato and Farrel split the Faceoffs with Farrell handling most of the Nuetral and Defensive Zone Faceoffs.
With Drouin leaving we got no wingers capable of providing that kinda support.
Unless we move Evans to Wing and keep Owen Beck up instead as he was a final cut last year and almost made the roster based on his Faceoff ability coupled with him non stop checking ability.
These comments from these reporters if accurate tells us Farrell is a ways off from an NHL ready player ,
“ adding an extra gear to his skating would help”
“He needs to bulk up”
“His skating remains a work in progress “
His Skating is fine they just want him to be Paul Byron because he’s small.
Reality is he skates more at Gallaghers level with a ton of heart and an all out stride.
I’d call him middle of the pack on todays roster.
Need to bulk up sure but he averages 6-7lbs a summer at 175 he’ll start the season at 180-181 i think . Two really small area’s and to be honest he’ll get Drouin’s job because he’s a strong Faceoff Winger of which MTL will have 0 next year as it stands.
He’s ideal if you’re leaving Dach at Center because during his NCAA time he’s split the Center duties on an all Winger line for 2 years. Its why he’s compared to a really Quality Top 6 Center because one day he might make that jump full time.
But for today beside Dach and Anderson it gives him size to skate with and good but very different goal scorers to set up
Even with Drouin, Byron and others coming off the books this summer, unless there are multiple trades, where are they going to play? I’d rather see these guys (and Slafkovsky frankly) marinating in Laval under they’re over-ripe like Detroit did in their dynasty years, than rushing them into the NHL and seeing them get hurt because they aren’t physically ready or crushed by pressure to produce in Montreal. Many fans have been accepting of the patience it takes for the rebuild to be done right, but at some point you know certain media members will start squawking to get attention and then the sheep will follow. If we can keep the kids in the AHL and build a Calder Cup champion powerhouse team with them, and then graduate them to the NHL like Tampa did with their farm team, we’ll be building a perennial contender from the ground up the right way.