With the Montreal Canadiens development camp in full swing, we’re starting to get a better idea of the lineup their affiliate, the Laval Rocket, will ice once the AHL resumes action next season.
As predicted, feisty forward Jared Davidson signed a contract with the Rocket, which will give the Canadiens an extra year to evaluate his progress. As it stands, the Canadiens must sign Davidson by next summer or they will lose his rights. The Rocket also signed several other players, including a pair of goaltenders, a necessary step given there were simply too few netminders n the organization.
In this projection, we will keep in mind that the Canadiens’ NHL lineup is seemingly full, which means top prospects such as Joshua Roy are likely to start the season in the AHL. Things can, and will change. Injuries are inevitable, but for now, we’ll work with what we know.
In previous years the Rocket have been laden with veteran players hailing from other organizations. Players that, for the most part, would not become a part of the long-term plan for the Montreal Canadiens.
However, we’re starting to see a change. And it’s long overdue.
Not only did the Rocket graduate a pair of forwards last year, Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylonen, but they’ll also now have a lineup that will feature a fair amount of players with NHL potential. It’s a necessary change for any team that hopes to bolster its lineup with homegrown talent rather than established AHL mercenaries.
Two prospects hailing from the QMJHL should provide a significant injection of talent to the lineup: Joshua Roy and Riley Kidney. Both have an outside chance of making enough noise at the Canadiens’ training camp to earn an extended audition in the NHL, but again, the Canadiens already have too many forwards pencilled in at the NHL level, which means in all likelihood, they’re headed for the AHL, the logical route for any prospect that doesn’t necessarily stand out as an elite talent.
They’ll be joined by a pair of players that made their North American professional hockey debut last season: Emil Heineman and Sean Farrell. Heineman was a dominant force from the moment he joined the Rocket ahead of their playoff push, scoring an impressive seven goals in just 11 games. Both will be counted upon to be among the primary producers of scoring chances in the lineup, but they won’t have to go at it alone. Top prospect Filip Mesar, who played with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL last season, is also expected to join the Rocket lineup.
SIX GOALS IN SIX GAMES FOR EMIL HEINEMAN! pic.twitter.com/nEdo8YMLbp
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) April 1, 2023
And the interesting offensive options do not stop there. The Montreal Canadiens signed the 7th overall pick at the 2017 Draft, Lias Andersson, to a one-year contract. Andersson, 24, scored 31 goals and 28 assists in 67 games for the Ontario Reign (AHL) last season. Andersson, as well as Philippe Maillet, who scored 22 goals and 31 assists for Magnitogorsk Metallurg in the KHL, should provide a consistent source of offence for Jean-Francois Houle’s team.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) February 19, 2023
There are also a handful of players that already have experience playing for the Rocket, including Xavier Simoneau, Jan Mysak, Mitchell Stephens, and Lucas Condotta. Not to mention, Rem Pitlick and Michael Pezzetta may end up playing with the Rocket due to the aforementioned logjam in the NHL.
Rocket Forward Lineup
We’ll have to get a little creative with the positions, but for now, here’s a rough idea of what the Rocket’s forward lineup may look like.
Emil Heineman – Rem Pitlick – Filip Mesar
Sean Farrell – Joshua Roy – Lias Andersson
Michael Pezzetta – Philippe Maillet – Riley Kidney
Jared Davidson – Xavier Simoneau – Lucas Condotta
extras: Jan Mysak, Jakov Novak, Mitchell Stephens