Prospect development will play a key part as the Montreal Canadiens enter the second year of their rebuild in earnest. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the players in the prospect pool that will be seeking greener pastures with a new team next season.
Laval Rocket (American Hockey League)
Head coach Jean-Francois Houle will receive a significant influx of talent from the parent club, with top QMJHL forwards Joshua Roy and Riley Kidney joining the fold. Roy could potentially earn a job with the Canadiens if he impresses at the Habs’ training camp, but as it stands, the forward lineup is already rather crowded.
They’ll be joined by 24-year-old Lias Andersson, who scored 31 goals and 28 assists in 67 games for the Ontario Reign last season. The trio will attempt to replace two very important players in the lineup: former captain Alex Belzile and the team’s leading scorer, Anthony Richard.
Sean Farrell, Emil Heineman, and Jared Davidson should also be prominent players in the AHL, though it’s worth noting that both Farrell and Heineman already have professional experience.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) January 9, 2023
The defensive situation is a little more complicated, but there are decent chances that a couple of players will join the Rocket next season. Training camp will likely decide which defenceman makes his way to the AHL, but it’s not the only factor.
Waiver eligibility comes into play, putting defencemen such as Justin Barron and Arber Xhekaj at risk of playing for the Rocket at some point in the season.
Then there’s the Logan Mailloux situation.
As of yet, he has not been cleared to play by the NHL following the charge for distributing explicit photographs, but the Montreal Canadiens did request an audience with the league to discuss Mailloux’s future.
That decision is unlikely to have any bearing on his AHL eligibility, and he’s not at the point in his development where we should expect him to earn a job with the Canadiens out of camp, which means there are healthy odds he’ll be playing in the AHL next season alongside Miguel Tourigny, who is fresh off a five-goal, 19-assist season playing professional hockey in Slovakia.
The goaltending duo is likely to feature Cayden Primeau and Jakub Dobes, with the former ready to make his professional-hockey debut following a great two-season tenure with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Only three Habs prospects will be joining a new team playing in the NCAA next season, and two happen to be goaltenders.
Clark Cup champion and MVP Jacob Fowler will head to Boston, but he’s not going to play alongside Luke Tuch and Lane Hutson for Boston University. Rather, Fowler will be playing for Boston College.
Some excellent puck-tracking here from Montreal Canadiens prospect Jacob Fowler.
— Steven Ellis (@SEllisHockey) July 31, 2023
Former Waterloo Black Hawks goalie Emmett Croteau is also preparing to start his college career. The 2022 sixth-round pick has committed to playing for Clarkson University.
Sam Harris, a 19-year-old forward chosen 133rd overall by the Habs at the 2023 Draft, has put an end to his USHL career and is expected to play for the University of Denver in 2023-24.
The Montreal Canadiens already have a few of their best prospects developing in Europe, with Adam Engstrom slated to play a top-pairing role with Rogle in the SHL, and David Reinbacher set to return to Kloten EHC in the NL.
They’ll hope that Vinzenz Rohrer and Dmitri Kostenko will follow suit. Rohrer had a very respectable season in the OHL, scoring 19 goals and 30 assists in 54 games for the Ottawa 67’s, playing a cerebral style of play that should translate nicely to the professional ranks. He signed a contract with the Zurich Lions of the NL, where he’ll face Reinbacher on a few occasions.
As for Kostenko, he’ll still be playing in the KHL, but he’ll be joining a much better. Kostenko was loaned to the Kunlun Red Star last season, the worst team in the Tarasov Division. He will attempt to earn a job with Moscow Spartak next year.
#GoHabsGo prospect Vinzenz Rohrer scores his 3rd goal in 4 games. He's also rocking a 70% faceoff success rate today vs. Sarnia
— Costa Rontzocos (@Rontzeeez) February 5, 2023