Several Montreal Canadiens prospects are on the cusp of earning a job in the NHL.
Seeing as the Habs are in the midst of a rebuild, this means prioritizing development over short-term success. General manager Kent Hughes will be using the training camp to evaluate the potential impact of the aforementioned players, not to mention, their NHL readiness.
Who is Montreal Canadiens Prospect, Logan Mailloux?
Ahead of the 2021 NHL draft, the Belle River, Ont., native renounced himself, asking teams not to select him, in light of being charged for offensive photography as well as defamation after sharing a picture of a woman engaged in a sexual act without her consent, for which he paid a fine.
As a result, several teams had this skater (who ranked as a second-round talent per the NHL Central Scouting Service) in their do-not-draft list. But it didn’t stop Marc Bergevin from making him the final first-round pick (31st overall) of his decade-long tenure as the Habs’ GM, sparking controversy and backlash in the process – and perhaps contributing to his own demise.
After all, it’s not every day the Canadian Prime Minister weighs in on a draftee mentioning the team “showed a lack of judgment” by selecting him. Later on, incoming general manager Kent Hughes signed the 20-year-old to an entry-level contract in the fall of 2022.
Prior to the start of the 2021-22 season, the OHL rendered their decision on his eligibility to play, opting to bar him from the first half of the year. Mailloux was subsequently limited to 12 games in which he scored three goals and six assists.
The following year, Mailloux once again missed significant time, this time around with a shoulder injury which prevented him from taking part in the first part of the schedule. Once he returned to the lineup, Mailloux rekindled the offensive side of his game, tallying 53 points in 59 games (0.9 PPG), finishing the season 9th in points per game and 10th in total points among all OHL defencemen.
It’s also worth noting that he scored more goals than any other defenceman in the league (25), despite only playing 59 games.
He would continue to contribute offensively in the playoffs, adding a solid 24 points in 21 games (1.14 PPG), propelling the London Knights to the OHL finals, where they would ultimately lose to Owen Beck’s Peterborough Petes.
Montreal Canadiens Prospect Strengths
When it comes to Mailloux, there are two players: the O-zone player and the D-zone one.
They are two sides of the same coin but behave much differently, given the context.
When he has the puck on his stick in the opposition’s zone, the offensive-minded Mailloux stands out.
He looks extremely confident, and patient, often dangling pressuring forwards by using his smooth skating abilities and silky mits, before ripping a heavy shot through an open lane he’s created.
Doing so, he can look like a high-end player, and it can feel like a powerplay when he’s on the ice, as he pretty much acts like a fourth forward, with his team in possession of the puck.
And when an actual powerplay rolls around, he’s a dangerous threat, whether dancing on the blue line or near the faceoff dot, awaiting to unleash a booming one-timer that finds twine more often than not.
Also, at 6’3, 220 lbs, he doesn’t shy away from physical contact. Mailloux likes to hit rushing players at the blue line and can play with a mean streak when the mercury heats up during a contest – which helped earn him the 25th-highest PIM totals of the OHL, last season.
Montreal Canadiens Prospect Areas To Improve
Mailloux numéro deux is a whole different player that can cost you games.
If it feels like the team is enjoying a man advantage when Mailloux is in the offensive zone, it can feel like a penalty kill when he’s tasked with shutting down the opposition’s best forwards.
The same patience that makes him successful in the offensive zone can quickly turn into an issue, as he often holds on to the puck for too long, creating turnovers or missing an easy breakout pass option, hammering the team down-low for a while – if not for entire shifts.
He can sometimes completely miss defensive assignments, look lost in his zone, or make decisions that will leave his coaching staff baffled.
We saw a good example of that in a pre-season bout against the New Jersey Devils:
Jack Hughes dances around the Habs with crazy moves, finds Mercer for an easy goal. pic.twitter.com/HGPBx4KIf9
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) September 26, 2023
In this clip, Mailloux commits several mistakes in the span of a few seconds.
First, he wrongfully chooses to pursue the puck carrier deep in his zone during a penalty kill (as a defenceman, why was he so far up ice to begin with?). Then, he gets burned in the neutral zone before getting baited into following Jack Hughes atop the D-zone, electing to play man-to-man instead of regrouping down-low for zone coverage – only to get burned again. He’s then seen slowly drifting to the goal mouth, failing to catch up to an open Dawson Mercer, who capitalizes, unchallenged.
Perhaps he’s been able to make up for these poor decisions and recover against slower, junior competition, but this will not fly in the pro ranks. The good news is he seems to be getting straight feedback on his shortcomings and vows to learn from them. If he does, they will become non-issues.
His hockey IQ has been questioned at times by some, but perhaps this lack of situational awareness or execution speed can be linked to the crucial developmental playing time he’s sorely missed, in recent years.
Clearly, he’s in the growing pains stage of his development, which is to be expected at age 20, as defencemen tend to hit their prime later than forwards.
If he rounds up his game, he could be a staple at the Habs blue line, as his positive attributes are undeniable.
If he doesn’t, there could still be a scenario where he becomes an NHL regular, playing sheltered 5v5 minutes, as a PP specialist, akin to players like former Habs, Erik Gustafsson or Marc-Andre Bergeron.
Odds of making the team
While Chris Wideman’s absence opens a spot on the right side of the Canadiens’ blue line, it appears Justin Barron would have the edge to take this spot, especially given his pro experience.
Getting stable minutes in Laval, under the guidance of head coach Jean-François Houle, could be just what the doctor ordered for a prospect that has missed a significant portion of crucial development years.
Mailloux could see his efforts rewarded with top powerplay opportunities, and a potential call-up if injuries once again take hold of the roster.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that Barron underwhelms at camp and Mailloux’s shortcomings aren’t considered significant by the coaching staff. If this is the case, a nine-game trial shouldn’t be excluded for further evaluation, especially since Barron could be sent to Laval without going through waivers.
But, realistically, general manager Kent Hughes will need assurance he’s a surefire NHLer before he allows Mailloux to take the most crucial step of his hockey career.