With the Montreal Canadiens preseason winding down, many decisions have been made, with just a few tough ones remaining.
Dozens of Habs prospects put their best foot forward, hoping to show management the strides in their development, some leaving a great impression – others not so much.
We will not be scrutinizing the play of underachieving veterans in this particular article (cough cough Armia) or young players who spent the entire season in the NHL last year (we see you Kirby and Juraj), but rather focus on junior prospects or fringe National Hockey League (NHL) players.
Montreal Canadiens Training Camp Heroes
William Trudeau: The 20-year-old left a good impression, playing a simple, efficient game on most shifts. The American Hockey League (AHL) was always the logical destination for him to return to, but he’s made a decent case for a recall if Montreal’s long list of left defencemen were to get decimated by injuries.
But given the depth, it’s a big if. Just like Cory Schueneman, he may simply never have a true chance to crack the roster due to his lower rank in the pecking order.
Regardless, this was the second consecutive training camp in which Trudeau stood out among a throng of talented defencemen, which bodes well for his future.
Jared Davidson: Seemingly always at the right place and capitalizing on many opportunities, for those who did not have the pleasure of watching him last season, this camp was Davidson’s coming out party.
His relentless forechecking, penchant for driving the net, and palpable chemistry with Xavier Simoneau and Brandon Gignac stood out – and could foreshadow great things to come in Laval.
The 21-year-old has been successful offensively in junior (finishing eighth in scoring in the WHL in 21-22, and 16th in 22-23) and should play a relatively big role for the Rocket this season.
It remains to be seen if his offensive instincts will translate to the professional ranks.
— Shawn Fournier (@ShawnF1998) September 25, 2023
Mattias Norlinder: Even though he only spent one full season adapting to North American hockey, many had given up on this offensive defenceman.
But his ability to quarterback a power play has separated him from other prospects at camp, and his improved 5v5 play may finally be good enough to see him start the year in Montreal.
Is this the year he proves his detractors wrong?
Mattias Norlinder marque en avantage numérique 💥 pic.twitter.com/CLskvWJmEW
— TVA Sports (@TVASports) October 2, 2023
Joshua Roy: An early cut may have surprised a few, considering Le Sniper Beauceron had solid showings.
But it seems like management wanted to see him join the Rocket’s camp as early as possible.
Like Davidson, Roy has shown his offensive acumen and forechecking efficiency and should be given ample opportunity to play top minutes with Laval. He likely will be amongst the first players called up during the season thanks to his incredibly well-rounded 200-foot game.
John Parker-Jones: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a defenceman – no wait, it’s a hulking, 6’7 forward: it’s John Parker-Jones!
Parker-Jones walked into camp with zero expectations from fans, and yet, he quickly emerged as a solid forechecker, heavy hitter, and good puck-protector.
While he was arguably the best player in one of the games against Toronto, it seems Laval (or even Trois-Rivières) is what awaits this 23-year-old, who may work his way into an NHL bottom-six role, one day.
As mentioned, Parker-Jones was particularly noticeable on October 29th.
— HockeyStatCards (@hockeystatcards) September 30, 2023
Jakub Dobeš: Dobeš was impossible to miss, spending innumerable calories on each save he made.
The jittery, combative, and athletic goaltender looked downright amazing at times and could potentially steal the starter’s job from Primeau, in Laval, if the latter makes his way down there.
With many goalie prospects now in the system, one is bound to be great, right?
Logan Mailloux: One of the last defencemen to be sent down, Mailloux has shown constant improvement as camp went on.
The offensive tools and bite to his game were apparent from day one, but we saw fewer defensive and positioning mistakes with each passing game.
Laval is clearly the best destination for him, so he can sharpen his incredibly raw skill set. Once he adapts to the speed of professional hockey, a call-up may be in the cards.
Training Camp Zeros
Justin Barron: Barron had a poor camp last season, forcing Kent Hughes to ship him to Laval for the first half of the season, where he looked really good.
He was then recalled mid-season and played like a legitimate NHLer.
Is history repeating itself?
Barron did not have a strong camp, by any means, but it feels like management is giving him every opportunity to earn a job.
However, the fact that the Canadiens are keeping Gustav Lindström around, as an insurance policy, reads like: “Hey, so, you know, last chance to prove you really want this spot Saturday, otherwise someone else gets it”.
Lias Andersson: If your old boss convinced his new workplace to hire your unemployed bum, would you go through walls to prove him right?
Would you? Well, Lias Andersson apparently wouldn’t.
He didn’t look bad, by any means, but he was far from the offensive force he displayed during his time in the AHL.
The “Meh”st Of The Rest
Owen Beck: Look, he had a good camp, so perhaps it’s a matter of expectation. But Owen Beck had such an impressive camp last year, earning him an early entry-level-contract (ELC), that the bar was high for the young, two-way centerman. The fact of the matter is he wasn’t lights out.
His early cut may be a testament that management felt the same way and they always intended for him to play a final year in junior, hoping he’d dominate offensively.
That said, if Montreal Canadiens veteran Jake Evans is still a member of the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge by next year’s camp, he should be worried about Beck. Extremely worried!
Jesse Ylönen: For a guy who’s on the bubble, yet again, you’d like to see more. He plays a good, pro game and hasn’t looked awful, but you have to think he may be only still there because he’d need to go through waivers, otherwise.
Or maybe he’s planning on becoming the next Habs enforcer?
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) September 27, 2023
Emil Heineman: Akin to last year’s camp, this Montreal Canadiens prospect became more and more comfortable with each game, his last one being his best by far. A few days ago he would have been in the “zeros” category, and may very well finish in the “heroes” column, with another strong game on Saturday. Stay tuned.
Cayden Primeau: Primeau had a somewhat uneven camp, looking solid for the most part, only to then let in goals that illustrate why he has a hard time graduating or finding sustained success against better competition.
To his advantage, however, he would need to go through waivers if sent down. So, Primeau may actually stay in the NHL, somewhat undeservedly.
That is unless we see a team come knocking with a goaltender-based trade enquiry.
Does anyone have Julien BriseBois’ phone number?
Do you agree or disagree with our Montreal Canadiens Training Camp heroes and zeros? Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments!