The Montreal Canadiens may not have a forward prospect who would be described as elite by most analysts, but they do have a certain prospect who has done a fantastic job since beginning his professional hockey career in earnest.
Joshua Roy is on fire.
The 2021 fifth-round pick isn’t just surviving in the AHL, he’s thriving.
Roy has five goals and four assists in just four games, including an impressive hat-trick effort against the Rochester Americans on Friday night. He’s been shooting the puck with fantastic regularity and has already produced 18 shots on net.
With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that Roy also currently leads the AHL in scoring.
3 rondelles pour 3 buts! Premier tour du chapeau chez les pros pour Joshua Roy!
3 pucks for 3 goals! First pro hat trick! pic.twitter.com/ewBxHNNZo3
— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) October 21, 2023
If Roy is dominating the AHL, which is the NHL’s development league, he should have been the player the Canadiens recalled instead of Joel Armia, right?
In a perfect world, yes, a meritocracy would dictate the promotions and demotions.
But the situation in Montreal is far from perfect.
If the Canadiens cannot guarantee top-six minutes for Roy, his development will surely stall by playing very few shifts in a situation that calls for grinding rather than producing offence.
Of course, Roy has one of the most well-rounded games outside of the NHL, which is why he’s almost guaranteed to eventually make his NHL debut at some point.
The 20-year-old is a coach’s dream. A low-maintenance player who almost always makes a significant impact, regardless of where he’s used in the lineup.
However, there are also other factors to consider.
The Canadiens are in no hurry to qualify for the playoffs, and Roy’s presence in the lineup is unlikely to change their projected finish in the standings. Whereas, the Laval Rocket will need players like Roy in the lineup if they’re to build a winning culture.
Very few prospects have suffered from playing too many games in the AHL, but there’s a laundry list of prospects who never ended up making an impact in the NHL due to early promotion. There’s also a (very recent) history of rushing top prospects to the NHL within the organization.
Joshua Roy will play for the Montreal Canadiens.
And it’s likely going to happen sooner rather than later.
But for now, as my fellow youths say, it’s time to let him cook (in the AHL).