When it comes to Montreal Canadiens prospects, the bulk of the attention has been focused on players such as David Reinbacher, Logan Mailloux, and Juraj Slafkovsky.
However, it takes more than just a handful of players to build a winning roster. You need talent throughout the lineup, and for the most part, that talent will be found in the NHL Entry Draft.
Not every prospect will ascend to the NHL, but late first-round picks, as well as second-round picks, are expected to make an impact.
There was a certain level of concern when it came to the play of Filip Mesar (26th overall, 2022) and Owen Beck (33rd overall, 2022). Neither hit the ground running, with Mesar having a hard time earning minutes in the AHL with the Laval Rocket, and Beck struggling to produce with the Peterborough Petes in the OHL.
At 19 years old, they’re both quite young, which means inconsistency is inevitable, but more to the point, they’ve managed to generate an impressive amount of offence now that they’ve had an opportunity to shake off the cobwebs.
Finding His Groove
After six games, Beck’s stats were looking rather underwhelming. Those who watched him play know that it wasn’t necessarily a case of Beck playing poorly, but rather an unfortunate streak of bad shooting luck.
But as they say, what goes down, must come up.
Okay, no one says that, but in this case, it’s true.
After registering just one goal in his first six games of the year, Beck has found his rhythm. He has six goals and two assists in his last five games, including a hat-trick effort against the Oshawa Generals in late October.
After a slow start, Owen Beck (#GoHabsGo) finally popped off on Oct 21st, scoring a hat-trick and having chances for even more.
• 5 scoring chances, 0.92 xG
• 5 controlled entries
• 3 entries prevented
— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) October 26, 2023
Beck maintained his strong level of play into November, which included goals in back-to-back games against the Generals, who are surely sick of seeing his name on the scoresheet by now.
With seven goals in 11 games, Beck is now on pace for a 40+ goal season, an encouraging uptick when it comes to his goal-scoring prowess. It’s also worth noting that Beck has won more than 58 percent of his faceoffs this season.
Goals will help him get noticed by Canadiens management, but his faceoff efficiency combined with his defensive awareness is what most coaches notice first, and why he’s likely to earn a job with the Canadiens in the future.
— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) November 3, 2023
It would be unfair to suggest that Mesar struggled with the Laval Rocket.
Truth be told, he wasn’t given a legitimate opportunity to prove he belonged.
However, we do have to give credit to the Montreal Canadiens management for making a quick decision, which led to his reassignment to the Kitchener Rangers.
Rather than allowing one of their important prospects to stagnate in a situation that was not conducive to good development, they quickly assessed the situation and came up with a contingency plan.
These are crucial development years, and a team like the Habs simply can’t afford to fumble high-end prospects like Mesar. There’s another Slovak on the team that could use a change of scenery, but we’re not here to discuss Slafkovsky.
At least not yet.
Last season, Mesar had a decent stat line, with 51 points in 52 games. But you expect a first-round pick to dominate a league like the OHL, and that was far from the case.
Granted, the Rangers were a mess, as evidenced by their mid-season coaching change, and that explains some of the lack of chemistry throughout the lineup, but regardless of the situation, high-end talent should be able to produce more than a point per game in the OHL.
This year, things are different.
The Mesar-Rehkopf duo is on fire tonight!!!!!🔥🔥
Mesar has the two primary assists on both Rehkopf’s goals. #SeaKraken prospect has 17 goals, 28 points in 14 1/2 games so far this season!
— Florence Normand (@Florence_1553) November 4, 2023
Not only is Kitchener a stronger lineup, they’re playing as a cohesive unit rather than 23 individuals.
Mesar has two goals and five assists in four games, but more importantly, he’s driving to the net, he’s skating into dirty areas, and he’s not shying away from any type of puck or board battle.
It’s too early to make any sweeping statements about his long-term potential, but at the very least, we can declare that Mesar is back on track from an offensive standpoint, and that’s great news for the Montreal Canadiens and their rebuild.