The Montreal Canadiens were hoping prospect Filip Mesar would find his scoring touch in the OHL.
It wasn’t necessarily the case during his first season with the Kitchener Rangers. The team was a mess, which led to them dismissing their head coach midway through the season, but regardless of the situation, it’s always concerning to see a first-round pick struggle to reach a point per game in the OHL.
In that vein, Mesar’s 17 goals and 34 assists in 52 games was a fairly decent level of production, but it still left something to be desired. Ideally, a first-round pick would dominate a league like the OHL in his Draft +1 season.
Fortunately for the Canadiens, that’s exactly what Mesar is doing during his sophomore campaign.
Not only has he almost doubled his production with 11 goals and 15 assists in 15 games, but he’s also on pace to reach almost 100 points.
He’s playing a much more sustainable brand of hockey for the Rangers, and that includes heading to the dirty areas in the ice as well as driving to the net to reach high-danger scoring areas.
Simply put, he’s engaged in almost every play during most shifts, a significant change for the 19-year-old forward.
You simply cannot keep them off the scoresheet 🤷♂️
— Ontario Hockey League (@OHLHockey) November 4, 2023
Montreal Canadiens Prospect Accolades
Mesar’s uptick in scoring means that he’s currently tied with teammate Carson Rehkopf for the OHL’s lead in points per game (1.73 PP/G), a very encouraging sign for a player the Habs hope will one day turn into an offensive threat in the NHL.
Of course, playing on a much stronger team has helped Mesar, but more than anything, it was the Canadiens’ decision to avoid forcing him into a situation for which he was ill-prepared that made the greatest impact on his development.
Sending him back to the OHL after a pair of games in the AHL was the right call.
It’s a lesson worth remembering as the Canadiens continue to navigate their rebuild.
Prospects must be used in an ideal situation, one that is conducive to thriving.
As it stands, other than phenom Lane Hutson, no other Canadiens prospect is thriving more than Mesar. Yes, he’s at the point in his development where he should be producing at this level, and I understand if some will scoff at the idea of praising him for dominating the OHL during his Draft+2 season, but we also must remember that development is not linear.
And when it comes to year-to-year improvements, few prospects in the entire hockey landscape have taken a bigger step than Mesar this season.
If you need further proof, Mesar was recently named the player of the month in the OHL.
— Ontario Hockey League (@OHLHockey) December 1, 2023