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Canadiens Prospect Power Rankings

Canadiens Prospect Power Rankings: Fan Vote Time!



Montreal Canadiens prospect Bogdan Konyushkov

Welcome back to the Montreal Canadiens prospect power rankings!

In this edition, you’ll notice there’s not as much movement in the rankings. We’re nearing the end of the season and it’s very difficult to displace anyone in the list given that we’re dealing with a relatively healthy sample size.

I’m also changing things up a little. Rather than telling you who I think deserves to be ninth and 10th on the list, I will ask for help from Habs fans to pick the final spots.

It’s important to remember these Canadiens prospect power rankings are for prospects who are 23 and under, and not currently playing in the NHL.

They’re also power rankings, which means the various prospects will move up and down the list depending on their recent results. The entirety of their season is kept into account, but a bad week means a player may drop.

N.B. The statistics used in this edition are from January 31 to February 13.

Let’s dive right into it!

Canadiens Prospect Power Rankings

1. Lane Hutson, Defenceman, Boston University (NCAA). Drafted: 62nd overall (2022) Age: 19

Season Results: 26 GP, 11 G, 25 A, 36 PTS. Recent Results: 4 GP, 1G, 4A, 5 PTS
Last Rank: No.1 (No Change)

By now most Habs fans are aware that Lane Hutson projects as a unique talent that has the skill set to potentially make an impact in the NHL. In other words, he’s exactly what the current lineup needs: a game-breaking presence.

Of course, like any other prospect, Hutson will have to improve a few aspects of his game if he’s to seamlessly jump from the NCAA to the NHL.

This week we’ll discuss his weaknesses rather than his strengths since everyone is well aware he’s the most productive defenceman in the NCAA. He’s currently tied for 11th in NCAA scoring with forwards Ryan Leonard, Bradley Nadeau, and Rutger McGroaty, all of whom were chosen in the first round of the NHL Draft.

There are very few weak points in his game, but amidst all the hype we do have to remind ourselves that he’s not a perfect player.

The recent schedule for Boston University gave us a great opportunity to watch him in action against some of the best teams in the country, including Boston College and Northeastern.

And while Northeastern managed to win the famous Beanpot tournament, you’d be hard-pressed to suggest Hutson’s impact was mitigated by facing a top club. This is important because at times last season, Hutson, and the rest of the Terriers lineup, would fade slightly against elite teams.

But this year we’re seeing a Canadiens prospect who makes better decisions, especially in the offensive zone. He did lose the puck a handful of times when there weren’t great passing options available. In those situations, Hutson tends to hold onto the puck, dangle a handful of opponents, create time and space for a pass, and then feed a teammate for a high-danger scoring opportunity. But teams are starting to catch on to his tactics, and have been pressuring him a little more.

This often ends in disaster for the team pressuring him, as Hutson’s anticipation allows him to avoid most hits and stick checks, but I’m not convinced this will be the case in the NHL, at least from the very get-go.

There are bound to be turnovers while Hutson is on the ice. He carries the puck more often than almost any other athlete in the NCAA, but he will have to move it faster once he makes the jump to professional hockey.

It’s more of a slight issue than a weakness, but again, there are very few legitimate weaknesses to discuss in his case.

I’d also suggest his playmaking will need to be adjusted. In the NCAA he can make cross-ice passes with the greatest of ease, and he has an affinity for 100-foot breakout passes.  You don’t want a player of Hutson’s calibre to remove all the creativity from his game, but he will have to be a little more selective when he’s facing NHL opponents.

As for his defensive game, there’s a lot less work to be done than some may assume.

Hutson was Team USA’s best defenceman at the World Junior Championship, and not because he was scoring at will. He was tasked with covering the best players from other countries, a challenge he completed with aplomb.

His skating has also improved by leaps and bounds, but he’ll need to keep working on it if he’s to continue shutting the rush, quickly corral loose pucks, and restart the offence.

He needs to keep adding muscle to his frame, but it would be a mistake to force him to spend all day in the gym. His agility more than makes up for his below-average frame.

And finally, I’d say his positioning is not perfect, but like everything else, it has improved significantly. He defends the rush quite well but will lose his player in the defensive zone at times. When it comes down to it, Hutson will need a little time to adjust to the speed and intensity of the NHL.

Hutson is almost guaranteed to make his NHL debut this season. Fans will, however, have to wait until his NCAA season is over, and given Boston University has healthy odds of making a solid run at the Frozen Four, it’s wise to expect him to join the Canadiens either in the penultimate or ultimate game of the schedule.

This will allow Hutson to burn a year of his entry-level contract, a nice reward for leaving the NCAA early. It won’t change anything when it comes to his future arbitration rights or unrestricted free agency.

With that in mind, expect Hutson to sign a contract and make his NHL debut against the Detroit Red Wings on April 15 or April 16.

2. Jacob Fowler, Goaltender, Boston College (NCAA), Drafted 69th overall (2023). Age: 19.

Season Results: 26 GP, 20-5-1 record, 2.23 GAA, .924 SV%. Recent Results: 2-1-0, .927 save percentage.
Last Rank: No.2 (No change)

Something very confusing happened at Boston College recently.

They played a game without Jacob Fowler serving as the team’s starter for the first time this season.

Backup Jan Korec was given the opportunity to finally start a game during the consolation phase of the Beanpot tournament. He played a solid game as Boston College secured an easy 5-0 win over Harvard.

It was a well-deserved rest for Fowler.

It’s easy to forget since he’s one of the calmest goaltenders in the league and his numbers are borderline elite, but Fowler is still a freshman. Prior to the game against Harvard, Fowler had started 26 consecutive games.

Despite having less experience than his competitors, he still leads the NCAA in wins and is top-5 in save percentage, rather impressive stats for a player chosen in the third round of the NHL Entry Draft.

A lot like Hutson, Fowler represents one of the best prospects in the organization. He’s a player who will have to succeed if the Canadiens are to eventually turn the rebuilding roster into a Stanley Cup-contending lineup.

But unlike Hutson, Fowler will remain in the NCAA for the foreseeable future, which is nothing but good news when it comes to gaining crucial experience.

There’s plenty of time before he’ll be ready to make the jump to the NHL, and as we’ve seen in the past when the Habs signed Cayden Primeau, convincing goaltenders to leave the NCAA early doesn’t always work out.

Fowler’s one glaring weakness is that he tends to sit too far back in his net. I know I’ve written those exact words several times this season, but it’s genuinely difficult to criticize his game. His lateral transitions could be a little faster, and his agility is not elite, but those are quite the nits to pick.

As it stands, no other Canadiens prospect chosen in the 2023 Draft has impressed me more than Fowler, who looks like he’s been playing NCAA hockey for roughly 10 years.

3. Owen Beck, Centre, Peterborough Petes (OHL). Drafted: 32nd overall (2022), Age: 20

Season Results: 40 GP, 25 G, 29 A, 54 PTS. Weekly Results: 6 GP, 4 G, 6 A, 10 PTS.
Last Rank: No.3 (No Change)

It was a down week for Owen Beck.

Wait. Let me rephrase that.

It was a down week for Beck relative to his early scoring pace with the Saginaw Spirit, but he still managed to produce 10 points in six games.

Beck’s improved scoring rate is not the only thing that has stood out during his time with the Spirit. Now that he’s playing on a team that has talented players such as phenom Zayne Parekh and 16-year-old forward Michael Misa, Beck has a little less on his plate. He no longer has to focus on solely playing a shutdown role, giving him the chance to be a little more daring and creative in the offensive zone.

This is par for the course when discussing any prospect development.

The context in which they’re used must be analyzed before we come to any conclusions.

In this case, we’re simply getting confirmation that if the situation allows, Beck can provide a reasonable amount of offence while maintaining his excellent defensive play and his elite faceoff prowess.

Beck is also expected to make his professional hockey (in earnest) next season. Given the Canadiens are struggling to maintain any semblance of depth down the middle of the ice, Beck’s odds of making the NHL lineup out of the gate are pretty good.

He’s not guaranteed to earn a job in the NHL immediately, and we could end up seeing him find his ryhthm in the AHL, but this cerebral forward becomes the coach’s favourite player anywhere he plays because of his ability to quickly absorb information and put it into practice.

In essence, he’s a plug-and-play forward who is versatile, intelligent, and incredibly well-rounded.

4. Joshua Roy, Right Wing, Laval Rocket (AHL). Drafted: 150th overall (2021), Age: 20

Season Results (AHL): 40 GP, 13 G, 19 A, 32 PTS.  NHL Results: 8 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS.
Last Rank: No.5 (+1)

Those of you who have followed these Canadiens prospect rankings know that I usually remove a player from the list once they make the NHL. It explains why Juraj Slafkovsky has never shown up on the list.

But in this case, I’m not convinced the Canadiens will keep Roy in the NHL. There are good odds he stays, especially since the team lacks scoring talent, lacks depth, and will probably make more trades between now in the NHL’s Trade Deadline on March 8, but for now, he’ll stay on the list until we can get a better read on where he’ll finish the season.

Roy’s rookie campaign in the AHL confirmed a few important things.

The first was that his anticipation and vision could mitigate some of the issues caused by his slightly below-above skating. The second is that Roy made one of the most difficult jumps in a hockey player’s career, going from the QMJHL to the AHL, with the greatest of ease.

It’s easy to forget, but Roy was a fifth-round pick. The mere fact that he produced in the AHL means we should consider him a very smart pick by the Habs.

It remains to be seen if he can score at an elevated rate in the NHL, but the early results are incredibly encouraging.

He’s scored a goal and an assist, but more importantly, when Roy is on the ice the Habs tend to control the flow of the play, which is very rare for a rookie, particularly a rookie who was drafted late and only spent half a season in the AHL.

It’s a small sample size, but Roy leads all Canadiens forwards in expected goals percentage, with 58 percent. Other than Nick Suzuki and Brendan Gallagher, Roy is the only player who has managed to surpass 50 percent in the lineup, let alone come close to hitting the 60 percent mark.

He also ranks among the top 5 forwards at 5v5 when it comes to his shots per 60, individual expected goals per 60, and individual high-danger chances created per 60.

One interesting statistic that stands out during his short time in the NHL is that he’s creating a lot of turnovers. According to the NHL, he’s yet to suffer a turnover, which puts his team-leading 2.9 takeaways per 60 in a much brighter light.

In other words, if Roy has the puck, he’s going to keep it. And if the opposing team has the puck, he’s likely to steal it.

The underlying numbers suggest that the best is yet to come, and his potential is through the roof.

I hate comparing prospects to established NHL players, but Roy’s work without the puck reminds me a lot of what we saw from Mark Stone once he made the NHL.

Stone wasn’t the best skater either.

In fact, he’s one of the worst skaters I’ve ever watched during his time in Junior hockey, but his anticipation allowed him to become an elite presence on the forecheck in the NHL.

5. Logan Mailloux, Defenceman, Laval Rocket (AHL). Drafted: 31st overall (2021), Age: 20

Season Results: 45 GP, 11 G, 21 A, 32 PTS. Recent Results: 5 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS
Last Rank: No.4  (-1 )

Mailloux was held off the scoresheet in consecutive games for the first time since mid-December but maintained his impressive scoring pace thanks to a three-point effort against the Toronto Marlies.

The Laval Rocket have been robbed of most of their talent due to the injuries and trades in the NHL, which means Mailloux is a lot less insulated than he was at the start of the year.

He’s playing important minutes and facing strong competition. His defensive play is improving, slowly but surely, and it’s at the point that he should probably be considered for a call-up if the Habs need more reinforcements on the blue line.

It’s far from his strong point, and that’s something people will have to accept when it comes to Mailloux. He’s never going to win a Norris trophy due to the discrepancy in his defensive and offensive-zone play, but he will be able to provide offence thanks to his penchant for taking as many shots as humanly possible from the blue line.

And it’s not just a matter of blasting it whenever the opportunity arises. Mailloux’s shot selection is very good. If there’s traffic, he’ll send a low shot that will generate a rebound for one of his teammates. If there’s no shooting lane, he’ll bank the puck off the backboards to move the puck into a high-scoring area.

As it stands, Mailloux is tied with Shane Wright for 7th in rookie scoring, trailing just Brandt Clarke for the rookie defenceman scoring title. Most of this production is a matter of quantity, not quality, as Mailloux takes more shots than most players in the league.

Volume shooters aren’t guaranteed to be able to transition their skill set to the NHL, but they do tend to succeed more often than players who focus on quality rather than quantity.

6. Filip Mesar, Right Wing, Kitchener Rangers (OHL). Drafted: 26th overall (2022). Age: 20

Season Results: 30 GP, 16 G, 23 A, 39 PTS. Recent Results: 5 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS
Last Rank: No.6 (No change)

Mesar suffered an injury that kept him out of action for roughly a week. Based on the footage, it did seem that there was a possibility he suffered a concussion, but there was no confirmation as to the nature of the issue. Regardless, he returned to play on January 30 when the Kitchener Rangers faced the London Knights.

We don’t want to be too harsh when it comes to his lack of production in the last two weeks. Injuries always play a significant factor in prospect development.

But consistency has been an issue in Mesar’s game since he joined the OHL, so we’ll have to monitor his play going forward, especially as the OHL’s season winds down and the intensity goes up.

Fortunately, the injury did not seem to impact how Mesar played. Last season we saw a player who was tentative, often refusing to head to high-danger scoring areas, preferring to stay on the perimeter.

That is not the case this year, which bodes well for Mesar’s eventual ascension to the NHL.

I’d suggest he’ll need a season or two in the AHL to iron out some of the wrinkles in his game and add muscle to his frame, but his results this year have gone a long way in re-establishing confidence as to his NHL potential.


7. David Reinbacher, Defenceman, EHC Kloten (NL). Drafted: 5th overall (2023), Age: 19

Season Results: 28 GP, 1 G, 10 A, 11 PTS. Recent Results: 2 GP, 0 PTS
Last Rank: No.7 (No Change)

Kloten only played two games since the last Canadiens prospect rankings, and they were shut out on both occasions.

I also have to admit I did not manage to catch either game, which puts me in an awkward situation. I tend to avoid commenting on a player unless I’ve watched as many games as humanly possible.

And since we’re dealing with a defenceman playing on a terrible team, it’s essentially impossible to get a read on Reinbacher’s form by simply viewing his hockeydb page.

Thankfully, I can lean on experts such as Thibaud Chatel, as he keeps a close eye on Reinbacher’s play in Switerzland.

I’ve spent several hours discussing prospect development with Thibaud, and our analysis does tend to align, therefore I am comfortable using him as a proxy this week.

According to him, Reinbacher is back to his old self. As in, the issues with his mobility and decision-making that we saw at the start of the year are a thing of the past.

There’s still a lot of work to be done in Reinbacher’s case, and I don’t think he’s remotely close to being able to jump into the NHL. That’s perfectly normal for a 19-year-old defenceman, but it also means this highly-touted Canadiens prospect may end up spending more time than originally anticipated in Laval before he’s NHL-ready.

If you’re wondering when we can see Reinbacher in action in North America, there are a few things to consider.

Kloten is terrible, and consequently, may have to participate in the National League playout to determine if they’ll be relegated. If that’s the case, Reinbacher’s arrival in Laval will be delayed.

If not, Kloten’s season is over on March 4, which would give Reinbacher an opportunity to play upward of 15 games in the AHL and allow him to dip his toes in the icy waters of North American professional hockey.


8. Bogdan Konyushkov, Defenceman, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod ). Drafted: 110th overall (2023), Age: 20

Season Results: 61 GP, 6 G, 21 A, 27 PTS. Recent Results: 4 P, 0G, 2A, 2PTS
Last Rank: No.9 (+1)

There are few, if any, defencemen playing more minutes in the KHL than Canadiens prospect Bogdan Konyushkov. His head coach, former NHLer Igor Larionov, has no issue trusting the 20-year-old, as evidenced by his impressive time on ice every night.

But something changed recently. Konyushkov was not in uniform for Torpedo’s last two away games.

It wasn’t a matter of teaching him a lesson or an injury.

Rather, due to his busy workload and young age, the team decided to rest him.

There are only a few games left to play in the season, as the KHL’s schedule ends in late February. Torpedo is likely resting him so that he can provide as much energy as possible down the stretch and into the playoffs.

We can’t expect Konyushkov to make the jump to the NHL any time soon, as he recently signed a three-year contract extension that pays him a little over $100,000 this year.

But once this Canadiens prospect does come to the NHL, something he’s openly discussed despite his status as a Russian prospect, we can expect him to be one of the most well-rounded defenceman prospects to join the fold in a very long time. We mostly discuss his offensive prowess, but his defensive play is also quite good.

Remember, even if the KHL’s overall talent level has dropped, Konyushkov is still playing in one of the best leagues in the world against competitors who have much more experience.

9 And 10. Choose Your Own Canadiens Prospect!

There are a few good options when it comes to the last two players on the list, and I am going to turn to Habs fans to decide because it’s always important to get input from others before coming to a conclusion.

The players with the most votes will be ranked 9th and 10th in the next list.

Adam Engstrom’s silky-smooth skating and offensive creativity have kept him in the top 10 all season. He still has to work on his defensive play, and he’s not ready for the NHL, but he does project as the type of modern, hybrid defenceman that can make an impact. He only played two games since we last produced these rankings, and was kept off the scoreboard both times.

Cedrick Guindon is the 10th-place incumbent, but his overall production level has left something to be desired in 2024. On that note, he did manage to score 3 goals and 3 assists in six games for Owen Sound, owing to his cerebral approach to the game. He’s smart and talented, but like other prospects, consistency is an issue.

Oliver Kapanen was knocking at the door last time we published our Canadiens prospect power rankings, but like Guindon, his production has been spotty at times. He was held off the scoresheet while playing for Finland at the Euro Hockey tour, but he did manage a four-point game against Helsinki before the tournament.

He also scored a goal shortly before we published our rankings. His strong defensive play and his uptick in scoring could be enough to secure the 10th spot.

Florian Xhekaj can also be considered. The fifth-round pick has increased his scoring rate Y-O-Y by a huge margin, going from 0.34 points per game all the way to 0.8 points per game this season. He’s scoring a variety of goals, too. Many have come while Xhekaj etches out precious space in high-danger scoring areas near the crease, but he’s also shown he can score with clean shots off the rush.

Xhekaj has scored five goals and an assist in the seven games being considered in this edition of the Canadiens prospect power rankings.

Beyond those three, I’d suggest Habs fans should also consider Vinzenz Rohrer’s play in Switzerland this season.

He’s not scoring as much as he did with the Ottawa 67’s, as expected, but he’s producing very good underlying numbers while playing on the third line for one of the best teams in the league. He’s also become a Gallagher-like presence in the crease, bothering goaltenders, frustrating defencemen, and creating chaos whenever the opportunity arises. I’ve included him in the top 10 Canadiens prospect list on a few occasions.

As for some darkhorse candidates, Luch Tuch’s play with Boston University has improved significantly. He’s playing with two of the best players in the country in Hutson and Macklin Celebrini, mitigating a lot of the value when considering the uptick in points, but he has done enough to earn a contract once the NCAA season is over. Whether that contract is in the AHL or NHL remains to be seen, but unlike Jared Davidson, it’s more likely to be the latter than the former.

Goaltender Quentin Miller has also looked good since he was traded in the QMJHL. He’s not quite at the point where I would consider him top 10, but his play is improving. And finally, I haven’t had a chance to watch him yet, but Yevgeni Volokhin is rocking a .935 save percentage in the MHL, which is essentially equivalent to the CHL in Canada.

Make sure to let us know who you think should be ranked in the top 10 by commenting in a reply below. Feel free to suggest someone I did not mention, as well as why you think he should be listed.

Keep in mind both Sean Farrell and Emil Heineman are currently injured and thus not available for the Canadiens prospect power rankings.

Do you agree with our list and rankings? If not, let us know what we got wrong in the Canadiens prospect power rankings with a reply in the comments below!