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Berkly Catton To Be a Top Canadiens Draft Target This Summer

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Montreal Canadiens 2024 NHL Draft Target Berkly Catton

The Montreal Canadiens are in need of elite skill and goal-scoring in the organization, and few players available in the 2024 NHL Draft fit the bill quite like Berkly Catton.

When NHL betting odds predicted a bottom-five finish for the Montreal Canadiens at the start of the year, Catton’s impressive Hlinka-Gretzky performances, along with his herculean workload with the Spokane Chiefs, put him right in Montreal’s potential draft window.

The 18-year-old was a dominant force in the WHL this season for Spokane and possesses one of the most elite offensive skill sets in this summer’s class. Naturally, Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes and his team have been monitoring him throughout the season, as he could be the dynamic offensive player needed to complete their young exciting core.

To learn more about the young forward, MHN sat down with him to discuss his growth this season, as well as his hopes come June 28.

 

Always Working On Getting Better

If there was a way to describe Berkly Catton on the ice, important figures in the scouting world have used words like dynamic, electric, and exciting. Catton is another high-skill, high-energy product out of the WHL who, like Zach Benson, Matthew Savoie and Seth Jarvis before him, is trying to pave his way to the NHL.

“I’m a play driver. If I get the puck in the neutral zone, I’m going to make a play. Coming into the zone with speed and making a play off the rush is my strongest attribute,” said Catton regarding his rush offence. “I’m either going to make a pass to a streaking teammate or take the puck to the cage and try to beat out the goalie.”

The 18-year-old performed admirably in his first season in the WHL as a 16-year-old rookie, putting up 23 goals and 32 assists for 55 points in 63 games. However, as a player who prides himself on his ability to continually get better, it was a summer of consistent shooting practice and training that helped him hit another level this past season.

In 68 games, Catton more than doubled his offensive output this year, putting up a staggering 54 goals and 62 assists for 116 points, good for 4th in scoring in the entire WHL. How was he able to improve on his goal-scoring to that degree? Catton reverse-engineered his shooting habits with the help of goaltending coaches.

“Shooting is something you become better at the more you practice it. You naturally figure out different angles and test out pulling your shots closer to you,” said Catton about how he turned his shooting ability into one of his strengths over the summer. “But I also went goalie sessions pretty much every day, and I would just talk to the goalie coaches to see where the weak points were in different goalie stances. There are areas on a goalie that are very uncomfortable for them to block or cover, so if I know how a goalie is going to square up to me, I could look for those spots. That’s been a big help.”

In leading his team in both ice time and scoring, Catton was also challenged to improve his defensive game throughout the season, which can be difficult when you play upwards of 30 minutes a game. As an area that many scouts had identified as a weakness early on in the year, Catton took the added responsibility to heart and began to study his opponents before games to give him an edge in anticipating their next move.

“I’ve been going against top guys in the WHL since I was 16, night in and night out,  so you notice and learn smart habits from those shutdown guys in how they’re able to counter you,” said Catton on his evolving defensive game. “With the amount of minutes I was playing this season, I knew I had to take responsibility defensively. So, before games, I’d watch a game of a top player we were going to play against. Let’s say (Conor) Geekie. I’d watch a couple of clips of him and get a read on his tendencies, like how he passes or rolls off the wall. It gave me a better understanding and helped me to counter those top guys. I feel that extra work helped my defensive game take the next step throughout the year.

Small But Sturdy

A lot has been said about Catton’s size, standing at 5-foot-11 and 163 pounds, as being one of the biggest detractors to his exceptional draft profile; with the fear being that the dynamic forward wouldn’t be able to withstand the physical game at the NHL level.

Despite that, Catton was one of only three players on Spokane to play all 68 games for them this season, as well as their four playoff games to boot; this while routinely playing upwards of 30 minutes a game. For context, the average ice time for a top forward in junior is closer to 21-23 minutes, which puts the weight of Catton’s season in better perspective.

Unfortunately for Catton, despite a season of excellent health, he suffered a minor lower-body injury in the second game of the playoffs, which ultimately ended his prospects of representing Canada at the U-18 World Championships.

Despite his setback, Catton expects to be ready for a full summer of training in early May, and he’s got big plans to prove he can achieve the physical level of conditioning required to withstand a harsher level of play.

“My goal is to train this summer so that I can make the NHL,” said Catton regarding his offseason training. “Right now, I’m just in that rehab process, but, when I get the green light in a couple of weeks, I’m going to go as hard as I possibly can. There’s a lot of NHL guys here in Saskatoon that I’m going to be able to train with and learn from the summer, and I’m going to be looking to get much stronger.”

However, there’s always the old tune of working smarter, not harder. Catton knows he’ll never be a physical specimen that will be able to use his size to punish his opponents, but he plans to take extra steps to better use his body and play in a more aggressive way moving forward.

“I think I know I’m not going to throw anyone up against the boards,” said Catton regarding his need to add some mass to his frame. “But if I can get in front of players on the rush and cut them off, so they can’t dash into my zone, I’m quick enough that I can jump out on the cut-back to poke the puck. It’s like shepparding your opponent right where you want them, and for that, I know I need to get stronger to execute it every night.”

Playing In Montreal

Playing in Montreal is a very unique experience for NHL players, with many shying away from the spotlight, pressure and attention that teams get from passionate fanbases. Berkly Catton is not one of those players.

“I don’t really think you can ask for anything better (laughs),” said Catton regarding playing in a market like Montreal. “I absolutely love it. Even just watching Montreal on a random night in January, it’s just electric. I feel like, as a hockey player and young kid, that’s all you can ask for. I think that’s the dream of any young hockey player.”

For Catton, it’s not just the city and its fans that excite him about the prospect of playing in Montreal, but also the identity the organization is building up and the types of players they’re building around.

“I like to think that I help make those around me better, but I also elevate my game the more I play with better players and in high-pressure situations,” said Catton regarding his ability to contribute to a winning team and environment. “And it’s exciting when you look at the possibilities. Look at the Montreal Canadiens, with their young core with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield; they elevate their games too. I just feel that, when the puck is on my stick, the next touch is usually in a better position; and that’s what helps to win hockey games.”

The pressure is always on when you play for the Montreal Canadiens, especially when expectations start to rise in the next 24 months, but that doesn’t seem to worry Catton, who’s been subject to pressure from a very young age.

“I was the 1st overall pick in the WHL, so I have an understanding of that pressure to perform,” said Catton about how he deals with pressure. “I only really feel pressure off the ice though. Once I’m on the ice, then it’s just the same game I’ve been playing since I was five years old. I’d just want to go out there and make a difference the best way I can to get the win.”

Although Catton preferred not to answer, TVA Sports’ Anthony Martineau has confirmed that the Montreal Canadiens have met with the youngster a few times already; so, clearly, the interest is mutual. Whether or not that materializes at the 2024 NHL Draft is another story entirely.

But, one thing is for sure, Catton seemingly has the skill and mindset to play a big role on the team that will be fortunate enough to draft him.

For more NHL betting lines and futures, head over to FanDuel

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engale1

If Lindstrom is off the board then I would pick Catton.

Tyrone

No shortage of confidence, that’s for sure. I definitely like that. He speaks well and seems like a very cerebral player. I really like that too. We certainly can do worse than him. It’s a shame he isn’t 3” taller and 40! lbs heavier.

morrisk

OMG, you never once stop with the “size” thing, do you? Its NOT a “shame”. He is what he is – like C.C…but maybe we never should have drafted him, right (too puny)?

If he were that bigger, he would likely be slower.

Your boy Lindstrom will be gone by pick #5 – so its Catton or Iginla (both downright puny)…take your pick!

Last edited 29 days ago by morrisk
Tyrone

Yes, desiring players with size is a horrible, horrible idea. Everyone else is wrong and you are the only one who is correct.

morrisk

No, you seem to be the only one who is completely enamored by it.

Its not a “shame” he isn’t 3 inches taller and 40 lbs heavier. Give him 3 yrs and he will put on about 15-20 lbs. So 5-11, 180-185 lbs…..

Sounds about like Kucherov, Panarin, Crosby, Point, Aho, Marner, Guentzel, C. Keller, J. Hughes, G. Nyquist…and Bedard.

Its such a “shame” these guys are too puny…

Last edited 29 days ago by morrisk
Tyrone

There’s a difference between enamoured and desired. I desire players with size because I’m thinking ahead to the playoff wars we’re going to have to endure just to get out of the first two rounds of the playoffs. Enamoured is what you seem to be with me, by having to exaggerate any comments I make about players with size.

Dana

I agree with you that size is preferable but it seems now that most hockey people look at size as one attribute and not the most important one. Maybe ranked top 5 but it has to be in combination with other desirable attributes. The game has changed and the premium once assigned to size is nowhere what it used to be. Two comparable guys in the same position, take tge bigger guy same as French English for Montreal.

I’d take Caufield over anyone on the roster over 6’ except Slafkovsky. Bedard is small and Celebrini is 6’ 190lbs. Demidov is 5’11” 168 so the same size as Catton. Only Lindstrom fits the big man profile of tge top 5 forwards available and his injury profile this year raises red flags. I don’t think we get a big forward but if so then maybe Hughes makes it more of a priority in trade targets as balance is desirable.

Tyrone

And I agree completely. What he who shall not be named can’t seem to get is I feel the same way. My opinion is not an obsession with size, it’s one of the attributes that I desire. If 2 players of similar abilities are available to choose from, I’m taking the bigger guy. If their skill set if vastly different, I’m taking the best player. The other guy is obsessed and claims that I’d pick a guy like McCarron over Bedard, which is ridiculous.

Dana

100%

Dana

Iginla is hardly puny, built like his Dad, who was a warrior!!

Habsrock99

Tyrone’s right. We have way too many small guys. It’s all about a balance team. We need to get bigger.

Bev Seney

He is not small 5’11 he just isn’t big. Put Dach on his wing. And another average sized winger he would be great.

Peter

For sure Montreal can get either Catton or Lindstrom.

Dana

Jets pick, let’s say no deal manifests and we are using it. After seeing Lane Hutson shine, despite the obvious flaws , do we take Cole Hutson, if available. with that pick? They say lane would have been by a middle first rounder if they redid his draft maybe low teens. Cole has better stats at the same point of development so if we could get him mid 20’s , should Hughes take him?

William O'Neill

I’m not sure two guys that size is recommended. But I will trust Hughes and Co. Best player available provides the best asset.

Dana

I can’t think of a duo that size at that level in my 50+ years of following the game. That doesn’t mean they would play together but I would experiment if they take him. The reason I went there is Hughes has a history of drafting with secondary motives. Mesar and Florian come to mind. That Sennacke kid in Oshawa is having a great playoff, tied atop the scoring race.

Greg

I wouldn’t use any pick on him. I don’t think it’s terrible to have one or 2 small defencemen on a team, but 1 Hutson ought to be enough. Yes, the NHL has evolved to allow smaller guys to shine. That said, you need a lot more size on the back end. Besides that, where are you going to put him, given the 20 defensive prospects and players we already have?
If I were drafting, I’d be making this draft more about forwards. Centers, wingers, whatever. Ideally, we’ll take a forward with our 1st, as it was stupid to take a d with our 1st last year, and would be even worse to compound it by taking one this year too.

Last edited 27 days ago by Greg
Dana

Fair enough. I wasn’t actually advocating taking him if you read my comments, just asking what if Hughes does?
Lane has holes in his game and I’m not certain he ever overcomes them but the upside will have to more than offset it and I suspect it will

eddy

Of the ten tallest teams in the NHL 8 made the playoffs and 2 did not make the playoffs as per the site NHL Team Biometrics: Average Age, Height, and Weight | leftwinglock.com
Of the ten shortest teams 2 made the playoffs and 8 did not make the playoffs. Of the 10 heaviest teams 8 made the playoffs and 2 did not make the playoffs. Of 10 lightest teams in the NHL 9 did not make the playoffs and 1 made the playoffs (Colorado). Colorado are one of the shortest and lightest teams and are a great team. Montreal is one one the shortest teams with an average height of 72.8 inches, but also one of the heaviest teams with an average weight of 204 pounds. This is just a one season sample, so next year might be completely different.

Jimmy

Habs need to add size grit at Top 6 forward.. Montreal fans need a reality check this is a small team. Now there in rebuild mode now is the time to fix this issues that been a problem for years.

Dana

That’s the reputation from the past but I don’t see it so much now or particularly going forward with Slav and Dach, you have two very big men in the top 6. Nick is 211 pounds, so only Caufield is small. It’s about balance so I’d be ok adding one big and even 1 smaller guy in the top 6. Demidov and Catton are both Uber skilled but lighter guys. Probably not in our best interest to have both but one works as long as the second add to tge top 6 is a bigger body.

Newhook is 5’11” 200pounds so he’s not compromised similar to Roy and Owen Beck who are 6’ and almost 200. Not big but not small but a nice third line.

I’d build the fourth line with size and speed. Florian Xhekaj and Josh Anderson and a similar sized guy with a bit of malice and matching discipline like a Pezzetta type.

Harris is smaller and Hutson is very small but we have some beef on the blue line. Plus we will have Reinbacher and mailloux as big body adds in the not too distant future.