The Canadiens’ rookie camp has come to a close with a few surprises, but nothing too crazy. All eyes were on young prospects Mattias Norlinder and Kaiden Guhle, but they weren’t the ones that had the best showing. Several other young candidates stepped up their game and were noticed. All in all, it was a good week and a nice peek into the future of the Canadiens.
All Eyes on Norlinder and Ghule
Norlinder and Guhle were the most-watched players for the Canadiens at the rookie camp. Guhle is being hailed as the next coming of Shea Weber due to his hard-hitting style of play. He has been invited to the Canadiens’ main training camp but will undoubtedly be sent back to the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Prince Albert Raiders. He is also the leading candidate to be the captain of Canada’s World Junior Hockey (WJH) team at the next tournament in December. He struggled at times during the two games against the Ottawa Senators’ rookie team but never looked out of place and gained confidence as the week went on.
Norlinder was Guhle’s defensive partner for both games against Ottawa but didn’t play the final game against the University All-Stars. Norlinder is a much anticipated puck-moving defenceman who could crack the Canadiens lineup as early as this season. He struggled on the defensive side, yet he still racked up three points in the first game against Ottawa and ended with four points in the two games played. Overall, he proved why he could be a second-round steal for the Canadiens and has a future as a highly offensive defenseman, which the Habs could use in their top four. His defensive issues could hold him back for another season. Due to contractual obligations, if Norlinder doesn’t make the Canadiens, he will play for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).
Ylonen Situation Steals Headlines
Jesse Ylonen stole the headlines when he reported to camp unvaccinated. After arriving from Finland, he had to quarantine, missing the first practice, and only participated in the final game during the week-long camp. He said he refused to get the vaccine due to personal reasons, nothing medical. The NHL has no mandate for the vaccine, but players could have travel restrictions put on them.
Ylonen stated that a family member had severe side effects of the vaccine, and that is why he refused to get one. He has now agreed to take the vaccine after consulting with the Canadiens’ doctors. He is invited to the main training camp for the Canadiens and is likely to start the season with the Habs’ minor team, the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Canadiens’ Lose Two of Three Games
The Canadiens played three games during the rookie camp—two against the Senators’ rookies and once against a Quebec universities’ all-star team. The Canadiens lost both games against Ottawa but beat the all-star team in a close one. In the grand scheme of things, winning or losing doesn’t matter. Both games against the Senators were 4-3 losses, and the all-star game was a 5-3 win.
The first game against Ottawa was back and forth, with the Senators taking a 2-1 lead before the Canadiens stormed to take the lead in the third period, 3-2. Then, with less than five minutes to play, the Senators got two quick goals and won the game 4-3. Norlinder had a three-point night to lead the Canadiens.
In game two against Ottawa, the Senators took a 4-0 lead before the Canadiens came back, scoring three unanswered goals. Joshua Roy had a strong game for the Canadiens, but the team could not tie the game up. The final match against the collegiate All-Stars was closer than most expected, the game going back and forth before the Canadiens put it away with an empty-net goal by Guhle. Overall, several Canadiens played well, and the rookie camp was a good warm-up for some of the young prospects invited to the main camp.
16 Rookies Invited to Canadiens Main Camp
Sixteen of the 27 rookies who participated in the rookie camp have been invited to the Canadiens’ main training camp. There is little space on the main roster, so these sixteen young players will have difficulty winning a spot. Most will be battling for a place with the Rocket; the only rookie with a chance to make the Canadiens is Norlinder, who could take a place on the Canadiens’ blueline.
The 16 players from the rookie camp that were invited to the main training camp are:
Guhle, Norlinder, Ylonen, Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Jan Mysak, Daniil Sobolev, Tory Dello, Cédric Desruisseaux, Justin Ducharme, Gianni Fairbrother, Alexis Gravel, Cam Hillis, Joshua Roy, Xavier Simoneau, Joe Vrbetic, and Arber Xhekaj. Most of these players will make the Rocket roster this season, but Guhle and Vrbetic will likely be assigned to their Canadian Hockey League (CHL) teams. Mysak could make the Rocket or go back to Hamilton of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). The Canadiens also have an ECHL team, the Trois-Riviere Lions, for any players who don’t make the Rocket but are too old for Junior, so chances are all these players could stay in the Canadiens organization.
It’ll be an exciting week at the main training camp. With only a couple of spots open, the chances of any of these young guys making the Canadiens are slim, but it will still be fun to watch.