Canadiens Prospect Report: Goaltending, Beck & More

In past years, the Montreal Canadiens‘ prospect pool rarely had newsworthy performances. More recently, there has not only been a large number of prospects added to the system, but many have had noteworthy performances, especially on the international stage playing in the World Junior Championships. Early on in the 2022-23 season, they are making their presence known.

Cayden Primeau – Goaltender, Laval Rocket, AHL

Last season was considered a bit of a slump for Cayden Primeau. In the American Hockey League (AHL), he earned a 16-12-5 record with a .909 save percentage (SV%). In an extended call-up to Montreal due to injuries to almost every other goaltender, he simply was not ready, and his 4.62 goals-against average (GAA), .868 SV%, and 1-7-1 record prove that. Granted, he was not set up for success as the Habs’ roster was hit hard by COVID and injuries, throwing Primeau to the wolves with mostly AHL and ECHL call-ups playing in front of him.

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He now seems to have rediscovered his confidence after last season’s impressive playoff performance, leading Laval to the AHL Eastern Conference Final with a .936 SV%. In his first three regular-season AHL games in 2022-23, he has a 1-1-1 record, but he has done more than his part with a 2.36 GAA and a .916 SV%.

Cayden Primeau Gabriel Landeskog,
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Cayden Primeau (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)

The pressure is on. Primeau has an opportunity to backstop an improved Laval lineup and should be given most of the starts to help with his development. Injuries to the NHL club will be a factor – he was already called up for one game after Jake Allen took parental leave to attend the birth to his third child. Being called up for one game may seem like a minor issue considering Primeau missed no AHL games, but it points to a lack of options if the Canadiens need a long-term replacement goaltender in Montreal.

Jakub Dobes – Ohio State University (NCAA)

Jakub Dobes is coming off of an impressive freshman season when he not only stole the starter’s job but carried his team to a playoff berth while putting up a 21-12-2 record and an impressive .936 SV%. He is following that up with more of the same in his sophomore season. He has been carrying a team that, without him, would be on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

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With him between the pipes, Ohio State is not only in the Big10 playoff picture, but one of the top challengers for the conference title. He has done so by shutting the door on the opposition’s offence, sporting a 1.80 GAA, a .931 SV%, and leading the team to a 6-1-1 record.

At the beginning of October, he was rewarded with the Big 10 third star of the week in his conference. With the Canadiens looking for their future starter who will eventually replace Carey Price, Dobes has been quietly making a case for himself, proving he is ready to take the next step.

Owen Beck – Center, Mississauga Steelheads, OHL

Owen Beck has regained his stride with the Mississauga Steelheads as he began the weekend with six points in a single game, setting a franchise record. But what’s more, each goal was created by Beck, who had five primary assists.

He followed that game up with a three-point night (2 goals, 1 assist) in a losing cause against the rival Barrie Colts. His points-per-game (PPG) rate has shot up dramatically to 1.5, and his season totals have reached six goals and six assists in seven games. He has also continued to be one of the Ontario Hockey League’s leaders in the faceoff circle.

Filip Mesar – Center, Kitchener Rangers, OHL

Filip Mesar made his presence felt the moment he began his OHL career with a dominant five-point performance (1 goal, 4 assists) for the Kitchener Rangers. He followed that up with the overtime winner in his second game.

His assignment to the OHL may seem like a demotion after playing professionally in Slovakia. Now, instead of playing against men, he is playing against teenagers – granted they are highly skilled – but this is an indication that Mesar is more advanced in his game than most junior players. This isn’t a bad thing as he can focus on his offence and gain more experience before he joins Team Slovakia at the 2023 World Junior Championships this December in Halifax, NS.

That does it for this week’s edition of the Canadiens Prospects Report. Stay tuned as each week we will turn our attention to the young prospects making their way up the Habs’ depth chart.