Canadiens Prospect Report: Roy, Beck & More

The season has barely begun, and the Montreal Canadiens prospects are already making their presence known.

Joshua Roy – Center/Left Wing, Sherbrooke Phoenix, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)

A fifth-round selection in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, besides the local media touting a francophone player out of the QMJHL, there wasn’t much fanfare when Joshua Roy’s name was called. His progression since then, however, has been stellar. And he has become one of, if not the most, dominant players in the QMJHL.

In seven games with the Sherbrooke Phoenix this season, Roy is playing on their top line, flanked by Ethan Gauthier, one of the top prospects headed to the 2023 NHL Draft. He has scored six goals and 11 assists, which places him second in team scoring with four fewer games played than the team leader, center Justin Gill. Roy is on pace for a 161-point season, which eclipses his 119-point season last year when he led the league in scoring. While that pace isn’t likely to be sustained, this offensive impact is what scouts saw in him the year he was the QMJHL’s first-overall selection.

Related: Montreal Canadiens Prospect Pyramid – Start of 2022-23 Season

Taking a gamble on a skilled player in the fifth round has worked out so far. His shot is still dangerous at the junior level, and while he still needs to improve the mechanics, strength and accuracy, he has shown he can grow. The fact that he is scoring is good news, but the manner in which he scores is worth noting, consistently attacking the slot, finding space and firing shots on net.

Because defenders have to respect his shot, passing lanes become available to him, where he can take advantage of his ability to read and anticipate his teammates’ positioning to create scoring chances with laser-accurate passing.

It’s still very early in the season, but expect Roy to move up the depth chart within the Canadiens organization and for Team Canada ahead of the World Junior Championships (WJC) taking place in Halifax in Dec. 2022.

Owen Beck – Center, Mississauga Steelheads, Ontario Hockey League (OHL)

Owen Beck earned an entry-level contract out of training camp, proving that he can compete at the NHL level, but his potential is higher than just a young center trying to keep up with NHL regulars. Instead, the Canadiens made the wise choice to return him to the OHL Mississauga Steelheads, where he will be their top-line center.

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As a rookie last season, Beck finished third in team scoring with 51 points in 68 games. What made his rise in their lineup more impressive is that he began in a fourth-line role. But his work in the faceoff circle, winning over 60 percent of draws, had him eventually become the go-to center for Mississauga. His defensive play also made him a coach’s favourite. This season, he has picked up where he left off, scoring three goals in five games, including an overtime-winning goal (from ‘OHL Roundup: Beck’s OT winner carries Steelheads past Knights, City News, Oct. 15, 2022).

Beck’s play isn’t flashy, but it is highly effective. His strengths are his compete level and high hockey IQ, intangibles that help win hockey games. These skills have translated into trackable results; beyond faceoffs, he is one of the best prospects in the Canadiens’ system for controlled zone exits and entries, puck retrievals, and defensive positioning. All of that makes him a highly effective, two-way center in juniors and fills a systemic need for the Habs, who have been searching for that type of player.

His offence flows from his defensive play, and his speed and ability to play in transition make him a good fit for the Habs’ new system. He can work on further developing his offensive game in the OHL, building on his transition play and using his puck possession style to increase his (and his teammates’) shots on net to take advantage of an underrated shot that boasts accuracy and a quick release.

The Canadiens’ 2022 second-round pick has a very high “floor,” making him a future NHL center. His play in the defensive zone and in transition makes him a good bet to become a bottom-six center in a few years. His offensive upside is where he becomes interesting. If he can continue his progression at this rate, he could eventually develop into an NHL top-six center someday.

Logan Mailloux – Defense, London Knights (OHL)

Logan Mailloux spent all of training camp recovering from a shoulder injury. The Canadiens returned him to the London Knights last week, and since that time, he has been practicing with full contact with his London teammates. According to Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press, Mailloux is expected to make his debut on Oct. 19 vs. the Owen Sound Attack. However, he only played 12 games last year, so he will need to show he is rugged enough to play an entire season and that he can continue to play his highly mobile, offensive style that earned him his entry-level contract (ELC).

Lane Hutson – Defense, Boston University (NCAA)

The 5-foot-8 (rumours suggest he gained an inch) offensive defenseman joined Boston University and made his presence known immediately, scoring three points in his first three regular-season games.

Lane Hutson USNTDP
Lane Hutson, USNTDP (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

He has created offence and moves pucks up ice in transition. His defense still needs work, as he will always be outmuscled, so his positioning and decision-making in 1-on-1 battles will be key to graduating to the next level.

Jayden Struble – Defense, Northeastern University (NCAA)

The season is only four games old for Jayden Struble, but he has two points (both assists) so far. A highly touted pick under the former general manager, his progression has been slowed by multiple injuries during his collegiate career. This season, however, Struble will be a top-pairing defender at Northeastern, playing top minutes in all situations. He will need to continue his physical style but has to focus more on his mobility and ability to launch transitional play. He will become an unrestricted free agent in Aug. 2023 if he is not signed to an entry-level contract this season.

That does it for the inaugural 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 charts.

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