Catching The Torch: Analyzing the Habs’ newest additions to the North American prospect pool

Welcome back to Catching The Torchwhere we keep an eye on the Montreal Canadiens’ North American prospects and how their development is progressing week by week.

Day two of the 2022 NHL Draft has yielded a massive amount of new adds to the Habs’ pool of North American talent, which includes a ton of high-risk, high-reward swings as well as probably the safest pick in the entire draft.

We’ll rifle through each of the seven adds to the pool and grade each of them based on value-for-pick quality, and then break down their areas of strength and the improvements that would most bolster their overall play.

No. 33 — Owen Beck, C, Mississauga (OHL)

Value-for-pick: B+

I love Owen Beck. He is the textbook definition of a safe pick, a surefire NHLer with so many facets to his game that at least one of them is sure to translate. His defensive game is among the best in the 2022 NHL Draft. The way he occupies space in the defensive zone, reads opposing plays two or three steps in advance and uses his stick to disrupt and intercept makes him a prospect who will, at the very least, nail a role in the bottom-six of any NHL line-up.

He still offers some promise, however, as a prospect with unrelenting drive who excels in transition. There were higher-upside prospects available and picked soon thereafter, such as goal-scoring winger Jagger Firkus and right-handed defenseman Mattias Hävelid, but Beck offers a good balance to the crop as a bunt in a sea of ​​home-run swings.

His offensive tools lack high-end pop, but it’s easier to build upwards from a solid foundation, and Beck has that.

No. 62 — Lane Hutson, LD, USNTDP (USHL)

Value-for-pick: A

Since my very first viewing of Lane Hutson, I’ve been a massive fan of his game. Although his slight frame at 5’8” and 159 pounds can be an issue, he has without a doubt the best brain of any defenseman in this draft. He can take control of any given shift and display his silky hands, elite understanding of systems and open ice exploitation to make successful play after successful play under pressure. The sequence below will more or less explain it all.

Funnily enough, he also brought an endocrinologist screening to the Combine in order to show scouts that he still has about two inches of bone growth left ahead of him. His main setback at the moment is how easy he is to get around off the rush. Any forward with enough wingspan and strength to drive wide on him ends up with an open lane to the net.

If Hutson works with Adam Nicholas on matching footwork defensively and funneling opponents to the boards, the Habs could have a premier offensive defenseman here. I maintain that if Hutson were 6’0” or taller, he would have been a surefire top-10 pick.

No. 75 — Vinzenz Rohrer, RW, Ottawa (OHL)

Value-for-pick: B

Vinzenz Rohrer’s physical dominance as a 5’11”, 168-pound forward is something you rarely see in the OHL. He uses tremendous body-positioning and stick-work to catch much bigger defenders by surprise and turn pucks over all around the ice. Although the Austrian forward shows some flashes of playmaking, it’s not a consistent element of his game and he tends to end up on the periphery a lot or battling for net-front positioning as a result of his high-intensity forechecking game.

He plays with speed, intensity, and a mean streak. As he stands, though, his offensive upside is relatively limited. If the Habs manage to add some mid-range scoring and inside-driven playmaking to Rohrer’s game, the combination of that with his bulldog style of play would make for quite a handful at the NHL level.

No. 127 — Cedrick Guindon, C/LW, Owen Sound (OHL)

Value-for-pick: A

Cedrick Guindon’s offensive input is truly a dual-threat, as the prospect’s 30 goals and 29 assists in 68 games clearly show. However, an elite brain and the ability to push the pace are what make Guindon’s game tick.

He delays, plays his passes quickly and accurately to the best option, and even the way he masks his release while hanging on to it shows the intelligence required to beat defenders and goaltenders regularly. Off the puck, he supports his defenders, circles low, and picks up speed to ensure that every play is accelerated and facilitated. There’s a lot of small stuff he does very well.

Another small detail that Guindon displays regularly is his ability to hit pockets of space at the right time to clean up loose pucks. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Guindon make the NHL in a middle-six role in four or five years’ time.

No. 130—Jared Davidson, C, Seattle (WHL)

Value-for-pick: C+

I caught Jared Davidson on a couple of viewings of other Seattle Thunderbirds prospects, such as Kevin Korchinski and Reid Schaefer, and didn’t come away too impressed with his overall projectability. The over-age center has a strong release and led his team by a hefty margin of 23 points, but isn’t much of an inside-lane driver and tends to shoot from more or less anywhere. I’ll watch him more closely over the course of this upcoming season and see if I start enjoying his game more with a larger sample size.

No. 162 — Emmett Croteau, G, Waterloo (USHL)

Value for pick: TBD

I don’t have many notes on Emmett Croteau as a prospect if I’m honest — I didn’t spend much time scouting netminders this year and didn’t catch enough Waterloo games to have a lasting impression of his playing style. Stat-wise, he was a top-10 netminder in the USHL and seems to always step it up a notch in the playoffs. The 6’4”, 194-pound goaltender will be my first set of viewings before the fall training camp begins.

No. 216 — Miguël Tourigny, RD, Acadie-Bathurst/Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL)

Value-for-pick: A

This is a great pick for the Habs in this range. Although Miguël Tourigny is small at 5’8” and 178 pounds, his tremendous skating and footwork make him a solid rush defender, and he is one of the most offensively productive blue-liners in the QMJHL at the moment. The twice-over-age prospect follows in the recent Habs trend of selecting Quebec-native re-entries in the final rounds.

Riley Kidney’s teammate also plays with an edge and doesn’t back away from offensive activation opportunities, which led him to finish second in QMJHL defensemen for goals (31) and points (80) in 65 games split between the Armada and the Titan. I just wonder if he actually has enough runway ahead of him to develop or if he has already neared his full potential. Regardless, he is a great seventh-round swing for the Habs.


Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter @HadiK_Scouting for more on Habs’ prospects, and to keep up with the rest of my scouting work!

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