The Montreal Canadiens made a controversial decision when they chose to draft Logan Mailloux.
The defenceman asked not to be drafted at all at the 2021 NHL Draft after he was charged and fined for invasion of privacy and defamation in Sweden last season. The incident has been well publicized, so we won’t go into all the details but he took and shared a photo of a female without her permission.
He was ranked as a late first round pick, but publicly stated he wanted to not be drafted and have a chance to prove himself in the 2021-22 season on and off the ice.
Well, the Canadiens, led by Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins at the time, chose to take Mailloux with the 31st overall pick. It was no well received at the time and the OHL suspended Mailloux indefinitely, asking him to complete training and certification in respect, and consent among other things. Mailloux did that, while meeting with counsellors and therapists during the first three months of the OHL season.
He was finally reinstated by the OHL on January 1st and made his debut for the London Knights last night.
A lot of talk over the past few months has surrounded Mailloux’s conduct off the ice, but the reality is most Habs fans have never seen him compete on the ice. He played last season in a third tier pro league in Sweden and the season prior to that he suited up in Ontario’s Junior A league.
So, last night’s game was the first real look fans in North America had at Mailloux’s game and it was the first contest he played since being selected in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens.
I’d hate to overreact to one game a teenager played, especially after having close to a year off, but Mailloux is exactly what the Montreal Canadiens need on the blue line.
He is a big, right shot defender and showed last night he has the skating, smarts, passing, creativity, puck handling and shot to be a difference maker at the next level.
He did start the game off by getting caught defending a 2-on-1 and appeared to hesitate a bit, unsure whether to try and attack the puck carrier or block a cross-ice pass. This was literally the opening ten seconds of his first game of the season.
Throughout the rest of the game, Mailloux’s speed and ability to carry the puck through the neutral zone was on full display, as well as his booming shot from the point.
With the Knights winning 2-0 late in the first period, Mailloux carried the puck through the neutral zone to start an offensive attack. He wouldn’t get an assist, but after he transitioned the puck up ice, the Knights applied pressure in the offensive zone before Luke Evangelista extended the lead to 3-0.
On his first shift of the second period, Mailloux would get his first point of the season. He picked up a puck just inside the attacking zone and quickly pulled it to the forehand and fired it toward the net. It was tipped by Evangelista on the way to the back of the net, giving Mailloux an assist.
Late in the second period, the 6’3″ and 208 pound right defenceman showed off his blistering speed and puck control. It wasn’t a play that led to a goal or anything, but it just showed he has exactly the tools that the Montreal Canadiens desperately need on their blue line. The Habs have built their defence around big, strong, physical, shutdown defenders. Mailloux is big and strong but he can also fly up the ice with the puck on his stick.
On his first shift of the third period, Mailloux would use his offensive abilities to add another point. This time the Knights moved the puck around for a while in the attacking zone before scoring. Mailloux showed his offensive awareness and ability on this shift by first jumping deep in the zone with a smart pinch to keep possession for his team. He gets the puck three times at the point and makes smart, hard wrist shots at the net, one of which hits the post.
Just before the goal, Mailloux notices his defence partner is moving laterally across the blue line, and is in a risky position with a defensive player applying pressure. Mailloux wisely reads this and gets outside the blue line and switches sides with his partner. This allows Mailloux to be in great defensive position in case of a turnover, but also clears a lane for his partner to have more available ice which he uses to fire a shot, and it ends up in the net.
Mailloux is credited with an assist on this play, giving him two on the night.
In the final minutes, Mailloux didn’t add any more points, but he displayed his Shea Weber-esque shot and once again put his dazzling speed on display.
With 1:45 to go, Mailloux stepped into a point shot. There wasn’t a big screen in front, but the goaltender didn’t corral it with his glove and the puck hammered him right in the mask. The shot was so hard it tore the straps off both sides of the goalie’s helmet and left him needing a minute to gather his thoughts before he could get back in the goal.
In the final minute, Mailloux just grabbed the puck and took off, going end to end before getting the puck on net. Again, this wasn’t a goal, but it shows Mailloux’s ability to create an offensive chance all by himself just by grabbing a puck in the defensive zone and taking off.
Isn’t that exactly what the Canadiens need? A big, right shot defenceman who can just grab the puck and go end to end to create a scoring chance?
The 18 year old defenceman finished his first OHL game of the season with two assists, five shots on goal and a plus-minus of plus 4. He was the quarterback of the top power play and played a ton of minutes at even strength. Not a bad debut for a guy who hasn’t played a competitive hockey game in close to a year.