According to TVA Sports television personality, Renaud Lavoie, Montreal Canadiens 2021 NHL first-round Draft prospect, Logan Mailloux has been cleared to play.
His past mistakes have been well documented, and he was required to pay for his actions. Mailloux has done such, and spent the majority of the 2023 offseason in Montreal, training with fellow Canadiens players, in preparation for a decision from Gary Bettman. With the decision finally made, Mailloux has three options for the 2023-24 season, two of which are more likely, however.
As evidenced by his growth under the Hunter brothers, improving his play in his end and being relied on heavily during the London Knights postseason run, Mailloux has rounded out his toolkit. His 25-goal season, including a Michigan goal to finish off a hat-trick, showcased his brilliant shot and offensive potential. His strong skating and physical style, paired with his 6’3” frame, make Mailloux a threat in all three zones, which has made him dominant at the junior level.
And with that, the stage is set for Mailloux to climb the ladder, so to speak, and battle for a spot amongst the Canadiens’ opening night top six defensemen. With a right side that consists of David Savard, Johnathan Kovacevic, Gustav Lindstrom and Justin Barron battling for a spot, he would need to leapfrog, at least Kovacevic and Lindstrom. His offence is something the Habs are lacking on the blue line, so he would be a welcomed addition.
Laval or Montreal?
I’m not a betting man, and given that Mailloux missed out on valuable minutes while sitting out his suspension, it seems more likely than not that he ends up down in the AHL with the Laval Rocket. Nothing is written in stone, and certainly, training camp performances are the ultimate factor in determining roster construction. But Kent Hughes has proven to be very calculated, so allowing older guys the lion’s share of ice time to increase their values ahead of the trade deadline might take precedence over playing the youth immediately.
After the trade deadline is anybody’s guess, Mailloux could earn a call-up from Laval, and finish out the season in Montreal. This would allow him to better acclimate to the NHL speed, and should the Canadiens be battling for a playoff spot, it would earn the youngster valuable minutes during an uber-competitive time of the season. This would only benefit the Habs blueline going forward, mixing in some more experience to help bring in a couple of other promising young rearguards.
If I can predict a scenario that would make everybody happy, I would say if Mailloux looks solid at camp, earning himself a brief stint with the Habs to start the season. From there, Hughes, Jeff Gorton and the Canadiens management can determine where he is at in his development, and have some video to work with. If he isn’t gelling as they would hope, he can simply be sent down, as he is waiver exempt, and he can join the defence corps down with the Rocket.
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