The Montreal Canadiens have drafted early and often in recent years. They have stocked up on young players through the NHL Draft as well as trades and have a plethora of young talent in the system.
So much so, that a few exciting young players were not even in the lineup when the Laval Rocket opened their season yesterday. There were plenty of young players taking part, like Joshua Roy, Emil Heineman, Mattias Norlinder and Logan Mailloux who were seemingly all on the ice for about 25 minutes, but there isn’t enough roster spots for everyone.
The healthy scratches in last night’s game included Jared Davidson, Jan Mysak and Filip Mesar up front. That’s not ideal for a trio of young players.
Davidson scored 38 goals and 82 points in 60 games in the WHL last season. The 21 year old is yet to make his AHL debut, but appears to be a highly skilled young player with a terrific shot. There just isn’t room for everyone in the lineup every night.
Mysak is a 21 year old forward who was a second round pick of the Canadiens just three years ago. He played 40 AHL games last season, scoring five goals and nine points. He adds scrappy play and a quick forecheck which makes him an ideal bottom six player but again, there isn’t room for everyone.
Mesar also sat out the game and he was a first round pick just over a year ago. He played one game with the Rocket a year ago before being sent down to the Kitchener Rangers for the season. In his Junior year, he scored 17 goals and 51 points in 52 games, having some really strong stretches of play and some not so great times like his one goal in nine playoff games.
The 19 year old is now on the Rocket roster but did not play the season opener and isn’t guaranteed to be a regular in the lineup going forward. You don’t want to overreact to one game, but with the Rocket carrying 17 forwards, five players need to sit out each game.
It won’t be Roy or Heineman who are going to play in the top six on the wing for the foreseeable future. It won’t be Joel Armia or Lias Andersson who are veterans that will play somewhere in the team’s top nine as well. Sean Farrell also looked good in his first AHL game, Xavier Simoneau played well for them last season and Gabriel Bourque is the team’s captain.
It makes for crowded competition on the wing and not a lot of room for Mesar. At 19, he is still eligible to return to Junior, and since he was drafted as a European pro he can return there as well.
He isn’t going to sit out every single AHL game, but if there is some kind of rotation he is going to be part of, it would be better for him to play elsewhere. Of course there will be injuries and opportunities will open up, but making a 19 year old wait to get a regular spot isn’t ideal for his development.
Considering he didn’t really blow away the competition in the OHL last season, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to send him back to Junior for a second campaign. Owen Beck scored at a higher rate than Mesar in the OHL last season and helped the Peterborough Petes win a championship, but the Canadiens quickly sent him back for his 19 year old season.
If Mesar were sent back, he would immediately become one of the Rangers top scoring threats and would likely have a huge season in the OHL. This would be much better for his development than being a spare part on the Canadiens AHL affiliate which is trying to work in several young forwards at the same time.
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