13th ranked U24 Habs player - Jayden Struble

Jayden Struble never turned back after the Canadiens put him in the lineup, leveraging his NCAA experience to look poised.
Anaheim Ducks v Montreal Canadiens
Anaheim Ducks v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

For the month of May, aside from the NHL Draft lottery, there isn’t much going on. So here at A Winning Habit, I’ve decided to rank the 24 best Canadiens under 24 years old. I opted to rank players that are closest to the NHL, so aside from David Reinbacher, there are no 2023 Draftees. 

So, without further ado, let’s go ahead with the 13th best player, in my opinion, Jayden Struble.

Jayden Struble joined the organization at the end of the 2022-23 NCAA season, playing a nine-game stint with the Laval Rocket. He showed his mobility and toughness, giving him something to build on before his first full season of professional hockey. It seemed to help him tremendously because when he hit the ice in 2023-24, he looked like one of the Rocket top defenders.

When Jordan Harris went down with an injury, Struble, his former teammate at Northeastern University, swooped in. Struble took the bull by the horns and he made it very difficult for Martin St. Louis to take him out of the lineup. He was smooth and calculated with the puck, much like Harris, showing off a maturity, that surely grew from their time in the NCAA.

Struble’s calling card is his mobility and he showed instances, where there was a bit of a dynamic level to his game. He has quick strike ability and when he decides to carry the puck up the ice, he covers lots of ice quickly and has sneaky good puck skills. Struble is also more abrasive than Harris, unafraid to throw his weight around, which makes him an ideal partner for Harris at times.

There is no confusion about what kind of player Struble is, he isn’t as tough or physically imposing as Arber Xhekaj, but he doesn’t shy away from scrums. I expect year two will be an interesting one; as he will be able to leverage his experience from his rookie year and use it to grow into an even better player. I think there is a little more to see from him offensively and when he starts to shoot more and use his skating to attack, he may have 25-30 point potential.

Because there is so many defensemen in Montreal, especially of the left shot variety, it is hard to determine who stays and who goes. But Struble has two feathers in his hat - mobility and physicality are welcomed. For that reason I think he sticks around, but that could also be what draws other teams attention and garners interest.

Struble ranks as the 13th-best under-24 player, which is a testament to the strength on the Canadiens blue line. A nod is also warranted to the young forwards leading the charge on offence for the Canadiens. Struble may move up the list next year, but that will depend on who gets moved and, most importantly how far he comes along.