22nd best under 24 player - Riley Kidney

Riley Kidney put up back-to-back 100-plus point seasons in the QMJHL; drawing the ire of Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton.
Winnipeg Jets v Montreal Canadiens
Winnipeg Jets 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 22nd best player, in my opinion, Riley Kidney. 

Kidney is a smaller winger, who dominated in the Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League. He is an adept playmaker, using his great vision and hands to execute high-skill passes. Leaning more like a passer than a shooter, Kidney can score in a variety of ways, but his deceptiveness freezes goaltenders. 

I say ‘smaller winger’ with a grain of salt, because he is six feet tall and a smidge under 180 lbs. which is roughly the size that Nick Suzuki was when he got drafted and size hasn’t been an issue for Suzuki. Kidney is less physical than Suzuki, but it hasn’t been a hindrance or knock on his game thus far. 

The Canadiens selected Kidney in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft, after the Halifax, Nova Scotia., native posted his first 100-point junior season. In 2022-23, Kidney was traded from the Acadie-Bathurst Titan at the trade deadline after scoring 45 points through 31 games. After arriving in Gatineau to play with the Olympiques, he followed up his great first half with a brilliant second half with 65 points in 29 games. 

The Olympiques made a great decision to trade for Kidney and that was further cemented in the QMJHL playoffs. Kidney recorded 22 points in 13 postseason games. His strong play and consistency throughout his final season of junior hockey were enough to convince Kent Hughes that he was worthy of a contract. 

Kidney debuted with the Laval Rocket this past season, and his play should warrant an increased role next season. With 20 points through 65 games, Kidney transitioned well to professional hockey. I expect an increase in production in his second season with the Rocket; with a year of experience under his belt, he should feel slightly more confident and comfortable.

Kidney is ranked 22nd because he has had a small sample size at the professional level. With a little more experience and playing time to prove himself, like those ranked beneath him, he is likely to climb up the list.