Grading Jayden Struble's season

Jayden Struble pushed his way into the Canadiens lineup and never looked back.
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens
Florida Panthers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Jayden Struble entered the 2023-24 season as a rookie in the professional ranks, after a solid, not spectacular NCAA career.

Struble showed some things at the NHL level, albeit in a small sample size, that made me believe that he will have a long career in the league. He is like a bull in a China shop, but he has beautiful edges and some elusiveness to his stride. Struble is very solid on his skates and isn't afraid to mix it up in the corners and along the boards, which coaches love for their blueliners.

Beginning the season in the American Hockey League with the Laval Rocket was always the plan for his rookie season. There were definite thoughts that he may get a cup of coffee in the NHL, but the game of hockey can be one full of surprises. This is especially true for Struble, who found a spot in the Habs lineup when his former Northeastern University teammate Jordan Harris went down with injury.

Now, with another season ahead, there is a real chance, in my eyes, that Struble leapfrogs Harris in the depth chart. The thing that Harris has going for him is a fluidity to his game, he is so agile and smart, which keeps him from getting into trouble. Struble plays a little more of an explosive style than Harris, he has some dynamism to his puck skills and he showed that he has the talents and guts to try end-to-end rushes.

Struble hasn't yet scratched the surface and with a season under his belt, the best is yet to come. But he showed glimpses of some promising skill and ability to be a difference maker, more defensively, but perhaps a little bit more than what he has shown offensively. Three goals and seven assists isn't an ultra-impressive stat line, but it is a start.

Since he isn't projected to be a top-pairing shutdown defender or an offensive dynamo who runs the top power play, I think his debut season with the Habs was pretty positive. I think his season is worthy of a C grade, it wasn't fantastic, but he proved he belongs and is pretty close to becoming an established NHL defenseman.