Montreal Canadiens: The Euro Prospect Report

Lausanne HC v EHC Kloten - National League
Lausanne HC v EHC Kloten - National League / RvS.Media/Monika Majer/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens European flavour has been given a major upgrade, who sits atop the pool, and in the interest of keeping Europe separate from Russia for obvious reasons, I thought two separate articles made sense.

Europe has been relatively kind to the Canadiens, with Jesse Ylonen and Joel Armia serving solid roles for the team. Juraj Slafkovsky and Filip Mesar are also two players that came out of the Slovakian and Finnish professional hockey systems. The European prospects have minimally impacted the Canadiens roster, and there are a handful of players who will look to join the Canadiens soon enough.

With that, we will take a look at the players that will make the flight overseas, and join the Habs fold. If not in Montreal, the Laval Rocket could get some more reinforcements. The group includes three defenders, two left shot and the other right shot, and two forwards.

David Reinbacher

Drafted fifth overall in 2023, Reinbacher has faced some adversity this year, and for that, I believe he will grow as a hockey player. The young defender has shown all the impressive tools that garnered Hughes's interest, and his mobility, size and mature defensive game have looked promising for his future. He operates like a general on the blue line, and he is so fluid and intelligent, that he makes the smart play often and it looks so routine.

Adam Engstrom

Engstrom has been developing nicely in Sweden's top league, the SHL, in the Rogle BK hockey system. Rogle has produced defence talents such as Hampus Lindholm, Moritz Seider, Rasmus Sandin and Tom Willander to name a few. Engstrom looks like another talent, who could further cement the Canadiens' defensive depth, especially on the left side. He has continued to grow and develop at a smart pace, not to stun his growth.

Oliver Kapanen

Kapanen is best described as a middle of the lineup, centremen who is just good at everything, but not over-extending for one thing. He is what he is, a smart two-way centre, whose defensive game is a strength. The 2023-24 season, marks the third season since being selected in 2021, that Kapanen has played in the Finnish Liiga with Kalpa. He has nine points through 23 games, after a strong 2022-23 season, where he posted 27 points in 55 games.

Petteri Nurmi

Nurmi is yet another left-shot defensemen, and the 2022 seventh-round pick has been growing and developing in the HPK system in the Finnish Liiga. The 6' 187 lbs defensemen, is playing his sophomore season, and has six points through 20 games, after scoring 15 points in 48 games during his draft season. The 2021-22 World Junior silver medallist projects at this juncture as a depth defensemen, but he is still just 21 years old.

Filip Eriksson

Eriksson serves as the most recent late draft selection, in the sixth round of the 2023 draft, who the Canadiens are hoping can develop into a solid depth piece. Eriksson isn't a real offensive catalyst type player, but he is smart, tenacious and supports his linemates well. He has been playing with the Vaxjo Lakers in the Swedish Hockey League, where he is still searching for his first goal after playing 26 games so far.

One thing is abundantly clear, the strength of the Euro hockey systems have served the NHL well, delivering 18 years old, who have been battle tested against men. They may need a bit of time to adapt to the smaller North American ice, but the competition and physical style is suited to develop players for the NHL. Mason McTavish, Leo Carlsson and even Patrik Laine developed in the Euro leagues, and it didn't take long for them to adapt to the NHL game.

The five players above will certainly have different paths to the NHL, but playing in Europe will serve as their springboard.