Montreal Canadiens: Gauging Filip Mesar's Potential

Canada v Slovakia: Quarterfinals - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship
Canada v Slovakia: Quarterfinals - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Thankfully for the Montreal Canadiens, first round draft selections don't become a bust in just one season.

Filip Mesar was essentially written off and viewed as 'the wrong pick'; as there were many other better talents. I've heard Jiri Kulich's name many times and it was because he was playing in the AHL for the Rochester Americans during his draft-plus-one season. Mesar, on the other hand, played three games with the Laval Rocket but ultimately found his fit elsewhere.

Elsewhere, as we know is with the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers, where he is currently playing his sophomore season. He was arguably the best player on his native Slovakia's World Junior Championship roster. And before that he was dominating in the OHL, forming a nice duo with Seattle Kraken prospect Carson Rehkopf.

Mesar has taken his play to the next level, after a season where his potential and playing ability were questioned. I heard, or read to be exact, that Mesar was an ECHL-calibre talent, which is obvious nonsense. And now, there's been question marks about whether or not he could be a top nine staple for the Habs down the road.

One thing is for certain, many were left looking foolish when Money Mesar emerged for the 2023-24 campaign. He needed a little bit of patience, which is hard to come by in a city like Montreal, after the club went from the Stanley Cup final to a rebuild in short order. I'm not sure what he will become or what his potential is, but I do see some comparables - stylistically.

Comparables & Impact

Fast and quick both describe Mesar's game to a 't', he has quick hands and his mind thinks the game at the same speed. Where fast comes into play is in his skating, Mesar has speed to burn defenders and backcheckers. Mesar is a result of pairing both things together; which makes for a very exciting player. Something that Montreal could use.

In terms of pure speed and processing the play at top speeds, then making decisions and finishing it all of with his soft hands he reminds me of two players. The first player is Brayden Point - as a 5'10" right-shot smallish forward, Point's tenacity and skill are reminiscent of Mesar's game. I am not saying he will be as good as Point, but half the player that Point is would be plenty for the Habs.

The second player that I see when I watch Mesar is Matt Barzal, who is a bit bigger, but also plays so fast, manipulating space all over the ice. Barzal using his linemates well, workiing the give-and-go to slingshot through the neutral zone. I wouldn't peg him as a goalscorer, but more of a playmaker who can shoot the puck well.

Mesar is very aware of his skills and comfortable with his playing ability, using his speed and shiftiness to beat defenders. So long as his confidence continues to grow like it has, it appears that Mesar isn't far away from turning pro. The Laval Rocket will certainly make use of this guy and with the proper development plan while closer to the Habs, Marty just might call up the waiver-eligible winger.