Montreal Canadiens: The OHL Prospect Update

New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens
New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens have been fortunate to have some talent developing in their backyard - the Ontario Hockey League.

The Canadian Hockey League has grown significantly in recent years, yielding some of the National Hockey League's brightest stars. Of the Canadiens crop, there aren't any who would be considered superstars. But that's no reason to write them off; as it's likely a few carve out NHL roles.

Filip Mesar has been on a tear this season with the Kitchener Rangers. Upon his return from the World Junior Hockey Championships, he has picked up where he left off. Mesar has rocketed up the Habs prospect depth chart and looks like a future top nine option.

Owen Beck was traded recently to the Saginaw Spirit, who are loading up for the playoffs. My colleague Ryan Praught wrote about Beck’s brilliant six-point debut. Consistency continues to be Beck’s strength, he looks like a sure-bet top-four NHL center.

Florian Xhekaj appears to have the same intensity as older brother Arber and that has served him well through year two in the OHL. The Brampton Bulldog has shown huge growth offensively, and he looks to be developing into the Canadiens future fourth-line center. Xhekaj recorded two goals and an assist over the weekend.

Also in Brampton, Daniil Sobolev was recently acquired by the Bulldogs. The defenseman is a 2021 fifth round selection. Sobolev has played two games with the Bulldogs registering a single point - a goal, since joining the team.

Cedrick Guindon has had the second least attention of the OHL prospects, just behind Sobolev. Playing for the Owen Sound Attack, the 19-year-old has posted above point-per-game numbers. Guindon has seven points in his last 10 games, three of which have come in his last five games.

With four teams well represented by Canadiens prospects, it’s likely the scouting staff will catch a Canadien or two in the Memorial Cup tournament. Mesar and Beck are likely to turn pro after this year, so some playoff experience would be great for both players' development.

There are a couple Ontario Hockey League talents that could draw the ire of the Habs scouting staff. Killing two birds with one stone, would best describe what they will be able to do just a hop, skip and a jump away from Montreal. Though they may need to wait for the Memorial Cup to see the CHL's top NHL Draft prospects, who are predominantly in the Western Hockey League.

Look for Beck and Mesar to have big finishes to their junior careers and to make some serious noise at the Canadiens training camp next September. Sobolev looks like a solid depth defender, but more of an AHLer at this point. Xhekaj to me personally is probably another two years away from the Canadiens - one in Brampton and one in Laval. Guindon is likely going to the AHL next season.