Three players that could explode with Laval

Laval will have some great young talent added to the fold this season, here are three players that could bring the heat to Place Bell.
New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens
New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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The Montreal Canadiens deft draft work has put them in a pretty enviable position.

It's likely a few season's away from the Canadiens having some intense battles at camp across the board. Once the top defenseman all have some professional experience under their belts, both sides of the puck will produce some great storylines. Training camp always brings about excitement, but when the team has so many chances to get younger and better, it's hard to ignore.

Because there are so many young defenders in Laval, the Rocket will have some tough decisions to make during their training camp. Habs camp gives the Rocket a clear idea of who they will be able to pluck from the Habs. This will further complicate decisions for Rocket management, but it will also provide some competitive, hyped-up young players.

I alluded to the defence earlier, and that shouldn't be surprising because two of the three players I expect to have brilliant seasons patrol the blueline. The third is a a forward, but I rank both defenders ahead of him. But the fact that I feel he belongs in this conversation is a testament to my confidence in his ability to continue blooming late.

Three players who will have Place Bell rocking

Without further ado, let's dive into the player I expect to have the best season of all. It should come as little surprise since he was just getting comfortable in year one, but with a season behind him, Logan Mailloux has got to be the top choice. Mailloux was an AHL all-star in year one and I don't think he has scratched the surface - I wouldn't be surprised if he cracked the Habs top six defender group out of camp.

Mailloux scored 47 points through his first 72 professional games, showing that his offence has translated to the AHL. At times he would get caught out of position, but he didn't often make the same mistake twice. His gap control and knowing when to elevate and when to stay back will improve with time and as his confidence grows, I think he will hit higher point totals.

Next on the list is David Reinbacher, who came over for the last few games to end the 2023-24 AHL regular season. Laval's season ended early, so the Austria defender didn't get much time to establish himself on North American ice. However, he showed strong skating, high hockey IQ and the ability to problem solve.

Reinbacher's game is a little more polished defensively than Mailloux's, but Mailloux is more comfortable on the smaller ice. I don't think there is a big gap in readiness for the NHL between the two defender's. Reinbacher is still developing his offensive game and I think he has much more to show, which is an exciting thought.

The final player on the list is Florian Xhekaj, who I expect to make some noise come training camp, at both levels. Xhekaj is on the same path as Arber, who came along a little slower, but when they arrived it was worth the wait. Florian's increased point output between 2022-23 and 2023-24 is impressive and he still has so much room to grow.

Xhekaj is a physical presence, but like Arber, he uses it in a way that punishes opponents with more than just his fists. While he can throw devastating hits, his strength in front and around the opposing net is where he shines. I expect that since he protects the puck well and absorbs hits but keeps moving forward, he will score plenty of hard-fought goals.

The Rocket have so many great young players set to join the fold this season, so there may be many other options to have breakout years. It will be a season to watch closely, with both teams hoping to improve their record.

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