Tij Iginla Looking Like A Future Goalscoring Power Forward

2024 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game - Practice Sessions
2024 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game - Practice Sessions / Dale Preston/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens recent play seems to signal a pick in the 5-10 range of the 2024 NHL Draft rather than 1-5.

Certainly the difference in talent is noticeable, but one prospect projected to go early in June, 17-year-old Tij Iginla, should be watched closely. One of the youngest draft eligible players, Iginla, son of Jarome, has been tearing up Western Hockey League with the Kelowna Rockets. At this point scouts don't have him touted as a top 10 pick, but he is slowly rising and could go earlier than expected.

A chip off the old block, Iginla has eight games left in the Western Hockey League regular season to reach the 50 goal mark. He certainly leans goal scorer more than playmaker, but his 30 assists prove that there is something to work with. For a team lacking top end goalscoring talent, Iginla would be a nice add.

The Canadiens certainly fit that bill, and he would give the team a shooting option opposite the right shooting Cole Caufield.

Under the tutelage of the Canadiens director of player development Adam Nicholas, like Juraj Slafkovsky, they may be able to squeeze the most out of him. Certainly his blend of size - 6 feet and 185 pounds will be welcomed in the Habs fold. And his skill/grit combination has allowed him to dominate at the junior hockey level.

The jump in his production from this season (42-30-72 in 56 games) compared to last year is significant (6-12-18 in 48 games). Iginla doesn't turn 18 until August, which shows just how good that he is, and could still become. His individual one-on-one skill is apparent at the junior level - he weaves through defenders - and if it translates he could become a steal in the top end of the draft.

All the more impressive is that Iginla has been a primary play driver. The Rockets top dog, Andrew Cristall, a 2022 second round selection by the Washington Capitals has played on a different line to disperse the offense. Iginla is likely to return back to junior for his third season, barring him making the NHL out of training camp, and I expect that he will explode offensively.

There will be a plethora of interesting options when Kent Hughes takes to the stage to make the Habs pick. It's obvious that the Habs need high potential scoring forwards and Iginla could very well be the best player available when the Canadiens make their pick. And he is far from reaching his full potential, but there appears to be another few levels for him to climb.