Several Montreal Canadiens prospects will play their first full season in the professional ranks this winter, and those who have already had a taste of it have a small advantage, noted Laval Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle. .
Defenseman Jayden Struble played a total of 11 games with the Rocket last season, after completing a four-year internship at Northeastern University. Goaltender Jakub Dobes did not play with the Rocket, but practiced with the team for several weeks after also finishing his college career in the United States, with Ohio State.
In the case of Canadian forwards Joshua Roy and Riley Kidney, they had joined the Rocket during its long playoff run in the spring of 2022; Roy had even played a game.
“It’s like in other aspects of life: if you touch something before others, you gain experience and you learn things before them,” Houle said Monday, during the penultimate day of the development camp of the Canadiens. “Guys who have come here before have gained experience, and it shows in their game.”
“It shows in the speed of execution, but they also know the drills,” he added. “It gives them a great showcase to show off. »
Players asked about it noted that their time with the Rocket had given them insight into the idiosyncrasies of the pro ranks. They can then better target the aspects of their game to improve. “I learned how different it is to be a pro, both in terms of the pace of life and in terms of hockey,” said Struble.
In Roy’s case, he was able to bring that baggage of experience back to the junior level last winter. He shone with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, collecting 99 points in 55 regular games, before adding 24 points in 14 playoff games.
Roy also made his mark at the World Junior Championship, with 11 points in seven games. He was even employed outnumbered, which had never happened to him before. “I had to improve for a long time [mon jeu défensif]. At the World Juniors, I proved that I could do it, but I will have to do much better in the pros,” he admitted.
A young version of the Rocket
Houle expects to lead a young team at the Rocket this winter. He admitted he will have to be patient with the Habs’ prospects. He will have the same mentality as the head coach of the Canadiens, Martin St-Louis: he will tell his players that it is okay to make mistakes, as long as they learn from them.
The Canadian’s development camp will end on Tuesday, with the presentation of an intra-squad game. Defenseman Lane Hutson and forward Owen Beck have gotten a lot of attention so far, while the spotlight is also on defenseman David Reinbacher, who was selected fifth in the draft last Wednesday.