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An important tournament for four CH players (and for the organization)

An important tournament for four CH players (and for the organization)

So, here we are at the dawn of WJC 2024, which is always a great time of year for hockey fans!

Thanks to its numerous selections during the first three rounds in recent years, CH will once again be well represented in this competition with four favorites, not the least.

At least three of them will fill important roles for their countries, and the fourth could cause some buzz if he is given the pole…

And all the honor to you, let's start our analysis with the person who ranked secondH Ranking our latest list of the organization's top prospects: Lane Houston.

Lynn Houston, D | United States of America

Since the start of the NCAA campaign, Hutson continues to terrorize opposing defenses with his exceptional creativity. Exhibiting unwavering confidence on the ball, the USA's assistant captain regularly makes Houdini-worthy plays that few NHL defensemen can dream of, and you know which ones…

Hence, Hutson is literally one of the true forward thinkers in his position. He is expected to make the tournament's first All-Star team.

However, he is less at ease defensively this season at BU in the first pair, while, unlike last year in the second pair, he is more often playing against the opposing best. Thus, after his impressive +25 differential in 39 games in 2022-2023, Hutson currently finds himself in a slightly negative position at -3. So it will be interesting to see how he does against the big trio from other countries, as he should be the most widely used defender in his team.

Defensively, will he be able to show us that his back skating is no longer an issue? Will he be able to compensate for his modest size with good positioning and perfect use of his stick? Despite an overall good performance, that wasn't always the case at the recent Senior World Championships last spring…

But let's not forget that for every little mistake Hutson makes, he makes 7-8 excellent plays, like the one he made in the pre-season match against Sweden. Imagine Slavkovsky instead of Cutter Gauthier in the right circle…

Without drawing any major conclusions, for the Habs, the impressive competition and big end to the season for a late second-round pick in 2022 will only strengthen the desire to see him end up in Montreal before the end of the season. And who knows where CH will end up in the rankings at this point… Otherwise, Hutson still has to come to Montreal, but that might have a certain impact on how much he ends up with on his entry-level contract…

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And since we're with the Americans, let's continue with another good vanilla prospect, goalie Jacob Fowler, 12H From our list.

Jacob Fowler, J| United States of America

Fowler is simply dominant in his first NCAA season He has already received praise from his coach, impressed by his exceptional mental strength. Both Fowler and Trey Augustin are expected to see action early in the tournament and a decision will ultimately have to be made on who will score the net in the medal round. With the Americans seen as the favorites to win it all, the pressure will be on…

Most fans of this winter classic will also remember the stellar performance by Cayden Primo, the goalkeeper who contributed greatly to the Americans' silver medal win in 2019. However, as we have seen with Primo and many other young goalkeepers over the years, it was a scintillating performance. A performance at the WJC does not guarantee an exceptional career among the pros, let alone an early start to their NHL career.

In short, even if Fowler looks “strong”, impresses everyone with his talent and overall attitude, and we can certainly realistically hope that he is the Habs' future starting goaltender in his mid-20s, we should always retain a little qualms about the value of goalkeeper performance in the WJC. . In the same way, we will also have to take it with a grain of salt if Augustin, the “veteran” of the 2023 edition, is the one who will get the pole position for the USA and for which Fowler has seen almost no difference. .

However, it should be noted that given his age, Fowler is late Born on November 24 – The CH player will not be able to return to the tournament next year since he will already be 20 years old.

Philippe Messar, C/A | Slovakia

In terms of individual skills, Philippe Messar is a good, if not excellent, hockey player. He is not very advanced in terms of his physical maturity and still needs to progress at a tactical level in a style more suited to North American surfaces. To understand Messar's development, think of Artturi Lehkonen or Jesse Ilonen at the same age, who didn't reach the NHL until they were 22 years old.

After performing very well in the Maritimes last year during the 2023 edition, it will be interesting to see how Mesar will look when it returns to European supermarkets in Sweden, where its natural qualities could stand out even more. Slovakia will feature a talented and experienced squad and Mesar could look in very good form.

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An excellent skater with flexible hands, a lively and powerful shot and a very good vision of the game, he should usually form one of the best “pairs” of the tournament with the right. Dalibor Dvorsky. That hope was ignored by the St. Louis Blues until the 10thH He was taken last in the NHL Draft, and is dominating this season in Sudbury alongside Quentin Musty (selected 26th overall by the Sharks) and David Goyette (2022, 62nd, Seattle).

Messer, ranked 14th in our last count, does not have a guaranteed future with the Habs and no one believes that he is advanced for his age, starting with Jean-François Holly in Laval… This competition does not confirm anything for us, but to complement his strong performance in Kitchener, the Slovakian has every interest. In having a good tournament in order to remain relevant in the minds of the leaders and strengthen, or even improve, his position in the Montreal hierarchy.

Because if there is a world where Messar will be part of the Al-Kindi alignment, say, somewhere around 2025-2026, then there are also a few galaxies where it wouldn't have been on the radar for some time…

It's up to him.

Owen Beck, J| Canada

We can never rule out Canada as a favorite in this tournament, and the 2024 edition will be no exception. But we will have to work hard to lower the level of Americans. Hockey News has the Americans as 2-to-1 favorites and Canada as 4-to-1 favorites.

Maple Leaf State will field a fairly young lineup, and in this regard, 19-year-old Owen Beck, the only “veteran” of the victorious 2023 edition, could be of great help. Note that at the time of writing, we have not yet identified the players who will serve as captains and assistant captains.

The Ontario player, expected to be a four-three centre, won't necessarily be one of the spearheads of the Canadian attack, but he will likely be in all the risky and tense situations, whether it's regularly taking on the opposing best, or winning a crucial game. Countering, lead protection, playing short, etc. We can already see him being rather dominant in the warm-up match with two goals against Switzerland.

This is the first time he finds free space in the corresponding area:

The second is at the end of a wonderfully brief series:

Beck's contribution, which ranked fifth in our internal stats of Montreal prospects, could be somewhat similar to that of Kyle Chebchura in 2006, who also played in A fairly young group and more or less talented. Chipchura was his team's captain, and Canada, not the favorite that year, still managed to win gold in Vancouver.

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We shouldn't rely too much on Beck's negative record (-2) at Peterborough this season either. After participating in the Memorial Cup – which is impossible without completing the deal to acquire Beck – the Betts are not the same club at all this season, having lost a large number of veterans, many of whom were drafted by clubs in the NHL. One wonders if Beck won't be traded back to the OHL in the coming weeks, forBetts is barely playing for .500

A closer look at Hutson and Beck

If there is no rush for Messar and Fowler, CH leaders will more carefully monitor the performance of Houston and Beck, who are already knocking on the NHL's door.

Mike Matheson's versatility and the low likelihood of him being traded soon will allow an offensive defenseman like Hutson to gradually bring himself to the Habs' blue line. But the American's play during this contest and the rest of his season at BU could help speed up or reinforce the decisions Hughes and Gorton will have to make regarding their defensive brigade in the coming months.

From Beck's side, with Monahan, Evans and Dvorak all having less than two years left on their contracts – we're talking a few months for Monahan – it's a tournament that lives up to expectations, as he will clearly emerge as one of the best players. The smarter, more complete forwards in the competition will provide him with some arguments next fall. That and another successful end to the season in the OHL…

Have a good tournament everyone!

We'll see you again after CMJ to evaluate the performance of these same aspirants and to say a few words about the other young people who have impressed us along the way!