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31 in 31

Top prospects for Montreal Canadiens

Caufield, Suzuki highlight future talent pool; Poehling could stay in NHL

by Sean Farrell / Independent Correspondent is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Montreal Canadiens, according to


[Canadiens 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Behind the Numbers | Fantasy breakdown]


1. Cole Caufield, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 15 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Last season: USA U-18 (NTDP): 64 GP, 72-28-100

Caufield (5-foot-7, 162 pounds) broke the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team record for goals in one season. The previous mark of 55 was set by Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in 2014-15.

The 18-year-old played on a line with center Jack Hughes, chosen by the New Jersey Devils with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The native of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, has been a goal-scorer at every level, with his next stop at home playing for former NHL player Tony Granato at the University of Wisconsin.

"I think the best part of my goal-scoring ability is my brain," Caufield said. "I know where to be and sometimes I don't really have to put up a puck in a spot where it has to beat the goalie, I just beat him to the spot. I put myself in a good situation to put the puck in the back of the net."

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22

Video: Cole Caufield named No. 25 on the list


2. Nick Suzuki, F

How acquired: Trade from Vegas Golden Knights on Sept. 10, 2018

Last season: Owen Sound/Guelph (OHL): 59 GP, 34-60-94

Suzuki (5-11, 183), who was selected by Vegas with the No. 13 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, had a standout season in the Ontario Hockey League and sparkled in the postseason. He had 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) in 24 OHL playoff games for Guelph and seven points (three goals, four assists) in four games during the Memorial Cup.  

"In the Memorial Cup I thought I was playing some of the best hockey that I think I've been playing," the 20-year-old center said. "All those stepping stones lead to camp in September, and I'm really looking forward to having the opportunity to try to make the team."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: 31 in 31: Montreal Canadiens 2019-20 season preview


3. Ryan Poehling, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 25 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Montreal (NHL): 1 GP, 3-0-3; St. Cloud State (NCAA): 36 GP, 8-23-31

Poehling (6-2, 183) was voted MVP and best forward at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship after he had eight points (five goals, three assists) in six games for the United States, which finished second to Finland.

The 20-year-old center will make a strong push to remain in the NHL after he had a hat trick and scored the deciding goal in the shootout in his NHL debut, a 6-5 win against Toronto in Montreal's season finale April 6.

"I remember watching his draft year as a freshman in college, like he was a kid," Canadiens director of player development Rob Ramage said. "You look at his frame now, he's a man. Holy smokes, I think you'd say he put on 40 pounds, which is amazing. And just his whole demeanor. He's a mature young man and we're really excited about his next step."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: TOR@MTL: Poehling nets hatty, SO winner in NHL debut


4. Cayden Primeau, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 199 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Northeastern (NCAA): 36 GP, 25-10-1, 2.09 GAA, .933 SV%

The 20-year-old son of former NHL center Keith Primeau signed a three-year, entry-level contract March 31 and likely will begin his pro career with Laval of the American Hockey League. 

Primeau (6-3, 181), who won the Mike Richter Award as the best goalie in NCAA Division I hockey last season, had a 1.61 goals-against average and .936 save percentage for the U.S. at the 2019 World Juniors.

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22


5. Josh Brook, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 56 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Laval (AHL): 7 GP, 0-1-1; Moose Jaw (WHL): 59 GP, 16-59-75

Brook (6-1, 182) has made consistent progress in the two years since he was drafted.

The 20-year-old hopes to make a strong impression at training camp after getting a taste of pro hockey in the AHL last season.

"It was a bigger step, but the coaches helped me learn a lot," Brook said. "I feel like I'm close but there's still lots of things I need to work on and learn. All aspects of my game need to get better." 

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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