In 2020, Cecrick Guindon was the 10th overall pick in that year’s OHL Priority Selection. As a comparison, his new franchise teammate, or rival depending on how you look at it, Owen Beck was picked 19 spots later by Mississauga. As another comparison, the last time the Montreal Canadiens had an Owen Sound Attack prospect in their system, his name was Nick Suzuki. Suzuki was chosen 14th overall in the 2015 version of the OHL Draft.
#Habs Cedrick Guindon said when he first got drafted by the Owen Sound Attack, Nick Suzuki was the first person to send him a message on Instagram to congratulate him and once again Guindon has been drafted by a team with Nick Suzuki.— Priyanta Emrith (@HabsInHighHeels) July 8, 2022
So what can we make out of this? Most of all, we understand that Guindon was a very highly rated player as a 16-year-old. Considering that he was available late in the fourth round of the 2022 NHL Draft, a few obstacles must have turned up along the way.
Birthplace: Rockland, Ontario
Date of birth: April 21, 2004
Position: Centre/Left Wing
Weight: 170 lbs.
Team: Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Naturally, the path to the draft hasn’t been normal for Guindon, or any OHL prospect. Due to the pandemic, he had to wait an entire season after getting drafted before he could get going in his new environment. Perhaps that is why he had a tough time getting his production going, scoring just once in his first 11 games.
This makes you circle back and think what little intel we really have on these players. Normally a draft-eligible Canadian would come into the NHL draft with two full seasons of Junior hockey under his belt, giving you quite a lot to go on in terms of flaws, strengths, and what tools can be considered as a work-in-progress.
With players like Guindon now only having a six-month stint to demonstrate their two-year development since they were drafted into the OHL, it puts a lot of pressure on players to not have days off. The growth has to be significant and demonstrated on a day-to-day basis, meaning that a slow start to a season really can shatter your hopes of getting drafted highly.
The Montreal Canadiens’ front office seems to have found a common denominator with their choices in this year’s draft class. Apparently, they want to draft players with high levels of hockey IQ. Looking at Guindon’s playing style, the key word is, just as it was for several previous selections, intelligence.
There are players who are considerably more tools-driven than the French-Canadian centreman, but rarely was he outsmarted in the OHL this year. After his slow start, he managed to get things going production-wise to eventually end his draft season just shy of the point-per-game mark. With that, he was one of the leaders in points on his team, second only to Chatham-born over-ager Deni Goure.
Guindon is not the type of player you watch and immediately deem a future star. But the underlying numbers tell a story of a player who is able to put together strong efforts in all three zones, thereby being a central anchor for his team. His most attractive skill right now, according to Elite Prospects’ draft guide, is his play off-the-puck, which tells you something about who he is as a player in July of 2022. He pressures opposing puck-carriers well and forechecks better than many players who have a physical advantage on him.
Guindon identifies passing lanes well, and has what Elite Prospects Director of North American scouting Mitch Brown calls a mechanically-sound shot. Unfortunately, he is not the strongest skater on the ice, nor the most deceptive playmaker, nor the guy with the pretty dekes. In fact, if he just had some more translatable offensive tools to combine with his overall smartness he wouldn’t have been available for a selection this late in the draft. Still, the tools he does possess are interesting enough that they, if properly nurtured, could make him an intriguing option for a bottom-six role in the NHL down the line.
If it turns out that Guindon, much like last year’s selection of former-top-CHL-Draft-selection-who-had-fallen-out-of-favour Joshua Roy, just needed a year to get up to speed with CHL hockey, this draft pick could potentially turn out to be a steal for Montreal. At present though, there are still too many lonely ingredients in Guindon’s game which need blending to form a flavourful cocktail.
If this ends up not happening and you don’t get your desired progression, you have yourself another future AHL regular with scoring upside late in the fourth round.