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2023 Montreal Canadiens Top 25 Under 25: Graduates, departures, and newcomers


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Between the summers of 2021 and 2022, the Montreal Canadiens underwent a major phase of the rebuild. That was reflected in the Top 25 Under 25, which ballooned from 41 eligible players to 52 as veterans were traded for younger players and an 11-prospect draft class was added to the mix. It was the largest increase from one year to the next in the history of this project.

The pool only increased by two for this season, but that made things no less easy to rank this time around. Despite 10 players leaving the eligibility list, only two who had made the Top 25 in 2022 weren’t included this year.


With a young talent pool overall in the organization, only two players aged out in the past 12 months. One of them went from relative obscurity to becoming an NHL player over the seven years we’ve been gauging his value.

Player DOB 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Michael Pezzetta 1998-03-13 22 36 40 41 41 37 36
Lucas Condotta 1997-11-06 43

Michael Pezzetta

Michael Pezzetta was never regarded as a prospect of much esteem since he was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He started out at #36 that year and rose no higher over the next five years.

Everything changed for him as he approached the 2021-22 season, showing up to Canadiens training camp as a completely different player. He wasn’t just the energetic player who raced from puck battle to puck battle looking for hits, but showed a new offensive element to his game. He didn’t make the team out of camp, but after a month of play in the AHL, he was brought up to Montreal, and hasn’t seen a minute of action with the Laval Rocket since.

In 115 regular-season games in the minors, he scored 13 goals. In an equal sample of NHL action (114 games over two seasons), he has 12 goals on his record. It’s not exactly top-six production and his stature as a depth option was reflected in him only ranking 22nd last year despite a season in the NHL, but his is still a success story, and one that he himself has authored.

2022 Montreal Canadiens Top 25 Under 25: #22 Michael Pezzetta
One of last season’s biggest surprises clocks in at #22 on this year’s list.

Lucas Condotta

Condotta spent just one year in the project (and almost didn’t even have that as the Canadiens listed the wrong birthdate for him on their roster page). Signed as a free agent following his collegiate career with UMass Lowell, his seven games with the Rocket to end the 2021-22 season didn’t leave much of an impression on voters with a placement at 43rd, but he had a more notable first full season in the AHL.

And a “full” season it was; the only member of the Rocket to play in all 72 games. In that time, he contributed 31 points, good for 11th on the team. He was rewarded for that work at the end of the season, called up for Montreal’s final game, in which he scored his first NHL goal. That effort earned him a new two-year deal with the organization.


We also only lost one member of the official 2022 Top 25 countdown, though five who had been ranked on the list at one point in their tenures.

Player 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 Status
Frederik Dichow 23 35 37 42 Signing rights expired
Joël Teasdale 29 19 28 24 Unqualified
Gianni Fairbrother 33 21 29 33 Traded to COL
Nate Schnarr 39 Traded to LAK
Cam Hillis 41 24 19 39 27 Traded to CHI
Brett Stapley 46 23 20 31 43 Signing rights expired
Jack Gorniak 49 38 38 32 39 Signing rights expired
Arvid Henrikson 52 41 43 46 45 35 33 Traded to SJS

Frederik Dichow

A great 2021-22 season in HockeyAllsvenskan combined with a stellar performance at the 2022 Winter Olympics put a charge into Dichow’s slow rise up the ranks to slot him into the Top 25 for the first time. Signing with the SHL’s Frölunda HC was also seen as a great step for his development to continue his trajectory toward becoming an NHLer.

Instead, he was limited to just a backup role with one of the top clubs in Sweden, playing in just 16 games. His sub-.900 save percentage didn’t impress the new Habs management team enough to present him with a contract and his rights were allowed to expire. Somewhat surprising given the lack of goaltending depth in the organization.

2022 Montreal Canadiens Top 25 Under 25: #23 Frederik Dichow
Addressing his biggest weakness and making a splash on the international stage led to a big jump for the goaltender this year.

Joël Teasdale

Teasdale’s time in the organization was marred by significant injuries that completely wiped out his 2019-20 campaign and limited him to a total of 70 games over the next two seasons. Finally, last year, on a one-year extension following the conclusion of his entry-level contract, he enjoyed an extended period of health, playing 58 games.

He had 23 goals and 15 assists in that time, but the forward wasn’t tendered a qualifying offer at the conclusion of the season, taking him off Montreal’s Reserve List. He might be brought back into the fold on an AHL deal, but for now he remains a free agent.

Gianni Fairbrother

Showing good progress in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, where he was named captain for his final year in the Junior ranks, Fairbrother jumped up to 21st in 2021. Significant struggles in his rookie professional season that came with just seven points and 46 penalty minutes dropped him back into the low 30s last year.

Any hopes of a rebound in 2022-23 were dashed by a season-ending injury before the AHL campaign even started. Despite the long-term injury, he was included in the trade package sent to the Colorado Avalanche when the Canadiens acquired Alex Newhook.

Nate Schnarr

The Rocket were Schnarr’s fourth AHL stop in what has already been a journeyman career for the 24-year-old. He’s now on minor-league team number five following a move to the Los Angeles Kings’ affiliate, the Ontario Reign. At the NHL trade deadline, the Canadiens swapped him to add a right-shot defenceman, Frédéric Allard.

In total, Schanrr played 47 regular-season games over parts of two seasons, netting 17 points, while also dressing for 11 post-season matches during Laval’s playoff run in 2022. He had two points in 18 games with the Reign following the trade.

Cam Hillis

Hillis was a key target for Trevor Timmins’s scouting team at the 2018 NHL Draft, a key subject of the Canadiens’ behind-the-scenes video from the event. Hillis showed strong playmaking instincts with the Guelph Storm of the OHL, and entered the AHL fold as the 19th-ranked player in 2020.

He simply couldn’t carry that play to the professional level, even getting demoted to the ECHL. After getting traded to the Chicago Blackhawks organization for Nicolas Beaudin early last season, it was at the third level of North American pro hockey that he played much of the year, scoring 50 points in 45 games. His career hasn’t followed the path envisioned for him when the scouting staff wanted him with a second-round pick five years ago, but maybe he can still carve out a career for himself in lower leagues.

Brett Stapley

Stapley’s status was up in the air at this time last year after a report had him not getting a contract but still set to be on the Reserve List for a few weeks after the voting period closed. In the end he didn’t get his ELC, but a minor-league deal instead. He played his 2022-23 season with the beleaguered Lions de Trois-Rivières, leading the Habs’ ECHL affiliate with 52 points in 57 games.

Jack Gorniak

It was Gorniak’s speed that got him drafted in the fourth round in 2018, viewed as a good base on which to build a professional game. However, over the course of his collegiate career, the speed remained his only notable quality. The 15 points he posted in his freshman campaign stood as the high-water mark in his five-year collegiate career.

Arvid Henrikson

Henrikson’s time in the project would have come to a close when his rights expired at the end of the 2022-23 season, but before we hit that point he was involved in a trade. The Canadiens served as a broker in Nick Bonino’s trade from the San Jose Sharks to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Henrikson ended up in the Sharks organization as part of the three-team deal.

It brought to an end Henrikson’s long-running status as the bottom-ranked player in our annual list. He’s the only player to hold that ignominious title for multiple years, and did so five consecutive times from 2018 to 2022.

Henrikson played one game in the AHL with the San Jose Barracuda last season in what may end up being his only game of North American pro hockey as he’s signed with Västerviks IK of HockeyAllsvenskan for 2023-24.


More than compensating for the 10 departures are 12 newcomers, nine of whom were selected at the 2023 NHL Draft. Having not viewed the results of the voting at the time of writing, I think it’s fair to say that the incoming quality of the new players surpasses that of the outgoing 10, strengthening the organization’s pipeline once again.

Player DOB Age Pos Acquired
Nicolas Beaudin 1999-10-07 23.8 LD Acquired from CHI
Alex Newhook 2001-01-28 22.5 C Acquired from COL
David Reinbacher 2004-10-25 18.7 RD 2023 NHL Draft (#5)
Jacob Fowler 2004-11-24 18.7 G 2023 NHL Draft (#69)
Florian Xhekaj 2004-06-27 19.1 LW 2023 NHL Draft (#101)
Bogdan Konyushkov 2002-12-20 20.6 RD 2023 NHL Draft (#110)
Quentin Miller 2004-12-23 18.6 G 2023 NHL Draft (#128)
Sam Harris 2003-10-14 19.8 LW 2023 NHL Draft (#133)
Yevgeni Volokhin 2005-04-06 18.3 G 2023 NHL Draft (#144)
Filip Eriksson 2004-11-05 18.7 C 2023 NHL Draft (#165)
Luke Mittelstadt 2003-01-22 20.5 LD 2023 NHL Draft (#197)
Lias Andersson 1998-10-13 24.8 LW Signed as FA

Nicolas Beaudin

Beaudin was acquired less than a month into the season when it was apparent that all of the young blue-line options who had made the Canadiens out of training camp would be sticking in the NHL, leaving holes in the AHL formation. A first-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2018, Beaudin never reached expectations in that organization, and it was a direct swap of disappointing performers with Hillis going the other way in the trade.

Beaudin set a new career high of 25 points in Laval, and also led a team that had difficulty scoring with a plus-17 rating. There’s still something to work with in Beaudin, and he will reprise his role on the team in 2023-24 as well.

Alex Newhook

Kent Hughes is setting a pattern of using high picks to acquire NHL talent at the draft, and this year’s addition was Alex Newhook for the cost of late first- and early second-round pick. It was a fairly high price to pay, especially considering the quality of the prospect pool this year, but there is never a guarantee that you will draft a back-to-back 30-point-scorer at the NHL level with those picks, and no one available in that range was ready for that challenge in 2023-24.

Analysis: Alex Newhook is worth the risk
While Newhook is far from a finished product, his sophomore slump in Colorado was not helped by circumstance, fit, or team philosophy.

With a change of scenery and a chance to be injected into a rebuild rather than find his way on a Stanley Cup contender, the hope from Hughes and his coaching staff is that there’s even more offence to be found from the player drafted one pick after Cole Caufield in 2019.

Lias Andersson

Andersson was left unqualified by the Los Angeles Kings at the end of the season, and signed as a free agent by Montreal on July 2. No one seems more excited about the contract than Andersson himself, who is eager to immerse himself in a complete hockey culture rather than just a hockey team.

Lias Andersson: “I wanted to play hockey in Montreal”
Now in his third NHL organization, Andersson believes he may have landed in the right place.

He hasn’t seen much success in the NHL despite being the seventh overall selection in the 2017 NHL Draft, but he has produced in the AHL with an impressive 59 points in 67 games in Ontario last season. He will have one appearance in this project before turning 25 on October 13, and it will be interesting to discover how his bio will read in this article a year from now.

2023 draft class

Montreal selected fifth overall after another difficult NHL season. They had plenty of quality players on the board when they stepped up to the podium and, after an awkward moment for Carey Price, announced right-shot defenceman David Reinbacher as their choice.

After the acquisition of Newhook, Montreal didn’t select again until the third round, taking the first of three goaltenders on the day, Jacob Fowler. Those three goaltenders also serve as the three youngest players in the entire organization, signalling a long-term approach to shoring up that position.

Most of their remaining picks followed a different philosophy, adding older players with more established bodies of work as the plan appears to have shifted to building around the current group of talent in place rather than solely maintaining a conveyor belt of talent tricking into the organization.


Deciding where to slot these new additions with every member of last year’s top 21 still in the fold made this perhaps the most challenging exercise we’ve ever had.

Of the 54 players, 46 are under the age of 23 and eligible for another two years after this one, so the task isn’t expected to get much easier going forward. There’s a lot of quality to go with the quantity, and there will be players ranked outside of the Top 25 – possibly even the top 30 – who would have been well within the official countdown a few years ago.

Montreal currently holds 11 picks for the 2024 NHL Draft, though three of those are for the seventh round. It’s also possible, or even likely given Hughes’s work so far, that one or more of the high picks gets used to address a need in the NHL roster between now and then. For the first time in a few years, we might see the total number of eligible players drop for 2024.

Tomorrow we begin the countdown by looking at the players who were ranked the lowest of the 54. It will be tough for these players to force themselves into the conversation to be ranked over those currently held in higher regard, but there could always be a player or two in this group who surprises us for a big move up the list over the next several years.

Follow along and share your own rankings as the players are revealed, making your arguments for why they deserved to be higher or lower, or right where they end up. If you would like to have your list sent to you, please make your request in the series’ introduction article.

2023 Montreal Canadiens Top 25 Under 25: Introduction
Setting up the annual ranking of the players under the age of 25 in the organization.

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