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Catching The Torch: Cayden Primeau has gone from seventh-rounder to a top prospect

Stats, highlights, and updates on the Montreal Canadiens prospects from the past week.

2018 Beanpot Tournament - Championship Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

Each week we take an in-depth look at young members of the organization while providing an overview of Habs prospects playing at the junior (OHL, WHL), collegiate (USHL, NCAA), and professional (ECHL) level.

If there is such a thing as getting ahead of yourself, this title is a good example of it.

But Primeau inspires a lot of confidence. Both to his team and in his potential. There has not been a single Habs prospect this season who has had an ascension like the young goalie’s.

This pick already seems like an incredible one for the Habs, even if it is at their deepest position. The team has a history of finding great netminders, but there has not been one who has looked this strong at such a young age in a long time for the organization.

Amazingly, Primeau is still just 18 years old, and will only turn 19 in August. It is unusual for an NCAA player to have the results he has had at such an age, let alone at a position where it often takes longer to develop.

Primeau's overall numbers this season, his .926 save percentage and 1.97 goals-against average, rank eighth and seventh, respectively, in the NCAA. Since he took over as starter for Northeastern in November, he has posted an even more impressive .932 ratio.

His performance on Monday, when he faced 40 shots and only allowed two goals, along with his shutout against Boston College a week prior, was a major reason why a determined Northeastern team won their first Beanpot title in 30 years. It also earned him the Eberly Trophy, given to the goalie with the best save percentage at the tournament . He claimed it by stopping 75 of 77 shots, for a save percentage of .974.

Northeastern's team has a strong core with some game-breaking players in Adam Gaudette and Dylan Sikura, but they simply hadn't found the missing piece to help them finally win the tournament played among rival colleges of the Boston's area until now. Their starting goalies of years prior struggled at key times during the season, but Primeau has proven to be the rock on which they could lean.

What pushes him above other goalies is his awareness of the ice. Hockey sense is a phrase often used to describe skaters and it loosely means, among other definitions, someone who is able to anticipate the play, position accordingly, and give himself an advantage over others by doing so.

It surely applies to goalies too. They are part of the overall game and they must learn to read it. And that’s something Primeau is excellent at.

He scans his surroundings, identifying where the puck might go when he is not immediately threatened by a shot, and, by doing so, knows what his next move will likely have to be, cutting his reaction time down.

Primeau makes the above save on Brady Tkachuk as he is already down on the ice, trying to not have the puck deflect in the net after hitting his equipment from a closed-angle shot — something that happened against him a bit later in the game, unfortunately — but also because he had taken a quick peak at the passing options for the opponent behind his goal line, and wasn't surprised by the presence of Tkachuk left open in front of the net.

This wasn't the only time he robbed the projected early pick of the 2018 draft.

Primeau's glove is one of his main weapons. He's much more of a positionally sound goalie than an acrobatic one, and knows where to place it for the shot to just fall right in.

On the above save, he went down when he lost sight of the puck, but his lateral movement carried him to a position where, aided by his reach, he could attempt the stop. Primeau stacked his glove on top of his pad and closed off most of the space available for the elevated puck to find the net.

He caught the shot and left no rebound.

His 6'4” frame allows him to play very low on his edges and still cover the top of the net quite effectively. In this stance he quickly seals the bottom half of his cage and conjures enough power for hard pushes from side to side.

But as the play falls back closer to the blue line, the goalie stands like a tower in his crease with his head above anyone else's, tracking the puck until he needs to drop down again.

He rarely stays on the ice for very long, however. Primeau gets back up on his skates to reposition himself for a second shot, rarely sliding over in the butterfly. This enables him to have his shoulders in the direction of the puck as much as possible, giving himself the best chance to make the save by constantly being square to a potential shot.

But when all else fails, the 18-year-old can rely on his pure athleticism, making a succession of quick movements, going down on the ice with pads extended, and pushing hard against opponents trying to jam the puck in.

Primeau has strung together some memorable performances recently and he is in all likelihood not done getting better. Far from it. The fact that he already relies on a solid technique that shines due to his innate ability to read the game is reason to be really excited for what the future holds for the Habs prospect.

Follow David (@RinksideView) on Twitter for daily prospect updates

NCAA/USHL weekly performance

Player Pos Conference Team GP G A P
Player Pos Conference Team GP G A P
Jake Evans C Big Ten Notre Dame 2 0 1 1
Nikolas Koberstein RD WCHA Alaska-Fairbanks 2 0 0 0
Ryan Poehling C NCHC St. Cloud State 2 0 1 1
Casey Staum LD USHL Dubuque Injured

NCAA/USHL season to date

Player Pos Conference Team GP G A P
Player Pos Conference Team GP G A P
Jake Evans C Big Ten Notre Dame 30 9 23 32
Nikolas Koberstein RD WCHA Alaska-Fairbanks 30 1 11 12
Ryan Poehling C NCHC St. Cloud State 24 7 15 22
Casey Staum LD USHL Dubuque 18 0 3 3

Goalies weekly performance

Player League Team Record GAA Sv% SO
Player League Team Record GAA Sv% SO
Hayden Hawkey NCAA Providence 1-0-0 1.87 0.911 0
Cayden Primeau NCAA Northeastern 2-1-0 1.67 0.955 1

Goalies season to date

Player League Team Record GAA Sv% SO
Player League Team Record GAA Sv% SO
Hayden Hawkey NCAA Providence 18-9-3 3 0.911 3
Cayden Primeau NCAA Northeastern 13-6-5 1.97 0.926 3