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Catching The Torch: Cedrick Guindon off to a great start, Joshua Roy stagnating, & more

An update on how Cedrick Guindon, Vinzenz Rohrer, Joshua Roy, and Riley Kidney have been performing early on in their 2022-23 campaigns.

NHL: SEP 20 Canadiens Rookie Camp Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome back to Catching The Torch, where we keep an eye on the Montreal Canadiens’ North American prospects and how their development is progressing week by week.

This time around, we’ll be taking a look at two of the Habs’ top performing prospects in the OHL in Cedrick Guindon and Vinzenz Rohrer, as well as the organization’s only two QMJHL-affiliated pieces, Joshua Roy and Riley Kidney, who are all off to great starts.

In the case of Rohrer and Kidney, it took some time to pick up steam and do as well as they have been lately, while Guindon and Roy hit the ground running upon their return to their respective Junior teams.

We’ll start in Ontario, and make our way closer to home.

Cedrick Guindon, LW/C — Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

After starting off his sophomore OHL campaign with two points in four games while struggling to perform well, Guindon picked up the pace massively in the following weeks. Soon after his rough start, the Rockland, Ontario native put up five consecutive two-point performances from October 12 to October 21.

The Canadiens’ fourth-round pick in 2022 most recently earned two goals and an assist on Saturday against the Erie Otters in an 8-5 win, to bring his season total to nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points in 17 games. He leads the Owen Sound Attack in assists. In terms of points, he is tied for first on the team, and tied for third in the entire OHL.

He isn’t a pure playmaker, either. Guindon’s smooth skating, heavy shot, and soft hands combine really well to make him a threat off the rush, and he displays great processing on cycles to scan, identify his teammates’ routes, and play with anticipation.

The dual-threat offence and intelligence that Guindon displays night in, night out are the driving forces of his results. He wins puck races by playing two steps ahead rather than by using brute strength. His physicality is lacking at the moment, which could hinder his game at the pro level when predicting isn’t enough anymore, but he is looking the part of a high-end Junior scorer with hints of something more.

If he keeps this up, Guindon could end the 2022-23 season as a top-10 OHL scorer — tremendous value in the fourth round for the Habs. There is polishing required in his top speed, his physicality, and his overall execution speed, but Guindon has most of the mental elements of hockey nailed down, and the skill to put that to good use.

Vinzenz Rohrer, RW/C — Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Rohrer’s game has grown. If there was one thing evident heading into the 2022 NHL Draft, it was that he was the most physically and technically raw prospect available. Born just six days too early for the 2023 class, the Canadiens’ third-round pick had a lot more runway to grow his game than others, and a full off-season to catch up has seen him make up for that.

Now much more physically equipped to go along with his hard-nosed mindset and great technique in board battles, Rohrer has been winning pucks back for his team left and right. His edge-work has improved as well, making him stronger on his feet when performing tight turns. His 21 points in 16 games so far for the 67’s are a direct result of his ability to regain possession for his team, especially on the forecheck.

There is still some work left to do in his ability to open up passing lanes when all obvious options are closed off, but Rohrer is setting himself up to be an excellent forechecking winger, especially if his physical strength continues to grow.

A combination of his current tools (body-positioning and stick work along the boards, relentlessness when chasing defenders, and anticipation of loose pucks) with a stronger body could very well make him the best forechecker outside the NHL in a couple of years’ time.

Joshua Roy, LW/C — Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)

Roy is back to doing what he does best: dominating the half-wall on the Phoenix’s man advantage, sneaking off players’ heels to find space in the offensive zone, and cycling pucks intelligently to his teammates for the odd assist after making good use of his physicality down low.

There is a concern, though: Roy isn’t really exploring different areas of his game. Rather, he is repeating the same patterns that earned him a QMJHL scoring title last year. Patterns that work well against Junior defenders, as his nine goals and 17 assists in 16 games so far this year prove.

However, these patterns aren’t as projectable as those that Owen Beck repeats, for example. Roy’s tendency to throw pucks haphazardly on net or to the slot when better options are available remains an issue, and he doesn’t contribute on transitions as much due to the habits he picked up when his skating was well below average.

One possible solution to avoid Roy stagnating would have been to find him a professional league to play in, rather than go back to Sherbrooke and do much of the same things he was doing last year. A loan overseas, for example, would have served him much better than the position he is in at the moment.

The next best thing in Roy’s case would be to have weekly follow-ups with Adam Nicholas. That way, they can both review footage of his games and identify new areas into which he can expand his skills. Mainly, I believe Roy’s transition woes — his lack of involvement in puck carries up the ice — could be turned into a strength and help him round out his toolkit.

He already does a great job in static scenarios — his net-front positioning, puck protection in corners, and half-wall play are all bona fide strengths — but if Roy can add playing inside movement to his skill set, it unlocks a lot of comfort in a wide variety of situations, most of which he will experience at any level.

“Development occurs at the confluence of tools, adaptability, and a favourable environment.” — Mitchell Brown

Riley Kidney, C — Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

On an Acadie-Bathurst team that is truly struggling to string together good performances, Kidney is once again driving the bus.

He has 10 goals and 19 assists so far on the season, 10 whole points ahead of any of his teammates despite the season being only 19 games young. As of November 8, Kidney was second in the entire QMJHL for percentage of team points, behind Jordan Dumais, contributing on 17.1% of the Titan’s goals. Kidney was also named QMJHL Player of the Week for his performances at the start of November.

Despite his continuing trend of driving the bus offensively for the Titan, Kidney’s tendency to throw pucks at the net-front when pressured along the boards makes him a less effective distributor than he should be. His abilities to receive pucks in stride and dangle opponents are mesmerizing, but without that low panic threshold in the final third, he will struggle to perform well at the pro level, especially without high-end speed and acceleration.

Adam Nicholas has his work cut out for him with both Roy and Kidney, but teaching prospects to improve their skating stride and make smarter plays under pressure just happens to be the Habs’ Director of Player Development’s areas of strength.

Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter @HadiK_Scouting for more on Habs’ prospects, and to keep up with the rest of my scouting work!