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2019 Montreal Canadiens Top 25 Under 25: #24 Joël Teasdale

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The undrafted standout from the Canadiens’ 2018 training camp cracks our list in his first year of eligibility.

NHL: Preseason-Florida Panthers at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Unlike many players you will see on our list this year, Joël Teasdale was not drafted by the Montreal Canadiens. In fact, he wasn’t drafted at all. After going through the 2018 NHL entry draft unselected, despite a point-per-game season with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, the Canadiens gave him a shot as an invite to their training camp.

Once there he didn’t disappoint, and his hometown team locked him down to a three-year entry-level deal in September of last year. Considering that he would have been eligible again for the 2019 draft, it was a very smart move given what he’d be able to do in his final year of Junior.

Back with the Armada, he started the year out with 19 goals and 19 assists for 38 points in 37 games. But, after a trade to the powerhouse Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, he took his game to a new level. He put up 24 goals and 18 assists for 42 points in just 29 games to close out the season.

And he was a monster for the Huskies in the playoffs, putting up 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points in just 20 games. He ended up being a major part of the eventual Memorial Cup win for the Huskies, capping off a solid Junior career in the best possible way, with MVP honours to boot.

EliteProspects

Considering his performance towards the end of the year, it really made the signing by the Canadiens look like a steal. He almost certainly would not have gone unselected in a second year of draft eligibility.

Voting

There certainly is no consensus. Myself and Patrik are quite high on him, putting him in at 16, and the EOTP community seems to agree, just two spots lower at 18. Seven ballots placed him outside of the top 25, however, so we have a wide array of opinions when it comes to the undrafted Teasdale.

Strengths

At 6’0” and just over 200 pounds, Teasdale is — as we say in Québec — ‘il a un bon gabarit.’ One of the easiest things to notice about him is that he does a lot of his scoring work in that high percentage area in front of the other team’s net. It is the type of tendency that has given Brendan Gallagher success at the NHL level, and a big part of how Teasdale put up 61 goals last year, if you include the playoffs and Memorial Cup.

His bread and butter is driving the net. He has good hands and the strength needed to bully his way into the slot with the puck, which gives him excellent scoring chances. When he doesn’t have the puck, he’ll do much of the same, giving good screens or deflection opportunities for his teammates.

What I like the most about Teasdale is his two-way game. He is very well-positioned and adept at defending, as well as transitioning that defense into offense. With the NHL becoming more and more speed-oriented, the transitional game is key. I ranked Teasdale so high because I really like how he can be a catalyst in turning the other team away, and then making them pay for their incursion to his side of the red line.

Of course, doing this at the next level is a different beast, but you have to like his chances. Solid in transition with a knack for getting to the greasy areas? I’ll take that player every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

Weaknesses

It has been mentioned by our own David St-Louis that his strength of finding goals by being around the net is something he will have to adapt at the professional level. In Junior, he had the ability to simply force his way around the front of the net, which is not likely to be the case in the pro ranks where space is harder to come by.

Though he moves well for a heavy 200-pound guy, his skating will need some work to be able to do the things he did in junior. As mentioned, his transitional game is very strong, but to be able to do that at the pro level is a whole different animal. The same thing can be said for gaining access to his favourite area in front of the crease — in the NHL you don’t just get to hang around that area, you have to get in and out at the right times.

Ideally he will spend time working on his skating so that he can create more space for himself in transition, as well as find more creative routes to the front of the net in the offensive zone. If he can do that, he could become quite the effective NHL player.

Projection

It’s a tough task to predict how far he can go. He obviously made a good impression on the Canadiens’ scouting staff as he developed through Junior, and if his final QMJHL season is any indicator, he will have an impact on the professional ranks this year.

Even as one of his two high votes on this year’s ballot, I wouldn’t expect him to make the jump to the NHL immediately. I don’t think it would be in the best interest for his development anyway. A year or two with Joël Bouchard in Laval is probably the ideal way for him to get used to the pro game.

And Bouchard happens to know Teasdale rather well, as he coached him for every season but his last in the QMJHL with Blainville-Boisbriand. So he gets to turn pro with a coach who knows how to use him, and who oversaw his development to become a point-per-game player in Junior. He will get every opportunity to prove himself with the Rocket.

I, for one, am quite sure he will be an NHL player in the future. I’m inclined to say he’d make for a very solid bottom-six winger. One who can create offense but can also handle tough competition and defensive responsibilities. He could be a highly effective third-line winger with the possibility of top-six usage should he continue to develop well.

This is why Laval is probably the best landing spot for him. He will get to play meaningful minutes with a coach who knows him, rather than fight for a fourth-line spot with the Canadiens.

At any rate, this will absolutely be a player to watch this year for the Rocket.