Certain prospects in the Montreal Canadiens’ pool will always be linked together as a pair. Joël Teasdale and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard are both over-agers from the QMJHL who continued to shine in Junior hockey while being overlooked by the NHL Draft community. After captaining their respective teams, they received an opportunity with the local franchise, and took it.
Luke Tuch and Jan Myšak were selected with consecutive picks in the draft, and will therefore always be connected. The same goes for this year’s selections, Riley Kidney and Oliver Kapanen.
Last but not least, we have the Northeastern duo in Boston, MA. Taken in consecutive years, Jordan Harris and Jayden Struble are both left-handed defencemen who elected to attend Cayden Primeau’s and Chris Nilan’s old university.
Are they similar in playing style? Not exactly, but as long as they remain Habs prospects they will continue to be bunched together due to having played the same position, on the same side, at the same university.
Last year, Harris’s ranking span was between 7 and 24. This time around, voting was much more unified, with a slight majority putting Harris inside their top 10.
Marc-Antoine Levis: “Harris is a smooth-skating, smart player who plays to his strengths. His hockey IQ and skating make me really hopeful about what is in store for this player. What’s more, his playing style, his attention to detail, and relative abilities with the puck give me many reasons for optimism.”
Jared Book: “I just like the forwards in that range more than the group of defenders. I had Harris just behind Brook and just ahead of Struble.”
Top 25 Under 25 History
Harris continues his steady climb up the prospect ladder. After starting out in spot 30 in his first year, he has since done a formidable job convincing the EOTP-staff of his potential. This year marks the first time he has cracked the top 10. With three years of eligbility left, there seems to be no reason why he shouldn’t be able to keep his high ranking – provided of course that he signs with Montreal at the end of the 2021-22 season.
History of #9
Harris plays a well-rounded, modern brand of hockey. He skates well and can add value to a team both in offensive and defensive terms. His game has always seemed composed and mature for his age. Last year, he wore an A for his college team. For this season, his A has been upgraded to a C. Leadership qualities are always an asset when it comes to making it in the professional world.
He has a well-polished passing ability and combines that with reading opposing attackers well, to cut down on high-danger scoring chances. Even if it’s presently just at the NCAA level, there are plenty of aspects that project well for Harris’s future as a pro-league defenceman.
Naturally, there are always details which can be corrected for a 21-year-old hockey player. In this case, my main worries are that Harris will stagnate a tad during a fourth season of play in Hockey East.
Just to be clear, I understand why he wanted to stay at university for his senior year. The fact he is staying put instead of rushing into an unknown, yet exciting career as a professional hockey player speaks volumes about his aforementioned leadership.
But after three years at Northeastern University, I have a hard time seeing what more he can develop there hockey-wise. What Harris needs to do is to continue to do what he does well at the NCAA level, but in a more fast-paced setting and on a more competitive level.
With Montreal having an abundance of left-handed defensive talent in their current youth pool, it is fascinating to see how different these top prospects are as players. Alexander Romanov is the hard-hitter who provides physicality and defensive stability, even if he has more offensive upside in his toolbelt than what he got to show last season. On the contrary, Mattias Norlinder is the savvy playmaker and transition master who can skate in eights around his opponents on a good day – even if he has become more of a presence in his own zone as well in the years since he was drafted.
Harris’s teammate Struble is the marble-chiseled traits guy, who has all the physical tools and more that you’d want in an NHL defenceman, but who will need some time to puzzle all the pieces together.
Last, we have Jordan Harris. He is not the biggest or most imposing physical presence. Neither is he the guy who will wow you with sheer deking and technique nor does he resemble an antique Greek statue with his perfect physique.
Instead, what you’ll get with Harris is a little bit of everything. A smart, solid, two-way defenceman who has everything needed to become a steady presence on a blue line near you for years to come. I think – just as for Brett Stapley a bit further down the list – this is another case of a player going under the radar, simply because he’s not Twitter-friendly during his developmental years. There are few highlight plays to instantly wow you with.
In the end, I think both Harris and Montreal are the better for just that. With a third-round draft pick, you know that it will take years before the player reaches the big leagues. What you’re doing is betting on his long-term potential. Harris may not be flashy, but despite that (or perhaps, because of that very fact) it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up having the most productive NHL career out of all of Montreal’s left-handed defensive prospects on this year’s list.
We are joined by Chris Peters, NHL Draft and Prospects analyst and the editor of Hockey Sense on Substack. He joins us to discuss:
11 Jayden Struble
10 Sean Farrell
9 Jordan Harris
In the aftermath of the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet and the Logan Mailloux OHL suspension we bring these subjects up to get Chris’s insights; especially as someone who watched Mailloux in his draft year.