There was much speculation and debate about whether Jordan Harris would actually join the Montreal Canadiens organization. Under Marc Bergevin’s regime, it seemed all but assured he would be moving elsewhere. With new management in place, the Canadiens finally got Harris signed in March at the conclusion of his collegiate career. The much hyped prospect from the 2018 Draft class made his NHL debut late in the 2021-22 season.
He played 10 games, scoring one goal and finishing with a plus-3 goal differential behind a weak Habs lineup after the trade deadline. Without being an overly flashy defenceman, he was able to carve himself a role in Montreal’s bottom four to end the year.
In my eyes, Harris appears to be a somewhat solid fourth defenceman who can play with pace and chip in offensively. I ranked him highest at fifth due to his potential impact down the line, but not everyone regards him as one of the very top young blue-liners in the organization.
Top 25 Under 25 History
After starting out in spot 30 in his debut in the T25U25 ranks, Harris was able to hold onto his spot at #9 he rose to last year. With two years of eligibility left, it will be hard for him to crack the top five with more and more talented young players being added to the system.
History of #9
Harris is a jack of all trades. He is not particularly flashy nor is he a big bruising defender. He is a mobile, puck-distributing, gap-closing, outlet passing defenceman with a decent shot. Where he currently stands out the most is in his ability to defend against opposing rushes, often preventing them outside of his zone before they can become a threat.
He is adept at circling into the offensive zone, trying to push opposing attackers to open up lanes. What’s more, with his impressive skating, he can cover huge swaths of ice in just a few steps, then uses his great lateral movement to increase his defensive range.
Harris is great at calculating risk and choosing when to push the play forward and is rarely seen out of position due to his skating abilities. He closes the gap quickly and gets back into a defensive position to resume the rush the other way.
All this translates into what we could call poise. His calmness with the puck truly shines both defensively and offensively. This poise and posture also applies largely to his offensive game as well. With his confidence growing, we’ve seen him make more controlled plays and attempt more skilful endeavours on the ice.
While in the offensive zone, he has a knack for finding viable options for passing and shooting. He patrols the blue line in a simple yet effective way, scanning the play and opting for good lanes to either pass or shoot.
With no glaring faults, Harris is pretty good in a lot of facets of the game, but isn’t dominant in any of them. He is also not the biggest or most imposing physical presence. To stick in the NHL, he will need to seize the opportunity to contribute even more offensively. He needs to jump on those key offensive opportunities and add a certain layer of complexity to his offensive game.
Right now, his offensive output and plays are rather simplistic. He doesn’t use his speed and agility to create a harder read for opposing defences, and he lacks deception in his attacks. Due to his skating, he should have more reasons to control the puck and the flow of the attack to find areas of the ice to exploit to his advantage.
To perform with the pros, you need to add a certain level of deceit, of complexity, in your game to fool opposing defences, or the opposing team will find holes and dismantle your chances of producing any offence.
As it stands, Harris will need to keep improving and finding ways to up his production as more and more left-shot defenceman start breathing down his neck. With a large influx of smooth-skating offensive or defensive specialists, he will need to stay one step ahead of the next group of players coming into the system.
Should he keep improving as he did throughout his tenure with Northeastern, Montreal has on its blue line a smart, solid, smooth-skating, two-way defenceman who can chip-in perhaps 20 to 30 points a year while providing enough defensive coverage to stay relevant in the NHL conversation.
He has a skill set that is tailor-made for the professional game as long as he progresses. He will never receive much hype but he is a quality player who should have a spot on the Habs’ blue line for at least a few years.
We are joined by @SkyonAir_ from our sister site Stanley Cup of Chowder, who speaks about Jordan Harris career at Northeastern, and projection for his upcoming season: