Bob McKenzie of TSN released his series of one-on-one interviews with Canadian NHL GMs today, and in speaking to the Montreal Canadiens’ Mark Bergevin, McKenzie asked about Noah Juulsen, a top prospect who is now eligible to play in the American Hockey League. Bergevin confirmed that Juulsen is “very close” to being ready for the NHL, and that the team would be taking a hard look at him in training camp.
It’s hard to see Juulsen cracking the roster right out of camp, as Montreal currently has eight NHL-level defensemen signed plus Jakub Jerabek, the wild card from the Czech Republic. It will be a dog fight for the last few spots even without Juulsen’s competition, but the young defenseman will try to force the team to keep him. Last year in the WHL the 20-year old showed that he’s ready for professional hockey with 34 points in just 45 games while being one of the best open-ice hitters in junior hockey. His skating is already above-average for the NHL, and he would likely become a fan favorite in little time in Montreal.
As Bergevin explains, even though the Canadiens look to have too many defensemen already, training camp hasn’t even started. It’s rare that a team gets through the preseason without injury, meaning a chance for Juulsen is still a real possibility. The 6’3″ defender that was drafted 26th-overall in 2015 will likely make his debut at some point this season, even if it comes after the majority of the season is spent with the Laval Rocket of the AHL. Either way, Montreal fans should be excited knowing that there is some more high-level defensive help on its way.