The Canadiens are adding another young player into the mix for a roster spot next season. Montreal announced a three-year entry-level deal with OHL forward Hayden Verbeek beginning in 2018-19. Verbeek, the nephew of Tampa Bay Lightning Assistant GM and 20-year NHLer Pat Verbeek, went undrafted and was a free agent.
Verbeek, 20, is at the end of a five-year junior career with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and has enjoyed a breakout campaign in his final season. After four years of little to moderate production, the 5’10”, 183-lb. center was nearly a point-per-game player in the OHL regular season this year, recording 61 points in 67 games. Verbeek surely benefited from a supremely talented Soo squad that had the best record in the league by a wide margin and featured a laundry list of future NHLers. Yet, he still held his own, finishing fifth on the team in goals and points, ahead of top 2018 center prospect Barrett Hayton.
Verbeek is an experienced player from a respected hockey family, but his ability at the next level is still uncertain. Verbeek, like many players who sign future contracts, could see his first pro action on an amateur tryout basis with the AHL’s Laval Rocket later this season, which would be his first chance to showcase his talent against high-end competition. However, with the Greyhounds likely to make a deep playoff run, Verbeek may not experience the pros until development camp and preseason with the Candiens next season. Montreal would be remiss to not give any promising young players a shot next year, but Verbeek does seem like a more long-term project than immediate solution.