Logan Mailloux may play more than 60 games this season for the first time since he was playing AAA midget hockey in Toronto.
What Mailloux needs more than anything is playing time and he’s getting that in London this season. After recuperating from shoulder surgery, Mailloux has started to find his offensive game after a somewhat slow start to his OHL season. He has played only 39 games in the past three seasons, so expectations should be tempered in regard to how quickly he may be NHL-ready.
There will be a tendency towards rushing him into the NHL because he provides much-needed offence on the right side. That is especially true because of Montreal’s need for a genuine power-play quarterback.
Lane Hutson is the other defence prospect that best fits that category but he may be several years away from being ready to play a top-six role even strength on an NHL defence. Mailloux has the shot, mobility and passing skills to develop into a decent NHL power-play specialist. That is by no means a given, however, and it may take him a two or more years to be in a position to play 5-on-5 hockey at the NHL level.
We will start out with the basic highlights of his season so far – his points and his goals against.
Offence: Mailloux has four goals and four assists in eight games. He is one of only eight OHL defencemen to be averaging at least a point per game.
Here are his eight points:
Defence: He has been on the ice for 13 goals against in his first eight games of the season. He will be looking to curb that down as the season progresses but when you are playing almost half the game, those numbers are likely to remain above one goal per game.
Here are a dozen of those goals:
There are two main concerns in this video. He made some poor reads and was lax in his defending on a handful of goals.. It can be assumed that he is still trying to get into game shape having played very little in the past three years, and since joining the Knights after being at Montreal’s training camp he has been averaging close to 27 minutes of ice time per game. It’s also apparent in this video is that the Knights have had some inconsistent goaltending.
What was evident at times last season and again through his first eight games of 2022-23 is that he can get caught flatfooted at times, and with his skating skills, that will be something London coach Dale Hunter and his assistants will be working on – reminding him to keep moving. There should be fewer instances of him getting caught off guard as he gains the confidence to close his gaps and rely on his mobility to fend off attackers.
London 3 Versus Niagara 2 Oct. 27
Here are the more notable plays from Mailloux in a 3-2 OT win against Niagara on Oct. 27 where Mailloux scored the game-winner on a breakaway and added an assist:
Mailloux was already looking more comfortable defensively than at the very start of the season – less standing still and better reads of the play. On the offensive end – you couldn’t ask for much more. Scoring the OT game-winner, adding a fancy assist on the power play, and making a solo rush or two like this:
Niagara is not exactly an offensive powerhouse, however, so this game wasn’t the best test for Mailloux. Mailloux’s game against Erie on Nov. 4 offered a better snapshot of where he’s at defensively and what improvements he still needs to make as the Otters are a stronger team.
Erie 6 Versus London 3 on Nov. 4
Mailloux scored two goals and played almost 28 minutes in a 6-3 loss. Two of those minuses were with the net empty. Here are the more notable plays in that contest:
Mailloux needs to start using the body more frequently considering that he is one of the bigger players in junior hockey. At 6-4 and more than 200 pounds, there is no excuse for him going in the corners and not laying a hit…or trying to stick check a player when he should be looking at his chest and not the puck and knocking him to the ice. Here was a play early on in the Erie game where he got caught looking at the puck, and it nearly cost him:
Here’s an example of him using his size to shut down an opponent, and hopefully, we will be seeing this more often in the future.:
Mailloux doesn’t quite match Arber Xhekaj’s mentality when it comes to hitting, but not many defencemen do. Here was a prime example of him passing on an opportunity to staple an opponent to the boards. You just know that Xhekaj would have labeled the guy. Not to say that Mailloux won’t hit….he does have aggressiveness in his defending – it’s just not nearly as frequent as Xhekaj or even Kaiden Guhle:
Mailloux has a defensive play he frequently utilizes where he kneels on one leg and puts his entire stick flat on the ice to try to intercept passes. We saw it in a few clips of the Niagara game. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. it will be interesting to see what NHL coaches think of the play when he graduates as they usually want their defenders to be on their two blades. Here is an instance (along with the clip directly above) where it worked well for him:
Mailloux lets up a bit here when he has a chance to be first in the corner to retrieve a puck, and that is another thing coaches will be on him about. You can’t have a 6-4 defenceman that is reticent to sacrifice his body to make a play. He should have been first on the puck on this play:
All of the physical tools are there to be solid defensively. Size, strength, length, and mobility. It’s still a bit early to define his hockey IQ but he’s not running around constantly making mistakes either, so hopefully, his reads and decisions just keep improving as he plays more games.
What excites most Canadiens fans is Mailloux’s offensive potential. The club hasn’t had a big, mobile blueliner who can go end-to-end like he can since Larry Robinson. Mailloux has the offensive skills to one day bring Bell Centre fans out of their seats.
His first instinct is to often join the rush, and you can tell that Hunter has been after him to rein it in a bit when it comes to being up ice and getting caught out of position. Here was a rush where you can see that he wanted to head into the offensive zone but changed his mind at the last second when it was dumped in:
Here’s a play where he decided to rush up ice in the hopes that the clearing pass would end up on his stick…but that was a big hope. He would have been best served to stay in his defensive position and let the other two London forwards chase after the puck. He was lucky that it didn’t end up in a 3-on-2 going the other way with a London forward trying to defend an Erie rush:
Mailloux has a rocket for a slapshot but he hasn’t been using it too much so far this season. That’s fine; as his wrist shot is harder than many defenceman’s slapshots, and easier to get on net as it takes less time to utilize. Here is one of many instances where Mailloux gets the shot on net using a quick wrister and the goalie doesn’t see it until the last split second:
Further evidence that Mailloux doesn’t need to slap the puck to make it go fast – he has an incredibly hard wrist shot, and it paid off with a goal on this play:
Mailloux often has nice touch on his passes. Here is a play where he leads a forward perfectly with a short saucer pass:
How difficult is it for OHL forecheckers to get the puck from Mailloux when he has a bit of space? Almost impossible. With his length, mobility, puck skills and athletic ability, Mailloux makes it look easy sometimes:
Mailloux can get a little too focused on one player at times and get himself in a bad defensive position. here’s one instance where he found himself out by the blueline when he should probably have been in front of his net but teammates covered for him and he used his length to check the puck away and clear the zone:
Mailloux has a proclivity for the stretch pass that sometimes works out well…and sometimes it backfires. It’s part of his mental makeup to try to produce offence, and not something that any coach is likely going to criticize too harshly. You don’t want to completely tame a wild stallion:
Mailloux showed good aggressiveness on this shift, both with and without his stick. The hit he doled out without his stick was one of his harder ones so far this season – maybe he should drop it a little more often.😉
Mailloux is tough to beat to the outside with his length and mobility. Here’s a play where the Erie forward did manage to get around him but it was more luck than anything as Mailloux simply missed the puck on his attempted sweep check. Mailloux ended the sequence sprawling on the ice to prevent a cross-ice pass in the crease. Pretty solid defence from him on this play:
On the penalty kill on this shift, Mailloux got caught a bit flatfooted on the zone entry and then made a poor clearing attempt, leading to a couple of good scoring chances for Erie. Mailloux defended pretty well in this sequence after that, and managed to intercept the puck and clear the zone.
Mailloux once again demonstrates his unorthodox pass-blocking style three times in this penalty kill, and doesn’t succeed in blocking any passes. The reason why coach Hunter lets him do this one is because he gets up quickly – it’s not like he’s sprawling completely on the ice and taking three seconds to get back in the play. This is a solid defensive sequence from him. He stayed between the puck and opponents, and defended his “block” efficiently.
This was a heads-up play to hold the blueline, and lead a teammate with an accurate pass that created a scoring opportunity. A good example of him trusting his skating ability more as he gains confidence, and not being afraid to attempt to keep the puck in the zone when London was buzzing.
This is a defensive play that will have Montreal’s development staff salivating. THIS is exactly how to defend below the goal line, and his perfect saucer outlet pass topped it all off.
This play was an example of Mailloux using his “kneel block” to cut off a passing lane to nobody, and one of a few times in this game where he did so unnecessarily. He didn’t look to see if a defenceman was sneaking in before going down into his stance. He’s certainly not going to stop a pass to the Erie player in the slot considering he was on the wrong side of him. Hopefully, this gets pointed out to him and he cuts down on the number of times that he blocks off passing lanes to no one when he should instead be taking out an opponent who is between the puck carrier and him. The defenceman does sneak down a bit later but the timing for Mailloux going down to block the lane was off.
At the start of this clip – ideally, you want him to already be skating backward as the two Erie forwards approach his blueline, but he’s standing still, and susceptible to being beat by speed if they play it right and his teammates don’t get to his corner to defend. Mailloux then makes a solid defensive play behind the net that enables him to clear the zone on the pk.
It cannot be easy to check Mailloux when he’s moving with the puck. He has very good hands at high speed. When you add in his length and quickness – when he tries to deke someone…he usually succeeds:
Mailloux demonstrates his vision on this play, making a quick pass to the open teammate in the slot:
Mailloux took out the goal scorer at first but left him to the forward the second time around, and #9 found himself open for a split second and made a great deflection. Partial blame to Mailloux but he played the entire defensive sequence fairly well.
Coming to a Montreal power play someday soon? Mailloux’s size and shot combination bring back vague memories of Sheldon Souray on the power play. One of the things that makes Mailloux such an intriguing prospect is his goal-scoring ability. There is 20-goal NHL potential if he can put it all together:
This goal is on Mailloux’s teammate. He signaled for him to either go or pass it behind the net but instead, he passed it to Mailloux:
Nothing earth-shattering about this play – just another clip that exhibits Mailloux’s mobility and puck skills. He makes it look easy:
Here’s a clip that exhibits why Mailloux is best served to be moving when he defends, as his mobility and length are such that it is almost impossible to beat him one-on-one. Solid defending on this play as he cuts off the pass:
Peripheral vision? Yep. Nice feed from Mailloux here…sauce and all:
A skilled play by Mailloux to slide his hand down the shaft of his stick to better receive the pass, then faking a pass and getting a quick shot on net. Mailloux had 11 attempted shots in this game, and six got through:
Not a spectacular effort from Mailloux on this empty-net goal but he was beaten…and London was beat…at this point:
This was a nice instance of Mailloux joining the rush with his powerful stride reading the play well, stripping the puck and making a pass that almost sprung a teammate on a breakaway chance.
Here are a dozen additional plays by Mailloux that showcase his all-around talent, including four clips from last season:
The Final Breakdown: In watching these video cli[ps of Mailloux in action this season, it’s quite apparent that he is gaining confidence by the week, and that’s not a good thing for OHL opponents. When he starts steaming down the ice with the puck it is almost impossible to check him in the neutral zone, and that creates a ton of offence for the Knights. He mixes it up entering the offensive zone, and that will keep opponents guessing. Sometimes he tries to go all the way, sometimes he dumps it in, sometimes he passes it. What he’s not doing very often is turning it over, and that is the most important thing.
There may not be a better puck carrier in junior hockey, and that will be welcome on the Canadiens when he is ready to vie for a spot. The two areas of his game that need the most work at this time are avoiding being caught flat-footed and playing with the physical edge that a skater with his physical attributes should bring more consistently. He had one game so far this season where his physical presence was noticeable, and that’s the one element of his game that will complete the physical package.
Here was his one truly physical game this season versus a high-flying Saginaw team, where he had four notable hits. A player with his physical attributes playing defence should be doing that nightly:
I don’t like comparing prospects to Hall of Famers but Mailloux, when he’s got all of the pieces working, he has some similarities to Robinson. Certainly – the club hasn’t had a defenceman with his size/puck-carrying combo since Vladimir Malakhov (when he put his mind to it).
Mailloux already looks like he’ll be more consistent than Malakhov, and while he’ll never be as tough or intimidating as the Big Bird, there are physical attributes that will provide him with an opportunity to be a terrific defenceman if he develops properly. Size, shot, skill, vision, playmaking – they are all there.
What he still needs to do is learn how to defend on a consistent basis, and the best way for that to happen is with game action. His play in his own end is a bit reminiscent of Sergachev’s as a junior. You see plays where he looks like he could be a great shutdown defender, then you see plays where he looks like a green OHLer.
To his credit – much more of his plays look great than those that warrant concern despite his lack of junior experience, and if he can play a full junior season logging 25+ minutes per game and keeps improving, he will most likely be ready to join Laval at season’s end if they’re still playing, and find a regular role.
One full season in the AHL and who knows? The physical skills are there to be an impact NHLer. We will see if he has the mental makeup to make that happen.