Noel Gunler – LW/RW
Noel Gunler is the type of player that Habs fans should be jumping for joy over if the Canadiens select him at 16. He brings the pure skill and size they desperately want moving forward, while being known for his improving 2-way game. One can argue that Gunler is in the same category of talent as Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond, having played most of last season in the SHL while outperforming Raymond offensively.
I would tend to agree with them, as I believe that he has fallen mostly to do hearsay of tensions with coaches in the past. Generally speaking, the Canadiens do a vigorous amount of interview/psychological tests, so if Gunler is indeed the selection, I wouldn’t worry about all the reputation chatter. A lot is made about attitude of young players at the age of 18, but good maturity and coaching will usually allow the best players to rise to the top.
His various offensive tools make him very deceptive, especially at high speed, and those skills are very likely to translate to the NHL. His shot, be it a wrist shot or a one-timer, is lethal, and what is most impressive is how his shot gains such velocity on impact, despite a very quick release.
The strength of his wrist shot is very intriguing as a prospect, although it does require him an extra split-second to get it off, which is time he might not get at a higher level. Nonetheless, the power, precision and technique is great, and the speed of execution will come with time. If all goes relatively well from a developmental perspective (and early signs point to good improvement on his end) Gunler projects as a top-6 winger that can put the puck in the net and create offense from anywhere on the ice.
Dawson Mercer – C/RW
Dawson Mercer is a smart centreman with decent speed, awesome hands and provides clutch performances when his team most needs him. Mercer is one of those forwards coaches love to have on their roster when they’re down a goal, as he plays a high-tempo, speed and skill game, while also not shying away from the dirty areas or the front of the net.
What many seem to like about Dawson Mercer are the little things he does oh so well. For one, his Hockey IQ is incredible. People marvel at how he’s always in the right place at the right time and, even if he’s not in a position to accept a pass, he is somehow always able to settle an errant pass and make something out of nothing.
On top of having a nose for the net, Mercer’s gritty game is also quite effective along the boards, as he is shifty and hard to track for defenders, creating huge areas of space for him to direct the puck for streaking teammates. Furthermore, he plays a very responsible game in the offensive zone, with very little turnovers. He always seems to make the right play at the right time to reduce risk and encourage the maintenance of possession.