After picking Juraj Slafkovsky with their first selection, the Habs stayed in Slovakia for their second pick of the night as they drafted winger Filip Mesar with the 26th pick.
DOB: Jan. 3, 2004
Weight: 174 lbs
CSB: 20 (European skaters)
Hockey Prospect: 25
Future Considerations: 30
TSN (Button): 30
TSN (McKenzie): 59
Elite Prospects: 36
Hockey Prospect: Filip Mesar is a versatile playmaker who switched between the wing and center positions for Poprad over the course of the season. His team liked to play fast in transition and this fit Mesar’s play style. It would be difficult to find a player who plays a more modernized game in this year’s class. Blending his off the puck game with structure and a well-rounded skill set, which allowed him to fit anywhere in the line up, showing his flexibility.
Elite Prospects: This Slovakian winger just flies out there, weaving through traffic with a crossover-heavy stride, changing lanes and speeds to throw defencemen off balance, and exploding away from contact with forceful weight transfers. He’s an absolute force between the blue lines and one of the draft’s best transition forwards. Of course, the catch with Mesar, and I’m sure you saw this coming, is that he’s a slight forward standing at just 5-foot-10 and spends far too much time on the peripheries of the offensive zone for our liking. He doesn’t stand up to contact and can’t gain the inside with the puck on his stick; even without the puck, it’s all too easy for defenders to box him out from the net-front.
Recrutes: If he had played in North America all season there’s a distinct possibility that North American scouts would see him as a top-15 candidate. As it is, many consider him to be outside of the top 25 because of his size, but the more you watch the more you grow to appreciate his skill level – he’s one of the best skaters and puckhandlers in this draft.
Draft Prospects: Scores the majority of his goals in tight. Drives the net without the puck and is excellent at finding little pockets of space in front. On the powerplay, he likes to set up around the circles or in the slot. Positions himself well to get a lot of power behind his one-timers. Looks to lure opponents into traps in his own zone. Should look to activate his stick more defensively and capitalize on opponents’ mistakes. High upside player that is annoying to play against.
Corey Pronman, The Athletic: Mesar’s game is defined by speed and pace. He’s one of the better skaters in this draft, with the ability to burn up the neutral zone to create clean entries with speed. He has good skill and playmaking ability, and shows he can make tough plays with the puck with pace. His compete is good enough for me but probably not where you want for an undersized player. I think with his speed, skill and scoring ability he can carve out a career as a top-nine winger though.
Scott Wheeler, The Athletic: He’s an A-level skater (or close) who thrives with the puck on his stick, can play on the perimeter or knife to the inside, and can use space to feed pucks into it or take it to use his versatile and deceptive shot. He’s also a highly involved player who works to use his speed to push tempo and chase down loose pucks. The fear is that he doesn’t have a game-breaking offensive dimension (despite being highly skilled in a variety of areas), nor the size, to turn his enticing package into a high-end NHL player. But that’s a common challenge for players in this range, I like the skill-skating combo, he processes the game at a high level, and he’s got one of the stronger statistical profiles in the draft to support his case as a first rounder.
McKeen’s: Summarizing, Mesar possesses plenty of skill, is very mobile, has a strong mind for the game, and does things an excellent pace. That’s something he brings to the table night in and night out. He needs to work on strength aspects and at gaining separation speed. He makes many aspects of the game look effortless while himself looking very energetic and concentrated in his activity. The hands are there to one day rack up some very special numbers while enough of an overall package is there to perhaps take on a responsible 3rd line role, should it not work out with an offensive gig.
Dobber Prospects: He is smallish and plays in a league that doesn’t have a big name yet. But he is extremely fearless, goes into every battle and works extremely hard. His skating is top-notch, both in terms of speed and four-way motion. He uses it to his advantage after good defensive work in the neutral zone. What I love about him is his ability to protect the puck in positions where he can make plays and influence the game down low in the offensive zone. Has a good shot, but the belief is that he would be primarily a playmaker on the next level.
LWOS: Mesar does a decent job in the defensive zone. He is always on the right side of the puck in the offensive zone and this helps him to be the first forward back supporting his defensive teammates. He brings good pressure against the rush and forces his man to the outside. In the zone, he is strong positionally and uses an active stick to create turnovers. Mesar cuts down passing lanes and can poke-check an opponent. He is willing to get involved physically in battles on the boards and in front of the net, but his lack of size and strength is a bit of a limiting factor right now.
Unlike Slafkovsky who will make the jump quickly, the same can’t be said for Mesar. He was drafted in the recent CHL Import Draft by Kitchener and if he reports there (it seems like there’s a reasonable chance he will), he’ll need two years with them and probably a year or two in Laval.