If you watched Jayden Struble as a youngster with the Boston Junior Eagles and South Shore Kings, in prep school at Noble & Greenough and St. Sebastian's and in college at Northeastern, you know that he's always had exceptional tools.
When he signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens last spring it wasn't difficult to envision him earning an NHL opportunity after a year or two in the American Hockey League. That's not an unexpected path for a player drafted in the second round, as Struble was after his final prep season at St. Seb's in 2019.
Fast-forward to the week of Thanksgiving, when the Habs ran into injuries on defense. The 22-year-old Struble (Cumberland, R.I.) got the call from Montreal’s farm club in Laval, stepped into the NHL lineup and has played dependably on the third pairing ever since.
His quick rise to the NHL has been a surprise even to those who are rooting hardest for him — his family and the general manager of the Canadiens, Kent Hughes.
"We thought, 'OK, he needs a solid two to three years in the AHL to be where he needs to be to have a chance,'" said Tara Slack, Struble’s mother.