Canadiens Prospect Riley Kidney Heating Up, Preparing For Pro

Canadiens Prospect Riley Kidney Heating Up, Preparing For Pro

Montreal Canadiens prospect Riley Kidney had a very eventful year in the QMJHL, but is now laser-focused on chasing the President’s Cup and preparing himself for the pro game next season.

Beginning the year with the Acadie-Bathurst Titans, the writing was on the wall early on that Nier would eventually be traded before the QMJHL trade deadline in early January.

After an unfortunate injury prevented him from representing his country at the World Junior Championships, Nier eventually traded a huge deal to the Gatineau Olympiques.

And if you ask Nier, he couldn’t have asked for a better landing spot.

“Playing in a better team, it’s a lot easier to score goals and points,” Kidney said of his new team and the impact the move has had on his game. “The start of the year in Bathurst struggled a bit, but here we have a great team and I have two great linemates. So far it’s working perfectly, and we’ve had good chemistry the last few games.”

Although Nier remains focused on trying to end his QMJHL career with a championship title, he does so with a keen eye on what comes next.

Prepare for the next step with Montreal Canadiens

Nier is having an exceptional offensive season in the QMJHL, with 20 goals and 47 assists for 67 points in just 39 games. His points-per-game rate is expected to increase even higher as his offensive numbers have exploded since joining the Olympiques; with six goals and 16 goals for 22 points in just eight games.

Despite all the points he collects, Nier is much more concerned with how he plays the game, rather than collecting points; he uses this time to prepare himself for something greater.

Whether it is with the Montreal Canadiens or, more realistically, with the Laval Rocket, Kidney understands that he must now prepare for what comes next; using every second he has on the ice to simulate what it will take at the next level.

“Next year I’ll be turning pro, so during every game I’m trying to focus on having pro habits,” Kidney says of how he prepares for his eventual jump to the AHL or NHL next season. “For example, stopping on the puck, looking hard ahead, finishing tests and just playing at a faster pace; because I know next year is going to be a whole different level. That’s one of the things Montreal told me to work on is to play at a faster pace; and that’s one of the biggest things I focus on in every game and every practice as well.”

Although the 19-year-old has shown significant growth in his speed of execution and pace of late, he also admitted that he has a big task ahead of him this summer.

At 6′ and 175lbs, Nier knows he will need to add some lean muscle to his frame in hopes of increasing his strength and explosiveness on the ice as he makes the transition to the pro game.

“I think my conditioning is good, but I need to gain a lot more muscle; getting stronger and faster,” Nier said of his need to add mass to his frame this summer. “My foot speed, my explosiveness, has to get better because everybody at the next level is fast and explosive. So, if I want to play well, I really have to work at it. This summer is an important summer for me to focus on the gym and build as much muscle as I can.”

Blooms under pressure

The youngster is up to the challenge, both on and off the ice; as the biggest obstacle becomes, the higher the pressure gets, the better he feels he can get.

And the statistics support that idea.

In 17 QMJHL playoff games at ages 17 and 18, Nier has four goals and 21 assists for 25 points; showing that he is able to raise his game when all the chips are on the board.

He also understands that nothing compares to the pressure of winning in Montreal, but that only seems to make him more excited about the prospect of playing at the Bell Center one day.

“I like the pressure. It kind of makes me more motivated to play. It makes me play better and fires me up,” Kidney said of his play in high-pressure situations. “It excites me that people rely on me. That’s the best thing about hockey, when people rely on you and you produce. That kind of situation excites me and I’m eager to do it one day for the Montreal Canadiens.”

It will be a very interesting spring for the Montreal Canadiens 2nd round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. He saw what Nick Suzuki did in the spring of 2019 after being traded to the Guelph Storm and leading them to an OHL championship and Memorial Cup berth and he hoped he could do the same for Gatineau.

It is not a small task, but the obstacles do not bother him; instead keep his eyes firmly on the prize.

This was just a snippet of our interview with Riley Kidney. To listen to the full interview in podcast format, you can check out Montreal Hockey Now: The Podcast below:

Apple Music
Google Podcasts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *