(Nashville) In an online video posted by the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, goaltending coach Neil Conway describes his protege Jacob Fowler in more than glowing terms.

He touts a goaltender who’s had a terrific season, but also a young man with whom a routine phone call “turns into a 30-minute conversation.”

We will take him at his word for the first assertion. However, the second is confirmed to be correct.

Third-round choice of the Habs in the 2023 draft, the native of Florida was like a fish in water in front of Quebec journalists, Thursday, in Nashville. Smiling from ear to ear, he immediately launched greetings in French and pointed out that several members of his family resided in Montreal and in the Quebec region.

Whether it’s for hockey, visiting relatives or skiing at Tremblant, Fowler has stopped counting his visits to the province. So, being selected by the Habs is not only “very cool”, but “it comes full circle”.

In his final ranking, the NHL Central Scouting ranked him fifth among North American goaltenders. He had had some discussions with the CH, but he was aware that at this stage, any team could have chosen him. His joy at becoming a member of the Canadiens, however, seemed sincere.

Fowler considers practicing a style based on simplicity. “Nothing sexy, just want to stop the pucks,” he said. By comparing himself to Cam Talbot and Craig Anderson, he resolutely pours into sobriety. He will nevertheless add Jake Oettinger to the list.

“Stop the pucks,” he’s done it successfully for the past year. In Youngstown, he had the best goals-against average and save percentage in the USHL, a rarity for an 18-year-old goaltender. The league’s ultimate goaltender, he led his team to the Clark Cup, awarded to the country’s junior champion team.

His specialist coach Neil Conway talks about his reading of the “elite” level game. “He sees the game at a very high level, at high speed,” he explained, in addition to praising his mastery of the puck outside his net.

Fowler will have the opportunity to discover Montreal over the next few days at the organization’s development camp. Then, in the fall, he will begin his university career at Boston College, where he will have four years to develop, far from the metropolis. The son of two lawyers, he will begin studies in communication, a choice perfectly consistent with his personality.

He talks openly about his “self-confidence”, but does not believe he is “cocky”. “I know my game, and I know myself. I know what I can bring. He wants to improve his speed. He will have time in Boston.

The keen observer will also have noticed that at 6’2″ and a little over 223 lbs, at 18 years old, he is not the most slender member of his brotherhood. This state of affairs does not worry the Habs at all.

“When you feel good about your body, you can move fast and be athletic,” the co-director of recruiting explained. It will still get better and slimmer. He is very agile. For us, [his physical form] is not a big priority. »

The principal concerned does not seem, moreover, to be moved by the additional pressure on his shoulders. “As a competitor, I don’t want it to be easy,” he said. I want to be in the spotlight. Pressure is a privilege. I believe that it is under high pressure that one gives the best of oneself. »

Should he work his way up to a full-time role with the Canadiens, he’ll be served!