Youth Development in Montreal

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cheering the Logo would like to welcome Marc-André Breault to the team of contributors. Marc-André is a regular writer for the very reputable Le Hockey Herald website (in French) and a panelist on Hockey Sans Limites as well, two friends of CTL. Here is Marc-André’s first article, for your enjoyment. Make sure to give him a follow on Twitter at @MaBreault.

Supporters have been talking about it for a long time. Player development in Montreal has been lacking for a long time. Some have blamed Trevor Timmins for the woes of our young players. He wasn’t the best, but he wasn’t the worst either. Choices like Price, McDonagh, Caufield, Guhle, Pacioretty… I know you can name Leblanc, Scherback, Tinordi… Give me a single recruiter who has done only good things and I will find you the bad ones. Now that Timmins is gone, we will focus on development.

For me, most of the development is up to the player. A player who has no heart (Galchenyuk, Scherback, Kostitsyn…) cannot develop as expected. While a player who really wants to put in the time and effort (Evans, Poehling, Paquette-Bisson, Belzile…) can end up playing in the NHL. Certainly without the coaches and physical trainers and everyone around them, these players would never play in the NHL. Joel Bouchard pushed Jake Evans knowing full well that the youngster would respond well to this pressure. We are currently seeing the result.

Jeff Gorton

With the arrival of Jeff Gorton who has some tidying up to do, we would like to see a new Director of scouting and a good development team or at least support the people already in place. Because subtly, we can believe that development is working better now. Evans is the first to reap the development benefit. Alex Belzile managed to play a few big league games too. In my opinion, we can start to believe it.

When you look at what’s going on with Cayden Primeau, you can see that the youngster is getting better and better and that the team is giving him ice time. Some believe that the organization is playing yoyo with the young man. But the idea is to make him play as much as possible and give him a few games here and there with the Habs to see his development.

We can also talk about Ryan Poehling. He had a bad training camp and was returned to Laval to get back on the right track. Since being called up to the Canadiens, he is proving that he got the message and we can notice that the way he plays has changed. If he continues playing like this, he will have his place as a regular in the NHL.

Last season, the Laval Rocket acquired young defender Tobie Paquette-Bisson who was playing in the ECHL. He came to Laval as a defensive defender and improved slowly, but surely. The youngster improved his offensive side from game to game. He is currently a mainstay among Rocket defenders. Will he succeed in making his place in Montreal training one day? Time will tell.

Is the young players’ development heading in the right direction? Are people currently in place doing the job expected of them? I’m starting to think so. What about you?

Go Habs Go!

Marc-André Breault

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