The Canadiens have a lot of quality prospects coming, but they’re not quite ready yet. Further, Hughes wants to properly develop them. According to Arizona Coyotes’ head coach André Tourigny, this means playing them at a level where they can have success. So if the Habs are true to their words, it means that they won’t be rushing their prospects into the NHL too soon.
In order to do so, the organisation will need to buy time for those young prospects to be ready not only to make the big club, but to start having an impact on the team. However, teams don’t get rid of their good young players… unless they’re under performing and not living up to expectations. We know the feeling don’t we, Habs’ fans?
While doing my research, I came up with a list of 13 potential candidates that would be interesting for the Canadiens. But that was a bit too much for this article. So I have narrowed it down to six young players worth taking a flyer on if you’re the Habs. Those are players with good upside who have not lived up to expectations yet with their respective teams.
☑︎ Vitali Kravtsov
|WEIGHT||193 lbs||DRAFT||2018 1st rd (9th)|
Kravtsov is an offensive dynamo with tremendous skill with the puck. He is also a big guy who is also an extremely good skater. He can certainly be a game-breaking, offensive force when he is on the ice. His ties with Jeff Gorton (while in New York) are not to be ignored.
☑︎ Filip Zadina
|WEIGHT||197 lbs||DRAFT||2018 1st rd (6th)|
Remember what Zadina said on Canadiens and Senators for passing on him at the Draft? “I’m going to fill their nets with pucks.” Well, he hasn’t done that… yet. He skates well and has improved his play without the puck. He is learning to find holes offensively and get his shot off faster. Rumours are starting to circulate that he could benefit from a change of scenery.
☑︎ Owen Tippett
|WEIGHT||207 lbs||DRAFT||2017 1st rd (10th)|
Tippett was a prolific goals’ scorer in junior. He has a hard, heavy and accurate shot, and the mentality of a sniper. He will shoot from almost anywhere and needs to improve his passing skills to keep opponents honest. You cannot teach scoring so paired with a good playmaker, he could provide some help to Cole Caufield.
☑︎ Travis Konecny
|WEIGHT||175 lbs||DRAFT||2015 1st rd (24th)|
The versatile forward is an Energizer-Bunny type who is always moving. He can be used in a variety of roles. Konecny skates well and he’s a pretty good playmaker, but he is also a good enough shooter that opponents cannot play off of him. He is a relentless worker and Habs’ fans can think Brendan Gallagher in that aspect, compensating for his slightly below average size.
☑︎ Maxime Comtois
|WEIGHT||210 lbs||DRAFT||2017 2nd rd (50th)|
The Ducks’ winger has fallen out of grace in Anaheim, even being a healthy scratch. He has excellent size for the NHL. Comtois a blue collar winger who can complement offensive forwards well. He goes to the net with authority and can be an asset on the power play. He can really snipe too.
☑︎ Ilya Samsonov
|WEIGHT||200 lbs||DRAFT||2015 1st rd (22nd)|
We recently touched on Samsonov as an insurance policy for both Carey Price and compete with Cayden Primeau. He has a higher ceiling than Sam Montembeault. The Capitals’ goaltender as all the physical tools for NHL success, including size. Athletic, he plays his angles well but has to be more consistent and do a better job of controlling his rebounds.
The value of those young players is not what it was when they were drafted, or even after their first season or two in the league. Their teams might consider trading them while they still have some value, while other teams still see some upside to them.
For the Canadiens, it would be a case of buying low, with a chance of bigger upside. If they don’t work out, they won’t have paid a ridiculous price (hopefully). If they do pan out and those players benefit from a change of scenery, the reward could be very high.
Thinking outside the box
Of course, the Canadiens cannot and should not go after all six players above-mentioned. In fact, they may not even try to get any of them… although ever since Jeff Gorton was hired, I see a natural fit for Kravtsov with the Habs.
Allow me, in conclusion, to throw something completely out of left field. Rumours are now circulating that the Carolina Hurricanes are scouting the Canadiens for a defenseman. What if… something could be worked out to bring back Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the nest? Wouldn’t it be great to see what he could do under Martin St-Louis?
No? Okay, then what about Ryan Suzuki? Unite the two brothers? Or what about trying to get back Cale Fleury from Seattle? The Canadiens have so little depth on right defense. He could be a very good replacement for Chris Wideman… I know, I’m dreaming but it’s MY dream.