As a fan base, I think that we’ve all established that most of us prefer a winner no matter the origin of the players on the team. Fans will forgive management if they win without local talent in the line-up, but a loud group won’t let it go if you lose without as many Quebecois players as possible. In fact, they’re much like the self-proclaimed “Freedom Convoy“: they represent less than 10% of the population but they can gather together and make noise like the other 90%, making themselves believe that they are more in numbers than they really are…
But pretty much the entire fan base will agree that having local players, at equal talent, is important. With that in mind, we have put a list of six French Canadian players who would, could or should help the Canadiens for years to come. So let’s look at potential Quebecois acquisitions for the Habs, for the most part, players who have been rumoured to be available at different degrees.
1- Alexis Lafrenière
|WEIGHT||196 lbs||DRAFT||2020 1st rd (#1)|
He’s been in rumours way too often this season and with that much smoke, there has to be some fire. The cost would be huge, but the reward can also be just as big. Could the Rangers be interested in a package which would include Montreal’s first round pick this year?
Lafrenière needs no introduction. He was the CHL’s Rookie of the Year as a 16-year-old and the number one pick in the 2020 NHL Draft two years later, so he is used to being in the spotlight and handling the pressure that goes along with it. He does have all the tools to be an elite offensive player, both as a shooter and playmaker. He is also not shy about physical contact and steps up in big situations, but he’s still learning about life in the NHL, especially when he does not have the puck. Can you imagine unleashing that talent under Martin St-Louis?
2- Maxime Comtois
|WEIGHT||210 lbs||DRAFT||2017 2nd rd (#50)|
The Ducks’ winger has fallen out of grace in Anaheim, even being a healthy scratch at times this season. He is rumoured to be available in a trade. He wouldn’t be as expansive to acquire as Lafrenière for sure, but he’s a good player and to get good young players, you have to give away good assets.
He has excellent size for the NHL and a pretty good skater. 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. But he needs to play with good playmakers who can feed him the puck at the right time. Comtois also has some work to do away from the puck and must learn to be a bit more disciplined.
3- Raphael Lavoie
|WEIGHT||196||DRAFT||2019 2nd rd (#38)|
Let’s get something clear… Lavoie is not being shopped around. But the Oilers are wasting away the good years of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They have some good young talent up front in Jesse Puljujärvi and Kailer Yamamoto and their defense isn’t getting the credit they deserve. Their issue is goaltending.
A true goal-scorer, Lavoie owns tremendous size and strength, skating ability (displaying both quickness and long speed) and a powerful shot. He has a scoring mentality at all times. Like many young goals’ scorers, he does lack consistency and he needs to improve his play in the defensive zone in order to become an impact NHLer.
4- Julien Gauthier
|WEIGHT||227 lbs||DRAFT||2016 1st rd (#21)|
Perhaps not the sexiest of choices on this list, he is still a very good project. Selected 21st overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2016 draft, Gauthier has yet to come close to showing the abilities that made him a first-rounder in the NHL. The Rangers acquired him by giving away Joey Keane, a former third round pick. So the cost of getting him shouldn’t be too high.
He has the size and skating ability to succeed and was a big scorer in both junior hockey and the American Hockey League, but he has yet to put everything together in the NHL. Has to improve his play away from the puck and use his body more effectively in the offensive zone as he moves into his prime.
5- Anthony Beauvillier
|WEIGHT||180 lbs||DRAFT||2015 1st rd (#28)|
Stefen Rosner of NYI Hockey Now believes he could be on his way out. Beauvillier is under contract for two more seasons with an annual average value of $4.15 million. According to Rosner, he could be a player packaged in a trade or moved in a cost-cutting deal to clear cap space to bolster the defense.
A speedy, skilled forward, he handles the puck well and has a lot of offensive creativity. He excels at chipping pucks past opponents and retrieving them on the other side. Beauvillier has good hands and excellent moves in tight spaces. He has added strength since entering the NHL but could use more.
6- Jonathan Marchessault
|WEIGHT||184 lbs||DRAFT||Not drafted|
Vegas is in a mess cap-wise and is very likely to want to cut costs. At 31 years old, he does carry a cap hit of $5 million until 2023-24. Of course, acquiring him would be pending shedding major salary elsewhere but he would help bridge until some of the organisation’s prospects are ready.
An excellent playmaker and stickhandler, Marchessault sees the ice very well and he’s quite patient with the puck. He is also a natural at putting points on the board while being a very versatile player up front. A lack of size and strength hinders his overall value at the NHL level.