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HabsTracks – May 10th, 2022

HabsTracks is a review, retracing the recent hot topics. This week, we’re looking at the Draft Lottery, the immediate goaltending future of the Canadiens, the options with Jeff Petry and the new Habs’ captain, amongst other things. Please feel free to comment and share with your friends.

Well folks, the NHL Draft Lottery is tonight and that’s when we’ll find out where the Canadiens will be selecting in the first round, or with their first pick anyway as they also have the Calgary Flames’ first round pick. Will they get to decide if they want Shane Wright? Here are the odds.

Now if the Canadiens happen to win the lottery, and if they select Shane Wright, what will they do with him next season? For sure, he would be at rookie camp and likely receive an invitation to the main camp. But if he performs okay, but he’s not outstanding, what will the Canadiens do? Is returning him to junior an option? It’s either junior or Montreal and Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton both want to put the emphasis on player development.

The last time that a high pick made an immediate impact on the Habs was Carey Price. Since then, Alex Galchenyuk and Jesperi Kotkaniemi both started in the NHL and while Galchenyuk managed a 30-goals season soon after, he never developed according to expectations at the NHL level. For Kotkaniemi, we’re still waiting. Remember that Wright is not considered a generational talent.

Much as been said about Carey Price’s future and it seems like he has received a second opinion, suggesting that he gets another surgery. His future is filled with question marks as he was still getting some swelling in his surgically repaired knee after games. His future is as much in limbo as it was a year ago and the Canadiens have 10.5 million reasons to be worried.

“I think that Price pushed too hard in the playoffs and it could cost him his career.” ~ Stéphane Waite

With the uncertainty surrounding Price, what will Hughes do about the goaltending situation? He could wait and see how Price is at training camp, meaning status quo. But from his recent comments, it is doubtful that he stays put this off-season. In late February, there were rumours to the effect that the Canadiens had some interest in Washington Capitals’ Ilya Samsonov. Don’t be surprised if the Habs circle back on him or look for an insurance policy this summer.

Another player whose future is uncertain is defenseman Jeff Petry’s. We all know that he had requested a trade and that Hughes came close to completing a deal for him at trade deadline, but the teams ran out of time to finalize the details. Since then, Petry has been red hot. Under Dominique Ducharme, Petry averaged 0.16 points per game. Since Martin St-Louis took over, his points per game average was 0.70. In fact, he ended the season on a 5-games points streak and had 7 points in his last seven games.

The Canadiens could use the good Petry but there are no indications that he or Hughes have changed their mind. The Canadiens’ GM said, in his post-season media conference, that if he trades Petry, he will look at replacing him with a veteran right-handed defenseman.

So who are the potential replacements if Petry gets traded? It could come through trade or via free agency. Here are some of the right-handed defensemen scheduled to be pending UFAs:

Kent Hughes is on record saying that the team will name a captain for next season. A few names are circulating, including veterans Brendan Gallagher and Joel Edmundson. But don’t neglect Nick Suzuki, who is mature beyond his young age. He’s already the face of the franchise, along with Cole Caufield, and faces the media regularly with a calm rarely seen for a 22 year-old.

Joel Armia will be suiting up for Finland at the World Championships and it didn’t take more for the news to raise ire of some fans. I know, surprising, right? They are saying that he went back home for a family emergency and, according to those fans, he should not represent his country because of it. Of course, they don’t know that Armia was given permission by the Canadiens to go back as his wife was expecting a baby. Well folks, it doesn’t take months to give birth… It’s not the first time that fans overreact.

The Canadiens also confirmed that Josh Anderson will be suiting up for Team Canada. Meanwhile, Suzuki has declined the invitation due to a sore back, and Caufield said no to Team USA as he has played a lot of hockey in the past year and a half. Those two deserve the rest.

Speaking of Suzuki, he was announced as the Molson Cup winner this season. Defenseman Alexander Romanov was awarded the Jacques Beauchamps Trophy, given to the team’s unsung hero. No one will complain about those two nominations as they were the most consistent players all season long, aside from Ben Chiarot and Tyler Toffoli prior to being traded.

Everything has been said about the passing and funerals of Canadiens’ legend Guy Lafleur… If you would like to read our tribute, our staff wrote one recently. Here is Ginette Reno and her rendition of “L’essentiel”, at Guy’s National funeral.

Don’t forget, folks, that Cheering The Logo has a podcast. We are planning on being more consistent with it starting in the Fall, but we do have three episodes under our belt with more to come this summer, for special events.

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