By JD Lagrange – The competition at the center position will be fierce this season. As if the acquisition of Kirby Dach at the Draft wasn’t enough, Canadiens’ GM Kent Hughes also traded for Sean Monahan from the Calgary Flames. With Nick Suzuki, Christian Dvorak and Monahan ahead of them, this leaves a battle between Evans and newcomer Dach for the fourth line, with likely one of them moving to the wing, a position already crowded.
For the past three off-seasons, Evans has spent his summers training with a group of NHL players. They are led by Vancouver Canucks’ Director of Applied Sports Science, Bryan Marshall. Some of his workout partners include Sean Monahan, Nazem Kadri (CGY), Connor Brown (WAS), Scott Laughton (PHI), and Jamie Drysdale (ANA).
Speaking of Monahan, Evans is a good friend of the newest Canadiens’ addition and he’s excited to see him join the team.
“I remember at our first training session after the trade”, said Evans. “We just laughed when we walked up to each other because we couldn’t really believe that it happened. I’m used to not seeing him for like six or seven months at a time, and now we’ll be together all season. I know he’s really excited to head to Montreal and enjoy the city. It’s nice to have a close friend join the team, too.”
So the arrival of the former Flames certainly doesn’t seem to bother Evans too much, even knowing how it will clutter his position.
Picked 207th overall back in 2014, Evans has beat the odds everywhere he’s played and he’s not going to give up that easily. He has been working on a few aspects of his game that he feels he needed to improve on.
“I’ve been emphasizing small things on the ice, like just shooting the puck quicker and harder, and then just getting better at making smaller plays that I feel will work well in the NHL.”
Evans has also been putting a lot of focus on getting bigger this off-season. Standing at 6-feet tall, he was playing at 176 lbs last season and he feels like he could use a bit more meat on the skeleton.
“I’ve really been trying to gain some more weight and get a little bit bigger, so I eat a ton. That’s just been my goal. My whole summer has been about working out, skating, and then planning meals. I’ve tried to gain weight in the past, but it wasn’t as strict or anything.”
So how does a bigger, heavier Evans with a quicker and better shot sound? Aside from the obvious that he won’t be pushed off the puck as easily, it could mean two things: he will be tougher to play against as a center, or he will be better equipped to do battles along the boards as a winger. Chips will fall where they shall fall at camp.
At 26 years old, he still has some good years ahead of him and he’s entering the first year of a three-year deal with a cap hit of $1.7 million.
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