Decision Time On Slafkovsky… Or Is It?

By JD Lagrange – Well, there it is. Juraj Slafkovsky has played his ninth game of the season last night against the Vegas Golden Knights. And he took the opportunity to score his third goal of the season. Along with Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Kirby Dach, he was one of the bright spots for Canadiens in that game.

Yet, he finished the night with 11:34 of ice time, with no power play time once again. He had three shots on goal, one blocked shot and one takeaway in the game. But more than that, the young Slovak was very effective on the forecheck and generated scoring chances for his line.

Slafkovsky’s three goals are tied for third best on the Canadiens this season with Josh Anderson and Christian Dvorak (who scored them all in the same game including an empty net goal). Only Anderson has more hits than him amongst forwards.

You have a bunch of expansive dead wood getting ice time, time on the ice that is not deserved and that would be more beneficial to the development of the first overall pick at the last NHL Draft. Evgenii Dadonov is “injured” but was extremely ineffective. Mike Hoffman and Jonathan Drouin are just as ineffective, although we can see a bit of effort from the later. Last night, Hoffman was particularly horrific, with bad decisions and poor execution and that, coming back from being a healthy scratch. Can you believe that he even played a minute short-handed against Vegas?!?

Contract year

Mike Hoffman

But let’s return to Slafkovsky. It seems like there are some Canadiens’ fans who feel like the team’s brass should concern themselves with “losing a year” eligibility by keeping him in the NHL. You see, Kent Hughes has the option of having a year “slide” if he sends the young prospect to the American Hockey League (AHL). They feel like that is what’s best for the young man’s development. It is debatable, but certainly defendable.

However, the Canadiens are NOT concerned about losing a year. Whether he’s sent down to Laval prior to the next game or not, Slafkovsky will play too many games in the NHL this season. Even if they send him to the AHL, he will most certainly be called up from time to time. So folks, let’s allow management to deal with the situation. They have a plan and they will follow it.

In my personal opinion, the issue is his ice time and Hughes’ focus must be to unload some dead wood from the wings’ position. We have learned that the Canadiens have had discussions with the Capitals, amongst other teams. But nothing is apparently imminent. Even more so now that the Caps have picked up Nicolas Aubé-Kubel off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Something has to give and the sooner, the better both for the development of Slafkovsky, but also for team spirit as the atmosphere cannot be at its best in the dressing room with those three players being unhappy. More than what’s happening on the ice, this cannot be an easy situation for young captain Suzuki.

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What The Allen Extension Means

By JD Lagrange – Well there you have it. A couple of weeks ago, it had been rumoured that both the Montreal Canadiens and goaltender Jake Allen wanted a deal done, and both sides were working on a contract extension. They have now concluded a deal as Allen put his name at the bottom of a new two-year contract.

Even with the uncertainty surrounding the health and future of Carey Price, even with two totally unproven goaltenders in Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau, they were many who wanted to see the Canadiens trade Allen as the demand was apparently high around the NHL for him. Even with knowing that Price wasn’t starting the season and may not play all season, they still wanted the Habs to trade the veteran goaltender… in order to “tank”!

Jake Allen

What they fail to see is that “tanking” is a fan’s way of looking at a very real situation. You see, Geoff Molson and his brothers didn’t get to where they are by trying to “tank”. They thrive on success. Jeff Gorton didn’t make it in hockey operations by trying to lose. Kent Hughes worked his butt off to build a reputable business as a players’ agent, by trying to “win” top notch clients and now, he’s trying to built a new career as a good GM. Martin St-Louis went through too much adversity to want to lose. He’s a winner. Winning is in the coaching staff’s DNA. Finally, the players didn’t get to where they are by accepting to lose. Everyone in the organization wants to win. That’s in them. “Tanking”, it’s a fans’ wet dream.

Allen’s extension

So Allen signed a two-year extension worth $7.7 million ($3.85 million cap hit) which will kick in after the upcoming season. The 32 year old’s contract comes with a limited no-trade clause for both seasons, and represents a raise of about a million dollar over what he’s currently making annually.

But here what Allen’s signature truly means:

  1. Marc Bergevin wasn’t too bad at negotiating. Allen was making $4.35 million when the Canadiens acquired him. Bergevin convinced him to accept a two-year, $2.875 million per season contract back when the player was younger and more in his prime.
  2. He is liked and appreciated, by management and in the dressing room. If he was an issue, they wouldn’t bring him back.
  3. He likes playing in Montreal. The Fredericton, NB native didn’t have to sign his extension on such a poor team. He could have simply been traded at trade deadline for a chance to win a Cup, rode into the sunset and tested the UFA market next summer.
  4. There is little to no confidence within the organization that neither Samuel Montembeault or Cayden Primeau can take over as the team’s number one goaltender in the short term. Had they felt confident in them, they would have simply played Allen this year and got another cheaper backup next summer.

The 6-foot 2-inches, 195 lbs netminder played 35 games with the Canadiens last season, registering a 9-20-4 record, a 3.30 GAA and a .905 save percentage. Considering how the rest of the team performed, that’s not bad at all.

So now Habs’ fans, do everyone a favour and please get that “tanking” mentality out of your head. Yes, it’s logical but only from a fans’ point of view. It’s not reality. When it comes to “tanking”, be less of a fan and at least try to see things from the eyes of those who do make the decisions. They are NOT tanking or trying to lose on purpose, and they won’t take steps to do that. Period.

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