Where Will They All Play?

By JD Lagrange – Since the Reset of 2018, the Canadiens have drafted 49 prospects. They have signed others (like Arber Xhekaj) and they currently have 11 more picks for the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft. Some of those young men, like Jayden Struble and Sean Farrell, are just starting to join the Canadiens. Others like Logan Mailloux, Joshua Roy and Jared Davidson (just to name a few) will be making the jump next season.

Some Canadiens’ fans, ignoring the fact that the team’s prospect pool is getting saturated, want to see them continue accumulating picks and prospects. But that is not sustainable, or even feasible. And that’s only one of the reasons why trading for Pierre-Luc Dubois, instead of waiting for him to become a pending UFA, makes more sense.

Here’s an example. Rafaël Harvey-Pinard is having his breakthrough moment. Many Habs’ fans see him in the lineup straight from camp next season. It’s pretty easy to see why they would think that. [INSERT PRODUCTION HERE] But right now, he’s producing while playing on the Canadiens’ top line. That’s not sustainable when everyone is healthy as his ice time, and the quality of his linemates, won’t be the same. In fact, he might even be hard pressed to keep a role in the middle-six forwards group. How is that going to affect his production?

Where do they play?


I think it’s pretty clear where Carey Price‘s injuries have taken him. There’s still too much money left on his contract for him to even considering retiring, and he will collect his disability insurance… as he should.

Jake Allen was brought in by previous management to be Carey Price’s backup if you recall. He has never been able to carry (no pun intended) the load as a starter.

Some fans are drooling over Samuel Montembeault. I personally can’t figure out why. He is, at very best, a backup goalie at this level and having played the position for years myself, I just don’t see him take the next step.

The closest to being NHL-ready with the most upside remains Cayden Primeau. But how patient can the Habs’ be, particularly that he will have to clear waivers next year? Something occurred to me the other day. Is it possible that he was showcased to the Flyers? His father, Keith, played in Philly for the last six years of his career. Keith still has strong ties in Philly, as he is the owner of a franchise of Bain’s Deli in Philadelphia. And Carter Hart is rumoured to be available…

Jakub Dobes just finished his sophomore year with Ohio State University in the NCAA, where he had very good statistics. He freshly signed his ELC and will be joining the Laval Rocket.

Frederik Dichow only played 18 games all season in Europe.

Rounding up the goaltending prospects are Emmett Croteau who is in the USHL and Joe Vrbetic who played mostly in Trois-Rivières in the ECHL.

The worse part is that none of them are, at this point, clear number one goaltenders at the NHL level. The goaltending position is in limbo and Kent Hughes might address that this summer… You don’t want to be caught like the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs, with a team ready to contend but unable to find suitable goaltending.


The clutter on defense is real, both in quantity and in quality. Have a look for yourself.

Mike MathesonArber XhekajWilliam Trudeau
Joel EdmundsonJordan HarrisMattias Norlinder
David SavardChris WidemanJayden Struble
Kaiden GuhleJohnathan KovacevicGianni Fairbrother
Justin BarronLogan Mailloux

Lane Hutson, Adam Engström, Miguël Tourigny, Petteri Nurmi, Dmitri Kostenko and Daniil Sobolev round up some of the team’s best defense prospects. Others like Corey Schueneman, Otto Leskinen, Frédéric Allard, Nicolas Beaudin and Madison Bowey stand little to no chance to beat any of the names above them.

Mailloux has a contract in hand and according to Player Development coach Francis Bouillon, he is the team’s prospect the closest to being NHL-ready. He still needs to be cleared by the NHL to play in the league but with his immaculate behaviour, it should be a given.

The team is very heavy on left-handed defensemen, both in numbers and quality, but it’s not as deep on the right side. When David Savard is your number one RD… it’s an issue, and I mean no disrespect to David. And I’ve explained before why playing defensemen on their wrong side is not the right thing to do (amongst other things), so I won’t get into that again.


Pending UFAs Jonathan Drouin and Sean Monahan will be gone. As will Paul Byron, off the LTIR’s books.

Here’s the list of the most prominent Habs and prospects at the forward position. Don’t worry about the positions as much as at the numbers, quality and status. The team has several centers playing the wing, and wingers pretty much can all play on the left or the right.

Cole CaufieldNick SuzukiJosh Anderson
Mike HoffmanKirby DachBrendan Gallagher
Juraj SlafkovskyChristian DvorakJoel Armia
Denis GurianovJake EvansJesse Ylönen
Rafaël Harvey-PinardSean FarrellJoshua Roy
Michael PezzettaJan MysakFilip Mesar
Rem PitlickXavier SimoneauRiley Kidney
Emil Heineman

Jared Davidson (finished his last year in junior), Oliver Kapanen, Rhett Pitlick, Luke Tuch and Cedrick Guindon round up the team’s top prospects at the forward positions who have yet to sign their contracts.

As you can see, there’s a cluster, particularly on defense but also at the forwards position. And that is only one of the numerous reasons why, if the Canadiens want to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois, a trade makes a lot of sense. And as we can all see, they also have assets to trade for a goaltender, whether it’d be Carter Hart or someone else.

Logjam at Left Wing

By Bob Trask – As it currently stands, the Montreal Canadiens have a glut of players whose best position is left wing. It starts with Cole Caufield but the depth chart also includes Juraj Slafkovsky, Jonathan Drouin, Mike Hoffman, Rem Pitlick, Michael Pezzetta and now Rafaël Harvey-Pinard. In the system are Joël Teasdale who has had a hot hand in Laval, Anthony Richard also continues to put up points in the AHL and Sean Farrell is on fire in the NCAA. Emil Heineman is playing this season Europe but could come back across the pond to challenge for a position in Montreal. That is a lot bodies; did I miss someone?

Drouin is a UFA at season’s end and it remains to be seen if he is in the club’s long term plans. Harvey-Pinard, Pezzetta and Teasdale are RFAs who will be looking for new contracts and all three have shown they deserve some consideration but, at best, only one of the three is likely to stick with the Canadiens next year.

Both Heineman and Farrell may have the ability to play on the right side and even it that is the case, there are still a large number of players vying for limited opportunities. Caufield, of course, is a lock at and Slafkovsky will likely line up on the 2nd or 3rd line this season. That leaves two openings, and maybe three, if one of these players earned a spot on the roster as an extra forward.

Kent Hughes

If Kent Hughes can’t get a reasonable return for Mike Hoffman at the trade deadline, he could start next season with the goal of trading him at next season’s deadline. That would create a depth chart of Caufield, Hoffman and Slafkovsky as the left wingers on the top three lines. Who would be number four? It’s hard to imagine Drouin in that role. Harvey-Pinard has shown that he deserves a chance but Heineman and Farrell could push for spots in training camp. Pezzetta and Pitlick look set to become extras while Richard or Teasdale would have to blow the doors of the competition to make the team.

If Hughes is able to trade Hoffman but not Drouin, he might consider re-signing Drouin to play on one of the top three lines. That creates a similar situation for the remaining opening on LW to what it would be if Hoffman remained with the team. Of course, both Hoffman and Drouin could be long gone before next season but even if they are, there are still more bodies than positions available.

With the trade deadline approaching there a good chance that the roster picture for the Canadiens could become even more cloudy before it clears up. Joel Edmundson, Sean Monahan, Josh Anderson, Christian Dvorak, Hoffman, Drouin and Dadonov have all been mentioned is various trade scenarios. Some reports have even mumbled the names of Jake Allen and Jake Evans as possible trade candidates. No one knows what the final result of these trades could be, not even Kent Hughes. He may have some targets in mind but until deals are done he can’t be sure what he will get in return.

The good news is that Hughes along with Executive V-P of Hockey Operations Jeff Gorton and head coach Martin St-Louis have had a good chance to evaluate their talent and consult with the scouting staff. It will give them a big head start over last year when they were dropped into their respective positions at mid-season and were working with much less information.

Stay tuned. The logjam at left wing will be resolved but it will take some time.

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