By JD Lagrange – As training camp gets underway, there is one shiny new toy that is on everyone’s mind – and rightfully so – and that’s this year’s first overall pick, Juraj Slafkovsky. But he’s not the only new face at camp this year as four other very good players are going through the motions at the Canadiens’ training facility in Brossard for the first time.
So without further ado, let’s meet meet Mike Matheson, Kirby Dach, Sean Monahan and Evgenii Dadonov. The scouting reports are from Sportsforecaster.com.
Scouting Report: Has all the skills needed to be a solid two-way defenseman but has yet to develop the consistency needed to thrive at the NHL level. Is very mobile and aggressive with good offensive abilities. However, he drives coaches crazy at times by getting caught out of position. Needs to improve his defensive-zone coverage to make the most of his attacking skills. Can play big minutes in any situation, so he does have value.
Matheson was acquired in the trade that sent Jeff Petry to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With Joel Edmundson, he provides quality top-4 play from the left side of the defense. This is perhaps his biggest opportunity to step into a major role as the Canadiens certainly don’t have the defense that Pittsburgh had.
Scouting Report: The third player taken in the 2019 draft was in the NHL as an 18-year-old and shows increasing flashes of why he was so highly regarded as he moves into his early 20s. He is big, skates well and is strong on the puck, a trait that should get even better as he matures. Is an excellent passer but must learn to take more shots in order to keep opponents from dropping off him in coverage. Has been plagued by injuries, including a broken wrist.
The only reason why Dach was traded by the Chigago Blackhawks is… who knows what the Hawks are doing? They also traded 24 year-old, two-times 40 goals’ scorer Alex DeBrincat! Yes, Dach’s development was slowed down by serious injuries but the skills didn’t go away. How many big 21 year-old centers are there on the market? This has the potential to be a homerun by rookie GM Kent Hughes who gambled by giving Dach a four-year contract, with a cap hit of $3.36 million.
Scouting Report: Injuries, including surgery, have taken a toll on his game; he is no longer the scorer who put up seven straight 20-goal seasons. However, he still knows how to find the quiet spots on the ice to get his shot off and can still produce in a diminished role. Consistency remains an issue, and if he is not putting up points he is not likely making an impact on the game.
This one is mind boggling. The Canadiens did receive the Flames’ first round pick in order to take Monahan’s $6.375 million contract, but they already had a surplus of forwards on their roster. Even with Carey Price placed on LTIR, this acquisition puts the Canadiens right back against the cap, scrambling to create more room. If Monahan can return to form, the Canadiens could get a good return at trade deadline, as he’s scheduled to become a UFA next summer.
Scouting Report: The Russian forward improved markedly after returning to the NHL following a stint in the KHL. Is very dangerous with the puck, owns a good shot and knows how to get it off quickly and accurately. Also, he complements other skilled forwards well. His biggest problems come when the opposition has the puck; he is often a defensive liability and lacks the size to win puck battles on a consistent basis.
Acquired in the cap dump of Shea Weber’s contract, Dadonov has one year left to his own contract, coming with a cap hit of $5 million. He will then become a UFA. He better not buy a house in Montreal as his stay is likely to be short lived, as he would be good trade bait at trade deadline. If you’re wondering what type of player he is, think Tomas Tatar.