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Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens’ Biggest Organizational Needs Going Into The Season

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens have stocked their cupboards with a wide variety of prospects, but there are still some needs that must be addressed before the end of the upcoming season.

The Canadiens are still in a transition phase in trying to build a sustainable contender over the next couple of years, and there are a few areas the team will need to address in order to maintain that success over time. With the Canadiens not likely to compete for a playoff spot this year, they can spend most of the season targeting prospects or draft picks that will help them acquire prospects or young NHLers at positions of need, especially at trade deadline. Last season, the Canadiens were able to fill a major organization need when they traded Artturi Lehkonen to Colorado in exchange for a right-shot defenceman in Justin Barron. It may have been hard to let Lehkonen go, but Barron filled a huge hole on the right side of the defence at the time and more trades of the sort are likely in order over the next year.

So with that said, which positions are of greatest need at the moment? We break it down below:

 

Offensive Centres

After Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach, the Montreal Canadiens do not boast much depth in their prospect pools regarding the most pivotal (pun intended) position in hockey. As of this junction, the Canadiens have Riley Kidney (2021), Owen Beck (2022), Oliver Kapanen (2021), Jan Mysak (2020) and Blake Biondi(2020) as centers with legitimate NHL potential in their prospect pool. Of the bunch, Kidney and Beck are arguably the only ones that have a shot at one day being a top-6 centre down the line, but that remains a big maybe for the moment. General manager Kent Hughes has spoken at length about his desire to fix the center depth on the main roster and in the organization, so one could expect this need to be filled in short order.

With Ryan Poehling traded and Jake Evans seemingly having graduated to a bottom-six role with the Montreal Canadiens and only Kidney, Mysak and Beck as legitimate contenders for future offensive duties down the middle, the Canadiens will likely address this need within the next year. They’ve already gotten ahead of it with the acquisition of Kirby Dach, who could be their immediate solution as a possible top-six centre moving forward, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Canadiens draft a top-end centre with their first round pick in 2023, especially if they draft high.

 

Right-Shooting Defencemen

The Canadiens went heavy with the drafting of defencemen, specifically left-shot defencemen, over the last four drafts. The selections of Alexander Romanov (2018), Jordan Harris (2018), Jayden Struble (2019), Mattias Norlinder (2019), Gianni Fairbrother (2019), Kaiden Guhle (2020), and William Trudeau (2021) saw the club really doubled down on a position of need at the pro-level that former general manager Marc Bergevin failed to address at the time. Kent Hughes then added Lane Hutson, Adam Engstrom, and Petteri Nurmi as left-shot defencemen, making the position the Canadiens’ biggest organizational strength; eventually allowing them to move Romanov in a flurry of deals that brought in Dach.

With such a large number of left defensemen being selected over this period of time, the Montreal Canadiens saw the depth of their right-shooting defensemen dwindle at the worst possible time. With veterans Shea Weber and Jeff Petry both in the final years of their careers, it was only in the 2021 NHL Draft that the Montreal Canadiens truly began to address the blatant need for right-shooting defensive prospects. The drafting of Logan Mailloux, despite all the noise surrounding him, as well as defensemen Dimitri Kostenko and Daniil Sobolev, shows the dire need to replenish their ranks on the right side of their defence.

With the Mailloux situation still up in the air, the Montreal Canadiens still lacked a right-shooting defenseman in their prospect pool with legitimate top-4 potential until this most recent NHL Trade Deadline, when new general manager Kent Hughes acquired 20-year-old Justin Barron. Despite the acquisition of Barron, the Canadiens are still thin on the right side, especially after trading Jeff Petry this week. Perhaps recent chatter regarding right-shot defenceman Nils Lundkvist could be the Canadiens’ way of shoring up a position that has quickly become a dire need for the organization.

 

Blue Chip Goaltender

This isn’t a slight on Cayden Primeau, who just had an impressive playoff run in Laval, but the Canadiens do lack a bonafide blue chip goaltending prospect at the moment. They have done a good job of adding goalies to the prospect pool in every draff like Frederik Dichow (2019), Jakub Dobes (2020), Joe Vrbetic (2021) and Emmit Croteau (2022), but ultimately lack that can’t-miss prospect at that position that would be the heir apparent for the No.1 goaltender position. That is not to say that any of the goaltenders listed above couldn’t eventually develop into an NHL starter, but they’re far from sure things at this moment.

Unfortunately for the Canadiens, the 2022 NHL Draft was not a good one for goaltenders and thus couldn’t target one with the four picks they had in the first two rounds. One should expect the Canadiens to want to address this in the very near future, as Carey Price’s health has created an urgency for a sustainable replacement plan at such a vital position. There could be some better goaltenders available at the 2023 NHL Draft, but, for the purposes of the Canadiens’ rebuild, they may look for a more developed option via trade, down the line.

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Fred Harrison

Good summary of the present and the areas to build on ..There are no real emergency needs . As opportunities arise they can be acted on . Moving out the old crew will continue to give back picks and prospects to fit into the moving cast .

I wish they would get over second classing of Logan . Stop fostering the black cloud over his head and let him live , grow and prosper ..Enough with the shaming ..It has to stop soon please .

When the Habs get to the playoffs they will need Arber ,Logan , and Guhle ….Look at teams that have made it ! They had the needed ingredient of superior muscle in their line ups . Eg the Blues , Caps , and Lightening ….The Lightening hefty back end almost did it for a third cup in a row again this year .

Yes a top goalie needs drafted early .

Habs management are doing an amazing job , they are truly All Stars ..

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