The Montreal Canadiens are trending toward adding an excellent player at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, but there is a silver lining in the numbers lately even if they’re struggling to earn wins.
And that silver lining ties into the trade deadline, which ties into the upcoming Draft.
In recent games, the Canadiens have shown an impressive uptick in results in one crucial statistical category: high-danger scoring chances.
It’s notable because the Habs have struggled mightily to put together a stretch of games in which they held an advantage in quality chances.
Before the game against the Washington Capitals on Jan.3, the Canadiens had controlled a paltry 41.8 percent of the high-danger chances throughout the season, one of the worst results in the league.
Against the Capitals, the Canadiens were blown out of the water by a score of 9-2, but for the first time in a long time, they held their own in quality chances (16-13).
A few nights later, the Canadiens lost 4-1 to the Rangers, however, they actually held an advantage in high-danger chances (8-5).
In the Canadiens’ lone win of the new year, a 5-4 victory over the St-Louis Blues, the Canadiens almost doubled their opponents’ quality chances (11-6).
The following matchup, a disheartening 4-0 loss to the Seattle Kraken, led to an 11-7 advantage in high-danger chances.
Why Does It Matter?
You’re probably wondering why we should focus on one particular statistic while the Canadiens continue to lose, and that’s a fair question.
First off, high-danger chances are usually a good indicator that an individual player is projected to earn more points in the near future.
And when it comes to the Canadiens, we need to pay attention to which players are producing those chances.
In the aforementioned games, it’s the veterans that have been driving the offence, an encouraging sign for a team that is hoping to move some of their older players on the NHL Trade Market.
Joel Armia has created five of those chances, which has led to a significant uptick in goal-scoring. Christian Dvorak, Evgenii Dadonov, and Jake Evans have produced four good scoring chances, whereas Josh Anderson has contributed three.
Joel Armia’s goal tonight pic.twitter.com/HreCMkyhvI
— Habs Fan TV (@habsfantv_) January 8, 2023
Simply put, with the exception of Evans, the players who are improving their results also align with the players the Canadiens are attempting to move before the trade deadline.
Of course, improving the process won’t move the needle in terms of potential returns. However, seeing as there are still 20 games scheduled between now and the deadline, the notable improvements should lead to more offence, and consequently, to an increase in trade value.
Especially for players like Joel Armia, who hold little to no value on the market, it could lead to a trade in which the Canadiens are not obligated to retain salary, and consequently, would not be forced to buy out his contract in the summer.
And when it comes to players such as Anderson, the improvements may just lead to another pick or two in the upcoming Draft.
All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via Natural Stat Trick.