Canadiens Harvey-Pinard Thriving In Difficult Usage
Montreal Canadiens forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard is doing things the hard way.
It was the only option available upon joining the team from the organization’s AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket.
And while it was certainly a great story when the feisty forward earned a late-game promotion against the Ottawa Senators, which led to instant chemistry alongside Nick Suzuki and Josh Anderson, not to mention his fourth and fifth goals of the season, his journey to the NHL itself is worth celebrating.
Harvey-Pinard’s second goal tonight pic.twitter.com/8Ql5gWUjye
— Habs Fan TV (@habsfantv_) February 1, 2023
Havey-Pinard was one of the last names called at the 2019 Draft, but the 201st overall pick did not dwell on his underwhelming draft position.
He couldn’t afford to.
There’s a certain standard of opportunities given to NHL prospects, and though 7th-round picks are sometimes given a chance to prove their worth, it’s fair to say that compared to players chosen earlier in the draft, the opportunities for players like Harvey-Pinard are few and far between.
And thus, he signed a one-year contract with the Laval Rocket, far from an ideal scenario. However, it was also the only way he could carve an opportunity for himself.
His tireless effort and endless supply of energy led to a two-year contract extension with the Canadiens, a step in the right direction, but a difficult step nonetheless, seeing as he’d have to work his way up from the AHL and NHL through hard work and merit.
To add to the complicated scenario, the general manager who drafted and signed Harvey-Pinard, Marc Bergevin lost his job, forcing Harvey-Pinard to start anew with a different management group, essentially losing all the momentum he had built in the previous seasons.
And when he finally earned a call-up to the NHL, a situation that would have never occurred without a laundry list of injuries to the Canadiens, not only did he fare well, he did what so many before him were unable to achieve: he earned a promotion from the fourth line.
It’s one of the most unfair challenges faced by NHL hopefuls.
They’re expected to thrive with minimal minutes playing alongside new linemates, which is the polar opposite of usage that is conducive to scoring.
Nick Suzuki with a beauty of a pass and it's Rafaël Harvey-Pinard with the goal! pic.twitter.com/21MnM7K1gj
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) February 1, 2023
And yet, with five goals in seven games, Pinard didn’t just outscore the rest of his teammates, he also set the tone with an intense forecheck that drives opponents up the wall and allows his coaches to sleep soundly at night.
Truth be told, teams should probably reconsider the theory that players should thrive in a terrible situation before earning a better opportunity.
Logic dictates you should play those newcomers alongside players that can act as mentors both on and off the ice, not the team’s dregs.
But every once in a while, despite facing overwhelming odds, a player does thrive among the dregs, and when he does, there’s no other choice but to stand at attention, especially when you consider the road to the fourth line itself is a rather tumultuous journey.
I just hope this all-star break and bye week don’t ruin his mojo.