Montreal Canadiens prospect Rafael Harvey-Pinard’s emergence could not have come at a better time.
Not only did he prove he has what it takes to produce from the fourth line, one of the most difficult tasks for a player attempting to earn a job in the NHL, but his instant chemistry alongside Nick Suzuki and Josh Anderson on the top line also opens up possibilities for the Canadiens.
It was a rather limited sample size, but Harvey-Pinard’s two goals on the top line weren’t the only impressive aspects of his short audition with Suzuki and Anderson.
When playing with his new linemates, Harvey-Pinard’s line controlled an impressive 89 percent of the shots (17-2) and 100 percent of the high-danger chances (6-0), which led to shinning expected goals for percentage of 93.3%.
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
Again, it was a very small sample size. The line only played for a little under eight minutes at 5v5.
But it followed a familiar theme for Harvey-Pinard, who uses his intensity and a seemingly endless supply of energy to disrupt defencemen on the forecheck, which, consequently, leads to a bevy of quality scoring chances.
It’s also worth noting Suzuki had struggled in previous week, however, he immediately regained his confidence once Harvey-Pinard received his promotion.
Why does it matter that Harvey-Pinard found instant chemistry with Suzuki and Anderson?
Statistically speaking, neither Suzuki nor Anderson have managed to generate sustained results without the help of Kirby Dach.
If Harvey-Pinard’s nose for the net and intense work ethic turns out to be the missing link, it will give head coach Martin St-Louis more options moving forward, a blessing given half the team is currently injured. It will also guide the team as they attempt to find players that could possibly be part of their long-term plans alongside Suzuki.
In addition, it should also lead to an uptick in scoring for Anderson, who earned two assists in his short time alongside Harvey-Pinard.
As it stands, Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is reportedly not interested in trading Anderson. But it’s also fair to point out he said something similar before trading Artturi Lehkonen.
The NHL’s trade market has a dearth of talent available, and Anderson checks all the boxes when it comes to what general managers seek when attempting to bolster their playoff lineup.
Harvey-Pinard’s second goal tonight pic.twitter.com/8Ql5gWUjye
— Habs Fan TV (@habsfantv_) February 1, 2023
Regardless of whether Hughes is genuinely interested in keeping Anderson in the lineup, the offers may simply be too good to refuse.
And with Harvey-Pinard’s recent play, Anderson’s value may be on the verge of skyrocketing, leaving Hughes with little to no options when it comes to a potential trade.
All statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick