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Canadiens Early Review Of Gurianov’s Play Since The Trade



Canadiens forward Denis Gurianov

With seven games in the books the Montreal Canadiens are starting to get a better idea of Denis Gurianov’s potential.

It may feel like it’s too early to dissect his play, and in most cases, that would be true. But given there are just 16 games left in the season, we’re dealing with a very short shelf life when it comes to Gurianov.

With two goals in his short tenure with the Habs, Gurianov has already matched the goal output from his 43 games with the Dallas Stars before the trade, a rather encouraging start to say the least.

The key for the Canadiens will be establishing whether it’s a sustainable pace or simply a temporary uptick in scoring due to a fresh start.


Head coach Martin St-Louis immediately allowed Gurianov to shine by placing him on the team’s top line alongside Nick Suzuki and Mike Hoffman. The experiment was a relative success, seeing as he scored a goal in his second game in a Canadiens uniform.

The underlying numbers, however, were far from great. The line controlled less than 40 percent of the shots and scoring chances. 

His first two games in Montreal also led to season highs in ice time, and toward the end of the second game, you could tell the speedy forward was struggling to keep up with Suzuki.

Once he was placed on the third line with Rem Pitlick and Chris Tierney, things improved drastically. 

The trio was well above 50 percent in terms of shot share (CF%), and they held a 65 percent advantage in expected goals for (xGF%).

Gurianov’s second goal was a good example of the chemistry on the line, not to mention the importance of a strong forecheck.

He wisely found open ice, which is exactly what you want a shooter to do in that situation, but Pitlick’s intense forecheck was the catalyst for the goal.

A stick tap goes out to Tierney for his well-timed jump to avoid intercepting the pass.



He’s incredibly fast, has a penchant for driving straight to the net, and has fairly good offensive instincts. 

But the aspect of his game that stands out the most can be summarized perfectly by 21st-century poet Lil’ Jon: shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots.

canadiens Gurianov

Gurianov is taking more shots while on the ice than any other player on the team, which is rather important since the Canadiens are among the worst teams in the league when it comes to taking shots. 

His shots aren’t always from high-danger areas, though he still ranks among the top 5 players on the team in individual high-danger scoring chances per 60. 

He also leads the team in rebounds created per 60, indicating that he’s creating second-chance opportunities, one of the situations most conducive to scoring in the NHL.



Prior to his goal against the New Jersey Devils, Gurianov was essentially a non-factor, which was one of the common complaints heard from Dallas Stars fans in the weeks leading up to the trade.

Much like Josh Anderson earlier this season, Gurianov has only one modus operandi: north-south hockey with very little regard for his linemate’s strengths or style of play.

He can be seen over-skating pucks regularly and has a hard time defending in man-to-man coverage, particularly when his opponent has good lateral transitions. 

Simply put, he’s got great speed, however, his agility leaves something to be desired.

But like Anderson, who has been one of the Canadiens’ best players in the new year, Gurianov can adapt. Or rather, he must adapt to overcome the inconsistency issues that have plagued him this season.

Gurianov possesses a lot of raw skill but struggles to process the game at a high speed. 

It’ll be up to Adam Nicholas and the development team to establish whether they can help him reach the next level. 

Brass Tack

It’s too early to suggest Gurianov deserves a contract this summer, however, despite some obvious red flags in his game, it’s clear his strengths line up with some of the team’s glaring weaknesses.

It’s unlikely he becomes a fixture on the top line, but he does seem to still have top-six potential, especially on a team like the Canadiens, which desperately needs more players with natural shooting talent.

Simply put, since joining the Canadiens he’s been good, not great, but that’s enough to warrant a passing grade in his first stretch of games.

All statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick.

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If we could get rid of Hoffman and Armia this summer, it makes sense to keep Gurianov, but considering we also have Gallagher, Anderson and Ylönen on the right side it clouds the situation for me. With Drouin and Byron leaving as UFAs, the logjam on the left side gets cleared up so Harvey-Pinard and Pezzetta get full-time spots in the lineup along with Caufield and Slafkovsky. But the right side is overloaded right now. What about a third option? Sign Gurianov and trade him? Sign and trades basically never happen in the NHL, but that doesn’t mean they can’t. Perhaps a package of Gurianov signed for $3M and Edmundson could bring us back a late first? Unlikely, but it’s worth trying something to help boost the return for Edmundson to the point we had originally hoped for. With Gurianov providing the one-dimensional north-south play of Anderson combined with the inconsistency of Armia, don’t we already have his skill set covered on the right side? 😁 As it stands, we need to get rid of 2 RW just to have a spot for Gurianov, and that’s not even taking into account (the somewhat unlikely event) any of the kids in the pipeline taking a step and cracking the lineup. Or, what if we land a stud in the draft that’s NHL ready? I don’t know how long we have to decide on whether to sign Gurianov or not, but I wouldn’t be making any decisions until I see what we get at the draft and who may have been dealt away as well.


I’d sign drouin to a one year , around 3M. Ylonen gets to start in the AHL. Handing pinard and pezzeta spots for what is essentially garbage time(habs are not in a playoff race) is a rush to judgement.


Drouin for $3 M.? No Marc, you are not coming back the Habs


Look at what Adam Nichols has done with Anderson. I think if Gurianov decides to spend the summer in Mtl and works with Nichols , we will see a more complete player.


Right, and its made such a HUGE difference with Anderson! He’s headed for a whopping 34 pts this season…WOW! OMG, that’s a full 2 pts more than last season. Can really see the “Nichols” difference therein. Guri has plenty of talent…just needs to get his head straight and a fresh start after the Dallas debacle. And I’d rather have Guri than Anderson next season…Guri would cost half of Anderson and would probably produce the same 34 pts.


I agree that there will be too many wingers, both left and right, once training camp begins and everyone (supposedly) is no longer injured. Drouin must be gone, simply due to this issue…there is no room for even a one yr deal. I say keep Hoff initially because he can always be traded at any point during the season due to his UFA status the following season. We SHOULD be getting rid of those under contract for longer than one season who do NOT perform to their salary. That’s Armia and Anderson. They MUST go in the offseason, get the best deals you can and that clears space. Still, it will be very difficult for guys like RHP, Belzile, and Pezz to make this team next season…no matter how well this season goes for them. There’s still Ylonen, Gurianov, and Rem…with Gally, Slaf, and CC all coming back from injuries. Then don’t forget Habs have possibly two lottery picks in the draft…what if one turns out to be Benson or Sale (both wingers) and he makes the roster? Then what about Farrell or Roy as prospects possibly coming in? Its a great problem to have, I guess, but that makes it even more of a problem for RHP, Belz, and Pezz.


All eligible players, seasoning in the AHL. Drouin 1 yr deal. Armia, Hoffman must be out during summer. Then we can decide on drouin at trade deadline. Hopefully his value is high. Then if their is mutual interest, we could even sign him in July.


You can’t put EVERYONE back in the AHL. Unless they regress, Ylenon, RHP, Belz, Rem, Guri, Slaf are not going back to the minors. They have outgrown it. Ergo need to make room. Easiest one to let go is Drouin. He’s done in MTL. I see little value in what he’s done since returning from injury. He does not fit what Hughes wants. He has a whopping ONE goal…and still plays little defense and “effort” is sometimes in question. Too bad its not just shootouts all the time. Heis goal production is waning as his career progresses. Heading towards Scott Gomez end of a career…

Any one of those players I listed above is a better choice over Drouin.


Only Slaf and Guri have an inside track and likely a spot. The rest you mentioned are prospects who have proven nothing in a lost season with no pressure.

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