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Habs Mailbag: Caufield & RHP Contracts, 2023 Draft, Poutine



Montreal Canadiens NHL Draft

Welcome back to another edition of the Canadiens Mailbag!

This week we discuss potential contracts for Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Cole Caufield, the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, poutine, and much more.

If you’d like to have your question answered in the next mailbag, make sure to drop it in the comments below the article.


At the risk of upsetting everyone on the island, I’m going to suggest the best poutines can be found outside of Montreal.

Of course, there are good poutines available here, and it’s a poorly kept secret that I love the chorizo and chicken poutine which is available at Ma Poule Mouillée.

But for the most part, I tend to enjoy simple poutines.

Thick, dark gravy is key, as are fresh-cut fries and cheese curds kept at the optimal temperature, to ensure they don’t immediately melt upon contact with the gravy.

And you usually find those types of poutines at a chip truck. There are very few chip trucks on the island, which limits your options.

The best poutine I’ve had in Quebec was in Drummondville. The best poutine I’ve had in Ontario is in Orleans.

Both were produced in a chip truck.

I will say this, avoid places that call themselves “poutineries” because poutine should not be a theme. It’s a meal. It should be simple, delicious, and most importantly, cheap. The new style of offering $20 poutines drives me mad. It’s a bastardization of a simple meal. No one needs foie gras involved, it’s already incredibly rich.

When it comes to poutine, unless you slow-cook chicken on an open fire and make your own chorizo, avoid complicating things. Stick to the basics, it’s what makes poutine great.

Seeing as Rafael Harvey-Pinard just signed with Quartexx, Kent Hughes’ former agency, I’d venture a guess that a deal is probably already on the verge of being signed. Don’t forget, Harvey-Pinard is working with Philippe Lecavalier, who happens to be Vincent Lecavalier’s brother.

However, it’s in the Canadiens’ best interest to sign Harvey-Pinard as soon as possible. As it stands, he has too few games played in the NHL to demand a significant raise, but it’s starting to become difficult to ignore his 35-goal, 82-game pro-rated scoring pace.

As for Caufield, the latest reports suggest Pat Brisson and the Canadiens have started negotiations, but things do not seem to be advancing very quickly, which is par for the course considering it will be one of the biggest contracts handed out in club history.

Here’s what I expect Caufield will end up making with a new deal: Canadiens Comparables For Cole Caufield Contract.

Harvey-Pinard has only played 32 games, which is the Canadiens’ saving grace when it comes to a potential offer.

Yes, he’s scoring at a 35-goal pace, but it’s difficult to demand much when you have less than half a season’s worth of data to work with.

On that note, Harvey-Pinard leads the team in relative expected goals for (Rel.xGF%), so not only can he point to his excellent goal-scoring rate, his underlying numbers support the concept that his goal-scoring is sustainable.

I’d probably try to sign him to a deal that brings him to unrestricted free agency (3 years), with the compromise that he will be paid a reasonable sum until then, something under $2 million per season.

To maintain his rights, you’d have to sign him to a two-year deal, however, you’d also have to pay him significantly more than the $1.5-$2 million you’d expect for a player with so little experience.

A three-year, $1.75 million annual average value contract seems to make sense for all involved.

The Memorial Cup could have a heavy Canadiens flavour to it.

Kamloops is the host city, and despite enjoying a strong season, I don’t expect them to match up well with the three other teams that qualify. On that note, I could be very wrong, seeing as the Memorial Cup has a long history of host clubs rising to the challenge.

I expect the Ottawa 67’s to cruise to the Memorial Cup. They’re simply too dominant, and other than Windsor, who lost its opening game against Filip Mesar and the Kitchener Rangers, I don’t see many teams challenging the 67’s. The London Knights may push the envelope, but the odds favour Ottawa making it from the Ontario Hockey League.

Things are a little more interesting in the QMJHL, but regardless of which dominant team makes it, there should be a Habs presence. It will come down to the Gatineau Olympiques (Riley Kidney), the Sherbrooke Phoenix (Joshua Roy), or the Quebec Remparts. Given their recent form, the teams featuring Canadiens players have the better odds. I will give Gatineau the edge here, due to the talent level of the team, but Sherbrooke may prove me wrong.

And finally, the WHL isn’t home to many Canadiens prospects, but the Seattle Thunderbirds (Jared Davidson) are one of the best teams in the west. The Winnipeg Ice, however, are one of the best teams in the country, and I don’t think Seattle will be able to dethrone them.

Memorial Cup Prediction: Ottawa 67’s, Gatineau Olympiques, Winnipeg Ice, and Kamloops Blazers.


Let’s keep in mind, the vast majority of the complaints about Drouin are of a superficial nature, which means they rarely get discussed in other markets.

The earth is salted for Drouin in Montreal, and he’d be best off moving on to a new organization, but there’s no denying he’s enjoyed a significant surge in offence lately, and that’s what leads to an NHL contract.

Even with the rough start to the season, Drouin is scoring at a 45-point, 82-game pro-rated pace.

NHL teams are desperate for offence, which should lead to a few opportunities for the oft-maligned forward.

To get a better idea of how much it would cost to move up from 5th to 2nd, we must turn to a Draft Pick Value Chart, which suggests the Canadiens could pull off such a deal by offering a second-round pick.

However, given the skill involved in the 2023 Draft, I’d suggest the aforementioned chart is a little off the mark. We’re talking about a player that would end up being the first-overall pick in most drafts.

With that in mind, I’d suggest the Canadiens would have to move one of their best prospects (Hutson) or their additional first-round pick (Florida) to move up a few spots.

I could be wrong, but I don’t get the sense NHL general managers will want to entertain moving down in such a solid draft unless the offer is legitimately enticing.

Talk about perfect timing by Wade!

Yes, that’s the type of deal it would take to move up a few spots in the top 5, in my opinion.

The question becomes, is it worth it? You’re guaranteed to get a pretty good player at 5th overall, and moving a first-round pick to move up may not provide great value.

Fantilli is one of the most exciting players in recent Draft history, but will his NHL impact be greater than what can be produced by two very good players? Hard to tell.

I’d venture a guess and say yes, but I’m not sure Canadiens management would agree with my approach.

If Joel Edmundson manages to stay healthy for the remaining games in the schedule, I could see a potential deal on the horizon, but in my opinion, it’s unlikely. Teams are getting wise as to the value of leadership in the NHL. Yes, it’s important, but not as important as making a positive impact on the ice.

There’s no interest in Mike Hoffman on the trade market, and that could change, but I’m of the opinion that he’s actually provided pretty good value for the Canadiens this year. His reputation proceeds him, but based solely on 2022-23, Hoffman was a pretty good player.

Both Joel Armia and Brendan Gallagher have lengthy contracts that aren’t exactly enticing, and therefore, they’re almost guaranteed to start the year with the Habs.

Odds are, all four players will still be part of the organization in September, though I could be, and often am wrong.

I only saw the first John Wick. But given how the plot unrolled, I’m assuming the new movie (John Wick 5?) is along the same lines. If there’s a dog-heavy revenge plot, I’m in.

As for retiring Saku Koivu’s number, I’m torn.

He represented the best of a very bad era, granted, but for an entire generation of Canadiens fans, Koivu was far and away their favourite player. Ignoring his contributions to the franchise, which includes finishing in the top 10 for points scored by a forward, would be insulting to both the player and the fans.

Perhaps they can honour him, as to avoid upsetting the “Habs players must win Cups to have their number retired” crowd, though, again, that’s a foolish approach to the modern era. There will probably never be another Canadiens dynasty in the NHL, and judging players by how many team-based trophies they won is rather silly.

And let’s not talk about the hot dog offered by the Blue Jays, please.

It’s a hot dog with tater tots, weak gravy, and some semblance of cheese, which does not a poutine make.

Also, again, this must be re-iterated: poutine is not a condiment. It’s a meal.

I know for a fact Ontarians can make a solid poutine, but the atrocity they’re offering at Jays’ game is nothing but a poor concept that was poorly executed by people who clearly don’t respect Quebec’s favourite dish.

Given what happened with Juraj Slafkovsky, I assume the Canadiens won’t galaxy-brain the upcoming Draft. That’s not to say Slafkovsky is a bust, but the Canadiens were clearly enamoured with Nick Bobrov’s description of the young forward, which was coated with intangibles and involved very few tangible elements.

They should also avoid getting drunk on recency bias, which was the case with Slafkovsky.

It’s simple.

Pick the best player available, regardless of their position.

If that happens to be Matvei Michkov, then so be it. He has the type of talent that would normally lead him to be chosen first overall at most drafts.

Getting Michkov to cross the pond to North America will take some time, but given his overall skill, it would be well worth the wait.

Dach’s contract runs out after the 2025-26 season, which gives the Canadiens three more years to become competitive in your scenario.

The key word here is competitive. I do believe three years is enough to graduate some key prospects and build significant chemistry with the current core. It would also give them plenty of time to dispatch the poor contracts that are currently holding them back.

If you had said ‘contender’ instead of ‘competitive’, I would suggest three years is not enough.

To become a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup, the Canadiens will need roughly five years, at least.

In terms of value, it may be fair, but trading the youngest captain in franchise history, a player who has stood tall while the rest of the players on the roster have fallen like flies would set a terrible precedent in the organization.

Suzuki is still improving and is about to enter his statistical prime. I truly believe the best is yet to come in his case.

It’s also worth mentioning Suzuki provides a ton of value in the neutral zone, doing things that do not show up on the scoresheet. He’s crucial in transition, and seeing as Martin St-Louis wants to create a fast team that controls the puck as they generate controlled exits and entries, Suzuki will play a pivotal role in establishing the Canadiens’ identity moving forward.

Finally, we also have to consider Suzuki hasn’t exactly enjoyed an elevated quality of teammates during his last few years. He’s producing on a very bad team with questionable teammates.

Once the Canadiens are no longer one of the worst teams in the league and Suzuki is set up with legitimate first-line linemates, his production should increase significantly.

When he played with Cole Caufield and Kirby Dach, the line ended up being one of the most productive in the NHL. It’s worth keeping in mind.

Unfortunately, I can’t watch too many Junior games, or rather, too many Junior teams. I focus on the teams that feature Canadiens prospects. I simply don’t have enough time to watch all the teams once you consider my NHL duties, not to mention my podcast duties.

With that in mind, it comes down to the Gatineau Olympiques and the Sherbrooke Phoenix.

I’ll say this: when Joshua Roy decides it’s time to dominate, he produces some fantastically entertaining hockey. He’s probably the individual that generates the most fun, whereas the Olympiques are the most fun to watch as a team.

With that in mind, I’m all about great individual performances when watching Junior hockey.

Therefore, Sherbrooke wins this round.

Jacques is asking whether Adam Fantilli would return to the NCAA if he were to be drafted by the Canadiens second overall.

And it’s a very good question.

Fantilli had one of the most successful rookie seasons in NCAA history, and you could argue he’s ready for NHL action. But there is also value in returning to the University of Michigan for another year. He would get to work on his defensive game, and the contract with his NHL would be delayed a year, giving them a little extra time to build a contending team.

If I remember correctly, Fantilli declared he’d be returning to the NCAA regardless of which team drafted him, which means he’s unlikely to make his professional debut next season if he were to be drafted by the Habs.


The problem, in this case, is the grid, which is No Damn Good (NDG).

The hamster in charge of generating power is overworked and most likely dehydrated. Someone needs to get it a Gatorade before a slight gust of wind knocks out the entire grid again.

On that note, I’m also in NDG, and I have to say, I haven’t lost my power yet.

Oh wait, the lights just flickered. That’s not a good sign.

But that’s okay because I am almost done answering all your excellent questi

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from the comment above:

The key word here is competitive. I do believe three years is enough to graduate some key prospects and build significant chemistry with the current core. It would also give them plenty of time to dispatch the poor contracts that are currently holding them back.
If you had said ‘contender’ instead of ‘competitive’, I would suggest three years is not enough.
To become a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup, the Canadiens will need roughly five years, at least.

I would disagree with these. There is NEVER a “timetable”. Nothing ever goes EXACTLY to a plan. There are teams that go from worst to first in just one season. Look at at Devils. They had but 63 pts last season – worse than the Habs this season…by far. And now they are on the verge of a 110 pt season one year later. NOBODY, not even their management saw this coming. It can be done, faster than planned. There is NO timetable.

I might also add that if the following 5 players never got hurt this season, the Habs would probably be some 12-15 pts higher in the standings and looking at a possible playoff berth:


They are not that bad, and if they can avoid the injury bug next season, I fully expect a playoff berth…given the improved salary cap structure and the young talent coming to fruition.

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