The Montreal Canadiens’ new-look development team is in for their first big test next season.
With their roster depleted by a ridiculous number of injuries, the Canadiens have called up most of the prospects they had left with the Laval Rocket this season.
Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Jesse Ylönen and Justin Barron all had positive impacts on the team during their most recent stint; which could be going a long way to convincing Canadiens management to make room for them on the main roster.
It’s a positive sign for general manager Kent Hughes, as the Canadiens have sought to redefine their developmental departments and make it an organizational strength moving forward.
Those changes are about to be put to the test, as the organization is set to welcome a significant amount of prospects to their AHL affiliate for next season.
With his exceptional play this season and especially in the playoffs, it might not be outlandish to see the Montreal Canadiens offer an AHL contract to Jared Davidson, as they still own his negotiation rights for another season.
There’s also Filip Mesar, whom the Canadiens could decide to have in Laval next season, rather than sending him back to the depleted Kitchener Rangers for another season.
And then there’s the outside possibility of Owen Beck possibly making the Montreal Canadiens out of camp; although an extra year in the OHL is probably the better and likeliest route.
Even if Mesar and Beck return to junior next season, that’s still an extremely high amount of youngsters headed to the Laval Rocket next season.
But Laval isn’t the only place where development will be key.
Main Roster Push
The Montreal Canadiens will still have quite a few sophomores on their club next season in Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris, Justin Barron, Harvey-Pinard, Ylönen and, most important of all, Juraj Slafkovsky.
Notwithstanding the continued development of Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach and Cole Caufield, the development of Slafkovsky will be paramount to the success of the organization’s rebuild plans.
Having their defensive corps and their 1st overall prize take significant steps next season will not be an easy task for the likes of Adam Nicholas and the rest of the team’s developmental staff; as they’ll also be busy with the many youngsters in Laval.
In fact, it’s the youngest the organization has looked as a whole since the mid-1980s, when a massive wave of youngsters joined the organization and eventually willed them to a Stanley Cup victory in 1986.
For history to repeat itself down the line, the Canadiens will need to pass their upcoming test with flying colours, and continue to do so for years to come.