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Habs Mailbag: Mailloux/Hutson, Caufield’s Contract, 3-1

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Canadiens Prospect Lane Hutson

Welcome back to another edition of the always-popular Canadiens Mailbag!

This week we discuss Lane Hutson and Logan Mailloux’s NHL potential, Cole Caufield’s upcoming contract, whether or not it was 3-1 (it was definitely 3-1), Jared Davidson’s future, and much more.

As per usual, I’d like to offer my sincerest thanks to all the Canadiens fans that submitted questions.

Let’s dive right into it.

Logan Mailloux certainly has the right frame to play as an NHL defender, and his shot may already be NHL calibre.

Lane Hutson is great in transition and can process the game at a high level.

This is an interesting question because despite owning very different skill sets, both Hutson and Mailloux have a lot of work to do before they’ll be well-suited to play in the NHL.

And the work will have to focus on their play in the defensive zone.

Both players struggle with defensive positioning, though for different reasons.

Hutson’s pivots can be awkward, which can give opposing players a little too much space off the rush. Mailloux also has a hard time defending the rush, but it’s because he lacks the high-end anticipation to maintain proper gap control.

This may not be what you want to hear about the players who top the list of the team’s defensive prospects on their respective sides, but I don’t expect either Hutson or Mailloux to make their way to the NHL for another two years.

At least.

However, in the long run, despite his diminutive frame, I truly believe Hutson will have a much easier time adapting to professional hockey because he can process the game at a high level.

It’s also worth noting he’s younger than Mailloux and much more advanced in his development.

Muscle mass can be added, and skating can be fixed, but having an innately elevated Hockey IQ is simply not something that cannot be taught, and it’s exactly why defencemen such as Cale Makar and Adam Fox have managed to win the Norris Trophy despite being the smallest blueliners on their teams.


 

As it stands, I still think Jared Davidson, who happens to be playing quite well at the Memorial Cup, is best suited for a one-year ‘show me’ deal in the AHL.

But don’t be surprised if he arrives at training camp next season full off piss and vinegar, looking to shake things up and hopefully, impress Kent Hughes and Co.

The Canadiens have expressed their interest in adding players with size, and most importantly, talent, to the roster. To quote Big Brother and the Holding Company, it has to be a Combination Of The Two.

Davidson checks both boxes at the CHL level. However, it remains to be seen if his offence-only style of hockey will translate to professional ranks.

If he improves his defensive game, he’ll quickly become a coach favourite, regardless of where he plays.


 

If I was looking to be part of one of the best teams in recent Junior hockey history, I’d join the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Quebec Remparts advanced directly to the final, but with all due respect to their club, which is very strong, few teams have ever matched the intensity, talent, and results produced by the Thunderbirds.

Just ask the host team, the Kamloops Blazers.

But deep down inside I’d feel more comfortable joining Owen Beck on a team like the Peterborough Petes.

They’re the plucky underdogs, the team that everyone discounted at the start of the OHL playoffs.

And though they won’t win the Memorial Cup**, there’s something quite appealing about a team that surpasses all expectations while facing powerhouse teams like the Ottawa 67’s and the London Knights.

Peterborough also serves as a great reminder of just how fun Junior hockey can be. They’ve injected a significant dose of excitement in the CHL playoffs thanks to their never-say-die attitude.

There’s also the fact that Peterborough is relatively close to Lake Ontario, which means I could spend my free time fishing for salmon, trout, and walleye. Just like the Petes in these playoffs, that’s hard to beat.

(** I wrote this answer before Beck’s overtime heroics that sent Peterborough to the semifinal. I should know by now that doubting the Petes is always the wrong call.)


 

I’ll try to answer this while also respecting Josh Anderson’s request to stop discussing trade rumours.

It’s true that the Calgary Flames were one of the teams that enquired about Anderson’s availability, and it was more than just kicking tires.

However, I don’t think Hughes is willing to move Anderson unless he gets a ridiculous return, the type of return that would probably stop most teams from pulling the trigger on a trade.

And for good reason.

I was one of the first to suggest it was time to move on from Anderson because I genuinely did not think he could adapt his game to fall within the systems employed by head coach Martin St-Louis.

I was wrong.

I was dead wrong.

Anderson evolved as a player last season, which is quite rare for a veteran in the NHL.

And thanks to his evolution, he definitely still has a place in the current Canadiens lineup.

If Hughes was not willing to move Anderson when his value was much lower, I doubt his interest in trading him has grown since Anderson became one of the most potent offensive players in the organization.


 

Once upon a time, lacking high-end skating ability was a death knell in the NHL.

To give you a better idea of how confident some were about the importance of having elite skating, a certain analyst proclaimed Mark Stone would never succeed in the NHL because his skating reminded me of a drunken emu.

Wait. I meant to type his skating reminder that particular analyst of a drunken emu.

More recently, the word on the street ahead of the 2019 Draft was that Cole Caufield would not be able to find open time and space in the NHL due to his below-average skating.

And then things snowballed, as they tend to do with scouting.

A month before the draft people were stating his skating was flat-out horrible.

By the time the Draft actually took place, the level of criticism directed at Caufield’s skating reached the point that you could have sworn he was a pirate with a peg leg.

The point is, we need to take skating criticism with a grain of salt because skating techniques can be improved.

Just ask Barb Underhill.

Or perhaps, in this case, it’s best to ask Adam Nicholas.


 

I believe Big Man is referring to a particular event that occurred two seasons ago.

If I am, in fact, guessing correctly, he’s talking about May 31, 2021, the day the Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 3-1, to overcome the Leafs’ 3-1 series lead.

But It’s hard to tell if he’s discussing that particular 3-1 collapse or another of the many 3-1 collapses by the living embodiment of a hockey meme that are the Leafs.

However, one thing is for sure. It was definitely 3-1.

Honestly, I’m shocked it hasn’t become a bigger deal in the Habs fan community. Arsenal fans celebrate St Totteringham’s Day during most seasons, and in that spirit, I suggest we need to celebrate ‘It was 3-1’ day in Montreal.

If you have a good name in mind, leave a suggestion in the replies below regarding what we should call the yearly Canadiens-centric celebration.

Leafs fans can participate in the festivities, but make sure they pay for the first round of drinks. Other than that one time, rumour has it they have a hard time sticking around for the second round.


 

I strongly suggest reading the book ‘The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen’ by Brian Cox.

It will take a while to parse all the information in the book, but there seems to be plenty of time to kill while we wait for the Canadiens to finally sign Cole Caufield.

Look, I know people are worried about the Caufield situation.

And given how badly the Canadiens lack elite offensive talent, the anxiety is warranted.

But I truly believe it’s a matter of both sides taking their time to figure out the details of what will be one of the richest contracts in team history.

Caufield is unlikely to sign a bigger deal for the rest of his NHL career. He needs to get this right. The Canadiens are unlikely to sign a better goal scorer. They need to get this right.

Think of it as a slow cooker. It’ll take a while, but the results should be great.

As the 20th-century poets’ Beastie Boys once said, “Slow and low – that is the tempo.”


 

I don’t want to spoil all the fun, because this particular topic deserves an in-depth article, which is in the works.

Usually, according to the most used draft value model, simply adding the 31st or 32nd overall pick in a package including the fifth overall pick would be enough to get it done.

But due to the significant gap between Fantilli and the rest of the top 5, I would argue that most draft value charts need not apply to the 2023 Draft.

Fantilli would be a lock to go first in any draft that did not involve a generational talent like Bedard.

And he’s much closer to a ‘sure thing’ than Matvei Michkov, Leo Carlsson, or Will Smith.

Hopefully, the Canadiens perform due diligence to figure out whether my assumption is correct, but for now, there’s very little chance the Anaheim Ducks will pass on a talented player such as Fantilli.


 

As a Francophone, I am incredibly proud of the number of French-Canadian ambassadors on the team, but I’m also aware the team could stand to add another Anglophone ambassador to the mix.

But in Larry Robinson’s case, I believe he’s still working as a consultant for the St-Louis Blues.

If he’s willing to accept a job that does not involve being on the bench or working with hockey ops, he’d be the perfect candidate to represent the most glorious franchise in hockey history.

No one would object.

Except, perhaps, for Gary Dornhoefer.

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Tyrone

Could we call the 3-1 Celebration day Autumn? That’s usually when leaves fall.