Welcome back to another edition of the Montreal Canadiens Mailbag!
This week we discuss Pierre-Luc Dubois, Pierre-Luc Dubois, the 2023 Draft, Pierre-Luc Dubois, a potential trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois, Peter-Luke Somewood, Juraj Slafkovsky, and Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Let’s dive right into it!
Is it not better to draft a blue chip centre prospect at #5, should one be available, than trade for PLD?
— DavidTrembley (@sportinglife_) June 9, 2023
Even though it’s been suggested by many, I don’t think the Canadiens should even consider any type of trade for the 5th overall pick, unless it is to move down in the Draft because the player they want has the potential to slide.
There’s simply too much talent available in the top 5.
That being said, there’s no such thing as having too many quality centres in the NHL. The concept of drafting a potentially great centre at the Draft AND acquiring a player who has already established himself as a star centre definitely intrigues me.
To a certain extent. More on that later.
We also have to keep in mind the player the Canadiens will select at the Draft won’t necessarily make his way to the NHL immediately. Odds are, it’ll take a few years, regardless of whether they opt to ignore a player such as Matvei Michkov, who is currently signed for three more years in the KHL.
Where would you play Slafkovsky next season, and in what role, with which linemates ideally?
— Cabernet Frk (@CabernetFrk) June 9, 2023
Whenever someone discusses the ideal situation for prospect development, I quickly remember the words from a former colleague of mine, Jack Han.
I don’t want to put words in his mouth, and I’m sure he came up with a much more elegant way of explaining it than I will, but essentially, if you want a player to develop into a star, there’s little to no point in making him work his way up from the fourth line.
Play him alongside the player you want him to emulate.
It’s the best way forward for any prospect with top-six potential.
That being said, I’m not sure the Canadiens are ready to give Juraj Slafkovsky consistent minutes in the top six with quality teammates.
But they should be.
The Canadiens are in the midst of a rebuild, the overall results matter very little. It’s the perfect opportunity to give Slafkovsky sufficient ice time.
Personally, I’d look to keep him in the top 9, at the very least, with a focus on finding him a spot in the top six. I’d use him alongside players that can drive the offence, someone like Kirby Dach.
Dach has the ability to create time and space for his teammates by drawing defencemen toward him. He’s one of the few forwards in the lineup that has that skill.
He’s also great in transition, which should alleviate some of the concerns regarding Slafkovsky’s play without the puck. When Dach has the puck in the neutral zone, you simply have to make your way to an open area in the offensive zone and wait for him to work his magic.
But more than anything, I’d avoid using him on the fourth line. It’s purgatory for every prospect that isn’t named Rafael Harvey-Pinard.
If they can’t offer Slafkovsky a situation that’s conducive to thriving in the NHL, he must be re-assigned to the AHL, and he must be given top-line minutes once he suits up for the Laval Rocket.
Consistency is key in Slafkovsky’s case. During his rookie year, the only type of consistency he enjoyed was the consistent lack of consistency in his usage.
How serious are the Canadiens about acquiring Dubois?
— Wayne Callaghan (@WayneCallagha14) June 9, 2023
They’re very serious, as long as it doesn’t involve the team mortgaging the future or sacrificing players that will help their young core grow into a serious contender.
And it’s absolutely the right approach to take if you’re Kent Hughes. The Jets have little to no leverage, and they know it.
Of course, a sign-and-trade with another team is possible, but for now, all Hughes has to do is relax, sit back and watch how the situation unfolds.
The clock is ticking for the Jets, but the Habs are currently under no pressure to compete.
I get the sense that Hughes, who is well known for sticking to his guns, is not willing to offer anything of value to the Jets, but rather, will put Dubois’ intent to play in Montreal to the test.
If he genuinely wants to play for the Habs, he will make his way to Montreal without the team sacrificing assets to ensure he joins the team a year early.
Do you think the Habs would have any takers if they offered up Mailloux? If so what could they get for him?
— gmdvancouver (@gmdvancouver) June 9, 2023
He’s big, he’s fast, and he has a hell of a shot.
To go one step further, I’d argue that the perception of Mailloux’s value outweighs his actual results in the OHL, which means trading him could yield a great return compared to his current form, but I doubt the Habs have any intent on testing the trade market in his case.
And to tell you the truth, I’m also not interested in hearing the complaints about a potential trade from those who have only watched his highlights this season rather than full games.
In fact, I already regret what I wrote.
I’ve never experienced such vitriol when discussing the strengths and weaknesses of a particular prospect, and I’ve been doing it for well over 10 years.
I know some have exaggerated when it comes to his weaknesses, but there’s been significant overcompensation from the other camp.
Simply mentioning Mailloux’s defensive woes leads to an unreasonable amount of personal insults from those who have never bothered to watch a full London Knights game this season.
Mailloux has a lot of strong points, especially in the offensive zone, but he’s probably the prospect who has the most to work on before he’s ready to play professional hockey.
We can’t ignore that most of his production came on the power play, and he won’t necessarily have the same amount of opportunities in the AHL or the NHL.
Working with Adam Nicholas and Co. will do him wonders, especially when it comes to his defensive positioning while defending the rush and his gap control.
If Habs make a move for Dubois (this year or next), what do you think this means for Dach?
— John (@johnquisssssssy) June 9, 2023
The Canadiens want Dach to be a centre, and Dach wants Dach to be a centre, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the best position for him in this organization.
At least not for now.
Dach has become the new Brendan Gallagher, in that he immediately improves the underlying numbers of any line he features on, including the top line with Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki.
In fact, other than Sean Monahan, no other player enjoyed strong possession numbers alongside both Caufield and Suzuki.
Using Dach on the wing also opens up more options for Martin St-Louis, especially if the Canadiens do end up with Dubois in the lineup.
He allows St-Louis to spread the offensive wealth a little, and that’s a significant boon for a team that struggles offensively.
It’s also worth noting he’s awful when it comes to taking faceoffs, but that doesn’t worry me too much. His strong underlying numbers when playing as a centre are evidence that faceoffs tend to be overrated in the NHL.
But that’s an opinion that is rarely shared by NHL coaches, which means there are healthy odds he ends up on the wing.
Dunno if that was asked already, but do you think Montembeault's value raised significantly after winning gold at the IIHF World Championship, and if it did, do you think the Habs would package him for a stronger goaltender?
— Josh Anderson's personal goal counter (20) (@josh_road) June 9, 2023
I think it raised his profile WITHIN the organization, in that the Habs finally had a chance to see what he could do with a blueline that didn’t feature four players that just learned how to shave.
And that means they might be willing to give him a longer leash this season, as to establish whether he’s a legitimate potential starter in the NHL.
But from a trade point of view, I don’t think it changed much.
And honestly, I doubt he’d have any value on the NHL’s trade market. Goalies rarely do.
What would be a reasonable trade offer for Dubois from Montreal? Let's assume that Wpg isn't in a rebuild. Anderson, Harris and Fla 1st make sense for both sides?
— Monctonscout (@Monctonscout) June 9, 2023
I’m going to be VERY greedy here.
The Canadiens should not offer any more than their late first-round pick in 2023 for Dubois.
Is it fair?
Should Jets fans be annoyed at the proposal?
But this isn’t about being fair, it’s about asset management.
The Canadiens have no reason to pony up quality assets. The Jets have no leverage when it comes to trade negotiations between the two teams.
They could threaten to trade Dubois to another club, which may end up being the best decision on their part, but again, the Canadiens can simply sit back and wait for the Jets to make their decision as the clock is ticking.
Either they trade him to the Habs for a moderate return, or they trade him to another team, in which case, negotiations start anew.
I also feel like Canadiens fans severely underrated Jordan Harris, who was probably their best rookie defenceman last season. Kaiden Guhle had a much tougher role to play, but there’s no denying Harris produced the best numbers, and he was not sheltered as some have suggested.
Given how many teams have shown interest in Josh Anderson, I wouldn’t include him in a deal, either, unless it was a one-for-one situation, and Dubois agrees to sign a reasonable contract extension.
Again, I am being incredibly greedy, but that’s what it takes to win in the NHL. Bold, yet calculated decisions.
If the Habs could come out of the first round with two players. Who do you envision would be the best at their respective selections, and why?
— Tyler Major- McNicol🇨🇦🏒🏴🇮🇪 (@major_mcnicol) June 9, 2023
For the 5th overall pick, it’s simple, let other teams make their choices and pick the best player left. That means either Leo Carlsson (very unlikely), Will Smith, or Matvei Michkov.
The Canadiens should avoid galaxy-braining the situation. It almost always leads to regret when it comes to prospect evaluation.
Personally, I’d push for Michkov. He’s one of the most talented players available in any recent draft, and that type of talent simply should not be available when picking fifth.
Hell, it’s rarely available with the first-overall pick.
The Habs need offensive talent, and Michkov fits the bill.
They can’t afford to ignore him if he’s available.
As for the 31st or 32nd overall pick, I’m hoping Mikhail Gulyayev will drop for the same reasons as Michkov isn’t considered a lock for the top 3.
It may be wishful thinking, but it wouldn’t be the first time the Habs put their hands on a very talented yet diminutive defenceman at the Draft.
Speaking of Lane Hutson, check out his season review.
Any UFAs or RFAs this summer you want the habs to sign? If so how do you think they will impact the current roster? Thanks love reading your stuff
— brandon sirota (@myinitialsarebs) June 9, 2023
I thought Damon Severson would have fit the bill nicely for the Habs, but he was recently moved to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a sign-and-trade deal.
As for the remaining defensive options on the free market, the good targets are few and far between, especially on the right side.
Radko Gudas could be a fun option, and no, I’m not joking. Despite being a player that’s easy to cheer against since he’s one of the best trolls in the league, he’s legitimately good in the defensive zone, and the Canadiens could use someone of his ilk.
I took an in-depth look at the other RD options in this article, players like John Klingberg and Kevin Shattenkirk, but suffice it to say they’re probably a little too expensive from a salary-cap point of view.
As for forwards, there aren’t many that interest me, though I would take a chance on a bargain contract for a player like Ryan O’Reilly. Unfortunately, he’s probably not interested in giving the Canadiens a discount.
I also think Max Pacioretty would be a great addition, as long as he is willing to sign a reasonable contract and has been given a clean bill of health.
The Canadiens need shooting talent, particularly on the wing, and that’s exactly what Pacioretty brings to the table.
And while we’re on the subject, how about giving Tomas Tatar another shot?
NO? Oh. Okay. I can feel Habs fans rolling their eyes at me from here, so maybe I’ll stop suggesting redux players.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Evegenii Dadonov is slated to be a UFA next season and…fine, I’ll stop now.
Please stop throwing rotten fruit at me.
I am know I am also late but what are your thoughts on potential trade with the Capitals for our five pick for their 10th & possibly another player?
— Casey Leigh (@Casey_LeighD) June 9, 2023
I LOVE the idea of moving down at this Draft. I get the sense teams have incredibly varied draft lists, which means there’s the potential for a top pick to drop several spots.
If that happens, the Canadiens should pounce at the opportunity.
Historically speaking, NHL teams pay a premium to move up, and this Draft class is so talented that the price is likely to rise. All bets are off when it comes to the cost moving up at the 2023 Entry Draft.
Oh no! I'm too late, but what's the best way to unwind after a stressful week?
— Melissa Leigh (she/they) (@MochiMayhem89) June 9, 2023
For those looking for hockey answers only, this is the end of your Canadiens Mailbag.
For the rest, it’s story time.
About six months into the pandemic I was feeling very isolated. Actually, it may have been fewer months, or perhaps more. Time lost all meaning to me at that point. Days felt like hours, hours felt like days.
I hadn’t spoken to anyone in weeks except for exchanges on the internet. Those exchanges with Habs fans helped, but they were far from enough to fight the isolation.
I was also working in an industry that was collapsing, and every professional sports league was put on hold, to boot.
It was a mental health disaster.
To the point that I was getting physical reactions to my anxiety.
I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think straight, and I spent my days stressing out about the future. I knew my job was in jeopardy.
To give you an idea of how chaotic things were at the time, I was the one who eventually informed my boss that I had been laid off. He had no idea.
Oh, and I was also informed that I could no longer live at my apartment at the same time.
Several problems arose with my family back in Ontario, and I couldn’t even help given that I was confined to staying in Montreal. The last part is what bothered me most, I was helpless to help.
Despite how poorly my life was going, I always found solace in helping others. But I could no longer go to that well when I was thirsty for help with my mental health.
On top of it, I received some awful medical news.
I lost my job, my home, and any semblance of control over my life. Not to mention, the pandemic public health rules meant socializing was out of the question.
They even instituted a curfew in Montreal.
After delving into self-destructive tendencies for a few days, which was my go-to at the time when things went wrong, I finally managed to clear my head a little by taking long walks around Montreal.
I’d walk for hours, upon hours, upon hours.
Oftentimes, people say you need to hit rock bottom before accepting you need to change things.
But the truth is, there is no rock bottom. You need to decide to stop digging.
And there was one moment in particular that gave me pause. It may even have saved my life.
There was an elderly couple attempting to cross the road while walking by the park, but they had to wait for the light to change.
As they waited, the woman looked around, noticing there were some beautiful roses planted by a local restaurant.
She literally stopped to smell the roses. I had been sitting there for about an hour and hadn’t even noticed the beauty in front of me.
I remember quite clearly that ‘Castles Made Of Sand‘ by Jimmy Hendrix was the song my playlist happened to land on at the time, which was rather fitting.
The light changed, and the man quickly crossed. He noticed his wife was no longer by his side, and yelled at her to join him.
She ignored his frustrated calls and continued to enjoy the flowers.
The man, who seemed to be in a hurry to go nowhere fast, was visibly annoyed.
He threw his hands in the air and walked to the next intersection while mumbling to himself, only to be held up by yet another lengthy traffic light.
By the time he was given the signal to cross the second intersection, his wife had already caught up with him.
It was a great reminder that despite all the noise and chaos that may arise in life, we should always take the opportunity to appreciate the beauty in front of us.
No matter how bad things get, I know that I’m incredibly lucky.
I have a roof over my head and food in my fridge. It doesn’t get much better than that. Compared to most people around the world, I’ve had one of the easiest and most privileged lives possible.
Since then, I have stopped taking life for granted.
As cliche as it sounds, it all started by taking walks in the park, as well as some wisdom from a stranger who taught me to enjoy life’s immediate pleasures.
And that, my friends, is my incredibly long-winded explanation as to why a walk in the park may very well be the best possible way to process the inevitable chaos involved in this thing crazy thing we call life.