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Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens Biggest Questions Going Into Next Season



Kent Hughes Habs Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens are hoping to get answers to some pretty big questions this upcoming season, as they try to take a step-up in their rebuild.

The team is now banking on the growth of their youngsters to take them out of the basement of the NHL standings, without bringing in up much in the process outside of Alex Newhook.

NHL betting odds currently have the Montreal Canadiens to finish in the bottom-5 again this season, amid the arms race going on within the Atlantic Division and the rest of the league.

But the Canadiens are hoping to beat the odds this season and climb up the standings.

With so much riding on the progress of the club this season, here are some of the biggest questions the Montreal Canadiens are looking to answer this season:


Will Kirby Dach establish himself as a No. 2 centre?

It’s one of the more paramount questions for not only the success of the club this upcoming season, but for the whole rebuild moving forward.

The Montreal Canadiens acquired Kirby Dach to be a top-six centreman that possesses the size and speed to perfectly complement the game of Nick Suzuki and create a strong 1-2 punch down the middle.

Dach showed notable improvement last season, especially after Sean Monahan went down with an injury in December until he ran into injury troubles himself.

If Dach can maintain his health and continue to improve, he could establish himself as a true top-six centre in the NHL and push for 50-60 points.


Will Alex Newhook be worth the gamble?

The price to acquire Alex Newhook was high, and that’s because the Montreal Canadiens weren’t the only team interested in taking a gamble on the young Newfoundland native.

Newhook was one of the top prospects to come out of the 2019 NHL Draft and dominated at the NCAA level before turning pro, but simply hasn’t been able to find his groove in the NHL.

With more ice time and prime offensive usage, head coach Martin St. Louis is hoping to unlock his true potential and see his offence rise in a considerable way.

Should Newhook improve on his career-high 33 points this upcoming season and establish himself in the Canadiens’ top-six moving forward, his acquisition will prove to be yet another savvy gamble from general manager Kent Hughes.


Will Juraj Slafkovsky bounce back?

Juraj Slafkovsky‘s rookie season ended on a very negative note.

Just as it seemed like the youngster was finally getting a feel for the NHL game, he injured his knee in the Big Apple and his season was cut short at just 39 games.

As he spends the entirety of the summer working on his conditioning and strength, Slafkovsky will need to take his game up a notch or two and show the world why he was selected first overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.

Should the youngster bounce back and show some of the potential that made him such an exciting prospect on a more regular basis, then it’ll go a long way in subduing the anxiety around his development.

It’s far too soon to panic about the young man, but the Montreal Canadiens will want to see some progress from him as they continue to build for the future.


Will the young defensive core take the next step?

There was a point last season where the Montreal Canadiens iced five rookies on defence, a first in franchise history.

The likes of Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Johnathan Kovacevic, Jordan Harris, and Justin Barron were all exposed to the NHL in immediate fashion and, after a strong start to the season, began to see a drop in play as the year dragged on.

Each other of them showed considerable growth in their game, with Guhle, Xhekaj and Harris taking turns on the Canadiens’ top pairing due to injuries.

However, with the trading of Joel Edmundson and the eventual interest that is likely to come for David Savard near the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline, the Montreal Canadiens will need members of their young defensive brigade to reach another level in their play for the club to properly support their goaltenders this year.


Will Samuel Montembeault improve?

Speaking of goaltending, Samuel Montembeault was one of the big stories for the Canadiens during the 2022-2023 campaign.

His herculean performances during the second half of the season helped him gain more starts as the season went on; eventually snatching the role of No.1 goaltender from Jake Allen.

But goaltending is such a difficult position to project in hockey, as one season could be vastly different from another.

Only the best NHL goaltenders are able to put up impressive campaigns on a yearly basis, and Montembeault will attempt to claw his way into that category this season.

The Montreal Canadiens seem intent on giving Montembeault the ball this season and seeing what he can do with a larger workload, and his performances will dictate what the future in goal will look like for the Habs moving forward.


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