Welcome to another edition of the Montreal Canadiens Mailbag!
This week we ask everyone to stop trading Jordan Harris, in addition to discussing the projected standings next season, the waivers situation for Jesse Ylonen and Cayden Primeau, why Mats Naslund was a joy to watch in the 80s, Sean Farrell’s potential, the difference between Kirby Dach and Nick Suzuki, as well as how many points we should expect from Lane Hutson.
Let’s dive right into it.
What’s going on with Ylonen? The only RFA left😁
— Here & There (@BubbleBuster33) July 25, 2023
I wouldn’t lose any sleep regarding the Jesse Ylonen contract.
They’re most likely discussing the details regarding his AHL salary, which is how they’ll attempt to sneak him through waivers if necessary.
On that note, we should probably remind ourselves that there are several players like Ylonen around the league, and though he may still have potential, it’s doubtful teams want to invest in a 23-year-old winger that has just 52 games of NHL experience.
I’m not saying Ylonen is a bad player, not by any means, but historically speaking, even when players with a fair amount of NHL success get put on waivers, such as Eeli Tolvanen, teams are reluctant to make a claim.
On the heels of Bergeron's announcement, which non-Habs player did you grow up watching and idolizing?
— Melissa Leigh (she/they) (@MochiMayhem89) July 25, 2023
Le Petit Viking.
There was something magical about watching Mats Naslund carve through the opposition while being the shortest player on the ice. Don’t forget, hockey in the 80s was a different animal.
An overfed animal.
The type of animal that moves very slowly and clobbers everything in its way, like a disgruntled walrus on skates, but with bigger mustaches. I’m looking at you, Dave Babych.
Naslund was different.
He used his size to his advantage and was a joy to watch. He also scored 40+ goals twice, and all eight of his seasons with the Canadiens involved scoring 20 goals or more.
Before Caufield, there was DeBrincat, but before DeBrincat, there was Naslund.
#26 Mats Naslund, the Habs' first ever Swede, really burst onto the scene in 1982-83 with 71 points. pic.twitter.com/suM5s1yl33
— 1983 Oilers Day by Day (@OilersDayByDay) July 26, 2023
Edit: I read the tweet too quickly and missed the part regarding it being a ‘non-Habs’ player.
For that answer, I’ll have to either say Ray Bourque, who played for the hated Bruins, or Pavel Bure, who was one of the most exciting athletes in the history of sports.
How much of a bloodbath do you expect the Atlantic to actually be next season? The Habs already struggle to stay healthy so if it turns into the toughest division I'm a bit worried!
— Amethyst Italian (@AmethystItalian) July 25, 2023
Even with Patrice Bergeron’s retirement, I’m going to suggest that the Bruins have a much, much, much, much better lineup than the Canadiens.
I wrote about this topic earlier in the month, but here are Coles Notes regarding the current Atlantic Division arms race:
- Every team, including the Detroit Red Wings, has a better lineup than the Habs.
- The Habs aren’t remotely close to competing.
- It’s the perfect time for a rebuild. Every other team is surging.
- Another high draft pick would do wonders for the prospect pool.
- Adding players like Alex Newhook and Kirby Dach is fine, but Kent Hughes should avoid trying to speed up the rebuild.
Will Primeau stay w Mtl to open the season as a 3rd goalie so they don’t lose him to waivers?
— Darren – Habs and Avs (@DK4lighting) July 25, 2023
Much like Ylonen, I strongly doubt Cayden Primeau would be claimed if he’s put on waivers.
Actually, I’ll just come out and say it: there’s almost no chance he gets claimed unless a team is desperate for a goalie. Every NHL club has a Primeau or two in their prospect pool, and most of them have better numbers.
The Primeau waiver situation is much ado about nothing, in my opinion.
Who do u actually think is gna be moved from now to next offseason?
My guess is Dvo, and maybe Harris
Also do the habs make the ploffs?
— AKAKATTACK-YT (@Akakattack_YT) July 25, 2023
I’m not trying to pick on you, but I am going to take this opportunity to beg Habs fans to stop throwing Jordan Harris into trades as if he’s not an important member of the team.
Again, this isn’t directed at the person who asked the question, but it’s the perfect opportunity to remind everyone that Jordan Harris was far and away the best rookie defenceman on the team.
MUST READ: Jordan Harris’ Excellent Rookie Season
And no, he wasn’t sheltered.
He played against strong opponents and was one of the very few members of the Canadiens that held his own throughout the season. It’s clear he’s a very cerebral player, and that allows him to adapt to every situation quickly, while also being one of the few defencemen that knows how to drive the play.
His pairing with Johnathan Kovacevic was reminiscent of the numbers that Jeff Petry and Brett Kulak put up, but Harris and Kovacevic are doing it on a much worse team.
When it comes to hypothetical trades, including Harris is fine, as long as he’s not a throw-in. He has much more value to the Canadiens in the lineup than as a sweetener in a trade.
As for the other questions, unless Christian Dvorak suddenly improves his horrible underlying numbers, I doubt any team will want to pay for his services.
And unfortunately, no, I do not think the Canadiens are a playoff team next season. I estimate they’ll finish dead last in the Atlantic, again.
Where do you see Farrell play next season?
— J-P Bombardier (@Jepetoboy) July 25, 2023
Taking a look at the projected lineup for next season gives us all the information necessary in this case.
There’s simply no space for Sean Farrell in the NHL, at least not to start the season.
And that’s not a problem.
Despite scoring more points per game than almost everyone else in college hockey last year, Farrell still needs to work on his timing in a professional setting, which is exactly what the AHL offers.
I know you’ve all heard about the difference in speed between the AHL and the NHL. The gap is as big, if not bigger when you jump from the NCAA to the AHL.
That half-second is the difference between having time to decide which play you’ll make and having to rely on your instincts and training.
Plus it’ll be fun to watch the Laval Rocket ice a lineup with actual prospects, players that will hopefully make an impact on the Canadiens at some point, rather than one-year mercenaries, as has been the case for the last half-decade.
Developping at this rate, what do you think Lane Hutson NHL career high in points in a NHL season could be in his entire career? Just a guess
— Samuel Gaudreault (@GaudreaultSamul) July 25, 2023
Everything we have in terms of projections puts Lane Hutson at an elite level of production once he makes the NHL. Hell, his NHL Equivalency last season was 40 points, which is rather encouraging when you consider only high-scoring forwards Joshua Roy and Riley Kidney had a higher projected NHLe.
In the long run, if he ends up producing numbers similar to what we saw from Patrice Brisebois or Eric Desjardins, we should all consider it a major success. He was, after all, a very late second-round pick.
Anything more than that is just delicious gravy on the poutine of life.
But for now, let’s settle on him actually making the NHL, and go from there.
Do you think Dach has a higher ceiling than Suzuki? Anecdotally I’ve seen many fans who want to see Dach as our 1C, and I’m not sure why. Also very interested in the best shawarma in Kanata..
— Wesley Boyd (@wesleyryanboyd) July 25, 2023
The best shawarma place in Kanata is the one with the strongest garlic sauce. That rule applies everywhere in the world.
As for the question, I think it’s interesting because they both have different skill sets.
Suzuki is sneaky good defensively, as in he’ll do 15-20 things per game that make me think, “Wow, that was crucial, and very few people noticed.”
You’ll note his underlying numbers aren’t great recently, especially since Martin St-Louis took over, but he was also tasked with single-handedly driving the offence on most nights, so we’ll give him a pass until the Canadiens add a few more talented players to the lineup and St-Louis can spread the wealth a little.
He’s an excellent playmaker, and we all know he has a great shot.
As for Dach, he’s the player I see as the best in transition on the team. I don’t think he has a higher ceiling than Suzuki, but he does bring a different set of skills to the table.
That’s why they both work so well when used on the same line. Dach can’t win a faceoff to save his life, but he will quickly steal the puck and drive the play. Once the play is in motion, Suzuki creates time and space for his opponents, while also placing himself in a high-danger scoring area.
If I had to clone one player to add to the lineup next year, it would be Dach, because the Canadiens are awful in transition.
But if I had to keep just one, I would not hesitate to pick Suzuki.
— Nathan "Grav" (@NathanGraviteh) November 10, 2022