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Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens Hughes Sets Expectations Within Bolstered Division



Montreal Canadiens Kent Hughes

The Montreal Canadiens aren’t going to have it easy this season, leading to growing pains that management is expecting will help the team in the long run.

According to current NHL betting odds, the Montreal Canadiens aren’t favoured to climb very high in the NHL standings this season, and the reason for that is the arms race in the Eastern Conference.

On top of a consistently loaded Metropolitan Division, it’s now the Canadiens’ own Atlantic Division that is about to get even more difficult to contend with.

With teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning still near the top, and upstart Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators looking to take the next step, it will be a war in the standings this season.

It’s something general manager Kent Hughes admitted to being a reality for the moment, as the Canadiens aren’t in a position to compete with other clubs that are established or have been rebuilding for a longer period of time.

“We do have a competitive division, and that’s not going to change in the near future. It has been for some time. It’s not like any of those teams are going anywhere,” said Hughes regarding the competitive playing field. “Montreal is trying to knock the door down and climb into a top 3 spot. Do I think we’re ready? On paper, the answer is no.”

It’s a balanced approach to this season, as the Canadiens do have some interesting pieces in their lineup, but not to the level of their peers.

Even their recent acquisitions of Alex DeBrincat and Jeff Petry, the Detroit Red Wings have positioned themselves well within the division, creating yet another rival to contend with for position in the standings. The real wild cards will be the Florida Panthers, who are stricken with injuries, and the Boston Bruins, who lost their two top centres to retirement, but the offseason is not yet over and things could still swing in their favour.

That being said, Hughes isn’t ready to throw in the towel on the season, as he believes there’s much to be gained in playing out the process.

“But I’m an optimist and we’re going to let things play out. There’s a reason we play the games,” said Hughes. “I think we’re a better team this year than last year, but we have a lot of work to do to become the team that we think we need to be.”

It doesn’t look like Hughes is looking to improve his roster beyond what it currently is now, and, by moving out the likes of Mike Hoffman and Rem Pitlick, is seemingly committing to a very young roster this upcoming season.

Those will come with growing pains, especially given the competitive landscape, but, with pressure, you can turn coal into a diamond.

It now remains to be seen how long that process will take.


*For more NHL betting lines and futures, head over to FanDuel

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Obviously Montreal with improve if only by having less injuries. Many of the top teams I am positive will have less points than last season, especially Boston and Florida. Montreal had a plus .500 record last season when Monahan was in the line-up,and also they should get at least 5 more points without the abysmal Joel Edmundson playing for the Habs as well.An improvement is in the cards, but it will be interesting to see.


This is absolutely true. I think if they can somehow be better than league average in terms of missed games due to injuries, they can challenge for a playoff spot. They were on pace for about 88 pts last season up until 2nd week in Dec when the injuries started in earnest. And I agree with Hughes that they should be better than last season. SHOULD. But yes, lets see what happens.

I will say this, by start of free agency next summer, Habs will have between $20-25M in cap space, with few players needed to be re-signed to contracts. That’s enough to sign TWO bigtime free agents, one of which would likely be a real top line winger to go with CC and Nick. That sounds like Nylander, Guentzel, Reinhart, or DeBrusk. Then, we should expect a playoff team and the true beginnings of really “competing”…


Nylander is good but do not want to give him 10+ million. The worst would be if he was somehow a product of his environment and becomes a 70 point player. The rest aren’t big enough free agents. And we need a dominant 1st or 2nd centre.

Imagine if habs signed Matthews to 12×7 years. 😮

And if we need a goalie, Hellybuck at 7 x7. That would be my max. I’d go a bit higher if we can get a 5 year deal. Would the jets trade him to us for Allen, Monty or Desmith and a 2nd. Something like that.

Last edited 3 months ago by Dave

Mathews? Why. Hasn’t won a thing, only cares about himself and giving him $12 will come back to haunt you like it will the Laffs. You have centres –Develop them


110% correct. Not even worth responding to those comments above. We go get what we NEED, and that’s a top winger. Maybe a #1 goalie too, if neither Monty or DeSmith is not the one by then.


Name me TWO bigtme free agents that panned out the last 20 years? Stay away from high priced free agents. It’s cap hell.


Good to see Kent is staying hydrated. 😁


Cole is already a diamond 😀