With the Montreal Canadiens set to start another campaign, fans have already tempered their expectations, but there could still be a few surprises.
It’s no secret, go to NHL betting lines online or any casinos available in Canada, and the Montreal Canadiens don’t appear destined for greatness this season.
The roster is virtually the same, with the hope that it will be able to remain healthy; but the problems in goal-scoring and defensive ability still remains, as well as major question marks in the goaltending department.
But, with all that uncertainty comes the opportunity for some pretty hot takes for this upcoming season.
Let’s take a look:
Kirby Dach Outproduces Nick Suzuki
With the way Kirby Dach has improved over the last year, there’s little doubt that he’s going to be able to establish himself as a bonafide top-six center this season.
But his rare combination of size, speed and playmaking ability may see him eclipse the Montreal Canadiens captain down the line and establish himself as the top center on the team.
Cole Caufield Scores 50 Goals
After Cole Caufield’s season was cut short as he was sporting a 47-goal pace through the half-way point of the season, he should bounce back in a big way this season.
If the Montreal Canadiens’ power play improves even marginally, Caufield could even see an uptick in goal-scoring this year, vaulting him among the elite scorers in the NHL.
Samuel Montembeault is Traded
Samuel Montembeault had some inspiring performances for the Montreal Canadiens last year, as well as an impressive showing at the World Championships for Canada.
But the pending free agent has one year left on his deal worth $1M, and, should general manager Kent Hughes can’t get him under contract by early March, it could be used to the team’s advantage.
Teams would likely pay top dollar for a goaltender like Montembeault on such an affordable deal at that stage of the season; and, short of having a team-friendly extension in place, the Canadiens could be tempted to pull the trigger.
Juraj Slafkovsky Finishes the Year With 50 Points
It’s been a slow process for Juraj Slafkovsky to find his bearings on the ice after having missed nearly nine months of hockey, but he’s starting to turn the corner playing next to Kirby Dach.
The 19-year-old’s progress is perhaps the biggest question mark of the upcoming season; but you can rest assured that the club looks like they intend to give him every opportunity to succeed this year.
After spending a majority of the season last year on the fourth line, a permanent spot in the Canadiens’ top-six will help him hit the 50-point mark.
Mike Matheson Hits 50 Points, Becomes Trade Bait
The Canadiens are littered with left-handed defenseman in the NHL, AHL and beyond; meaning they’ll have to move some out real soon.
If healthy for the whole season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mike Matheson hit new career highs in points, and that could be good news for the Canadiens in more ways than one.
Matheson could quickly become trade bait, as his contract has two years remaining after this season at just $4.875.
With the like of Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris, William Trudeau, Mattias Norlinder, Lane Hutson and Adam Engstrom all vying for spots on the Canadiens’ blueline in the near future, it could be best for the Canadiens to strike while the iron is hot.
Matheson would be their best trade chip in being able to bring in top-end offensive help, just as the young Canadiens get ready to take over for the 2024-2025 season.