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Canadiens Struggles Highlight Club’s Biggest Needs For Rebuild



Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes

After starting the season strong, the young Montreal Canadiens have begun their slide down the standings; giving management a very clear idea of what is needed to reach the next level in their rebuild.

Having dropped eight of their last 11 games, the Canadiens currently find themselves in 25th place in the NHL standings.

The club is starting to find themselves exactly where early-season NHL betting odds had them finishing this season.

Injuries to key players like Kirby Dach and David Savard haven’t helped, but the clubs over-reliance on otherworldly goaltending and overtime heroics have exposed clear holes that still need to be filled before this club can begin to take the next step.

The Canadiens find themselves in a bind, as they continue to play an open, offensive style, which puts their defensive brigade and goaltending in trouble on counter-attacks or rush offence.

The resounding observation from the first quarter-or-so of the season: The Canadiens forward corps needs an overhaul and injection of elite talent if they’re going to play this kind of style effectively.

Too many cooks

The Montreal Canadiens have too many bodies in their bottom-six at the moment that will not serve the club in the future.

A roster littered with NHL veterans taking up prime spots on the Canadiens’ bottom six, while prospects in Laval continue to show interesting offensive ability.

Granted, Joshua Roy and Sean Farrell should remain in Laval to ensure they’re 100% ready to make the jump when the time comes, but Jesse Ylönen and Rafael Harvey-Pinard are in the NHL and deserve a chance to shine.

The issue is that Josh Anderson, Brendan Gallagher, Christian Dvorak, Jake Evans, Tanner Pearson and, when available, Joel Armia take up the final spots in the lineup.

For the Canadiens’ rebuild to take the next step, some of these players will have to be moved by this summer to not only free up cap space, but also precious roster space for deserving prospects to make the jump.

General manager Kent Hughes was able to pull off such a move last season with a three-way deal that saw Mike Hoffman and Rem Pitlick moved to make room for Ylonen and Harvey-Pinard.

One should expect another one of these moves down the line to give the club a much-needed injection of youth; perhaps as early as the NHL Trade Deadline.

Pearson will likely be a Trade Deadline trade chip, but one shouldn’t rule out the possibility of seeing Dvorak’s name in the rumour mill come February, as he only has one year left on his contract after this season at $4.45M.


Speed Up The Middle

The loss of Kirby Dach hurts this team in many ways, as it exposes the organizational lack of offensive centermen that could push the pace in the modern NHL.

Nick Suzuki and Sean Monahan have done well, given the circumstances, of holding the ship afloat, but you can’t expect such a duo to take over the pace of a game against the top centers in the NHL for the foreseeable future.

Even the Laval Rocket lack this type of player in their ranks, and the Canadiens’ prospect pool doesn’t have that type of player either, outside of potentially Owen Beck.

Having spent a considerable amount of future capital on defencemen since coming in as general manager, the center position is the one in need of the biggest jolt.

The acquisition of Alex Newhook was supposed to offer the club depth at that position, but his stint down the middle proved that the 22-year-old is a much better winger than a center.

For the club to have long-term success, the most important position in hockey needs to become an organizational strength, one where the Canadiens have the talent and depth to overcome devastating injuries.

The lack of quality centers in the organization has made the debate around the future of Sean Monahan that more heated, as his importance to the club only increased after the loss of Dach; but extending Monahan would be a Band-Aid solution for an organizational problem that dates back decades.

For the Canadiens to have measured success, the centerline has o become a position of strength, not only in the NHL, but in Laval and on their Reserve List.


A lack of finish 

The Montreal Canadiens have one of the deepest pools of  U-23 defencemen in the NHL at the moment. They may be significantly inexperienced and left out to dry on most nights, but those are the growing pains of a young defensive corps.

On the flipside, the quality of the club’s forward corps, organizationally speaking, is severely lacking. Notwithstanding the lack of offensive-minded centres in the pipeline, it’s a notable lack of goal-scoring that has continued to hinder the Canadiens for decades.

It’s no secret, the last time the Montreal Canadiens had two 30-goal scorers on the team at once was the 2015-2016 seasons, when Alex Galchenyuk and  Max Pacioretty both reached the milestone in the final game of the season.

Having Nick Suzuki, Juraj Slafkovsky, Cole Caufield, Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook is a good base, but it lacks another true game-breaking goal-scorer in the same age range to keep up with the likes of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, New Jersey Devils and more.

It’s become evident when watching the gameplan of opposing clubs, especially when the Montreal Canadiens are on the road and cannot benefit from the last change: Simply nullify the Canadiens’ top line and you’ve won the game, unless it goes to overtime.

Scoring an average of 2.4 goals per game  in regulation is not going to win you hockey games on a consistent basis, and it cannot all be blamed on the loss of one player (Dach).

This is where the need for more quality is required, because the Canadiens have the forward depth; what they need and the fanbase has been clamouring for, is a true gamebreaker.

They might already have one in Cole Caufield, but, like any consistent offensive unit in the NHL, you need more than one.


Much-needed Firepower

Youngsters on defence like Kaiden Guhle and Justin Barron have shown solid upward progression over the last two seasons, with the likes of Lane Hutson, David Reinbacher, Jayden Struble and more waiting in the wings.

It seems like, at least on the back-end, the Canadiens are seeing progress across the board, but the same cannot be said at forward; with only a handful of players like Joshua Roy, Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach showing true progression over the last two seasons.

With the way things are going, the Canadiens are trending to have only two players, Caufield and Suzuki, breaking the 60-point plateau and three forwards over the 50-point plateau; a carbon-copy repeat of where the team was last season at this time.

What’s more concerning this year, however, is that no member of the Montreal Canadiens is trending toward a 30-goal season at this junction and scoring has begun to dip after a fiery start to the year.

Calling up Joshua Roy to try and salvage the season would do the club or the player absolutely no favours; there is no quick fix for this problem this season.

To compensate for the lack of goal-scoring ability in the short-term, head coach Martin St-Louis is promoting a vision of  a scoring by committee, but that can only get you so far in the dog days of the NHL calendar.

Be it via the draft or trade, the priority is quite simple for general manager Kent Hughes moving forward: acquire at least one top offensive talent that could help this team rival with the best for years to come.

The ball is now in their court.


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

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You mean like Michkov? 😁

David MacLeod

I agree with what you’re saying, Marco – we see St. Louis wanting to drive an everyday car up against a Porsche, but the engine/horsepower just is not there. They would be better suited to a more defensive/controlled approach, but that is not near as exciting, right? But MSL has to come to terms that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Where I am most concerned is what they are doing with their high picks. For the life of me, the latest, Slafkovsky (who may turn out useful, but not elite – hope he makes me eat my words) instead of Cooley (very good chance of elite status) a pretty-much-can’t-miss- guy in a position (center) that they sorely needed at the time. How did they miss that? You make this position of deficit abundantly clear in your analysis – it did not just occur after that draft – it has been there for a long time. And Reinbacher needed to be an elite ceiling forward. And they whiffed on Newhook as a center, and severely overpaid for a second/third line winger.

Seems like Gorton and Hughes are missing there as past managers have. I do like their rebuild, palyer development, greater use of stats. later round picks and the hiring of St. Louis (whom is still learning how to coach in game and evaluation/deployment of current players). I have every confidence that MSL will continue to grow in that position.


What a lot of people seem to forget is that if we drafted Cooley, we don’t trade for Dach. They specifically said they were fine taking the bet on the high ceiling-lower floor, monster winger, because they traded for a young, high ceiling Centre in Dach. A lot of ppl like to say “Cooley > Slaf” and maybe it’s true but in reality, that’s not the whole picture of what happened. It was “Dach + slaf > Cooley + Romanov and a pick”. Which I personally agree with. Dach could very well be the best of them all, and it’s still possible slaf is second best when all is said and done. You also have to factor in cooleys size with the rest of our team. Suzy is great, and strong for his size, it he’s not big. Caufield is tiny. Add Cooley to that and you have the makings of a talented but small, and therefore risky for playoffs, top 6. Size often gets overrated by scouts it seems, but it is still important. Our top 6 of the future looks to have slaf, caufield, Suzy, Dach, and we’ll see who else. Mix of size, skill, and skating (especially if Newhook progresses as his speed is insane). Taking Cooley leaves us with Suzy, caufield, Cooley…. Very skilled, but it’s half the number we need, and very small. Again, we can add Newhook, but he’s also small.

Idk, I think slaf is on a good trajectory considering his age and size. I’ll panic if he’s not .5 ppg by 22. So we still have a few years.


These comments make sense.


I don’t get why people want to keep monahan. I love him. I really do. But this is a rebuild. Yes you want a couple veterans to help with leadership, but I’ll touch on that later.

Monahan is by far our greatest veteran trade chip. He’s on pace for almost 60pts, and 27 goals… on a bad team, and though the line plays well, it’s not like gally and Pearson are offensive juggernauts helping monahan pad his stats. Add the fact he’s great with faceoffs, DOES have leadership qualities, and is ONLY $2M!! We could get an absolute haul for him. Not trading him is a massive mistake. All of this pain of losing is supposed to help build a long term contender. That means young talent. We don’t want to contend for a couple yrs, then be mediocre. We want to be legit cup contenders year after year for AT LEAST a decade+. Keeping older players doesn’t do this. It just keeps us a bit better in the short term, for much less gain long term. I don’t want these losing seasons to be for nothing. I’ll take another 1-2 losing seasons if it means PERENNIAL contention afterwards. None of our other vets will get any really value that can bring in elite talent. As the article says, that’s what we need. Yes we can trade some of our young D, but we’ll also need picks to trade too, and we have to draft talent. Savard, Dvorak, Pearson, gally, armia, etc. aren’t getting good returns, and gally and armia would need to be traded WITH assets. Anderson has shown why we need to sell high. He isn’t worthless, but no one is giving up a 1st for him now, when we MIGHT have gotten one last year.
Monahan’s value is as high as can be. He’s healthy, he’s producing, he’s dirt cheap. Next year the cap goes up a lot so taking advantage of the cap strapped teams won’t be as lucrative. It’s literally the perfect situation. He has to go.

Personally, I’d get rid of matheson too. We need room for defenders, his value is high and he’s fairly cheap for what he brings so we can take advantage of their caps again. Struble and Mailloux are progressing, reinbacher will prob be ahl next yr, Hutson is coming…we need more room. We should unload everything possible this yr. It’s one reason I didn’t like the last petry trade cuz we burned a retention slot for the last yr of this super tight cap world and we’re not compensated for that. But yeah, this suffering is for nothing if we keep the vets, get a worse pick, get less assets from not trading them, can’t pick a star or trade for one, and don’t contend for a very long time. I really want to leave this trade deadline with another 1st, 2 2nds and 2 3rds at least, with a first and second being in 2024. But we need to trade these ppl we like. We should get multiple 1st rd picks and more if we move both monahan and matheson, but idk that he’ll trade them both. I have a feeling they’ll keep matheson.


I forgot to comment on leadership lol…. Not everyone I listed will be traded. We’ll likely still have gally, a phenomenal leader. I also think matheson will stay. And Suzy is young, but a good leader, and ppl like guhle also exhibit leadership. Add in MSL as the coach and I don’t think the team is starved for leadership if monahan is dealt.

Sell ‘‘em all!!!!!


In addition to all the comments below, I can give 5 additional reasons why the Habs are in the situation they are in now:

Traded Toffoli away instead of Anderson. Toffoli has gone on to be a pt per game winger since his departure from the Habs. He may not be “elite” like everyone wants, but he is FAR better than any other option the Habs currently have. He would have done the same with Nick and C.C. And this is the final year of his very cap-friendly contract (which MB signed!), which is considerably lower than a non-scoring Anderson’s cap hit!
Drafted K.K. instead of Q. Hughes or B. Tkachuck. I don’t care what kind of season K.K. will have, or what his ceiling is…he will NEVER be on the level of either Quinn or Brady. Brady would have been your “elite” winger on the top line with Nick and C.C.
Traded away K.K. for basically nothing. So not only do we pick the wrong guy with that 3rd pick in the 2018 draft, but then he is traded away for a center that remains a glorified third liner.
Did I mention Anderson…he is also a gloried 3rd liner. Will NEVER be anything higher than that. He’s closing in on 30…it would have happened by now if he was to be much better.
Slaf…jury is still out on whether or not he’s a Dolly Parton. Its 50-50 at this point.
Add all these up and there you go…the rebuild is stuttering.

Last edited 9 days ago by morrisk



Last Friday Joshua Roy was a -5 for Laval! Also Monahan/Gallegher/Pearson line has fallen off a cliff Gallegher is a -13 in the last 8 games / Tanner Pearson zero points in the last 8 games / Monahan a -11 in the last 8 games and is below 50% on face-offs in the last 5 games vs. over 60% for the season previously. Also on the penalty kill I have to mention the abysmal play of Kovacevic, as he is increasingly playing more like a right-handed shot Karl Alzner.


I find one of your comments interesting and doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. When you say we need to add an elite center. The one piece missing. But you also say that one player, Kirby Dach, is not the only reason they are failing. Well that does’t even make sense to me. I believe Kirby could be an elite center. he has great speed and skill of a top center. So why then is he not a big reason for there sudden drop?!?!


Buy low on Laine, trade Monahan for a 1st+ and try to entice him back in the summer and pray to whatever god will listen that they land a top 3 pick in the draft

Habs guy

The number of defensive prospects is not a new thing, that was the case before the last draft. It still behooves me why they didn’t go out on but of a limb and draft the Russian . Even from a monetary perspective it made sense , by the time he comes to the nhl he will be at least 90% ready to be a top performer and still at less than $1000, 000. Contract . I know that Hughes is a professional and knows better than I , but those are my musings.