The Montreal Canadiens are in for a bumpy ride to finish off the season, which could help them secure a top-10 pick or better by the end of the season.
The Canadiens have been a near .500 team for the last two months, playing some strong hockey against quality opponents; while also dropping a few goose eggs against clearly weaker competition.
It’s been encouraging for fans to see some positive signs that the rebuild could be headed in the right direction, but things are about to get even more difficult for the Bleu Blanc Rouge from here on out.
Just this week, the Montreal Canadiens have seen a slight dip in overall performance, capped off by a 9-4 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. Their rocky performances throughout the month of January, have many experts re-assessing where they believe the club will finish come April.
NHL betting sites like Top 20 Online Casinos UK and FanDuel have the Canadiens pegged for another bottom-10 finish; their schedule, combined with the expecting selling of assets at the NHL Trade Deadline have them projected to finish somewhere between 23rd and 28th overall.
It’s not surprising considering they’re already in that range.
After 46 games this season, the Canadiens currently find themselves with a 19-20-7 record, good for 45 points and 26th place in the NHL standings. Now currently eight points out of a playoff spot, the club has quite the uphill battle of it to attempt to get back into playoff contention; a point divide that, at this point in the season, would require a major and instant turnaround to overcome.
According to the latest data from Tankathon, the Montreal Canadiens have the 4th most-difficult remaining schedule in the NHL, with some stronger clubs, high number of back-to-backs and another western road-trip sprinkled within the final 36 games of the season.
Selling For The Future
With the NHL Trade Deadline six weeks away, Montreal may continue their current slide down the standings ss they look to acquire more assets for their rebuild.
Losing a player like Sean Monahan before the March 8th deadline, along with other rumoured players like David Savard and/or Jake Allen could be a major gut-punch to the club down the stretch.
If a 1st-round pick or the equivalent of one, be it a prospect or a package, is presented to the Montreal Canadiens over the next month or so, it will be extremely difficult for the team not to seriously consider it and pull the trigger.
Notwithstanding any other injuries, a very plausible reality given the club’s luck over the last few seasons; losing any veteran at this stage would weaken the club’s chances of keeping up in the Eastern Conference as the tempo goes up a notch after the All-Star break.
It’s unlikely that the Canadiens finish 29th or lower considering the major point divide with the Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks. Notwithstanding an improbable NHL Draft Lottery win, drafting between 6th and 10th overall would still allow them to scoop up an impact forward in the 2024 NHL Draft.
Notwithstanding impending first overall pick Macklin Celebrini, one of Ivan Demidov, Cole Eiserman, Konsta Helenius, Cayden Lindstrom or Berkly Catton could be available in that range; providing the Canadiens an opportunity to add some much-needed firepower to their forward corps.
As the Montreal Canadiens look to take the next in their impending rebuild, it may require a little bit more pain in the short-term. General manager Kent Hughes has spoken about his desire to add some more assets this season to use in potential trades over the next two summers.
With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest to see the Canadiens either maintain their current pace or, should the rigours of their schedule and the impact of the Trade Deadline be too much, a further slide down the standings.
One thing’s for sure. They won’t go down without a fight.