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Habs Wrap: Summer Trade Targets, Florian Xhekaj, Draft Options

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MONTREAL — There’s always something to discuss when it comes to Montreal Canadiens hockey, but it’s not always possible to stay up to date with every breaking story. On Sundays, we recap the most exciting and relevant NHL news stories that you may have missed throughout the week so that you can stay in the Canadiens loop.

 

Monday

  • Top prospect Lane Hutson scored the game-winning goal for Boston University in their quarterfinal matchup against Luke Mittelstadt and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Hutson will be back in action on April 11th when the Terriers face Sam Harris and the University of Denver.

 

  • Speaking of Harris, he also scored a clutch goal at the NCAA’s Frozen Four tournament. His powerplay marker ended up being the game-winning goal in Denver’s 2-1 win over Cornell.

 

  • Quinnipiac and Boston College participated in one of the most entertaining hockey games of the year. In the end, Jacob Fowler and the Eagles won 6-5 in overtime over the reigning NCAA champions. The win also means Canadiens prospect Jacob Fowler set the NCAA record for the most wins by a freshman (31).

 

  • Filip Mesar is enjoying a great start to the OHL playoffs. Mesar had three points in Kitchener’s 7-4 loss to Erie on Sunday afternoon.

 

  • Fellow Habs prospect Owen Beck has also started the playoffs on a dominant foot. The cerebral centre scored a goal and added two assists on Saturday, helping the Saginaw Spirit secure a 2-0 series lead over the Owen Sound Attack. Like Mesar, Beck has six points in just two games.

 

Tuesday

  • You can’t expect a player chosen in the fourth round to make an impact in the NHL. But every once in a while, a late-round pick can evolve into a very effective player. That seems to be the case for Florian Xhekaj. The 19-year-old forward can win heavyweight tilts, just like his brother, but more importantly, his points-per-game pace has almost tripled and he’s scoring crucial goals for the Brantford Bulldogs. [Canadiens Prospect Florian Xhekaj Involved In Heavyweight Fight]

 

  • The Laval Rocket can still qualify for the playoffs, but it won’t be easy. There are good chances their playoff hopes come down to the final two games of the season, which will take place against the Belleville Senators, the very team trying to dislodge the Rocket from the final playoff spot in the North Division. [AHL Update: Laval Rocket Playoff Hopes Come Down To The Wire]

 

  • Both Cayden Primeau and Jake Allen have improved their results since the trade that saw Allen join the New Jersey Devils. It’s not surprising, as consistency is key for any goaltender. It’s an important lesson the Montreal Canadiens should keep in mind as they attempt to take the next step in their rebuild. [Canadiens Goalies: Primeau, Allen, & The Value Of Consistency]

 

  • Prospect Owen Beck was named the OHL’s player of the week thanks to his back-to-back three-point efforts in the playoffs against the Owen Sound Attack.

 

Wednesday

  • There was only one change to the lineup ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers. Kaiden Guhle served his one-game suspension for slashing an opponent from the bench. Goaltender Samuel Montembeault got the start, his second in a row. [Canadiens Game 74: Montembeault Starts, Guhle Returns]

 

  • It comes as no surprise Nick Suzuki led the charge against the Panthers. He’s the team’s most valuable player by a rather wide margin. His results on Tuesday were yet another example of Suzuki’s constantly improving attributes. We also have to give full marks to Joel Armia for his strong play versus Florida. [Canadiens Captain Suzuki Shines In Dominant Win Vs. Florida]

 

  • Suzuki scored his 31st and 32nd goals of the year, which means he registered yet another multi-point effort. Consequently, he joined a list with some of the most offensively talented Montreal Canadiens players in franchise history.

  • One of the major benefits of having David Reinbacher in North America is easy access to the Canadiens development team. Paul Byron spent some time working with the Reinbacher on Tuesday. As a reminder, Byron was named a Player Development Consultant upon his retirement from the NHL.

 

  • There was some good news in Trois-Rivières, as DSE has agreed to sell the team to an unknown buyer. This means they can finalize their season, unlike the Newfoundland Growlers, who ceased operations on Tuesday. [Trois-Rivieres Lions Can Continue Season]

 

Thursday

 

 

 

  • Suzuki scored his 31st and 32nd goals of the year, which means he registered yet another multi-point effort. Consequently, he joined a list with some of the most offensively talented Montreal Canadiens players in franchise history.
  • One of the major benefits of having David Reinbacher in North America is easy access to the Canadiens development team. Paul Byron spent some time working with the Reinbacher on Tuesday. As a reminder, Byron was named a Player Development Consultant upon his retirement from the NHL.

 

  • According to Stephane Gonzales from BPM Sports, the Canadiens are quite interested in 2024 top prospect Tij Iginla. Of course, Iginla will be one of the best forwards available at the NHL’s Entry Draft, but some analysts have suggested there’s a significant discrepancy between his potential and those of other forwards expected to be drafted in the top 10. Much of the decisions regarding his ideal draft position will take place now that Iginla and the Kelowna Rockets are participating in the WHL playoffs. For the record, the talented forward has scored five goals in the first three games of the series versus the Wenatchee Wild.

Friday

 

  • The good news is that Joel Armia scored two goals versus the Lightning, matching his career-best output. Juraj Slafkovsky and Cole Caufield also scored, but the late-game rally by the Habs was too little, too late. The game also featured some questionable officiating, but it wasn’t the reason Montreal lost.[Canadiens Recap: Injuries, Goals, & Poor Officiating Vs Tampa Bay]

 

  • The Habs have the day off today, which means we may not get an update on defenceman Kaiden Guhle. The 22-year-old defenceman had to leave the game after being hit from behind by Nikita Kucherov.

 

  • With the loss against Tampa Bay, the Canadiens are officially ineligible to qualify for the 2024 playoffs.

 

  • Filip Mesar scored his first goal of the OHL playoffs.

 

  • Nick Suzuki registered his 40th assist of the season on Thursday. He is the first member of the Montreal Canadiens to reach 30 goals and 40 assists in a season since Alex Kovalev did it back in 2007-08.

Saturday

  • Joel Armia was the Montreal Canadiens nominee for the Masterton Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. The 30-year-old winger was sent to the AHL twice this season, usually the death knell for a player who has struggled to find his rhythm of late. But Armia took the demotions like a true professional, returning to the NHL with a reinvigorated sense of duty. Consequently, Armia managed to match his career high in goals, with 16.  [Joel Armia Selected As The Canadiens’ Masterton Trophy Nominee]

 

  • It was supposed to be a breakout season for 24-year-old forward Jesse Ylonen. But things quickly went awry, as his usage has been less than ideal considering his skill set. Can he manage to find a permanent role on the team? He’ll have to convince Canadiens management he deserves it, and that won’t be easy. [Can Jesse Ylonen Find a Niche Role With the Montreal Canadiens]

 

  • The Laval Rocket got off to a strong start on Friday night against the Syracuse Crunch, spearheaded by Justin Barron’s second goal of the season. But the Crunch quickly took over, earning a well-deserved 3-1 win. The scoreline was rather flattering for Jean-Francois Houle’s team, as Jakub Dobes was forced to make countless big saves. With the loss, the Rocket’s playoff hopes have dwindled significantly. Every team in the North Division has games in hand and Laval only has five remaining games in their regular-season schedule.

montreal canadiens ahl affiliate laval rocket

 

  • Filip Mesar helped the Kitchener Rangers take a 3-1 series stranglehold on the Erie Otters. Mesar set up the game-winning goal in overtime, pushing his playoff production to eight points in five games. The next game of the series is scheduled for Tuesday night in Erie.

  • Jacob Fowler led all NCAA goaltenders in wins this season, with 31, but it will all be for naught if Boston College can’t beat Michigan at the Frozen Four. As a reminder, the game between BC and Michigan takes place on April 11th at 7:30 pm ET.