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How New Goaltender Hughes Will Impact Canadiens Organization

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montreal canadiens goaltender hughes

The Montreal Canadiens made a surprise signing on Tuesday, securing the rights to goaltender Connor Hughes with a one-year contract.

Hughes is an undrafted 27-year-old Canadian who has been playing in the National League (NL) and Swiss League (SL) since 2017-18. His numbers have been quite good during his time in Switzerland, as he’s managed to maintain a .914 save percentage and a 2.31 goals-against average in 75 games in the NL.

His last season with Laussane HC was impressive, leading to a 10-6-1 record and a sparkling .940 save percentage during the regular season, not to mention a .933 save percentage in the playoffs.

We should also note he was being coached by former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Christobal Huet, one of the most underrated goalies in franchise history.

At 6’4″, Hughes has an ideal frame for a goaltender, giving him the type of wingspan that can bail him out of trouble should his agility come into question, though from the limited highlights we have available, Hughes doesn’t project as a particularly slow goaltender given his size.

According to Swiss Hockey analyst and friend of the site Thibaud Chatel, Hughes is considered an elite goaltender in the NL and is currently in his statistical prime.

Hughes finished the season as the best goaltender at 5v5 while putting up the seventh-best number on the penalty kill. Like many goaltenders, his glove-side saves could stand to be improved, but overall, the analysis suggests the Habs signed a good-value player.

Impact On the Montreal Canadiens Organization

Hughes won’t be pushing for a spot in the NHL, but he will serve as a good mentor and relief partner for prospect Jakub Dobes, who is set to play his second professional season next year with the Canadiens AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket.

Dobes had a rough start to his rookie season, owing to a lack of support since Cayden Primeau was stuck in limbo in the NHL. The Canadiens eventually signed veteran goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, which led to an immediate uptick in results from Dobes, not to mention a string of wins from Kaskisuo which pushed the Rocket up the standings, putting them within range of making the playoffs.

Of course, the Rocket did not qualify for the playoffs, but if the team had been a little more proactive in fixing the goaltending situation their odds of earning a playoff berth would have greatly improved.

Thankfully, they seem to have learned from their mistake last season by ensuring the goaltender situation is taken care of well before the midway point of the season.

Hughes’ contract means the Habs are not inclined to bring back Kaskisuo, which is a little surprising seeing as he played quite well for the Rocket and was an incredible affable player, but such is life in the AHL.

Veterans come and veterans go.

This also means that Primeau can start the season with some semblance of clarity as to his role. Since joining the franchise, Primeau has been stuck in overcrowded creases that have led to very few starts, far from an ideal situation for any developing player, let alone a goaltender.

Giving him a chance to finally prove his worth is certainly a logical path forward, and should allow him to focus on the task at hand rather than worrying about how many weeks he’ll have to wait before getting his next start.

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Billy739

Kaskisuo is a Top Level league where he was a Starter in Europe
He was only available for an on ice incident involving him throwing a Water Bottle at a Referee saw his team and all other teams avoid him leaving him unsigned mid way into the year.

Laval gave him his foot back in the door to North America that he had been fighting for before his incident to reclaim after 8 years of playing here at NCAA,AHL and NHL levels. Playing Mentor to Dobes gave him the positioning to get a AHL Starter Job this year and i dont begrudge him one bit at his age.

We were SO LUCKY to get more then an EBUG at that point in the year as finding someone Kaskisuo pedigree that late for free is impossible.

Now is Hughes even remotely on Kaskisuo level? No
Hughes couldnt make the OHL or USHL or BCHL or NCAA or any form of Development at the Canadian Level so he left for Swizz leagues at 20 after a stint in the CCHL where the average Points Per Game is just over 1 goal a game and every Goalie is Patrick Roy hahahaha

Cole Holowenko made it further along earlier then Hughes and Retired.
He saw there was no path to the NHL for him while Hughes was worse then Holowenko but went to a league so bad it wasnt even ranked top 5 until Reinbacher was Drafted then Elite Prospects, Stu Cowan and Eric Engles started a False narrative about its level of success. All the top Swizz born players outside really Josi had left by Junior level to develop elsewhere because those who develop in NLA are lifer’s in the NLA. Just look at all their scoring Records and whom holds them for Clarification on how little they produce at home. Doesnt mean Skilled players arent born there but it does mean they mostly have to leave to get better.

Hughes until he turned 25 kinda sucked still in that 5 year gap between washing out of Canada’s Development System and Entering Swizz. I expect him to start in the AHL but wash out to the ECHL being replaced by a former Draftee and 6’6 Vrbetic that we’re developing in ECHL the last few years. Not making a case for Vrbetic just showing thats the gap between them and Vrbetic didnt have to wash out to Europe for 5 years to get to that level, he did so as 20 years old.

Context Always Matters
Pushing a False Narrative about David Desharnais and Valterri Fillipula’s Retirement league after KHL and SHL stopped offering them Contracts is a bit absurd. Who has the league produced the last 2 decades?? of those 2 players would they have been better following other Swizz players in leaving for more competitive Leagues? Yes 100%

Imagine where Reinbacher would be now if he did like Timo Meier joining a Junior league at the top levels in Junior rather then being a big fish in an empty pond like Swizz. Their all time great local guys are mostly just that as 8/10 those who left reached the highest heights ,those who stayed were legends in their country and never heard of anywhere else

Tyrone

Maybe heโ€™s a distant relative of Kentโ€™s. ๐Ÿ˜‰

David

Montreal and Carolina may be discussing a possible trade and
maybe Carolina is interested in acquiring one of Montreal’s goalies. I am just speculating.