Free washing machine | Is the Canadian progressing?

By suffering an eighth defeat in eleven games, including one in extra time, the Canadian is approaching his record from the same date last year. With its 22-27-8 record, Montreal has just two more points than it did after 55 games last season. They even won one less game, but went to extra time or a penalty shootout four more times.


The CH is not moving forward, as many would be tempted to conclude. Not necessarily. In the first two or three years of a rebuild, progress in the standings is not synonymous with team growth. Instead, we should focus on the progress of the future core members.

That Josh Anderson is having a miserable season with only seven goals, that Jake Evans confirms that he is a fourth-line center, that Jake Allen has won only one game since December 18 and has allowed 28 goals in his most recent seven starts , That Brendan Gallagher is struggling to keep up and Tanner Pearson is showing us that his value is almost zero, it doesn’t matter.

In short, the regression of defenders Jordan Harris, Johnathan Kovacevic, Justin Barron and, to a certain extent, Arber Xhekaj, is not dramatic because they are not considered by the management in the restricted core of six or seven players who will make the team win in some years.

Who can be included in this nucleus and have they progressed? Obviously we have to start with the first trio, made up of three young players under 25 years of age.

PHOTO DOMINICK GRAVEL, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Nick Suzuki

For many, Suzuki represented a second center, a third for its fiercest detractors. His 19 points in his last 11 games raised him to 32my NHL scoring ranking with 53 points in 55 games, four points behind Brayden Point and 21my range. Suzuki has one more point than Mika Zibanejad and two fewer than Sidney Crosby. He produces at a pace of 79 points over a full season.

In just a few weeks, Juraj Slafkovsky went from being a shy young player to becoming a formidable power forward. He has scored 12 points in his last 8 games, 22 points in his last 24 games. He’s not even 20 yet!

PHOTO DOMINICK GRAVEL, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Cole Caufield

Cole Caufield, 23 years old as of January, scores less frequently than last year, but has offered a more complete game in recent weeks and is producing at a slightly higher rate than last year in terms of points. He’s on pace for a 67-point season, but at his current pace, he could easily reach 70 points.

Unfortunately, the attack’s other young center, 23-year-old Kirby Dach, suffered an injury in the second game. His 16 points in his last 18 games with the CH, including the first of the season in Toronto, his solid training camp and his effectiveness in defense and puck protection suggest good things for his health, if he stays healthy. However, there will be questions until his first full season.

PHOTO DOMINICK GRAVEL, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Alex Newhook

Alex Newhook, 23, showed some flashes in a season interrupted by injuries. In 28 games he produced at a clip of 23 goals and 44 points. There is progress in this direction and Newhook can aspire to a position in a 6 best In view of these results, without being considered a top player, at least for now.

The Canadian would lack at least three solid attacking players to constitute a 9 best solid, accepting the fact that the ninth is a player on the edge of the fourth line.

PHOTO DARREN CALABRESE, CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES

Tij Iginla

One of these attackers can be recruited in the top 10 Next year, Cayden Lindstrom, this 6-foot-4, 215-pound big man, 47 points, including 27 goals, in 32 games at Medicine Hat in the Western Junior League. Perhaps the spectacular Russian Ivan Demidov, 57 points in 28 games in the MHL, the Russian youth league, or Tij Iginla, son of Jarome, 65 points, 37 goals, in 51 games in Kelowna, also in the West. But the Canadiens’ recruiters can also turn to a defenseman, obviously.

Joshua Roy? The sample is still too fine to confirm a place in the 9 best in the long term, although it looks promising. Owen Beck? He has produced at an incredible rate since his arrival in Saginaw, with 30 points in 18 games, but we don’t see any offensive potential in the NHL. To follow. Filip Mesar and Sean Farrell will have some work to do to prove they can help CH in the long run.

PHOTO DOMINICK GRAVEL, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Joshua Roy

We should not rule out the idea of ​​another exchange similar to that of Dach or Newhook, for a Zegras, Turcotte or another. However, Zegras would cost at least an option in the the ten best. Unless you do incredible gymnastics like in Dach’s case. Not impossible.

On defense, Kaiden Guhle remains the only youngster on the current roster who can be predicted to have a spot in the top 3 long-term. His offensive performance has decreased slightly, but his overall play has progressed, right in the first pairing with Mike Matheson. He now rarely plays less than 21 minutes per game. Matheson will also have two more good seasons to give to the Canadian before his contract expires. He is a major safe bet.

PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Kaiden Guhle

Right defender David Reinbacher will be one of the keys to the future, the management hopes. He wasn’t selected fifth overall for nothing. He had a more difficult season in Switzerland, marked by injuries, poor team results and coaching changes, but his potential remains intact. We should see you in Laval in the next few weeks.

Otherwise, there is uncertainty. Justin Barron has shown on occasions that he could belong in a top 4 of the NHL, but lacks consistency. He’s only 22 years old, but he won’t be the next Alex Pietrangelo. He competes directly with Logan Mailloux, third scorer among American League defensemen with 35 points in 48 games, at only 20 years old, but who should not be confused with Brent Burns.

PHOTO BJORN LARSSON ROSVALL, ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES

Lane Hutson

Lane Hutson? The great mystery. Outrageously dominant in the NCAA with 85 points in 67 games in the last two years. But he’s not explosive for a 5-foot-8 player. He could become the next Adam Fox or Marc-André Bergeron, an offensive specialist in the National League from 2003 to 2013. Opinion is divided and we won’t know until his first skates in Montreal at the end of the season. If the first scenario comes true, the CH will take giant steps.

Jayden Struble is a pleasant surprise. Within a contending team, he is more in his place within a third pairing. The Canadian obviously wants Arber Xhekaj to improve his defensive game, especially his decisions with and without the puck, to have a regular spot on a third pairing. He constitutes a peacemaker of rare effectiveness. On Saturday he almost systematically opposed tough Tom Wilson. Wilson was as gentle as a lamb…

PHOTO DOMINICK GRAVEL, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Jordan Harris

Jordan Harris and Johnathan Kovacevic will have to fight over the next few years to maintain their positions. We’ll see how Adam Engström adapts to the North American game.

A big 20-something defenseman may need to be added in the future, in a trade or on the free agent market.

All in all, despite some tougher games lately, Samuel Montembeault is showing that he can be a suitable number one goalkeeper. It looks like Cayden Primeau belongs in the NHL.

So here is the picture of the situation. We have certain foundations, in this second year of reconstruction, but not all the walls are up, not even the roof. Most of the equipment has been purchased but needs to be installed. We are still far from interior decoration.

Montreal has two first-round picks in 2024, including a highly likely one in the top 10two first-round picks in 2025 and eight second- and third-round picks in the next two harvests.

Management didn’t want to say the “P” word (playoffs) during their annual golf tournament. If we do it next year, it will be nonsense. The year of the big takeoff is expected to be 2025-2026. Be careful…

Is the Canadian progressing? (2)

Overall, the Canadian has improved in some aspects of the game, including outnumbering and during faceoffs, but outnumbered performance is still a big gap.

Average number of goals scored per game

  • 2023-2024: 2.78 (27my)
  • 2022-2023: 2.77 (26my)

Average goals allowed per game

  • 2023-2024: 3.53 (29my)
  • 2022-2023: 3.72 (29my)

Performance in numerical superiority

  • 2023-2024: 20.1% (18my)
  • 2022-2023: 16.1% (29my)

Outnumbered performance

  • 2023-2024: 74% (31my)
  • 2022-2023: 72.7% (29my)

clashes

  • 2023-2024: 52.6% (6my)
  • 2022-2023: 48.5% (25my)

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