The Contender's Road of the Montreal Canadiens: Left Wing Edition - Sports1
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The Contender’s Road of the Montreal Canadiens: Left Wing Edition

In the past few decades, Montreal Canadiens They have been spinning their tires in the mud. No matter how they step on the accelerator, they can’t seem to get rid of the label of mediocrity. Fans know this deal-enter the playoffs and see what happens. This is an endless carousel, a ferris wheel that keeps spinning. Playing the underdog role in the playoffs has a certain appeal. You are a “miracle on ice” without expectations. Clubs that may not win, so “Why not cheer for them?” David’s dynamic against Goliath made NHL playoff hockey so exciting-anything can happen. But that doesn’t mean it will.

The Montreal Canadiens pose with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after defeating the Vegas Golden Cavaliers in Game 6 of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs Stanley Cup semifinals on June 24, 2021 (Photo: Shafique Bakush/NHLI via Getty Images)

this Chicago Blackhawks Did not win three Stanley Cups because of failure in five years.this Tampa Bay Lightning He didn’t win a back-to-back championship because he hoped for the best. Neither are the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, or Detroit Red Wings—the list goes on. These teams were established to compete with the elite and sustainable roster. The Canadians have been working hard to crack this code. Although it is interesting as a dark horse in the playoffs, it has lost its appeal in Montreal.

The Canadians are still far from being among the elite of the league, so where do they go? Let’s look at the club’s in-depth chart and determine what needs to be done in each position to make it a contender. This is the left-wing version.

Canadians’ left wing

This is arguably the location where Montreal needs the most effort. Although the team has depth on the left wing (LW), they did not perform well.

Depth map of the Montreal Canadiens/Courtesy of Habs Eyes On The Prize of SB Nation

Jonathan Druin Mike Hoffman is the team’s offensive threat, and Aturi Raikkonen is a reliable two-way winger, playing more of a stoppage role. Mathieu Perrault, Paul Byron, and Michael Pezzetta added LW depth, but they are consumable.

Jonathan Druin

When the Canadians traded Mikhail Sergachev for Druin, they hoped to get a vigorous playmaker and stable offensive producer. They have seen flashes from No. 92, but this is not enough to prove that he is a top winger.

The 26-year-old has been working hard to create opportunities in the offensive zone, ranking sixth Expected goal Among the Montreal forwards in the past three seasons (xGF). Although his offensive stats are not bad, Druin is also struggling on his own, losing an average of 2.5 expected goals in xGA games every 60 minutes since 2019-in the current Canadian team Among the players, only Christian Dvorak has worse defensive performance in the past three games. This season Drew did score 10 points in 15 games. Considering the team’s poor performance, this is a considerable speed, but his offensive performance can’t make up for his incompetence on the other end of the ice.

Jonathan Druin
Jonathan Drouin #92, Montreal Canadiens – February 20, 2018 (Amy Owen / Hockey writer)

Drouin’s inability to improve his strength and his mediocre finishing (shooting) statistics made him a victim. At this point in his career, there is no more development. He is him, it is too difficult to find a long-term position for him in the team. Drouin’s contract will expire in 2023. Although his $5.5 million cap is not ideal, it can be traded with only two seasons left.

solution: Trade Drouin to get picks/prospects and find upgrades through drafts or free agents.

Other options: Let Drouin walk into free agency, and then quickly find the top six LW promotion.

Mike Hoffman

Hoffman signed a three-year contract worth $13.5 million ($4.5 million cap) in the offseason. The 32-year-old is a polarizing player-he is the best in the league in terms of his performance (powerful play), and the worst in the area where he struggles (average strength). This trend has been around for some time, and it has become more and more obvious as Hoffman enters the second half of his career.

Mike Hoffman St. Louis Blues
Mike Hoffman with the St. Louis Blues (Scott Rowak/NHL via Getty Images)

In the past three seasons, Hoffman is undoubtedly the best player in Montreal, shooting 12.05 percent from the field, while Brandon Gallagher ranked second with 10.26 percent. He worked hard whenever he had the opportunity, and because of this, he was a fatal threat to the Game of Thrones. But you may be surprised to find that Hoffman is statistically the worst Montreal forward in creating and preventing scoring opportunities since 2019. Although No. 68 is very good at taking advantage of his opportunities, he did not create opportunities quickly, nor did he stop them with even force on the other end of the ice.

Hoffman provides value, but he needs a very special environment to thrive. If the Canadians want the Ontario natives to stay in their plan, they will need to acquire a sound two-way left winger who can eat up tough playing time with a balanced intensity. Drouin is not the answer. Although Lehkonen is reliable, he Can’t play. Sean Farrell is expected to grow into a top six role in the next few seasons, and as Hoffman’s contract expires in 2024, the timing may be perfect.

solution: Trade Hoffman to competitors and find upgrades through drafts or free agents.

Other options: Keep Hoffman and let Sean Farrell (or other potential customers) replace him in 2024.

Aturi Raikkonen

Raikkonen will become a restricted free agent during the 2022 offseason. The 26-year-old player was selected and nurtured by Montreal and has been the top six major players in the Habu team for the past six seasons.

There is no reason not to re-sign Raikkonen. He is in the golden age of his career and has proven to be reliable on both ends of the rink. Statistically, he is Montreal’s best defensive forward in the past three seasons, averaging 2.02 xGA per 60 minutes. Although the Finnish native sometimes struggles to take advantage of his scoring opportunities, unlike Drouin, he makes up for it in the defensive zone.Every Hockey visualization, He can also eat the opponent’s best player in a 5 vs. 5 match.

related: Raikkonen of the Canadians proves he should be part of the plan

Historically, defensive forwards tend to have an advantage in the NHL market. They are seriously underestimated. The Canadians are unlikely to get a fair return for No. 62 in the trade. As long as his contract price is reasonable, there is no reason not to let Raikkonen become a stable winger in the third line.

solution: Re-sign Raikkonen in the offseason and keep him in the third-tier LW for the foreseeable future.

Other options: If the return makes sense, trade Raikkonen for picks/prospects.

The future of Canadians at LW

The outlook for the Montreal left is bleak, but management needs to start somewhere. On the bright side, Raikkonen, the left-wing third-line player of the Canadians, played his role as a forward well. Byron, Perreault, and Pezzetta may be substituted on the open market, but they do provide the energy needed for the fourth production line. Although the contracts between Hoffman and Drouin are not very good, they are not untradeable.

Sean Farrell prospect data and visualization provided by @ByronMBader and HockeyProspecting.com

Habs forward Farrell also has hope. He scored 12 points in eight NCAA games this season, igniting hope for the Harvard University game. Although the depth of the left wing after Farrell has dropped significantly-Luke Tucci, Reid Pitlik, Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jack Gorniak all have less than 25 % Chance of becoming an NHLer-but there are still reasons for Montreal’s future position.

In a season where it’s hard to find any positives, fans will not regain their optimism about the Canadians’ left wing. Upgrades are needed, especially at the top of the Montreal left-wing depth map, but Mark Bergevin and his company have at least some building blocks to build a better future.



Ryan graduated from the Ryerson School of Journalism in 2015 and contributed to the Montreal Canadiens. He also previously worked as a hockey reporter at STATS LLC and as a copy editor at Rant Media Network.


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