Louis Leblanc has been recalled to the NHL by the Montreal Canadiens. The former first round pick has split the past three seasons with the Canadiens and their rop farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs.
This season, Louis leads the Bulldogs in goals with nine and is second in team points with 20. He suited up for five games with the Habs in October, but failed to register a point in spot duty.
Louis is a decent two way winger at this point in his career. He has not yet lived up to the monstrous expectations that were thrown on him when the Canadiens selected him nineteenth overall, in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. A draft that was held inside the Bell Centre, much to the pleasure of the thousands of Habs fans in attendance.
However, Leblanc is a huge upgrade in a depth role over someone like George Parros who brings next to nothing to the Habs right now. He is defensively responsible, and can handle playing that role on a line with say, Brandon Prust and Travis Moen, or Michael Bournival.
He could even be an upgrade to a third line over Rene Bourque who was recently scratched due to lackluster play this season. Bourque has one assist and seven points in 36 games and is quickly falling out of favor with Head Coach Michel Therrien.
Of course, being a young NHLer, if Leblanc makes one mistake Therrien will bench him and likely have him sent back to Hamilton. This is what occurred with recent Hamilton callup Joonas Nattinen.
Nattinen made his NHL debut on Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and played a grand total of 1:45 all in the first period. He then watched the final 40 or so minutes and packed his bags for Hamilton.
Hopefully Leblanc is given more of a chance than his former teammate Nattinen, and who knows, maybe he can become a regular NHLer this time.
I wouldn’t expect Leblanc to solve the Canadiens scoring woes, but wouldn’t he make a solid two way line with Lars Eller and Bournival? I can’t imagine Therrien actually trusting a young line like that, so expect Leblanc to play sparingly alongside Moen and Bournival.