Sep 15, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens right wing Sven Andrighetto (58) shoots against Buffalo Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth (1) during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Sven Andrighetto Could Help Solve Montreal Canadiens Right Wing Woes


In yesterday’s blog, we did a poll asking what you thought was the biggest need the Montreal Canadiens have to address this offseason. The results were pretty overwhelming, as 69% of the vote went to right wing.

This makes a lot of sense as both Thomas Vanek and Brian Gionta are currently unrestricted free agents, and Daniel Briere would be the second line winger on that side if this roster goes unchanged into next season. This is clearly a lack of depth, and the Habs need to find a player or probably two to slot in behind Brendan Gallagher next year.

May 17, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers forward Martin St-Louis (26) reacts next to Montreal Canadiens forward Thomas Vanek (20) after scoring a goal during the first period in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Canadiens go out and make a big trade or throw millions of dollars at a free agent, they should take a long look at an option they already have in the organization.

Sven Andrighetto made his professional debut with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League this season, and was one of the best players on the team. The 21 year old from Switzerland finished second on the Bulldogs in scoring with 44 points in 64 games on a young and low scoring Hamilton team.

His numbers don’t exactly jump off the charts at you, but they compare favorably to a couple of young Habs who made a surprising jump from Hamilton recently. In the lockout shortened 2013 season, Brendan Gallagher made his Bulldog debut and scored 20 points in 36 games. When the lockout finally ended, Gallagher impressed at Canadiens camp and made the jump to the big club and scored at a higher pace in the NHL with 28 points in 44 games. It was not his point totals that made the difference, it was his unique perseverance and determination that earned him an NHL roster spot.

 

Apr 12, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens left wing Michael Bournival (49) misses a chance to score a goal against New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot (33) during the third period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Bournival showed up at Canadiens training camp this season a longshot at best to make the roster. He played the entire 2012-13 season in Hamilton and scored 30 points in 69 games, but impressed Habs management with his work ethic and speed and stuck with the Canadiens all season.

Andrighetto is a tremendous skater and has a great work ethic that led to him being selected by the Canadiens in 2013, after not being selected in two consecutive drafts. After being passed over a pair of times, Andrighetto went out and proved everyone wrong by scoring 98 points in 53 QMJHL games, and led Switzerland at the World Junior Tournament with five goals and eight points.

Sven also brought a solid amount of offense to the Bulldogs this season, and has a ton of skill which won’t hurt him in training camp next season.

May 17, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis (26) celebrates his a goal against Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) and center Tomas Plekanec (14) and left wing Carl Hagelin (62) during the first period in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest knock on Andrighetto is, like plenty of other Habs players, his size. He is just 5’9” and the Habs are already full of sub 5’10 skaters. However, you can not ignore a skilled player just because of his height. What Andrighetto could bring to this team includes blazing speed, great skill, and a perfect right winger for Lars Eller.

The NHL is increasingly becoming a young player’s game. Look at the two teams playing for the right to hoist the Stanley Cup right now. The New York Rangers have Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider playing huge roles in their top six. It didn’t matter to them that Hagelin is small, or that Kreider didn’t dominate in the AHL, they found a role for the young guys to fill and gave them a chance.

The Los Angeles Kings weren’t too worried that Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli aren’t their most physical players, they found them a spot on a line with Jeff Carter anyway, and both are on the verge of helping the Kings win their second championship in three years.

In fact, Pearson is a close comparison to Andrighetto as both were ignored in their first NHL draft and Pearson’s numbers in the AHL last season, (47 points in 64 games) are almost exactly the same as Andrighetto’s this year (44 points in 64 games.)

Sep 15, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens right wing Sven Andrighetto (58) shoots against Buffalo Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth (1) during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Canadiens could go after a bigger player via trade or in free agency, but bigger is not always better in the NHL. Just ask the Toronto Maple Leafs who signed David Clarkson to an enormous contract last summer. The big, physical winger was supposed to be the perfect second line player, but scored just 11 points in 60 games, and is signed at 5.25 million for six more years.

Andrighetto may be undersized, but I am suggesting he replaces either Brian Gionta or Daniel Briere in the lineup, so the Habs would not get any bigger, but wouldn’t be getting smaller either. Sure, it would be nice if he were 6’2” and skilled, but the most important thing is how he would fit in the lineup, and I think he would be excellent on a line with Eller and Alex Galchenyuk next season.

Chasing big name free agents always appears to be the best way for a quick fix, but as Gallagher and Bournival have shown us, sometimes the perfect fit is right in front of you. Andrighetto could be that perfect fit, and should be given a long look at camp next season.

Tags: Montreal Canadiens Sven Andrighetto

  • Tom

    I hope he makes the jump especially because like you said it give Eller a winger who actually both works hard and has a good amount of skill left

    • Kenny MacMillan

      Yeah I think it is time that finding good consistent wingers for Eller is a priority. He can produce offence when used in the right situations. Even a young skilled guy like Andrighetto would be a better option than Bourque or Briere who were playing with Eller a lot this season.
      Let Plekanec handle the defensive minutes and allow Eller some more offensive freedom

      • SovereignTechnology

        Oh, didn’t you hear? We are trading Plekanec this offseason.

        Haha jk.

  • Dar Krum

    First, I do not disagree. I think it would be great to see someone from inside the organization fill the spot with skill and speed.

    Free agency is a time of overspending and caution is needed. I have been wondering though. There was a lot of smoke surrounding PA Parenteau during the season. Could there be some fire there too? Avs have need of a top 4 Dman. We have a need at RW. Is there a deal to be made? I heard we were also interested in McGinn. Avs need a backup. Could a package be brewing?

    • Kenny MacMillan

      There were a few reports at trade deadline time that Parenteau was on his way to Montreal. Obviously that didn’t happen but I could see it coming up again this summer. His 4 million dollar cap hit for 2 years if far less than you would pay for an equal player on the free agent market.
      You would have to think the Avs would be interested in a defensive defender like Gorges to play alongside Tyson Barrie next season. That opens up a hole on the Habs blue line that would need to be patched.
      As for the Avs backup, they went out and gave up a 2nd round pick for Reto Berra and gave him a three year deal, so I think they are going with Varlamov/Berra next year.

      • Kenny MacMillan

        Having said that, there would be room for both Parenteau and Andrighetto if both Vanek and Gionta walk away

        • Dar Krum

          Thanks for the Berra reminder, I had forgotten.

          Gorges, eh? I was thinking Emelin… ;-)

          Regardless, you are right, there would still be room for Andrighetto in this scenario. I have been obsessing/dreaming about the big time deals (generally involving E. Kane) but it is more likely that, if a move is made, it is much smaller in scope. I think the deal makes sense for both sides. The cap hits are comparable and each side is able to plug the hole left by the departing player while filling a need. Seems like the definition of a “win/win” deal.

  • poooooookles

    wholeheartedly agree. andrighetto is a talent.