Montreal Canadiens: Jonathan Drouin could still play centre for the Habs

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 7: Jonathan Drouin #92 of the Montreal Canadiens skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at the Air Canada Centre on April 7, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 7: Jonathan Drouin #92 of the Montreal Canadiens skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at the Air Canada Centre on April 7, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Montreal Canadiens are committed to the idea of having Max Domi with Jonathan Drouin on the wing, but with the season weeks away, things could change.

Hear me out for a second. The Montreal Canadiens have committed to a heap of new experiments this season. Playing Tomas Tatar with Phillip Danault has worked. Jesperi Kotkaniemi with Artturi Lehkonen and eventually Charles Hudon, due to unfavourable circumstances, looked solid. Victor Mete and Noah Juulsen as a pairing were really fun to watch as well.

The latest and most buzz-worthy, relatively-speaking, is Max Domi‘s role on the team. Marc Bergevin already confirmed that the plan was for the Montreal Canadiens to try Domi on the wing and push Jonathan Drouin back to his natural position on the wing. The newest Hab forward has established himself as an effective playmaker in the NHL over the past two seasons and is a reliable option away from the puck in all three zones.

Additionally, you have to take last season into account as well. Drouin didn’t look like his Tampa Bay self for too much of the year. It was mostly sprinkled in spouts, but his performance levelled out and was more consistent towards the end of the season when lined up with Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher.

So far the Drouin-Domi duo has looked fantastic.

Domi and Drouin Should Play Together. light. Must Read

Drouin was flying around the ice in the Red Vs. White Scrimmage game carrying the puck into the zone first and being on top of the play. But was that from playing on the wing or did Drouin just improve over the summer after a difficult debut season?

It’s easy to assume the former as being along the wall is a much easier position. There’s far less defensive responsibility and those who are offensive-minded are free to think ahead to the next goal instead of being the virtual third defencemen on the ice. Bergevin’s comment to Tony Marinaro on TSN 690 surely stated that Domi will be given a shot, but not that it’s not a complete lock.

"I thought the second half, especially towards the end, he got better and better. We’re going to try Max in the middle because he did play some centre in Phoenix last year. But we like to try that for now, but we know that we could always put (Drouin) in the middle if need be. So, it just gave us more options."

The preseason is going to be an important one for that line. If they can continue what they started during the scrimmage, Claude Julien will have no reason to change his thought process. As I mentioned earlier, the best thing about the unit was everyone’s specialties were on display. I’m personally confident that Domi can handle it.

But if it doesn’t work, don’t be surprised to see Drouin back at centre. Keep in mind, he did adjust his training to prepare for another season down the middle. When asked about it by Pat Hickey of The Montreal Gazette, Drouin said:

"Last year I came into camp a little bit heavy and I was adjusting to the center position. I really didn’t know how to prepare for it. Now, it’s easier for me, having played the position last year. I know what I have to do."

The best thing for everyone to do is watch. Whether Domi is at centre or Drouin is, I still expect big things from the two young forwards.

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