The Montreal Canadiens seem to already have a lineup in place for the Stanley Cup Qualifier, but if Jesperi Kotkaniemi is healthy, where does he fit?
Although the Montreal Canadiens are going to have decisions ahead of them preparing for their series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, it seems as if those initial lineup combinations are common knowledge. That top line of Philip Danault, Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar will remain untouched while Jonathan Drouin will likely slide back into the top six playing with one of Max Domi or Nick Suzuki.
As for the fourth line, Jack Evans looks to be the player to be filling in for the vacant spot left by Nate Thompson. That takes care of the centre positions, and because of the health of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, it’s been easy to envision the Habs returning to complete the season without him. What if that isn’t the case anymore?
Kotkaniemi’s physical transformation has had fans talking for weeks. At the same time, news of him hiring skating coaches to improve is the recipe of him returning to the Montreal Canadiens as a better and more complete player.
There was no recovery time specified from insiders or specialists when the news initially broke. All we knew was that Kotkaniemi returned to Finland in April, didn’t require surgery for the injury, and that team doctors said there were not any setbacks. Given the effects of his training overseas, “no setbacks” is a definite impact.
Going back to that Instagram photo, it’s a very good thing if Kotkaniemi can play tennis right now. Tennis is not as physically impactful as hockey, but it’s still a positive sign of his recovery. But that’s what all these have been, only signs. That was until the latest news pertaining to the 19-year-old broke.