Montreal Canadiens: 7 Talking Points

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 02: Goaltender Carey Price #31 (L) and Nick Suzuki #14 of the Montreal Canadiens (R) stand during the national anthem prior to the game against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre on March 2, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-1. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 02: Goaltender Carey Price #31 (L) and Nick Suzuki #14 of the Montreal Canadiens (R) stand during the national anthem prior to the game against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre on March 2, 2021 in Montreal, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-1. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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Montreal Canadiens, Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi
TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 01: Nick Suzuki #14 of the Montreal Canadiens is congratulated by teammate Jesperi Kotkaniemi #15 after Suzuki scored a goal in the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game One of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 01, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

2. The 3 young centremen

Last Tuesday, Dale Weise had his first Habs Tonight podcast/live stream; his guest was Georges Laraque and the point of the show is to showcase the humanity of NHL players, to be transparent about NHL locker rooms and experiences and to facilitate fan interaction with Weise and his guest(s). Anyway, I tuned into the show’s first live stream and thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Laraque and hopped onto the show to ask a question at the 1:59:15 mark.

I asked Dale Weise what his impressions of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Nick Suzuki and Jake Evans were in his time playing with them. I would encourage you to listen to his response yourselves, as his belief in these three guys really shines through, but I’ll summarize his points.

He heralded Jake Evans for jumping from an AHL scoring role to an NHL shutdown role with few minutes and noted that he has the ceiling of a really good 3rd line centre and that he is more offensively gifted than fans may realize.

Weise then echoed Jake Allen’s comments during training camp about Kotkaniemi’s shot being as good as any player he has ever played with; which includes the likes of Weber, Giroux, Subban and Pacioretty. He goes on to say that Kotkaniemi doesn’t quite realize just how good he is and that when he does, he will be a force in the NHL. Lastly, he comments on how KK’s attitude will help him a lot in his career, he’s easygoing, kind and “lets things roll off his back” which is especially important in a market like Montreal.

Weise is more succinct in his comments on Nick Suzuki but he highlights how the young centreman really stepped his game up in the bubble and how tremendously skilled he is. He finishes by noting that he has the highest ceiling of the three centremen and that he is the long-term solution at the number 1 centre slot for this team for the next decade and beyond.

I found it really interesting to hear the unfiltered opinions of a former teammate of all three of these players, which is something you never get from players on an active roster, and Weise is just 7 months removed from playing and practicing with these guys. His perspective is certainly a valuable one, as he has more insight than we regular fans do.

Interestingly, his assessments of the three correlate quite closely to mine; I think he was spot on with his projection of Jake Evans and that Kotkaniemi will be lethal once he gains more confidence, especially in his shot. I also agree that Suzuki prejects as a #1 centre, that he was the best forward in the bubble and that his intelligence will take him a long way.

My sole disagreement is that I believe that Kotkaniemi has a higher ceiling than Suzuki. Don’t get me wrong, Suzuki is phenomenal and one of my favourite Habs, his is the only jersey I own; I simply believe that the raw tools Kotkaniemi possesses: the great shot, the physicality and the vision all in one package give him more room to grow than Suzuki. I think the chances of Suzuki reaching his full potential are higher and that his floor is higher than Kotkaniemi’s, however. No matter the outcome, the Habs have themselves two special players to build around.