Montreal Canadiens: It’s Time To Give Otto Leskinen A Look

Dec 6, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Otto Leskinen. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 6, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Otto Leskinen. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Montreal Canadiens injuries are few and far between this season. They have been incredibly fortunate when it comes to the injury bug.

However, they were dealt their first long term injury when Ben Chiarot broke his hand in a fight with JT Miller last week. While Joel Armia missed a handful of games early in the season and Josh Anderson was out for three contests, the Chiarot injury was the first one that would linger for a while.

It was expected that Victor Mete would just step into the lineup and fill the void. He did. For one game.

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Then Xavier Ouellet was moved onto the active roster from the taxi squad. The veteran, and captain of the AHL’s Laval Rocket has played the past two games on the third pairing with Alexander Romanov. Ouellet has been used sparingly, averaging just over 12 minutes per game, but last night’s loss was a bit of an adventure for the 27 year old.

Ouellet played just over ten minutes of even strength ice time with Romanov last night and was one the ice for 10 scoring chances against. That is a shockingly high number. Basically, every minute of ice time he received, he game up a scoring chance.

Two of those scoring chances would be goals against and one of those goals against was a result of Ouellet just running into Price, leaving Kyle Connor to tuck the puck into an open net.

Ouellet was supposed to be the safe pick to slot into the lineup. He was a second round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2011 and has played 174 NHL games in his career. He has also played 277 career AHL games, and plays a soldi two-way role for the Laval Rocket.

However, his play for the Canadiens last night would be described as anything but safe.

That’s why it should be time to give Otto Leskinen a chance at the NHL level. If the team has soured so much on Victor Mete that he has been passed over by Ouellet on the depth chart, Leskinen shouldn’t be too far behind.

The Finnish left shot defenceman signed with the Canadiens organization before the 2019-20 season and was a solid defender for the Rocket last season. He scored 22 points in 52 games as a rookie in the AHL and was even called up for a five game audition with the Habs.

The recently turned 24 year old is having an even stronger season for the Rocket this year. While his offensive numbers are fine with a goal and seven points in 13 games, Leskinen has taken a big step with his all around play.

In his second season with the Rocket he just looks more poised and confident and without the puck. He’s been playing on their top pairing most of the season and has no trouble defending the best players in the American Hockey League.

With Mete falling out of favour and Ouellet having a little trouble at the NHL level, it would make a lot of sense to call up Leskinen now and give him an opportunity with the Canadiens.

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Leskinen had a taste of the NHL game last season but looks far more ready for it this year. At the very worst, he can’t be any worse than Ouellet was last night.