Former Montreal Canadiens to Follow in the Playoffs

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 09: Artturi Lehkonen #62 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Rogers Place on April 9, 2022 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 09: Artturi Lehkonen #62 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at Rogers Place on April 9, 2022 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /
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Carolina Hurricanes

The most recent bitter rivals of the Montreal Canadiens, and one of the most interesting teams to follow in the NHL on and off the ice. There was the whole offer sheet fiasco, the Storm Surges at the end of the games, the missing preseason games, and, of course, the terrific team they put on the ice.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

Poor Jesperi Kotkaniemi. There just seemed to be a perfect storm around the young centre’s career that really affected his time in Montreal.

First of all, he was a third overall pick, which was a bit higher than was projected, but he filled the centre role that the Montreal Canadiens desperately needed. Most people thought he needed a year off to condition in the minor leagues, but made the team in his draft year.

He had a decent first year, but played poorly in the second year, and struggled to stay in the NHL. Then he played well enough in the playoffs, but got caught in the crossfire between the Canadiens and Hurricanes war of offer sheets, and signed with Carolina.

In Carolina, Kotkaniemi can play a more sheltered role, and develop more naturally than he ever could in Montreal at this time. And he just signed a big 8-year, $4.82 million contract this year. It will be interesting to see what Kotkaniemi does in the playoffs, as he did play well in the postseason last year.

Max Domi

Mandatory Credit: Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports /

Speaking of players where it will be interesting to see how they play in the playoffs: former Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi.

Domi is an interesting case, and the further removed we are from 2018-19, the more it seems like a fluke. He had a great rookie season, but struggled to score in Arizona, before being traded for Alex Galchenyuk. And then he exploded for 28 goals and 72 points as the Canadiens surprised and just missed the playoffs.

But Domi struggled again after that, including an abysmal playoff bubble performance in 2020, but to be fair, he was placed on the fourth line and not utilized the best.

That offseason Domi was traded for Josh Anderson, and continued to struggle with production. His stock had plummeted in Columbus so badly that he was traded to Carolina with a 6th round pick for a former 5th round pick named Tyler Inamoto. And Domi’s numbers have remained low in Carolina.

In Montreal, Domi was the heart and soul of the team in 2018-19, in an emotional year where the underdog Canadiens missed out on the playoffs by just a win, and were a ton of fun to watch.

Why To Follow Them

Its ironic that two of the most fun players for the Montreal Canadiens in recent years have ended up on a very fun team to watch. If it was only for one year, Domi and Kotkaniemi were beloved players, and it would be nice to see them go far.

New York Rangers

Jarred Tinordi

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

All the way back in 2010, the Montreal Canadiens drafted Jarred Tinordi in the first round, after trading up to get him, sending a first (Mark Visentin) and a second (Oscar Lindberg) for Tinordi’s first and a fourth (Mark MacMillan). Lindberg is the biggest name of the trade, playing 252 games and scoring 39 goals in NHL, and is now playing in the KHL.

Tinordi played 46 games with the Montreal Canadiens, while bouncing between the Habs and the Hamilton Bulldogs and St. John’s Ice Caps. He never scored a goal and struggled to find his footing defensively.

Tinordi was also part of the strange trade that saw the Montreal Canadiens acquiring John Scott, in a desperate bid to keep him from playing in the All-Star game, as the 33 year old bruiser was voted in by fans as a joke.

Tinordi then bounced around between Arizona, Pittsburgh, Nashville, and Boston before signing with the Rangers this year. He scored his first NHL goal in 2019-20 in Nashville, and scored 1 goal in the 7 games he has played in New York.

Keith Kinkaid

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Keith Kinkaid was one of the many casualties of the Montreal Canadiens search for a back-up goalie, and Kinkaid fell the hardest.

He was a solid back-up with the New Jersey Devils from 2014 to 2019. However, in Montreal, Kinkaid greatly struggled. In 6 games, Kinkaid had a 4.24 Goals Against Average and a .875 save percentage. Which is far and away the worst numbers he had ever put up.

So then he was dropped back into the AHL with the Laval Rocket. But in 13 games with the Rocket, he put up almost identical numbers and fell out of both leagues.

However, Kinkaid has brought his career back to some sort of relevance with the New York Rangers, and that is just great to see. We probably won’t see any Kinkaid action in these playoffs, but it is great to see that he is still here.

Why To Follow Them

The New York Rangers feel a little similar to the Montreal Canadiens, just further along. They are an extremely well-rounded team, and are young and hungry.

Pittsburgh Penguins

And we have reached the first team with no former Montreal Canadiens players, or Montreal Canadiens draft picks currently on the team. But that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to watch them. You get one of the last good looks at one of the best players of all time in Sidney Crosby. Crosby and his long time teammates Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang will have just one last chance to have a good run at the Cup, and this is it.

Washington Capitals

Lars Eller

Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports /

Montreal’s Danish Gretzky came to them from a roundabout way, via Toronto to San Jose to St. Louis. In fact, Lars Eller was one of the draft picks that San Jose sent to St. Louis to trade up to draft current captain Logan Couture.

Eller was also the main part of the return for Jaroslav Halak, who was coming off of that fantastic 2010 playoff run, but was left out in the cold because of Carey Price. Well, along with Ian Schultz, who never played an NHL game.

Eller was a solid enough bottom to middle sixer, without standing out too much, outside of one game against the Winnipeg Jets where he scored 4 goals in a single game.

In Washington it was much of the same. Eller has never scored more than 20 goals in a season, but was instrumental in Washington winning the Stanley Cup, scoring 7 goals and 18 points in 24 playoff games.

Why To Follow Them

The reason to watch Washington is almost too simple to state. You get to watch the best goal scorer, probably of all time, in Alex Ovechkin.