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) /
4 of 5

Colorado Avalanche

Artturi Lehkonen

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the last players to be traded away from the Montreal Canadiens this trade deadline and scored the biggest goal for the Montreal Canadiens this century. I am sure that all of us remember the exact moment that Artturi Lehkonen sent the Canadiens into the Stanley Cup Final.

Artturi Lehkonen has just finished the best season of his career. He scored 19 goals and 38 points between Montreal and Colorado, tops in both of those categories. Much like Ben Chiarot, Lehkonen outplayed the team and brought his value up too high to ignore.

In fact, Kent Hughes said that he didn’t even pick up the phone to call anyone, the calls just came ringing in. And you can’t say no to a top prospect like Justin Barron as well as a second round pick. If anyone thought that Lehkonen would get that last year, they were insane.

Just looking at the stats doesn’t tell the whole story with Lehkonen.  He has turned into a great defensive forward, and played on a shutdown line for most of last year’s playoff run. Lehkonen’s grittiness and defensive acumen should be a boon for the Colorado Avalanche who are looking for a deep playoff run.

Why To Follow Them

There’s no question that Colorado is one of the most exciting offensive teams in the league, and probably deserve better than they have. If you are looking for a team to win, odds are good for the Avalanche.

Minnesota Wild

Jon Merrill

Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports /

Talk about a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it career in Montreal, Jon Merrill is now a member of the Minnesota Wild. In fact, Merrill is having a career year in Minnesota.

He started off as a New Jersey Devil, via the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, was drafted by Vegas in the expansion draft and signed in Detroit. Then Montreal, trying to shore up their defense for a playoff run, traded Hayden Verbeek and a 5th round pick.

Merrill didn’t play much in Montreal, 13 regular season games, 13 postseason games. No points in either season. Unfortunately, the experiment of Merrill in Montreal didn’t really work out.

Merrill has built his career on defensive stoutness, and was brought in to be good defensively on the bottom pairing. However, head coach Dominique Ducharme didn’t seem to trust him on the third pairing and rode the top 4 defenders as hard as possible.

He signed in the offseason in Minnesota, and has new career highs in goals (4), assists (16) and points (20) in 69 games.

Jordie Benn

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Does anyone remember when we all got excited that the Montreal Canadiens traded for Benn from the Dallas Stars? Unfortunately, it was Jordie Benn, not his brother Jamie.

Not that the older Benn brother is that bad, but at the time Jamie Benn was an incredible scorer, and just what the Canadiens needed at the time. But the Habs got a solid 3rd pairing defender out of it for 3 years. In fact, his last season in Montreal was the best offensive year of his career.

Sure, he never did anything very special in his time in Montreal, and I am sure some people are surprised that Benn is on the Wild, having lost track of him after he left La Belle Province, but not every player can be that. And he has carved a little role into an interesting Minnesota team.

Nicolas Deslauriers

Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports /

Nico Deslauriers has been involved in 5 trades in his NHL career, involving 11 different players, the most notable of which is Brayden McNabb. Which is interesting in and of itself. Usually players involved in this many deals has some big names.

For example, Tim Erixon (who?) was involved in Deslauriers’ first trade, and was involved in trades that involved Brandon Dubinsky, Rick Nash, Pavel Buchnevich and Phil Kessel. It is more common than not to find some interesting big names while browsing through small name players on the Hockey Database.

In 2017-18, Deslauriers scored 10 goals as a Hab, most of his career. He is far better known for his physical play and fighting ability. One of the last of the goons, he brings some bite to the Minnesota Wild roster.

Why To Follow Them

If you need a reason to cheer for the Minnesota Wild other than three lesser-known former Canadiens, its that this might be the last games of the great Marc-Andre Fleury’s great career. And Kirill Kaprizov. That helps too.

St. Louis Blues

Marco Scandella

Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

Marco Scandella had one of the most cut-and-dry career in Montreal. In January 2020, the Montreal Canadiens acquired him for a 4th round pick. And then, in February, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues for a 2nd and 4th round pick.

And that was after just 20 games with the Habs, with a goal and 3 points. And with the Blues he has stayed, sticking on the bottom pairing and providing a solid defensive game.

Why To Follow Them

I guess it depends on how much you like 80s music, but the more the St. Louis Blues win, the more we get to hear Gloria by Laura Brannigan. And who doesn’t want some more Gloria in their lives?

Dallas Stars

Alexander Radulov

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens and the land of broken Russian forwards. They brought Kovalchuk back from the dead for about 20 games, and they got Alexander Radulov a big payday from the Dallas Stars.

Radulov played with the Nashville Predators before having to leave to his hometown KHL. And then, when deciding to come back to the NHL, Marc Bergevin decided to give him a chance. And it went pretty well.

Pacioretty scored 35 goals beside Radulov, who seemed to thrive on the spotlight of the Montreal Canadiens, and became a fan favorite. Unfortunately, the Stars outbid the Canadiens, and he went south to Texas.

Unfortunately, Radulov’s production has fallen low in the past two years, and if the Stars want to get by the Calgary Flames, they need some more production from the winger.

Joel Hanley

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

I will be honest, I had no idea who Joel Hanley was. Most of the names were familiar to me on this list, except for surprises like Michael Bunting, but this one totally escaped my life so far.

Its not too surprising, I guess. He went undrafted and was signed by the Canadiens in 2015. He played 17 games in two seasons in Montreal, recording 6 assists, and spending time with the St. John’s Ice Caps.

He signed in Arizona, but then signed in Dallas since he spent most of the time in Tucson. In Dallas, Hanley has played the best hockey of his career, including this year, where he scored his first 2 NHL goals and played 44 games.

Why To Follow Them

The Dallas Stars are another team where this year feels like a last hurrah. Who knows how much players like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alex Radulov have left in the tank? But when those three are on the same line and firing on all cylinders, then they are one of the most impressive offensive forces in the league.

Nashville Predators

Nick Cousins

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens were just a quick pit stop on the career of Nick Cousins. In just 58 games, Cousins scored 9 goals and 22 points. Not bad for a depth position on the team. But as the Montreal Canadiens were dropping in the standings, he was flipped to the Vegas Golden Knights at the trade deadline.

Since then, Nick Cousins signed in Nashville, and continued his solid bottom 6 contributions there.

Michael McCarron

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Its hard to look back at Michael McCarron’s time as a Montreal Canadiens because he so perfectly encapsulates the woes of this team for the past decade or so. He was a first round pick, which to be fair, he was a late at 25th overall, and he was a big, physical centreman.

For so long, Montreal’s offence was dominated by small, skilled wingers, and whoever they could find to be their centers. McCarron was supposed to be the center of the future; one of many who would fail to live up to their hype.

Through two extended looks in the NHL, McCarron scored just 2 goals and 8 points in 69 games. Fortunately, he has had a career year this year in Nashville, scoring 7 goals and 14 points in 51 games. Time will tell if it will keep up, but hopefully late in his career he can find some NHL stability.

Why To Follow Them

Without starting goalie Juuse Saros, the Nashville Predators are probably the biggest underdogs in the league in their series against the Avalanche. Watch them to get a true underdog story, and to see weird stuff like this: