Montreal Canadiens winger Michael Pezzetta was a great story last season. Kind of like Arber Xhekaj a year later, Pezzetta came out of nowhere to make an impression in training camp and would find himself on the NHL roster.
Pezzetta was sent down after the team’s 2021 training camp, but his camp and preseason slate of games was strong enough that he was one of the first players called up. He went through some bumps in the road, perhaps trying to do too much which resulted in poor penalties, but he hung on and played 51 NHL games in 2021-22.
He didn’t score a lot, five goals and 11 points, but he provided a physical presence and was a trusted fourth line winger that did his job. For whatever reason, he hasn’t seemed to be bringing the same impact this season.
The 24 year old winger was a healthy scratch for a long time to begin the season. He has played just nine of the team’s 22 games so far, and has zero points. While he stood out from time to time last season due to his aggressiveness and physicality, we haven’t seen it this season.
Just how much longer will he hang on to a roster spot at this rate? If the NHL were a true meritocracy, Pezzetta would not be the first player that should be sitting. Joel Armia and Evgenii Dadonov, two veterans with small production and big contracts, would be more deserving of some time in the minors.
However, you would lose any trade value that may exist from those veteran wingers if they are even shipped to the Laval Rocket. But, there are players on the Rocket who are pushing for a call up and that can’t happen without someone else going down.
Jesse Ylonen has 15 points in 20 games so far this season and the 22 year old appears ready for a full-time NHL role. Anthony Richard has been a pleasant surprise for the Rocket this season, scoring 12 goals in 20 games and deserves a look at the NHL level.
Xavier Simoneau is also doing his best to earn a call up but he would require an NHL contract before that could happen. He will likely have to wait until next season.
However, if Ylonen and Richard continue to produce at this rate, and Pezzetta continues at his current rate, it won’t be long before Pezzetta hits waivers to make room for someone else.
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