The Montreal Canadiens roster has gone through a few minor changes since last season, but has a lot of the same pieces in place. Aside from better health, there are not many new faces to focus on in training camp with the Canadiens this year.
We could see players like Jesse Ylonen and Rafael Harvey-Pinard take on full-time NHL roles this season but they were playing regularly in the second half of last season anyway.
Their absence will be felt on the Laval Rocket roster, but a quick glimpse at who is under contract and which players are likely to be sent down shows an incredible lineup for the Rocket in 2023-24.
Nothing will be finalized until the end of training camp, and of course injuries will occur, but when trying to pencil in lines, the number of young players with high potential at every position for the Rocket is going to make them a must watch team this season.
Down the middle, it is pretty obvious all of Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach, Christian Dvorak, Sean Monahan and Jake Evans will be on the Canadiens roster. That still leaves Lias Andersson, Riley Kidney, Phillip Maillet and Mitchell Stephens playing center for the Rocker with Jan Mysak possibly playing the middle as well.
One the wings, the Habs have plenty of options on one-way contracts, but prospects with great potential such as Filip Mesar, Sean Farrell, Emil Heineman, Joshua Roy, Xavier Simoneau and Jared Davidson will battle for ice time on the wings with more veteran faces like Gabriel Bourque, Lucas Condotta, Nathan Legare and possibly Michael Pezzetta if he gets sent down.
The Canadiens will have some moving parts on the blue line, but will likely have to send down two of Justin Barron, Chris Wideman and Gustav Lindstrom. Whichever two of those get demoted, they will join Logan Mailloux, Jayden Struble, Mattias Norlinder, Nic Beaudin and William Trudeau to form a young, but ridiculously talented group of defenders.
In goal, Cayden Primeau is likely getting sent down after passing through waivers and will join Jakub Dobes who is coming off two great seasons of NCAA hockey.
A potential opening night lineup could look something like:
Farrell – Andersson – Mesar
Heineman – Kidney – Roy
Davidson – Maillet – Simoneau
Mysak – Stephens – Bourque
Struble – Barron
Trudeau – Mailloux
Norlinder – Beaudin
That is a tremendously fun lineup to keep an eye on. There are top prospects lined up at every position with a couple of AHL veterans to show the kids the ropes at the pro level.
Once the injuries piled up and players were called up last season the Rocket lineup started to look like a ECHL group for a while. It is easy to go months without watching an AHL game as they are more difficult to find on TV and that lineup was not really worth watching at the end of the year anyway.
The 2023-24 season will not be as easy to ignore. This lineup would be extremely fun to watch from both a talent and development angle. Some AHL teams take more of a winning approach, while others focus on developing players for the next level. It sure looks like the 2023-24 Laval Rocket will be developing plenty of young talent for the Canadiens roster for years to come and it will be fascinating to watch.
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