Montreal Canadiens: Laval Rocket Kick Off Season With Lineup Filled With Future Habs

Sep 26, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Joshua Roy (97) prepares for a face-off against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Joshua Roy (97) prepares for a face-off against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens kicked off their 2023-24 season two nights ago with a shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

They held their own against a Stanley Cup contender, but blew a late 5-3 lead and could not find the back of the net in the skills competition so they gained only one point in the standings on opening night.

There were some promising performances in the game that should bode well for the future of the franchise. Alex Newhook looked great and his linemate Juraj Slafkovsky played his best and most confident game of NHL hockey to date. Kirby Dach centered that pair and it gave hope the team found a tremendous second forward line that can play together for a long time.

While the NHL lineup showed it had some key pieces of the future on the ice, the Laval Rocket are about to start their calendar of games and they also have some future cornerstones pieces of the Canadiens in the lineup.

The Rocket begin their 2023-24 season tonight against the Abbotsford Canucks. While many AHL teams employ plenty of older veterans who can score but don’t have an NHL future, the Rocket are filled with young players that are on the cusp of joining the NHL in the next couple of seasons.

The Canadiens affiliate has not locked in their lineup for tonight quite yet, but their last practice leading up to their season opener featured some exciting young lines, with a couple of veteran pieces sprinkled in.

Their top line had Philippe Maillet between 21 year old Emil Heineman and 20 year old Joshua Roy. Maillet is a veteran who played in the KHL for the past two seasons, but Heineman and Roy are youngsters who showed in training camp they are just on the verge of breaking into the NHL. Either of them could be the first player called up this season.

Their second line had Riley Kidney, a skilled playmaking 20 year old center with Xavier Simoneau and Lias Andersson on the wings. Andersson turns 25 today and that makes him a bit of an elder statesman on this team. Simoneau is a 22 year old who had a strong rookie pro season a year ago as an all-around contributor and will look to build on his 38 points.

Joel Armia and Mitchell Stephens appear to be on the third line and they represent a veteran duo, though Stephens is only 25. They are playing with Sean Farell, a terrific playmaker and skilled puck carrier who was one of the top point producers in college hockey last season. The 21 year old has a chance to turn in to a special setup man in the NHL in the future.

The team’s fourth line looks like it will feature Jared Davidson making his pro debut after a stellar final Junior season in the WHL. He scored 80 goals over the past two seasons and will look to make an immediate impact at the pro level this season. He will play alongside Jan Mysak who did not pile up points last season but is just 21 and could develop into a muck and grind fourth liner that is a pain to play against.

That puts at least one, if not two, skilled young players on each line. These are all players that could have an NHL future, and players like Roy, Farrell and Heineman could turn in to key players for the Canadiens down the road.

We have not even mentioned the defense yet. Logan Mailloux and Jayden Struble could be the team’s top pairing and they are both big, strong, skilled defenders who can handle a heavy workload at the pro level at a young age. Mattias Norlinder and William Trudeau also looked great at training camp and will look to make their way on to the NHL roster soon.

Jakub Dobes will get the start in goal after two strong seasons of college hockey. The 22 year old netminder will be making his pro debut and has the size, athleticism and resume to possibly become the goaltender of the future.

Every position is loaded with strong, young talent and it will make the Laval Rocket a team that needs to be watched this season.

Next. Habs Top Six Forwards Loaded With Top Line Talent. dark

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