Montreal Canadiens: Predicting The Future Bottom Six Forwards

OSHAWA, CANADA - NOVEMBER 03: Owen Beck #16 of the Peterborough Petes skates with the puck against the Oshawa Generals during the third period at Tribute Communities Centre on November 03, 2023 in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
OSHAWA, CANADA - NOVEMBER 03: Owen Beck #16 of the Peterborough Petes skates with the puck against the Oshawa Generals during the third period at Tribute Communities Centre on November 03, 2023 in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens future top six is starting to look promising, but it is more difficult to discuss who is going to fit into the Habs bottom six forwards.

Simply put, teams generally have their less talented players on the fourth line. Then the third line serves as a line that can complement the second and fourth lines. When all four lines are rolling, the strength of the depth shines through.

If you had two pots, one labelled top six potential forwards and the other with the bottom six ones. When you divide the players amongst the two piles you can see the potential difference and their differing trajectories. This is precisely why it is so important to have a third and fourth line that serves their roles and provides support to their top six counterparts.

The bottom six are equally as important to the team as the top players. Because they create energy and allow the top six players to create offence, everything moves ahead in unison. Almost like puzzle pieces falling into place, with each piece equally as important to the team’s success as the next.

Let’s have a look at the pieces that could potentially form the bottom half of the Canadiens puzzle.

The Bottom Six Cast Of Prospects

When you look at a team’s depth chart or watch video, you more than likely skim past the bottom six. They won’t likely wow the crowd with their skills, but they will be very important during crunch time and the playoffs.

A team full of first-line players would be fun, but without a line ranking system and players categorized accordingly, good players will play reduced minutes. That isn’t exactly a great way to manage your assets, because you want your top players playing big, important minutes. The third and fourth lines set the tone, and they keep opponents honest, more physically and defensively, but the offence rears its head at times.

It doesn’t have to be guys who can’t score or don’t have the ability to score. It’s just guys who can be like insulation, just filling in wherever they need to keep things hot. You can’t peg these players or limit their abilities.

Third Line – Owen Beck, Florian Xhekaj & Emil Heineman

There are a plethora of options to fill the third-line roles for the Canadiens of the future but be it size, skillset or ability, I feel these three make a lot of sense together.

Beck is a prototypical two-way center, who is great in his zone and strong in the faceoff dot. He uses his speed and smarts to outwit opponents, and his shot is coming along nicely. He has been relied upon by his coaches to keep the puck out of the defensive zone, and he has done it well.

Xhekaj will create space for the line and beat the snot out of anybody who asks. He is more than just a meathead, and this has been on full display with the OHL’s Brampton Bulldogs. Xhekaj will be the disruptor, who is developing a nice offensive touch and playmaking.

Heineman is the guy who will put the puck in the net, and he doesn’t need a lot of time to do it. Defensively he has his flaws, but he was taking strides before injury. You can accept the flaws a bit because his shot and offensive prowess are brilliant strengths in his game.

Fourth Line – Oliver Kapanen, Luke Tuch & Jared Davidson

Kapanen captained his home team Finland during the World Juniors and has been marinating in the Finnish Liiga with. He has the Kapanen speed like Uncle Sami and cousin Kasperi, he and uses it intelligently. With Kalpa in the Finnish Liiga, he has five goals and four assists in 22 games and he has continued to grow his game down the middle.

Tuch is a little smaller than his brother Alex, but they both play a heavy game with and without the puck. When he hits, he can separate the player from the puck. He has shown power forward flashes, and his offence is sprouting with the BU Terriers.

Davidson suffered the same fate as Heineman, both went down with injuries early in the season. But if his final two years of junior are indicative of anything, Davidson can beat goalies with his powerful shot, and the coach can rely on him. He isn’t overly physical, but he protects the puck well and could help the power play in a pinch.

This list could be completely off the rails, but these are six players that I like to analyze and believe will look good for the Canadiens. There are also guys like Filip Mesar, Joshua Roy and guys yet to be drafted who could be third-line guys, with second-line upside.

Next. David Reinbacher A Big Piece Of Habs Puzzle. dark

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