2024-25 will be a year of growth and maturing

The Montreal Canadiens added some big pieces at the draft, now the focus shifts to growing and the young core maturing.
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens
Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens have gained a great deal of talent since Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton took over the organization.

Juraj Slafkovsky and Filip Mesar were the duo's inaugural first-round draft selections, then came David Reinbacher a high-potential defenseman to complement the two forwards. Now in their third draft, this past weekend, Hughes added Ivan Demidov, perhaps the top prospect in the organization and Michael Hage, a forward with top-six forward potential. Surely the two recent picks will need a little time to develop and work their way into the Habs lineup, but they like the other three have high expectations to improve and make the team competitive.

The hopes for the upcoming season are more wins and growth throughout the National Hockey League and American Hockey League systems. But in terms of talent coming through and already on the roster, the Canadiens look to be set up quite well for success. Of course, it will take some time and diligent work from Hughes to put additional pieces into place, but things are looking positive.

A legitimate top-four group of defenders for the future has been assembled, including Kaiden Guhle, Logan Mailloux, Lane Hutson and David Reinbacher. Behind them, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj, Jayden Struble and Justin Barron are support pillars battling for the bottom four and Adam Engstrom looks like a player who could join that group. With Mike Matheson and David Savard as the two veteran pieces, the defence will need some time to grow together, but things are looking up.

The forward core looks to have a solid top six group of forwards in the fold

The Canadiens headed into the draft weekend needing to add some high-end forward talent to complement their young core up front. Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Kirby Dach and Juraj Slafkovsky have a lot of weight on their shoulders to power the teams' offence. Thankfully, they will have some help in a few short years, Demidov after this season and Hage, hopefully in the next two to three seasons.

It's hard to say this team will win with just the top-four defence and top-six forwards previously mentioned, but it's a start. And, management has done work to build some solid bottom six options and bottom pairing defenders to round out the group. Owen Beck, Oliver Kapanen and Florian Xhekaj hope to lead a group of forwards, who will support and complement the top six forwards. Goaltending also hasn't been overlooked - Jacob Fowler and Jakub Dobes hope to be protecting the Canadiens crease sooner rather than later.

With the puzzle pieces falling into place, there will be some patience required for everything to gel well and for the younger players to catch up with the core players who are close to their prime years. Rome wasn't built in one day and neither are Stanley Cup contenders, so the most crucial part of the rebuild will be the growth and maturing stage, This will come before the team establishes the label of contenders.