Alex Newhook On Pace For Career Year, All While Playing With Less Talented Linemates

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens
Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes saw something in Alex Newhook, that many Habs fans were unable to see.

He may be new to this whole team management game, but the man knows his hockey, which is precisely why Jeff Gorton brought him into the organization. Newhook had the joy of playing behind Nathan MacKinnon, which is a tall task for any centre, but let alone a young centre who needed some patience. Expectations being a whole lot different in Montreal compared to Colorado has made for an ideal development environment for Newhook.

The Newfoundland native has played a speed game his entire career, but since joining the Canadiens he has used it for so many positive things. Playing with wingers that aren't top-six calibre has likely slowed down his production a little bit, but he is on pace for a career year regardless of that. All while pacing to play only 55 games, after missing 27 games due to injury.

Newhook's career-high with the Avalanche was 33 points through 71 games and his second best before joining the Canadiens was 30 points in 82 games. This season, Newhook has played 48 games and he currently sits four points behind his career-high with 29 points. With seven games remaining, there is good reason to believe he matches 33 points.

If he doesn't, it would be hard to bet against him surpassing 33 points next year, especially with Kirby Dach back in the fold. That's not even considering who the team adds to help solidify the top six with some added firepower. Undoubtedly the Avalanche are happy with the trade, but the Canadiens believed that they got a great player when they traded for him, and that has only been further solidified.

I would think playing Dach with Newhook and say, Joshua Roy, if they don't draft a forward or make a trade for somebody who can be impactful right out of the gate next year. Roy is so smart and his skill would work perfectly with Newhook's straight-line speed. Throw Dach into the mix down the middle, with his size, vision and playmaking ability and you have yourself a pretty darn good second line.

Some people were left scratching their heads when Hughes acquired Newhook, wondering why the team would add a winger; who looked to be a third-line talent. Be that as it may still, but I respectfully disagree with that. There are areas of his game that will need to improve, but given the player he has grown into with limited playing time this year; if he is surrounded by better players, I don't see why he couldn't become a top-six winger.

If he doesn't, however, he could become a very good top-nine winger, which would set the Habs up with some pretty nice depth. No team has ever complained or been upset about having solid depth. You see it in the postseason all the time, teams with strong depth can get through the treacherous style of hockey, that the Stanley Cup playoffs bring.

Newhook has been impressive and I don't think he is done growing and developing into the player he will eventually become during his prime years.