Canadiens: Former Rocket Farmhand Alex Kile Making Good in the ECHL

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While Belzile’s story is one of the most fascinating in the Canadiens' recent history, it also set a precedent for a Rocket team that, in many ways, was the underdog in pretty much every arena they played in that season. Aside from Belzile, the rest of the Rocket’s lineup was largely composed of unproven prospects and AHL veterans who either struggled mightily or were recalled by Montreal/traded at some point in the season. As was typical of the aforementioned Bergevin era, his tendency to plug holes in the Habs lineup rather than fix them over and over and over also applied to Laval, with proven AHL contributors like Kenny Agostino and Michael Chaput being forced into regular roles with the Canadiens early in the 2018-19 season.

As a result, guys like Kile were able to slide into the lineup simply based on their work ethic, something Bouchard prioritized when it came to ice time. Being loaned to Laval from Maine along with goaltender Connor Lacouvee, Kile posted 5-2-7 totals over a then career-high 33 games, becoming one the more dependable forwards in Laval’s bottom-six alongside current Canadiens fan favourite Michael Pezzetta. While both the Canadiens and the Rocket would end up missing the playoffs (even as both made things interesting in their respective divisions), things would only continue to improve for Laval, as the Canadiens finally relieved themselves of the unbelievably messy and chaotic Marc Bergevin era. With a farm system now centred entirely around development and the Canadiens' sole focus being on the future, Laval has revamped their roster around Montreal’s future, yet have still managed to maintain a nice balance with their veteran additions as well, and ultimately, guys like Kile set the standard that players like Brandon Gignac, Phillipe Maillet, and Mitchell Stephens have since carried on. 

While Montreal’s relationship with the ECHL continues to be a mess as the Trois Rivieres Lions depth and roster stability have fallen off a cliff, guys like Kile are always an injury away from finding their next AHL opportunity, and with his performance thus far in the 2023-24 season, there’s a chance we’ll see Alex Kile facing the Laval Rocket once more, sooner, rather than later.