Canadiens: Rafael Harvey-Pinard's Return a Big Boost For the Canadiens

Colorado Avalanche v Montreal Canadiens
Colorado Avalanche v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Rafael Harvey-Pinard had not played a game since November 14th, when he returned to the Canadiens lineup for their contest against the San Jose Shark on January 11th, a disappointing 3-2 loss. But make no mistake about it: his return was very important for the Habs. The Canadiens, already injury-riddled, needed good news on the injury front, and RHP’s return certainly provided it.

 And Harvey-Pinard is an important piece to the Canadiens, one that I think has flown under the radar by many. Last season, he busted onto the scene, scoring 14 goals in just 34 games, providing much-needed secondary scoring to the lineup. This season, he had gone 15 games without a goal before scoring a big goal for the Canadiens against the Avalanche on Monday night.

It was unrealistic to expect Harvey-Pinard to maintain his pace from last season and his 24% shooting percentage, but he still had the makings of a guy who could pot 20 in a bottom-six role. It may be a little late for that now, with half the season already behind us and Harvey-Pinard sitting at just one goal, but perhaps the goal will get him going.

Goalscoring isn’t the only thing Harvey-Pinard provides, though. The 2019 7th rounder also brings versatility, capable of playing up and down the lineup and an ability to kill penalties. But perhaps the most important thing he brings is energy. With Brendan Gallagher getting up there in age, someone else needs to fill his shoes by giving it 100% every single shift. Both Gallagher and Harvey-Pinard have that drive that pushes them to be amongst the hardest workers on the ice every single night, and teammates often feed off of that.

It also lends itself to some ugly goals, much like the one RHP scored on Monday versus the Avalanche. But hey, they all count for the same amount, no matter how greasy the goal is. And I think he’s going to score quite a few more of those when it’s all said and done. For years that was Brendan Gallagher’s bread and butter, and still is to an extent, just not quite as often.

Now it seems Harvey-Pinard has the chops to fulfill that role for the Canadiens. There’s a reason the fans were calling him Lavallagher before he was a mainstay in Montreal. Martin St. Louis seems to agree with that sentiment, too, as Harvey-Pinard played a season-high 16:21 against Colorado. He may keep riding him if he can start scoring more, too.

But perhaps the most significant asset Harvey-Pinard brings is depth scoring on a cheap deal. Assuming he can start lighting the lamp on a more consistent basis. RHP has a cap hit of just $1.1 Million for each of the next two seasons. You want to maximize that before he becomes more expensive, which would undoubtedly be the case if he finishes this year strong and pops out 20 goals next year.

I’m no betting man, but with the effort and energy Harvey-Pinard brings, it’s not difficult to imagine him going on a hot streak. If he’s anything like Gallagher, he won’t be denied.