Canadiens: Ranking the Three Biggest Surprises at the Season's Halfway Point

Montreal Canadiens v Dallas Stars
Montreal Canadiens v Dallas Stars / Sam Hodde/GettyImages
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Jayden Struble

The biggest surprise this year has easily been the play of rookie defenseman Jayden Struble. Called up because of a bunch of injuries, Struble has been fantastic on the Canadiens' third pairing. He hasn’t been asked to do too much, but he already looks to be an NHL-calibre defenseman despite having less than 50 professional games under his belt.

Struble has just four points, two goals, and two assists in 24 games this season, but he’s been very capable. Playing about 15 minutes a night, the former second-round pick looks very comfortable patrolling the blueline, making smart play after smart play.

Admittedly, his role has been pretty sheltered, rarely facing tough assignments, but he could be ready to handle a little bit more. Remember, he was only called up due to injuries, but he’s stuck around despite Arber Xhekaj and Jordan Harris both returning. He’s managed to stay in the lineup, so the Canadiens clearly like what they see out of Struble.

And I do, too.  I thought he had the potential to be a solid bottom-four defenseman in the NHL, but he would need time in Laval first. But he played so few games down there before he was called up that it’s hard to call his success a result of his stint in the AHL. He may have just been further along in his development than we all thought. Now, it’ll be interesting to see how much better he can be.

For a brief moment, due to injuries, Struble was needed. He made the most of that opportunity. But the Canadiens have such a surplus of left shot defensemen it’s hard to say what the future holds for Struble. I anticipate them making a trade to clear the logjam at some point, but with the way he’s played thus far, he might be someone the Habs want to hold on to.