Five X-Factors For The 2024-25 Montreal Canadiens

Kirby Dach and Kaiden Guhle would be the two honourable mentions; as they are on the cusp of being as impactful as the five players mentioned. But leaving them off the list, speaks to the make up of the Habs roster.
Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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Mike Matheson

Mike Matheson
Philadelphia Flyers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Love him or hate him, Mike Matheson is a polarizing player for the Canadiens; he sometimes cheats defensively to create offence and it doesn't always work out. But the odds of a player making a mistake, who is on the ice for nearly 30 minutes each night are fairly good. However, without his services on the backend, the Canadiens would be without a true powerplay quarterback and a solid penalty killer.

I rank Matheson as the second X Factor for next year, simply because whether he stays or goes, he will be a big topic of chatter. I was one with the opinion that moving Matheson at the Trade Deadline, while his value was at its peak, made a lot of sense. The team is certainly doing well with him still in the fold, which was likely the opposite of what the case would have been had he been moved.

I know, as most of us do; that Lane Hutson isn't going to come into the NHL and play on the top pair right away, It would be ridiculous to expect him to, and the patience with his development would be all for naught if that was decided to be the course of action. Keeping Matheson ensures that the top powerplay stays relatively the same, on the blueline, anyway; but it also gives Hutson time to adjust on the second unit and learn from watching.

Matheson, if dealt, will certainly retrieve a good return, but if he remains, he will continue to be one of the Habs most important pieces. Without him in the lineup, there are an awful lot of minutes to fill and some inexperienced players who would have to do so. Jordan Harris, Jayden Struble and Arber Xhekaj could certainly benefit from an increase in playing time, but throwing them into big penalty-killing and power play roles doesn't ensure that the position is filled properly, not right away, anyway.