Grading Alex Newhook's season

Alex Newhook entered the season as the new shiny toy, but NHL watchers knew that he was a speedster with the potential to grow.
Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens
Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Internal expectations, at least from Alex Newhook's perception were quite high, he was coming into a new situation, wanting to prove Colorado wrong for giving up on him and Montreal right for believing in him.

The speedster was in an unenviable situation in Colorado, still developing and trying to establish himself as a second-line centre behind Nathan MacKinnon. That is a huge feat for even the most veteran centres, but a 22-year-old is a different story completely. The Avalanche had high hopes for Newhook, but they hoped to continue to play at their best and if he couldn't secure the second centre role, then he was expendable.

Newhook's talent was obvious and Kent Hughes knew that he had the potential for so much more, but he wasn't in an environment conducive to development. With the rebuilding Canadiens, Newhook found a place where he could make mistakes and learn from them without being penalized by the coaching staff. With a weight taken off his shoulders, Newhook put on a pretty good show for his first season with the Habs.

It wasn't all smooth sailing, Newhook lost his likely would-be centre Kirby Dach in just the second game of the season, which threw a wrench in the deployment options. Then Newhook suffered a high ankle sprain, but upon returning to the lineup, he found his footing quickly and filled in the hole left by Sean Monahan's departure. On the powerplay, he filled the bumper spot role and he filled in as the Habs second-line centre.

Newhook played the least games in a season of his three-year career, aside from his six-game stint at the end of his final season with Boston College in 2020-21. The St. John's, Newfoundland native played just 55 games but produced a career-high point total (34). His 15 goals were a new career high and his 19 assists were one shy of matching his career best.

It wasn't a perfect season and understandably he would have liked to play a full 82 games. But Newhook made an impression and set a solid foundation to build on for year two. In my opinion, his season is worth a C+ - but there is so much room to grow and I think at this time next year, he will be in the A range.