Habs Forwards Stymied Through Last Two Games

Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators
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Reasons For Optimism

Lane Hutson
2024 Beanpot Tournament - Championship / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

I, as a Canadiens fan through and through, want for the team to perform to their abilities. And I would never suggest losing on purpose to benefit the team’s draft odds. But in a small way, I understand that losses at this point of the season could be the difference between a pick in the top five of the draft or a slide to the 10-20 range. 

Thankfully, on top of the Habs' two draft picks in the upcoming draft, there are a few players who have the potential to join the team at next season’s start. The trio are all defensemen, but Lane Hutson is a play driver and a very likely candidate to improve the offense's production. Logan Mailloux has shown tremendous growth defensively, while still showing his offensive skills and David Reinbacher hasn’t scratched his ceiling yet.

There is no telling where the Canadiens will draft; there is nothing set in stone, firstly until the draft order is determined. Secondly, which is equally important is who the organization deems as the best player available. Having selected a defenseman in the first round in 2023, it feels like the writing is on the wall to select a forward. 

It’s been debated and will continue to be for a long time - if the Habs should have drafted a forward last year -  instead of a defender. And that chatter has picked up, given the strength of defence in the top end of the 2024 draft. But there are some intriguing names and with the aforementioned top-end defence available, a forward or two could slide into Hughes’s lap.

With a big summer involving more of Kent’s trade magic and a potential top-10 pick, the Canadiens' top six should be much improved next year. Even if whoever they draft needs a little extra time to develop. Joshua Roy and Kirby Dach look to be two-thirds of a good second line - and Newhook can slot in until the Canadiens pick is ready. 

Cayden Lindstrom would beef up the forward core, and perhaps allow Dach to shift to the wing. Ivan Demidov, while it’ll be a few seasons, could slot in beside either Nick Suzuki or Dach. Berkly Catton, I think has the potential to play in the NHL right away, just like Zach Benson did this year and he could be a perfect complement to either of the first two lines. 

If the three forwards aren’t available, along with Tij Iginla and Cole Eiserman, one of the defensemen could be a legitimate option. And while it isn’t ideal, sharpening your pitchforks would be a big overreaction. Quality NHL defensemen don’t grow on trees and with the right package, a forward can be acquired through a trade.