JF Houle paying off on Rocket bench

Coaching from the bottom to top is equally important and that is why JF Houle's work in Laval is crucial.
Syracuse Crunch v Laval Rocket - Game Three
Syracuse Crunch v Laval Rocket - Game Three / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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Players who stuck with the Habs

Joshua Roy
Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Houle had two standout rookies this year, who managed to make their NHL debuts this season, which was their first full year with the Rocket. Jayden Struble played nine games last year with the Rocket, dipping his toes in the water after finishing his four-year NCAA career. Meanwhile, Joshua Roy played 41 games with the Rocket, before earning a call-up to Montreal because of his strong play and injury trouble in the NHL.

Struble was called up when Arber Xhekaj went down with an injury, and he played so well, that the Habs were able to keep Xhekaj down with the Rocket to polish some things in his game. A former teammate of Jordan Harris at Northeastern University, Struble showed that he was physically ready for the NHL game. He slowed down toward the end of his 56 games, but he had some flashes of brilliance pairing his mobility and vision together to create some nice end-to-end rushes.

Physically he was able to handle himself with little issue, handling opponents in the corners and around the front of the net. But his mobility and quick decisions with the puck are what kept him in the lineup. An already strong side on the Canadiens blueline (the left side) became even stronger with him in the fold.

Joshua Roy was the second rookie who stood out with the Rocket and when Martin St. Louis called upon him for the Canadiens, he was ready. There was a bit of a transition period, which is expected with any player jumping up through two leagues in the same season. But when he found his footing, he proved to be a menace in the neutral zone; using his ability to create turnovers to aid the Habs' offensive attack.

Roy was well on his way to establishing himself as a bona fide second-line winger, but he emphatically proved that he was an everyday NHL player before suffering an injury. The vision and poise that he has with the puck on his stick is veteran-level good. In the offensive zone, he is a dual threat; both a deceptive playmaker and a devastating shooter, Roy has a big opportunity ahead of him for the 2024-25 season.