Laval Rocket blueline offers a glimpse into the future

They say offense wins game and defence wins championships; well the Habs have certainly built up a strong foundation for their defence of the future.
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits / Terry Wyatt/GettyImages

The Laval Rocket are in do-or-die mode, with two games remaining on their schedule, they need to pull away from the two matchups against the Belleville Senators with two wins if they want to experience post-season play.

One thing they can be excited about is the youth that they have available on the blueline. With the Montreal Canadiens season finished, they sent down a trio of defensemen to beef up the blue line. Logan Mailloux, Jayden Struble and Justin Barron will join the club for the final playoff push.

Barron played the majority of the second half of his 2023-24 season with the Rocket, where he posted 11 points through 30 games. Defensively he still has some work to do, but there are some tools that he has that make him a nice addition for the Rocket playoff push. He is big and mobile, and offensively he is a good play-creator with a heavy one-touch shot.

Struble joined the Canadiens lineup due to injury and by the time Jordan Harris returned to the lineup, Struble made it tough to be taken out of the lineup. His poise, strength and mobility made him a staple in the bottom four of the defence. He isn't likely to be a big point producer, but he settles pucks with ease and can transport the puck up the ice with ease.

Mailloux was impressive all year with the Rocket in his debut season in the American Hockey League. He looks to have the highest offensive potential of all the Habs blueliners not named Lane Hutson. I expect that if the Rocket can clinch a playoff berth, Mailloux will be a big reason why and he will be helpful once they get in.

With David Reinbacher on the third pair, it's a perfect opportunity for him to learn from Mailloux and Barron on the right side. Reinbacher plays a mature game, but watching the two older defenders and how they carry themselves should be huge for him. He may even surprise us all with another spur-of-the-moment offensive dash, where he displays his hands and an accurate shot.

Once a weakness, the right side of the Habs defence future looks much improved and like a strength. Aside from Reinbacher, the other two got some NHL action, albeit just one game for Mailloux, which helps them assess where they need to improve. Next season will be another one with a focus on growth, but the AHL experience could have them prepared for their next call-up to the big club.

Meanwhile, Struble has a bit of a muddier path to the Canadiens blueline; while he did play in the NHL this year, his spot next year isn't guaranteed. Mike Matheson and Kaiden Guhle are shoe-ins for the top two roles. So that leaves a battle between Lane Hutson, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj and Struble - unless a trade happens, starts will be on a rotational basis, if not down in Laval.