3 mistakes the Montreal Canadiens and Kent Hughes cannot make this offseason

The Montreal Canadiens must move into the next phase of their rebuilding project, and the margin of error is shrinking for general manager Kent Hughes.
Apr 16, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Cole Caufield (22) and teammates
Apr 16, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Cole Caufield (22) and teammates / Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
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We are heading into the third full season of the Montreal Canadiens rebuild, and now is the time for general manager Kent Hughes to start seeing his team grow not necessarily into contenders just yet, but a team that will entice many to believe is on the “up-and-up.” 

Hey, contention would be a bonus, but getting the best of teams like the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Florida Panthers won’t be the simplest of tasks. There is a good chance Montreal jumps the Ottawa Senators, and perhaps the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning finally backslide, but the latter two probably won’t be enough of a regression for the Habs to realistically get the best of them just yet. 

However, the good news is this: They don’t need an outstanding finish in the Atlantic Division just yet. Hughes must keep making this organization better than they were the year before, and eventually, the playoffs will come around. 

Kent Hughes must keep the Canadiens moving forward in the 2024 offseason

It won’t be acceptable if Hughes and the Canadiens take the dreaded “step back.” Through his first two seasons with the Habs, that hasn’t been an issue, and Hughes helped this team improve from 68 points in 2022-23 to 76 this season. If he allows the Habs to get to around 85 points in that third year of building for 2024-25, the following year (2025-26) should be fun for Montreal if he does everything correctly. 

So, what kind of pitfalls could stagnate the Habs in what has so far been a systemic rebuild? In the following slides, we outlined three major mistakes he must avoid to keep this organization’s road to success on the smoothest possible path, both for 2024-25 but also into the latter half of the decade.