Montreal Canadiens: Alex Newhook On PP1 Amid Injury Return…Signals Organization’s Confidence

Newhook Has Been Put In The Best Position To Succeed Ahead Of His Return To The Lineup
Vegas Golden Knights v Montreal Canadiens
Vegas Golden Knights v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Kent Hughes's most recent prized trade acquisition, Alex Newhook, took to the ice on Friday morning, in preparation for his return to the lineup.

Now, if you’re analyzing it plainly, it’s encouraging that No. 15 is ready to return. But another reason for excitement emerged during the Canadiens' practice in Brossard, QC. Newhook joined the top powerplay unit, usurping Tanner Pearson from the bumper spot.

Given what Hughes traded to bring Newhook into the organization, his deployment is not much of a surprise. But, when you consider the potential of rust and a need for time to reacclimate to game speed. The fact that Marty put him in an important role right away. 

The decision speaks volumes to the confidence that the Canadiens have in the 2019 15th overall selection. Which, for a team like the Habs; who are starved for offence, it should ignite a flame. That damned injury bug has decimated the lineup, but we will finally get to see Marty’s vision for Newhook.

And honestly, I can't imagine a better spot for Newhook to utilize his speed and strong playmaking. His ability to stop and go on a dime should be a welcomed addition to the top unit. If he can take some of the opposing team's attention away from Juraj Slafkovsky and Cole Caufield, the team will be better for it.

With Newhook returning to the lineup for a rare 1 pm start against the Dallas Stars, Kirby Dach and Christian Dvorak are the only injured Canadiens. Which is the healthiest that the club has been since the beginning of the 2023-24 season. Newhook has exactly 32 games to build some confidence, in preparation for the 2024-25 season.

I have spoken at length about the Habs need to fill their top six with impactful players. And while I'm not convinced that he is a top six player yet, he has an opportunity to show what he is capable of. And the best part of it, is that Kirby Dach, his likely centre will only enhance and improve, or help improve Newhook's production.

I am quite excited to see what happens between now and the beginning of next season, and those feelings have only increased with the news of Newhook's return. Throw in Dach, who was on the right track to really solidifying the second line centre. And then add whoever Hughes drafts and/or acquires via trade to the mix, and the Habs' forward group should have some nice new additions.

It will no doubt take one of the draft's elite forward talents - which seems to be a group of four players - to move the needle. The bandaid options will no longer cut it, and Hughes is fully aware of that. The Dach and Newhook acquisitions only reiterated Hughes's vision, and he still might have a move or two up his sleeve.