Montreal Canadiens: Holding Onto Veterans For Too Long Could Haunt The Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens Introduce Kent Hughes
Montreal Canadiens Introduce Kent Hughes / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
2 of 3

U25 Defenders Would Benefit From Increased Ice Time

Arber Xhekaj, Ross Johnston
Anaheim Ducks v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The suggested biggest issue with potentially moving on from Savard and/or Matheson is that they mask youthful mistakes. 

I answer back with: The best way for the young guys to learn and acclimate is playing in important situations. That is hard to do when veterans are eating up those minutes. I will go as far as saying, if there were a more appropriate time for the young guys to play, it’s now, before the start of the 2024-25 season.

You can live with those mistakes, especially when the rewards are so significant. On any given night since the Sean Monahan trade, the only player older than 25 years old on the powerplay is Matheson. Now, I know that the defensive side of the puck is a different animal, but both Harris and Xhekaj could play consistently in a penalty-killing role. 

The benefits that will come from the young, core players playing in high-importance situations, will show when the Habs arrive in their window of contention. 

Also to be noted: I’m not suggesting that I want the team to lose games, but there’s an obvious benefit to a decrease in the team’s performance. The quality of the Canadiens first-round selection in June will increase. Matheson and/or Savard will bring in more picks or under-25 talent, both of which will help the team. 

Monahan got dealt, and while it hurt, the Canadiens were able to absorb the impact with little issue. And the idea of him returning in the summer after a Stanley Cup run isn’t out of the question. So why isn’t that same idea considered for one of the two veteran Canadiens defenders? 

This team isn’t ready to compete, but when they are, it doesn’t simply mean they will go to the Stanley Cup final. For the young core, that is okay, in fact it’s expected. And that’s precisely why you don’t keep guys that are already 30 or swiftly approaching, since they will be 32-33-34 years old before it happens.