The importance of having the top line signed for term

Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Juraj Slafkovsky are all in with the Habs.
Anaheim Ducks v Montreal Canadiens
Anaheim Ducks v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens rode on the brilliant play of their top line for the majority of the 2023-24 season.

So, while Juraj Slafkovsky had struggled in his rookie season, year two was a total revelation. If there were any causes for concern about him, he changed that with his sophomore season. Counting on him continuing to grow and improving his all-around game are two big factors why he got the contract.

Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield needed a winger who could perfectly complement their abilities. Slafkovsky showed shades of what he could do in year one and then in year two he proved that he is the perfect linemate. That is why the team offered him an eight-year extension, worth $60.8 million.

Like Caufield did before Slafkovsky, both players opted to make a little less money than their captain. While it isn't a significant number, it's indicative of the fact that they play for the love of the game and passion for the sport. Certainly, this is their career and livelihood, but they know that they are making great money, so making less than their captain shows their respect for him.

Nick Suzuki leads, but his linemates complement him

The reason why it is so important for the team to have their top three forwards signed for term is because it allows the team to keep improving and the three to develop and grow together with the culture intact. If the team is going to be successful, having the top player's buy-in and getting the rest of the group to follow is essential. It's obvious that while it's still only a couple of years in, the young forward group is a family and they have the character to drive this team into the Promise Land.

With a few more young forwards hoping to play their way into the lineup over the next couple of seasons, the importance of having three core forwards as mentors is huge. Learning, growing and developing together while focusing on playing like a brotherhood will help the team achieve great things. Coaching and development are very important aspects of what the Canadiens are hoping to do, and having young, experienced forwards helping the rookies will build a great system.

Getting Slafkovsky signed before his entry-level deal expires avoids any offer sheet headaches, and it allows him to focus on hockey. It also allows for the top line to continue improving, while maintaining their goal of becoming contenders. It also shows potential free agents that Montreal is a great place to grow and the team is heading in the right direction.