What's Going On With Rafael Harvey Pinard?

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens
Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Years two and three with the Montreal Canadiens have been drastically different for Rafael Harvey Pinard.

At this time last year, RHP was having an unbelievable season with the AHL's Laval Rocket, scoring 16-15-31 in 40 games. Due to injuries with the big club, Lavallagher earned a promotion. With it he wasted no time, the feisty, undersized winger had 14-6-20 through 34 games.

His confidence was at an all-time high, riding that wave into the offseason, the feeling was positive for him to take a big step this season. A top nine role seemed like a no-brainer and he appeared poised for a season that would increase the Habs goal output. He isn't a sniper, but he is an all situations player, who can play in the middle six and down.

The 2023-24 season for whatever reason has been disappointing for the Saguenay, QC., native. RHP has played 30 games and has just one goal and seven assists to show for it. His current production is more on par with what you would expect for a seventh-round pick.

At 25 years old, the time is now for him to make his mark and aside from a low price tag, he hasn't done much to secure a role for next year. Joshua Roy has come into the lineup and secured himself a spot in the top six. Emil Heineman also has the tools and next year with some more playing time, he will pull the rug from under RHP.

That leaves the fourth line as his option, but that doesn't come without competition. Michael Pezzetta, Jake Evans and likely Joel Armia have the three spots spoken for, so RHP is likely to rotate in and out of the lineup, which makes it tough to find any traction. As more of the Habs' top prospects work their way up through the system, if he doesn't find his way to stand out, he might lose his spot.

His give-it-all every shift style is what earned him his promotion, but the skills that showed last year haven't been the same this year. It's not quite at the level of struggle that Josh Anderson and Brendan Gallagher have dealt with, but there is no reason to believe that they will keep him around when they are paying roughly $12 million to No. 11 and 17 to take penalties and skate around the ice.

Things change and there is still time for RHP to get back to his old ways, but the competition is only going to intensify and carving out a spot will be a much taller task.