Free washer |  The Unfinished Reset of 2018

Free washer | The Unfinished Reset of 2018

Three players from the 2018 vintage were in uniform for the Canadiens on Saturday evening.

Posted at 11:49

Mathias Brunet

Mathias Brunet
The Press

22-year-old Alexander Romanov was once again the team’s most-used defenseman and excelled in his toughness, blocked shots and defensive play. This second-round pick, 38and in total, has also amassed five points in his last twelve games without participating in the power play.

Drafted three spots ahead of him, winger Jesse Ylonen, also 22, made the most of his limited playing time by scoring the tying goal against the Lightning, his fourth point in his last five games, his fifth in eleven meetings this season. We are beginning to see a quick and efficient third-line winger on the forecheck, capable of contributing to the attack.

Drafted in the third round, at 71and rank, 21-year-old defenseman Jordan Harris was playing his first career NHL game after a successful collegiate career. Harris played a typical game in 15:55: an Olympian calm, a fluidity on skates allowing him to gain a fraction of a second on his opponents, good decisions with the puck in almost all occasions, effective in recovery. In short, a successful comeback.

A fourth, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, would still be developing, in a second or third center role, if the Hurricanes had not extracted him from the Canadian with a hostile offer.

It is not yet known what Kotkaniemi’s identity will be in the NHL. He was heading for a 14-goal, 34-point season despite limited use on a fourth line. He will rise in rank next year with the departure of Vincent Trocheck.

We are strict with Kotkaniemi. True that he has not yet experienced a production worthy of a third choice in total. But because he joined the NHL early, too early, some are already making a final judgment on his worth. We forget that he was born a day before Jordan Harris, in his first steps in the National League, that he is seven months younger than Romanov and almost a year younger than Ylonen.

The Hurricanes believe in his potential enough to have taken the risk of granting him 38 million for eight years, or a little less than 5 million per year. Anyway, enough about him since he is no longer in Montreal.

Still, the 2018 vintage was a pivotal step for Marc Bergevin and the Canadian. It marked the beginning of a reset. The GM of the Canadian had amassed six choices in the first three rounds and was preparing to exchange his captain Max Pacioretty for Nick Suzuki, a second-round choice in 2019 and Tomas Tatar.

The strategy of accumulating choices has paid off. Without an additional second-round pick, there is no Romanov. Or maybe he would have been free at the start of the third round, but Harris would have had time to disappear.

The idea of ​​a revival was timely. Bergevin bought all the materials needed for the rebuild/relaunch, but he didn’t necessarily have the right architect or the right foreman. When he left, he had left the new beams to rot on the side of the road in favor of reused wood. He had instead opted to tear up plans in 2020 to garnish the club with veterans in a last hope of winning the Stanley Cup for Carey Price and Shea Weber.

The youngsters in place did not feel valued, Romanov was not deemed strong enough to play in the playoffs last summer, Cole Caufield and Kotkaniemi were left on the bench to start the playoffs, Kotkaniemi came out embittered after being returned to the press box in the final. And Harris had chosen to stay an extra year at Northeastern, to finish his studies, and also, perhaps, because the CEO couldn’t remember his first name and he felt out of place in the company. a sturdy and not very mobile defense.

This eliminatory course gave the fans some great moments. But it was an isolated exploit (did the CH really have a chance of defeating Tampa in the final?) which forced the organization to start from scratch a plan started four years earlier.

We also understand that for an effective rebuilding/resetting, we must take care of the young people. Communicate with them, understand them, advocate patience, make room for them, accept their mistakes. Even if it means missing the series. How many times have we heard Kotkaniemi bemoan the fact that we don’t talk to him? That he had lost the pleasure of playing?

Cole Caufield had 8 points in 30 games before Martin St-Louis arrived. Some wondered if he might become another screwed-up first-round pick. He has 26 points in 24 games since and was just named NHL Rookie of the Month. St-Louis has to talk to him about ten times per game on the bench.

New acquisition Justin Barron looks like a dog bowling on the ice. But we give him his 20 minutes. He is improving from game to game and gaining confidence. Like Alexander Romanov before him, he does not fear being benched after an error.

We must also have the courage to exchange veterans to give a place to these young people. In Denver a few years ago, Nathan MacKinnon took off after the departure of Matt Duchene. It had become “his” team.

Caufield took up even more space after the departure of Tyler Toffoli. Montreal got in return a first-round pick and a young man, Emil Heineman, who just signed on Monday morning. Rem Pitlick plays even more with the departure of Artturi Lehkonen, traded for Barron and a second-round pick. Pitlick, second in most rookie voting behind Caufield, has 12 points in his last 15 games.

The sequel promises to be interesting for those who follow Kaiden Guhle, Joshua Roy, Sean Farrell, Logan Mailloux, Jan Mysak and company, without forgetting the first choice of 2022, and by the same token for the fans of this team, too often chilly with regard to its young people.

Reinforcement from Sweden for the Rocket

The Canadian has therefore just contracted the hope acquired from the Calgary Flames for Tyler Toffoli, Emil Heineman. He was offered a three-year contract, but he also accepted a tryout contract with the American League in order to be able to finish the season in Laval. As he still has a contract with his Swedish formation, Leksands IF will however have the opportunity to repatriate him in October if he does not break through the formation in Montreal.

Heineman, 20, a second-round pick, 43and overall in 2020 by the Florida Panthers, is a 6-foot-1 right winger, has a style that could be akin to that of Artturi Lehkonen, albeit a little taller in height. He is very fast, effective in forechecking and defense, with a good shot. If the CH gets a third-line NHL player in addition to first and fifth-round picks for Toffoli, Kent Hughes will have succeeded in his trade, in a context of reconstruction. The Flames are winning less consistently these days. Because of their ranking, Montreal would get at least 22and overall picks if Calgary loses in the first round, possibly higher if higher-ranked clubs than him fail in the first round. Calgary should face Nashville, Vegas or Dallas in the first round.

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