Free washing machine |  Few places for young people at last

Free washing machine | Few places for young people at last

Slafkovsky, Beck, Mesar, Harris, Guhle, Xhekaj, Barron, Heineman. We’re mostly talking about youngsters and jockeying for position, at this stage of training camp, but how many spots are there to fill? Very little, in fact.

Posted at 11:25 am

Mathias Brunett

Mathias Brunett
Press

But that doesn’t take anything away from the Canadian’s desire to rejuvenate. The team is already very young. The first center, Nick Suzuki, is only 23 years old. Cole Caufield is 22, Kirby Dach is 21. On defense, the 20-year-old Kaiden Guhle’s place seems cast in concrete.

What remains as an opening? Let’s take the attack first. Let’s imagine trios just for the purposes of the exercise, to paint a portrait of the forces involved.

Caufield-Suzuki-Hoffman

Dadonov-Dvorak-Gallagher

Pitlick-Dach-Anderson

Drouin-Evans-Armia

Sean Monahan, whose return to the game is imminent, and Michael Pezzetta have yet to be placed. Unless there are wounded, there is no more room. An exchange ? We worked hard all summer to cancel contracts, but Hoffman, Armia and Drouin are still there and transactions are rare at this stage of the season.

The Canadian will no doubt want to give his first overall choice, Juraj Slafkovsky, every opportunity to stand out. Physically, the youngster looks ready to face the rigors of the NHL, and if we can combine the useful with the enjoyable, it wouldn’t be a flaw to provide the fan with an extra element of entertainment in this winter where wins are likely. Be weird

But to force Kent Hughes or Jeff Gorton to give up a veteran on waivers, Slafkovsky has to be transcendent, which hasn’t been the case after two preseason games.

With him, those closest to a position in Montreal are called Emil Heineman, once again very good Wednesdays in Toronto, Jesse Ylönen and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard.

Heineman, 21 years old, acquis des Flames de Calgary avec a choix de première round in 2022 (Filip Mesar), doit être renvoyé à son club de Leksands s’il ne mérite pas un post à Montréal in vertu d’une clause à son contrat in Sweden. Barring a major change, he will spend one more season in Europe.

Mesar and Owen Beck, both 18, are doing well so far. But they will continue their learning in the minors. Beck will join Mississauga in the Ontario Junior League. Due to his status as a European player we can decide if Mesar is ready for the American League, otherwise he could play in Kitchener, against Beck among others, or in Sweden.

We may get a bigger wave next year when contracts expire on Drouin, Byron, Monahan and Dadonov, not to mention potential trades.

There is more opening in defense. These are the forces involved, assuming Joel Edmundson is ready in time for the first game.

Guhle Savard

Matheson-Edmundson*

Schuneman–Wideman

(*Will it be healthy in time?)

Schuneman is obviously the most vulnerable defender. He is 27 years old, undrafted and has only 24 games of NHL experience.

But the youngsters in the running for a spot — Jordan Harris, Justin Barron and Arber Xhekaj — will have to outsmart him. After a tougher game Monday against the Devils, Harris and Barron, fighting for a right-hander position (ideally, Edmundson would play left) looked better Wednesday in Toronto.

Harris is in a more difficult situation as he plays on the right even though he shoots from the left. He has held this position in the past in the NCAA and World Junior Championships, but the challenge remains daunting for a 22-year-old just starting out in the NHL.

If Edmundson isn’t ready, there will be a spot for Harris, Barron or Xhekaj. If Edmundson isn’t ready AND Schuneman doesn’t deliver the goods, we could find three young guys on defense to start the season. But Hughes will probably try to get reinforcements before that happens.

Xhekaj will slot in with Wideman on Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets. Interesting, interesting…

In goal, Martin St-Louis announced a fight between Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau, but it would take a major flop on Montembeault’s part to send him back to the American League and risk losing him on waivers.

There is still a lot of hockey to play, six preseason games, with increasingly experienced rivals. The finish line is still far away!

Still uncertainty on defense in Ottawa

Senators coach DJ Smith questioned the composition of his third pair of defenses. Thomas Chabot and Artem Zub will form the first duo, rookie Jake Sanderson seems destined to start the season with Travis Hamonic, but after those four there are no certainties. Erik Brannstrom, acquired at a high price for Mark Stone a few years ago, hasn’t delivered on his promises since his arrival in Ottawa and had a tough preseason game against the Jets. We failed to trade Nikita Zaitsev, which was disappointing last year, and we might even put him on waivers. Nick Holden seems to fit the bill. Zaitsev, Brannstrom and a quartet of youngsters who seem to like Smith, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Lassi Thomson, Jacob Larsson and Maxence Guenette would therefore fight for the last available spot.


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