Two of the Canadiens’ most promising kids are having utterly reverse seasons and the way they obtained to the NHL could clarify why. With a 3rd middle in Ryan Poehling discovering his method within the execs, the Habs have an extremely attention-grabbing experiment happening.Nick Suzuki|David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty ImagesThere is an interesting experiment happening in Montreal, although I’m unsure if the Canadiens understand it. Montreal has three younger facilities of observe in Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Nick Suzuki and Ryan Poehling. Whereas Poehling is discovering his method on the professional degree proper now, Suzuki is having fun with his first 12 months of NHL hockey, whereas Kotkaniemi is grinding by way of his second.
Having stated that, Kotkaniemi is on the shelf proper now with a concussion. It’s the second damage he has sustained this season after an earlier groin situation. Now right here’s the gorgeous statistic: with out Kotkaniemi, the Canadiens are 10-2-1 this 12 months. When he has been within the lineup, they’re 7-10-5. The actual fact this occurred throughout two totally different components of the season makes it much more hanging – as soon as could be a coincidence, however twice is damning.
Kotkaniemi went straight from the draft to the NHL after the Canadiens chosen him third general in 2018. That draft class was weak down the center, however the Habs wished a middle in order that they made a attain, leaving Brady Tkachuk and Quinn Hughes on the board. Ottawa’s Tkachuk has 65 profession factors to Kotkaniemi’s 39 whereas enjoying in six extra video games, whereas the defenseman Hughes will probably move Kotkaniemi’s profession offensive totals in his rookie season with the Vancouver Canucks.
Merely put, the Canadiens rushed Kotkaniemi into the NHL. He had a ton of uncooked potential and a pleasant body to construct on after they chosen him, however then he wasn’t given the time to truly develop earlier than being thrown into the hearth.
Suzuki, then again, had the advantage of time on his aspect. Initially drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights of their wonderful maiden class of 2017, he was acquired by Montreal earlier than final season within the Max Pacioretty commerce. Suzuki spent the 12 months within the OHL, the place he was ultimately traded from Owen Sound to Guelph, the place the Storm had been loading up for a playoff run.
Certain sufficient, Suzuki ended up being a celebrity for the Storm. He was named post-season MVP after serving to Guelph win the championship in spectacular vogue. Not solely did Suzuki put up a beguiling 42 factors in 24 playoff video games, however he (together with linemates Isaac Ratcliffe and MacKenzie Entwistle) shut down Ottawa’s high line within the closing sequence. Now remember, the 67’s hadn’t misplaced a single playoff recreation till that final sequence. After Ottawa beat Guelph within the first two video games, Suzuki went all Child Patrice Bergeron on them and the Storm received 4 straight to take the title.
For a participant who was simply kinda meh on the world juniors (and to be honest, everybody on Canada was fairly meh final 12 months), this was an enormous assertion for Suzuki. He was a two-way drive and he was prepared for the following step.
Coming to Montreal this fall meant a ton of strain, however Suzuki has proven that he was prepared. He’s been a stable possession participant for a workforce that has crushed a whole lot of outdoors expectations and he’s tied for seventh on the workforce with 16 factors by way of 35 video games.
As for Poehling, his season obtained off to a bitter observe on account of a concussion, which wrecked his coaching camp. He performed minimal minutes throughout a four-game NHL stint in November, then headed again to AHL Laval. In his final 5 video games with the Rocket, Poehling had six factors and since then, he has performed 4 extra video games with Montreal. The 11 minutes he logged in opposition to Calgary on Thursday evening was a season excessive, so clearly the Habs aren’t placing a lot of a load on the 20-year-old – and that’s nice.
If Poehling finally ends up going again right down to Laval with the mandate of dominating, I don’t see an issue with that both. He can be a stable, two-way middle sooner or later and if it’s not at present, then what’s the push? The Canadiens are in a playoff place and may afford to ship certainly one of their youngest again for extra seasoning. Heck, as soon as Kotkaniemi is wholesome, he ought to in all probability head to Laval himself.
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Tags: montreal canadiens, nhlConnect: In regards to the AuthorRyan KennedyRyan Kennedy is the affiliate senior author and draft/prospect professional at The Hockey Information. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all referred to as his home. He lives in Toronto together with his spouse and youngsters the place he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.