After every Montreal Canadiens game this pre-season, we will look at a few players whose stock goes up or down. This doesn’t mean that they are favoured to make the opening night roster or not, but simply that their outlook is on the rise, or not.
Entering the season, I struggled with the Canadiens depth and made Thompson my defacto 13th forward. I just didn’t think he had enough in him to earn a regular spot. Against the Devils on Monday, and even in the Red vs. White scrimmage, he has shown a lot more offensive instincts than I remembered him showing last season.
He looks to be skating well, and at this point the fourth line centre spot is his to lose.
Like Thompson, Cousins is a player a lot of people had counted out or simply couldn’t find room for. Chemistry Thompson, his drive to the net and shot led directly to Thompson’s goal. The two seem to have chemistry, which bodes well for both of their chances to start the season in the lineup.
After a very strong rookie camp, all eyes were on Evans to see how he would respond in his first NHL pre-season. The answer was well. He held his own on his line with Phil Varone and Riley Barber and scored the winning goal with an individual effort shorthanded.
The goal he scored is exactly the reason why he may be positioned to be the most NHL-ready of all of the prospects fighting for a spot. His full AHL season had him deal with adversity and he may very well be the first player called up. Plays like on Monday night show why.
Bonus Penny Stock That Will Only Go Up: Cayden Primeau
It will take horrific circumstances for Primeau to make this team (knock on wood if you’re with me). However, Primeau will be in the NHL one day, and it might not take too long. He was great in his first professional hockey game, and it would shock me if he isn’t the starter in Laval very quickly.
Honourable Mention: Jordan Weal, Nick Suzuki, Charles Hudon
This line was good in the Red vs White scrimmage and they were good again last night. There’s likely not room for all three in the opening night lineup, but they impressed me for the second straight day.
It was always going to be an uphill battle for Dutch Gretzky to make the team, and he wasn’t necessarily bad against the Devils but by the same token with the level of competition in camp if you’re not moving up, you’re moving down. He wasn’t as good as the two players on his line (Thompson and Cousins) and players on other lines showed more than him as well.
Riley Barber/Phil Varone
Similar to Weise, but the two of them were not remarkable in their Canadiens debuts. They were longshots, but with their experience it was always a possibility that they jumped into the conversation like Kenny Agostino and Michael Chaput a year ago. It’s still early but Monday night didn’t do anything to help their chances to avoid waivers.
You could argue how much of a chance Brook has to make the roster, but to make it over veterans he will have to make it a no brainer, especially with only seven professional games under his belt. He wasn’t outright bad, but he didn’t prove to me that he’s ready for the NHL right now.
Bonus Penny Stock That Can’t Go Lower: The Powerplay
It wasn’t full strength, but... eventually it has to go up, right? Right?