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.
After a big game from Nate Thompson and Nick Cousins, it was looking like Ryan Poehling was finding himself on the outside of the picture. In his NHL pre-season debut, he was really good. He was noticeable even before his game-winning, shorthanded assist but that alone is reason for coaches to take note of his performance.
He has been the talk of training camp since his performance against the Devils on Monday (and subsequent news about Noah Juulsen’s injury) but he showed up to play again on Wednesday. While it wasn’t as noticeable of a performance as on Monday, his stock is definitely on the rise.
It’s hard to remember that Belzile led the Laval Rocket in scoring last season. That earned him a contract with the Canadiens, and in his pre-season debut he was great with a goal and an assist in the win against the Panthers. Sure, he benefitted from Poehling’s move on his goal, but he similarly set up Matthew Peca’s goal and there’s something to be said about being in the right place at the right time consistently.
I still think he’s a long shot to make the roster but he’s a name I wasn’t really considering because of the team’s depth. He’s worth putting in the conversation now.
It was a typical game for Mike Reilly, but one thing that I noticed was his play in his own end. For all of his ability moving the puck, his defensive zone play is one thing that is more of a weakness. I thought he was good, and with an open spot on the right side, that may be enough.
There weren’t a lot of Canadiens who struggled noticeably, especially those on the bubble, and I hate judging established veterans on one game alone and for most of the team it was their first game. However, Hudon had a golden opportunity playing with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia. The issue is that Kotkaniemi and Armia struggled, leaving Hudon to not make an impression.
He did have a shot on the power play, but other than that the line was mostly invisible. I liked his positioning without the puck but that’s not the impression he wanted to leave.
Yes, I’m putting a player who didn’t even play here. It’s clear that McNiven is now fifth on the Canadiens depth chart and the only way he’s getting out of that spot is if the team trades Charlie Lindgren, or if he is claimed off waivers. I still think the organization believes in McNiven — and if Lindgren leaves, he will battle for the starting spot in Laval with Cayden Primeau.
I thought McNiven would battle Lindgren for fourth on the depth chart but it seems like he won’t get that chance.