The Montreal Canadiens didn’t exactly put together a flawless performance against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but it was a far cry from their outing the previous night. Samuel Montembeault kept things close, and despite being on a back-to-back with travel, they turned in a solid third period to win a game that went scoreless for 40 minutes.
As that game all but ended with an empty netter from Sean Monahan, all I could think was how brilliant it was of Kent Hughes to get Monahan, and a first-round pick, all for the price of being willing to take his contract.
Sean Monahan padding those stats well ahead of the trade deadline. #Habs up 3-1 pic.twitter.com/XmF1pDIkAs— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) November 24, 2022
It might seem odd to single out an empty-net goal scorer, but it was a pretty important contribution to the game. Columbus was pressing, and who knows what happens if he doesn’t get that turnover and fire a long distance shot. As stat-padding goals go, it was at least one that required some skill and effort.
He was also one of the best forwards possession-wise for the Habs last night, in a game where they were mostly out-possessed. Just the fact that Martin St-Louis trusts him in late-game situations like the one in which he scored, speaks to how important he has become for this team at present.
Don’t look now, but even without that goal, he’d be fourth in team scoring behind only the trio of Kirby Dach, Nick Suzuki, and Cole Caufield. Now with 12 points through 20 games, he’s on pace for around 50 points, which would be his most since the 2018-19 season. He may never be the 80-plus point player he once was, but his value is certainly much higher than it was when Hughes made that shrewd deal with Calgary.
It was a brilliant piece of business from Kent Hughes, and when the trade deadline rolls around, he’ll have a chance to parlay this newfound value into something that accelerates the rebuild.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you typically get your podcasts. We have tomorrow off, but will return with another episode following the early afternoon game this Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.