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Anthony Richard is showing the impact the Laval Rocket can have at the NHL level

After scoring his first NHL goal, he’s looking to claim a spot in the league.

Montreal Canadiens v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Harrison Barden/Getty Images

The Laval Rocket, over recent years, have stocked up on local talent in free agency, whether with AHL or NHL contracts. Despite that, only Alex Belzile, Xavier Ouellet, and Laurent Dauphin have been regulars at the NHL level with the Canadiens. While Belzile and Ouellet were free agents, Dauphin was acquired in a trade.

Anthony Richard may just be the next person in that group. While the focus in an organization is the prospects the team drafts, finding potential NHL players in free agency is crucial as well. Richard left an impression in the Rocket’s series against the Syracuse Crunch last season. The organization left an impression on him as well, as he saw what Place Bell could be like, and had the chance to be close to friends and family. When he signed in Montreal, he saw Laurent Dauphin’s spot as something he could slot into.

He had a good training camp, and even better start to the AHL season. At the time of his call up, he led the league in goals, and was among the leaders in points. It took him two games to score his first NHL goal, where he used his speed to earn a break and beat the goaltender.

It’s still too early to say whether Richard will become an NHL regular, but without the Rocket’s playoff run a year ago, who knows whether there would have been enough to maintain the mutual interest that saw Richard sign with the Canadiens organization.

26 year old free agents with less than a handful of NHL games under their belt aren’t going to drastically change the fate of a franchise, but Richard is a good example of how Laval being a desirable destination for AHL players can have an impact on the NHL team as well.

The focus with the Rocket will always be with the prospects, especially as more and more turn professional in the coming seasons and the Canadiens continue to collect draft picks. Players like Richard are important as well, and he has a chance to make a lasting impression.