One thing is clear when watching this team over the last few weeks: there are simply too many players who do not fit in, and it is impossible to expect the young core of Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle, Juraj Slafkovský, and others to perform better than they are.
The good news is that most of the young players had good moments against the Lightning. They are the pieces that matter. They are the pieces that will be here in two or three years when some of the others may not even be around in two or three months.
You can argue about how the power play is being coached (and there’s an issue there without a doubt), you can argue about how Martin St-Louis is fitting pieces of the puzzle together when he makes his lineup, but the reality is, no matter how he does it, it will end up looking like an abstract painting.
Some of the issue will resolve itself. There are some expiring contracts like Jonathan Drouin and Evgenii Dadonov. Other players have several years remaining, and they may be harder to dispatch, but general manager Kent Hughes has proven to be creative since taking over.
The fact of the matter is, until this team starts to look different on paper, we can’t expect it to look different on the ice. Changes will happen — this is a rebuild, remember — but the worries about the Canadiens finishing too high in the standings are way beyond where we are now. The Canadiens moved into seventh in the NHL Draft Lottery standings with the loss, and it’s easier to see them falling farther back than it is moving up. Then you can factor in another potential top-10 or top-15 pick from the Florida Panthers. In a draft with a lot of talent, that’s a type of haul that can make a difference even without a lottery win.
Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you get your podcasts. Happy holidays to you all, and we’ll be back after the Canadiens face the Florida Panthers.