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Joel Armia: a heavy ball and chain for the CH

Fortunately, the Montreal Canadiens’ 2023-2024 season is fast approaching.

And there’ll be field hockey this month, now that it’s September!

While most Tricolore fans are mentally prepared for the CH to have another tough season and miss the playoffs, there’s plenty of excitement surrounding the return of field hockey.

Why is that?

Because everyone is eager to see the organization’s various players develop and progress.

Indeed, the performances of all the players in the line-up will be very interesting to follow in view of the team’s future.

As the rebuild draws to a close, we want to see the team’s young players develop and show what they can do.

Almost every player on the roster will be exciting to watch in action.

The only hitch is that the CH is unlikely to have any rookies in its line-up to start the season.

The internal competition is very strong, and this risks pushing the most NHL-ready youngsters to settle for the American League for the time being.

It’s a shame, because it would be really interesting and exciting to see Emil Heineman, Joshua Roy, Sean Farrell and/or Logan Mailloux in the NHL.

There’s too much competition, and unfortunately, some of it is present only as a financial liability.

I’m talking, of course, about Joel Armia.

The 30-year-old Finn has been a rather disturbing enigma since his arrival in Montreal.

He is by no means consistent.

He can be invisible for 20 games and then have a game worthy of the greats.

The talent is there, but not the work ethic.

That makes Armia a real liability in the lineup right now, because of his two-season contract worth $3.4 million a year.

He earned this contract after a strong playoff run in 2020-2021.

Since signing his contract, however, Armia has been mediocre.

That’s 28 points in 103 games.

The Finn is therefore not tradable, and his contract somehow obliges the CH to keep him in Montreal.

A contract buyout could be a possibility if Armia performs poorly to start the season.

In short, Armia is a ball and chain that a lot of people want to see out, including Tony Marinaro.

He brings nothing to the club when he’s not playing to his full potential, which is the case for 3/4 of the games.

The 20 games a year that Armia decides to play at the height of his talent aren’t worth $3.4 million, and they’re certainly not worth a roster spot, which blocks the possibility of seeing a youngster in Montreal.

Right now, everything points to the CH starting the season with 14 forwards up top.

Armia will probably (and unfortunately) be one of those forwards, unless he’s miraculously traded or bought out.

But that doesn’t mean he’ll be in uniform.

If Armia has an ordinary camp (which he probably will) and the other forwards show more, there’s nothing to stop Martin St-Louis from leaving Armia out to start the season.

And with Christian Dvorak likely to miss the start of the season, a door is opening for a youngster.

Armia would remain an extra forward, and the CH would keep a youngster like Emil Heineman up top to fill Dvorak’s absence.

The CH would be much better off inserting a youngster in Dvorak’s place rather than Armia.

And so, if this scenario plays out, and the youngster in question performs well in his audition, it could put all the more pressure and heat on Armia.

Management would be all the more tempted to kick him out and get rid of him via a buyout.

In short, it’s a situation we’ll have to keep a close eye on at the start of the season.

En Rafale

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