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Jayden Struble doesn’t deserve to be demoted

It’s December 1. November is FINALLY over… and the bans on parking while blue-collar workers wash a side of the street will be inactive for a few months.

Not to mention the approaching holiday season and the days that will start getting longer in three weeks’ time. Fun is coming, guys.

Except that the fun, while we’re on the subject, clearly wasn’t there last night at the Bell Centre. On a scale ranging from Geneviève Desautels (CEO ofÉduc’alcool) to Éric Lapointe, the people who paid a small fortune to rent a seat in the temple last night were no closer to Geneviève than to Éric in terms of the gradation of their pleasure.

Maybe it was just Martin St-Louis who enjoyed the evening

Martin and Jayden Struble, in fact.

The young American defenseman played his first game at the Bell Centre, an experience he’ll remember until the day he dies.

Apart from a somewhat laborious first shift, Struble didn’t do badly overall.

In fact, Struble has done relatively well since his recall, even if he hasn’t been overused. And he was doing well in Laval before that…

In five NHL games so far, Struble has one assist, a minus-1 rating, five shots on goal, five body checks and not a single penalty. Not bad for a guy who can and likes to hit!

If you break it down game by game, you’ll see even more clearly how well he did, despite playing his five games in five different cities and arenas.

Struble has only been on the ice for 4 of his 16 goals since his recall.

November 22 at Anaheim: 0
November 24 at San Jose: 0
November 25 at Los Angeles: 2
November 29 at Columbus: 0
November 30 vs Panthers: 2

What’s more, all four goals scored by the CH when Struble was on the ice were against elite teams. Not bad for a green rookie!

And Struble was always used on the third pair, alongside a lesser-quality defenseman. On the other hand, he was also (most of the time) sent into the fray against one of the other team’s two bottom pairings. It’s also worth noting.

Add to all this the fact that he’s perhaps the best athlete in the entire organization, and you might come to the same conclusion as I: Struble shouldn’t be automatically cut to make room for Arber Xhekaj and David Savard (and eventually Jordan Harris) just because he’s one of the last to be recalled.

We all agree that when Xhekaj returns (soon?), it’s Mattias Norlinder who will be sent back to Laval. His biggest highlight during his time with the big club was picking up part of the tab for the rookie party in LA.

But after that, Kent Hughes will have to decide between Gustav Lindstrom and Jayden Struble.

Lindstrom has a few apparent advantages: he’s right-handed, he scored a goal against the Blue Jackets and he’s played more minutes than Struble in recent games…

But he’s also finished three of the last four games in the minuses, he’s made some major blunders (notably on the Panthers’ first goal yesterday) and he’s not part of the club’s future.

So which of Struble or Lindstrom will have to pack his bags and head for faraway Laval?

The answer will most likely lie in the use to which they wish to put the one they decide to keep.

If we need a defenseman to leave him on the bridge and be ready just in case, we’ll opt for Lindstrom… just as we opted for Norlinder in the last recall. He wasn’t a must-have in Laval, and we weren’t stressed by the idea of not having him play (or really train, due to the team’s schedule) with the big club.

But if you need a defenseman to eat up minutes, you MUST go with Struble. The kid has come to disrupt the hierarchy on the blue line and in a meritocratic system, you have to take that into account when making strategic decisions.

The talk in town for the past few days has been whether Struble could knock a guy like Xhekaj out of the top six

But Struble could also challenge Jordan Harris at the blue line.

Can’t wait to see what we decide to do with Struble over the next few days and weeks…

But in the end, I want to see him play 12 to 15 minutes in Montreal or more than 20 in Laval. Any other scenario won’t please me.

But I’ll leave the last word to my good friend Michel. I know he’s trolling, but he’s not wrong in the end. When people say that Canadiens hockey coverage is a bit exaggerated in Montreal, it’s true…

In bursts

– He continues to attract attention.

– It all makes sense.

– The price is going up fast.

– The Coyotes like to fool their opponents.

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