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The CH’s defensive brigade will be monstrous in 2025-26

Say what you will, but the mega-controversy raging across Quebec over the presence of the Poche Bleue guys on Mike Ward’s Sous écoutepodcast has had the effect of bringing Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre’s weekly podcast back to the forefront. The proof: for the past two weeks, I’ve been banging out a few segments of the podcast, something I haven’t done for some time now.

This week, the guys – who’ve replaced cans of Bubly with light beer – are back at it. LIGHT – welcomed Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. Letang was at the Bell Centre on Wednesday for the Penguins’ visit…

Letang, who trains with several Canadiens players in the summer before heading to Pennsylvania in September, had kind words for the Montreal defensemen.

“It’s going to be a nasty defense […] At somepoint there are going to be decisions made that are going to be tough nonetheless.”Kris Letang

Letang praised Jayden Struble (he’s very good), Mike Matheson (he’s special), Lane Hutson (what he does on TV is worthy of players of the calibre of Cale Makar), Logan Mailloux (he’s got the shape, even if he hasn’t yet completed his transition from teenager to adult), Jordan Harris (he thinks the latter resembles him at the start of his career) and Kaiden Guhle (he does everything well on the ice).

Add to these five defensemen the likes of Justin Barron, David Reinbacher, Adam Engstrom and Bogdan Konyushkov, and you’ve got a defense in the making.

It remains to be seen whether there will be room for Arber Xhekaj, Gustav Lindstrom and Johnathan Kovacevic when the Habs come of age…

In short, in two or three years, the Montreal brigade could look like this:

Matheson – Reinbacher
Guhle – Mailloux
Hutson – Barron

Harris, Kovacevic, Struble, Xhekaj, Konyushkov or Engstrom

Of course, David Savard won’t be around when the Canadiens aim for the big time.

Looking at this potential defensive brigade, two things stand out:

1. There will be a great deal of talent and competition in-house in a few years’ time, perhaps even too much. Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton will probably have to decide to trade one or two quality defenders in order to reinforce the attack, where depth is not so obvious.

Was it really necessary to draft David Reinbacher so high last summer? I don’t want to go there this morning…

2. Five or six of the seven defensemen who will form Montreal’s future defensive brigade are likely to be very young. Will the Habs have to identify a youngster in whom they have less faith, cut him from the lineup and make room for a good (not too old) veteran from the outside? Too many youngsters is like not enough… it can become a problem when things get really tough on certain nights.

Call me Max Hughes
If I were Kent Hughes, I’d be tempted to bet on Matheson, Guhle, Hutson, Reinbacher and Mailloux… and leave the last two positions “open “. Struble, Xhekaj, Barron, Kovacevic and Harris each have what it takes to win one of the last two spots. Or both, if we come to consider Kovy a veteran by now.

The fact remains that if Réjean Tremblay – with or without sarcasm – is right and the Habs manage to aspire to top honors in 2027, it won’t be Juraj Slafkovsky who gets them there; it will be their defensive brigade.

I can’t wait to see who the #1 goaltender will eventually be behind this solid brigade, but that’s another story… as is the identity of the four defensemen who will play more than the other two or three.

In Brief

– Canadian teams unite.

– Jacob Fowler will have to work hard to be his team’s #1 goaltender.

– Cole Caufield, the Habs’ only natural scorer. [BPM Sports]

– Big contract in L.A.

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