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Kaiden Guhle is the only young (second-year) defender to have progressed
In the 22-23 season, there were many rookies in Montreal. Especially among defensemen!

Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Justin Barron and Arber Xhekaj were all in their first full season in the National League… And we can even include Johnathan Kovacevic in the discussion, even though he’s older than the others .

For the Habs, it was the perfect time to try things out and give youngsters a chance to shine, because the club was rebuilding. Kent Hughes and his management group had the opportunity to evaluate their assets, and obviously, the important thing was to see these players progress.

We’ve been halfway through the 23-24 season for some time now, and Mathias Brunet thought it would be useful to see where the defenders named earlier in the article are in their development.

And as the La Presse journalist points out in a recent article, “the picture isn’t so clear on defense” because if you exclude Kaiden Guhle from the group, the others are treading water at the moment.

Mathias Brunet talks about the fact that Jordan Harris is playing less than last year.

There’s only been one game where the left-hander has spent more than 19 minutes on the ice since returning from injury at the end of December… And last year, Harris played more than 19 minutes 29 times.

We know what’s going on with Xhekaj, who recently spent some time in the AHL to fine-tune his defensive game. It’s also hard to say out loud that things have been going well for him since his recall…

Justin Barron’s inconsistency forced the organization to sell him to the Rocket last week. He seemed to be on the right track, because he had been good last year after the Canadiens recalled him in December.

He was good enough to finish the season in the NHL, without even returning to the AHL…

Johnathan Kovacevic may have scored six goals this season, but he’s been overlooked in recent weeks… Even though he played 77 games for the Tricolore last year.

All this to say that, if we take a step back and look at the situation, we realize that Kaiden Guhle is the only defenseman to have truly progressed since the start of last season.

Of course, the situation last year wasn’t quite the same, when there was (much) less pressure on the players’ shoulders because the club had nothing to lose…

But it’s still worrying in a way, because the goal was precisely to see progression in the team’s young players.

The Habs have a superb succession on the blue line and have some fine young defensemen in the organization. David Reinbacher, Jayden Struble and Lane Hutson spring to mind, as do Logan Mailloux and Adam Engström.

Perhaps seeing certain players stagnate in their development will help Kent Hughes make a decision… Because not all these youngsters will be able to play for the Habs at the same time.

Management will have some important choices to make for the future… But for now, it’s really hard to imagine the Habs’ top-6 defencemen in two or three years’ time, or something.

In gusto

– Rourke Chartier is placed on waivers.

– Huh!

– He’s too strong.

– Nice.

– Great news.

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