Skip to content
“The Habs have only one elite player defensively, and that’s Joel Armia”
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

It may not come as a surprise to many, but the 2023-24 edition of the Canadiens isn’t exactly a powerhouse on the ice. We’re seeing progress among the team’s young forwards, but with so much of the organization’s young talent yet to make it to the NHL, the club isn’t ready to win.

Add to that the injury to Kirby Dach and the departure of Sean Monahan: it hasn’t helped. I’d also add Christian Dvorak’s injury… but frankly, did it really change anything?

Defensively, it’s not always easy for the club. The young defensive brigade isn’t always solid, but there’s also the fact that we’re not banking on a ton of good defensive forwards in town.

This was the subject of the last episode of the Exit the Zone podcast, where Alexandre Pratt made a pretty strong statement:

The Habs have only one elite player defensively, and that’s Joel Armia. – Alexandre Pratt

Antoine Roussel was a little shocked to hear Armia referred to as a “defensively elite player”, and Pratt admitted he may have pushed the note a bit. However, he stood by his point that he’s “very good” defensively and probably has the talent to be on the first power-play unit of any NHL team.

He explains this at around the 18-minute mark.

Armia is having a better season than you’d think, and I agree with Pratt. He’s a far cry from the guy who started the year in Laval and is, against all odds, an important part of the Montreal forward group.

I’m not ready to call him an “elite” player, but I’ll give him credit for playing well.

Eventually, however, that will have to change. Armia may not be in town in two or three years, and the journalist’s point remains true: sooner or later, we’re going to need elite-calibre defensive players on the attack.

Nick Suzuki could be it (but at the same time, he’ll also have to be maximized offensively), and within the organization, there may be Owen Beck who has the talent to be it. But otherwise… it seems to be a weakness of the organization at the moment, and Trevor Zegras wouldn’t help with that, let’s say.

So we’ll see if the club can find some in the years to come, but it’s true that Armia is very solid defensively. Maybe not to the point of attracting teams between now and March 8… but you never know.

Breaking news

– No changes to the Habs lineup tonight, except in front of net. Cayden Primeau will start against the Lightning.

– With Kasimir Kaskisuo sidelined, Dobes will be a busy man.

– Good point.

– Great read.

– It’s a logical start to the Formula 1 season.

More Content