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Are you prepared to wait another year?

Auteur: Dose
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Are you prepared to wait another year?
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

The 2023-2024 season has just ended and one question is on everyone’s lips: has the Habs progressed?

Obviously, some players have improved. Nick Suzuki and Juraj Slafkovsky are two names that come quickly to mind, but many have taken Josh Anderson one step further.

But in the end, if we judge the Habs by their record, it’s clear that the progression isn’t exactly marked. The club still has one fewer win than last year, despite eight more points in the standings.

Will there be a progression next year? No doubt.

Young defensemen will arrive (or get closer to the NHL), the guys in place will progress further and another big prospect should be added to the group. And all this even if the Habs won some games at the end of the season. #ForCelebrini

The Habs, via yesterday’s win over the Arizona Coyotes, also secured themselves 28th in the NHL, the fifth-best odds to win the lottery, and the fifth right to speak in rounds 2-7.

Here’s the Canadiens’ percentage of draft picks at each position. This could change a lot of things, especially if defensemen come out early in the draft.

  • 1st: 8.5
  • 2e : 8.6 %
  • 3e : 0.3 %
  • 4e : 0 %
  • 5e : 24.5 %
  • 6e : 44 %
  • 7e: 14.2 %
  • 8th and higher: 0

(Credit: Tankathon)
But aside from whether or not the Habs have improved in 2023-2024, the question on the table is how well the Habs can contend for the playoffs in 2024-2025.

Yesterday, it became clear that the Habs are no longer as taboo about the “P-word” as they were at the golf tournament. The players were talking about the playoffs yesterday, but that’s normal: they’re players.

What’s changed is that recently, Martin St-Louis, Kent Hughes, Jeff Gorton and Geoff Molson have all been talking about the playoffs. They did so knowing full well that, in the end, they have to manage expectations.

Having an 8.5% chance of drafting Macklin Celebrini is a game-changer, but there’s still a 91.5% chance it won’t happen either. And it’s this scenario that needs to be assessed first, as it’s the most likely – and the least amusing.

If the Habs add a prospect who doesn’t necessarily make the club by 2024-2025 and do a Kirby Dach-style deal, will it be enough? How much more will it take to make the playoffs in 2025?

You’d have to add quite a bit, and I don’t think that’s what the Habs want either. They’re not going to deviate too far from the plan, since the youngsters need time to develop. Blocking them would not be ideal.

Obviously, adding a youngster who fits into the plan would make sense, but will it happen?

Another thing to consider is that next year, Jeff Petry and Jake Allen will still be on the payroll. So will Carey Price (unless we hear otherwise), by the way.

Johnathan Kovacevic, David Savard, Michael Pezzetta, Jake Evans, Joel Armia and Christian Dvorak will all reach the end of their contracts and become free as a bird in 2025… but in the meantime, they’re on the payroll and in the lineup.

That’s why so many people, including Vincent Damphousse, are talking about the importance of the summer of 2024, but especially the summer of 2025. By then, Kent Hughes will have plenty of fun and his youngsters will have gained experience.

Damphousse, who has his finger on the pulse of the Habs, must know what he’s talking about.

So the question is: are you willing to wait another year? Because it’s quite possible that even if the Habs are able to reach no man’s land next year, it won’t be 2025 before the playoffs return to Montreal.

In gusto

– Trophies to be awarded on June 27?

– Reminder: the Rocket must win their last two regular season games to make the playoffs. Logan Mailloux, Joshua Roy, Jayden Struble and Justin Barron arrive as reinforcements.

– Rafaël Harvey-Pinard didn’t like his record this season. [JdeM]

– Cole Caufield and Martin St-Louis are close. [98.5 Sports]

– Nike partners with Caitlin Clark.

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