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What if Cole Caufield played with Kirby Dach next year?
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot

In 2023-2024, the Habs didn’t move up in the standings, but many of their players did. Of the lot? The first line, made up of Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Josh Anderson Juraj Slafkovsky.

The three youngsters have demonstrated their know-how.

Together, they even formed one of the NHL’s most dominant trios, according to the statistics. The boys scored 40 goals together – and at the start of the season, they weren’t playing on the same line.

Clearly, when playing “who will be on the club’s top-6 in 2024-2025” as a group, the names of the three gentlemen come up all the time. It’s only natural.

There are also people who put Alex Newhook, Joshua Roy or Joel Armia in the discussion… even though nobody would be surprised to see them playing on a third line instead.

But if there’s one name that comes up a lot in the discussion, it’s Kirby Dach. If he’s healthy and picks up where he left off in camp, he’ll have a place as the club’s second center.

And he’s going to fight, in my eyes, for first-center minutes. Will he make it? #StealAChair

What’s interesting is who will play with Dach on the second line. Will he be given two players who weren’t on the first line in 2023-2024, or will the first line be split up?

Arpon Basu, in his daily notebook, touched on the subject.

I’m the first to say that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Slaf and Dach playing together. They have great chemistry together and it took Slaf a while to recover from the center’s injury last October.

But at the same time, why break a formula that clearly works well on the first line?

The idea of playing Dach with one of the top three forwards of 2023-2024 is a fair one, however. To help him develop to his full potential, he’s going to need some good players alongside him.

We agree on that.

However, if we turn the question on its head, we might wonder if, instead of giving Slafkovsky to Dach, we couldn’t give him a guy like Cole Caufield.

On the face of it, this may seem counterproductive, considering how important his chemistry with the captain is. However, the more time goes by, the more we realize that Slaf also has a good rapport with the center-forward. They’re talented players who go well together.

If Suzuki played with Slaf and Caufield played with Dach, you’d have a big man with each of the smaller players. Plus, Caufield might like it, playing with a player who likes to pass the puck so much.

I’m not saying it’ll happen for sure. However, at training camp, I’m sure Dach will be tested with Slaf and with Caufield, just to see.

The other part of the equation will be completing the potential duos(will Alex Newhook be at center on the third line or on the wing to start the season?), but if the club has the players to go with a Dach/Caufield duo, I wouldn’t say no to a test.

In my opinion, the two could explode together…

There will still be time to test things out for the Habs. Expectations for 2024-2025 will be higher, but nobody expects the Habs to win the Cup in 2025, let’s say.

MSL will have to know what it has on its hands in Dach, who will arrive at the next camp as an enigma in some respects.

In gusto

– Nice addition.

– Dave Hakstol back in Seattle?

– Logan Thompson in action tonight.

– With good reason.

– It’s over for him in New York.

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