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Barré-Boulet or Harvey-Pinard: there’s only room for one on the Habs lineup
Credit: Photo by Vitor Munhoz/NHLI via Getty Images

No player under 5’11 (officially, at least) was selected in the first round this year in the NHL. Smaller players were drafted further… or they weren’t drafted at all. #Zetterberg

To be successful – especially in the playoffs – an NHL team can’t rely on four or five small players. The Panthers, who lifted the Stanley Cup just a few days ago, had only one player under 5’11 in 2023-24: Ryan Lomberg. And he wasn’t in uniform every game…

The Oilers, on the other hand, had only one player in the playoffs: Derek Ryan (5’10). And he wasn’t always dressed either…

The Habs, on the other hand, have several in their ranks: Brendan Gallagher (5’9), Cole Caufield (5’7), Rafaël Harvey-Pinard (5’9), Lane Hutson (5’10)…

And he’s just signed Alex Barré-Boulet (5’10).

Not to mention the fact that Kent Hughes had been eyeing Jonathan Marchessault, who’s 5’9…

Are Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes stubbornly refusing to admit that there is indeed an advantage to being big and strong in a sport where contact is allowed (and encouraged)?

Has Jeff Gorton forgotten that, in New York, he lost his job because the Rangers were being shaken around too much on the ice?

Is it safe to assume that if Marc Bergevin was going to look for plenty of defensemen in his own style,5’9 Kent Hughes would have the flaw of not minding being small?

Maybe, but I have my doubts. After all, the Habs only drafted players 6′ or taller last weekend. That’s no accident.

I’m pretty sure Habs management is aware to win, the team will have to be tough and physical… but since it’s not yet time to aim for the Cup, they’ll do certain compromises.

Compromise #1: Brendan Gallagher
The Habs are stuck with Gallagher and his contract. He’s not part of the future plans, but he still has three years left on his contract. We put up with it and don’t count him in the plans

Brendan Gallagher is still under contract for three seasons… and he’s untradeable.
(Credit: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Compromise #2: Cole Caufield
Cole Caufield has a quality that few NHL players have: he knows how to put it in. As long as he fills the opposing net, he’ll be fine. That’s why no, seasons of less than 30 goals won’t be enough for Caufield, even if he does pick up a few assists here and there.

Compromise #3: Lane Hutson
Lane Hutson is a special player. When Macklin Celebrini says he’s never played with a guy like Lane Hutson, he’s right. Hutson is almost 5’11 and will bulk up over the next few years. He’ll always be small, but if he’s well surrounded on the blue line and can produce points with regularity, he’ll be fine. However, I don’t think Jordan Harris will be able to stay in Montreal if Hutson develops as we think he might, but that’s another matter…

Theoretically, the Habs’ list of little players should end here (if not before).

But the Habs organization has two other small players – forwards – under single-season contracts: Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Alex Barré-Boulet.

It’s obvious to me that Martin St-Louis – even though he’s a former small forward who seems to prefer small, talented players to big, tough guys – won’t be able to add two more small forwards to his roster this season. And if he did, it would only be for the very short term.

In other words, there will be no room for Rafaël Harvey-Pinard AND Alex Barré-Boulet in the Habs’ 2024-25 line-up. In the short term, we’ll have to choose between RHP and ABB.

And in the medium to long term, there’s a good chance that both will be packed in…

Harvey-Pinard and Barré-Boulet are very similar players.

Harvey-Pinard is 25, 5’9 and 185 pounds. Barré-Boulet is 27, 5’10 and weighs around 180 pounds. Both are left-handed, but ABB has the advantage of being a better center.

Barré-Boulet had better offensive seasons than Harvey-Pinard in junior and the AHL, but not that much

In the NHL, however, Harvey-Pinard has the edge: 31 points in 83 games vs. 18 in 68 for Barré-Boulet. Except that Harvey-Pinard played some 20 games on the Canadiens’ first line, like…

RHP has the advantage, but also the disadvantage, of already being there. Barré-Boulet, on the other hand, will be a newcomer to the camp.

Both are players who spare no effort on the ice.

In short, there will probably be only one spot in the bottom six for either Barré-Boulet or Harvey-Pinard. Suzuki, Caufield, Gallagher, Anderson, Dvorak, Armia, Newhook, Evans, Slafkovsky, Dach and Roy… that’s 11. And there’s Pezzetta in the picture too!

Can’t wait to see which of Barré-Boulet or Harvey-Pinard has the best training camp and gets the chance to start the season in the show. The other will probably have to go through the waivers before joining the Laval Rocket (or another NHL team).

Will he succeed in stealing Rafaël Harvey-Pinard’s job?
(Credit: YouTube/capture d’écran)

My call: Harvey-Pinard will top Barré-Boulet at the photo finish, and many experts will say that Barré-Boulet will have been better than RHP. Barré-Boulet will soon be recalled and steal Harvey-Pinard’s place.

We’ll see if I’m right…


– Brendan Gallagher skates with some Montreal hopefuls in Brossard.

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