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The New Faces of the CH – What to Expect!

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Only one night left before the Montreal Canadiens jump on the ice for the first day of their training camp. This will be the opportunity for the coaching staff to see the new faces of the team in action. Seven new players will be added to the roster if we count Alexander Romanov in the equation along with the Anderson, Toffoli, Perry, Frolik, Edmundson and Allen. One thing is certain, all of these players have qualities that will serve the organization. We can expect several tryouts in a very short period of time.

Alexander Romanov

The young defenseman is a particularly interesting piece for the Canadiens. In order not to put too much pressure on him, I figure he’ll start his career on the left side of a third pair. However, he could quickly move up the ladder. The Tricolore’s prospect is a skater with a very high degree of mobility. His skating stroke will allow him to kick off the attack and get deeply involved in the territory. However, he will not be a catalyst for the attack. Romanov is an aggressive player like no other; he gives his 110% as soon as he is on the ice. Defensively, he is not afraid of physical play and he cleans the front of the net. It will be interesting to see how he can adapt to his new environment. He already had some good times at the World Junior Championships on North American rinks. I’m not too scared on that side. 

Jake Allen

The 30-year-old goalkeeper will provide stability in the nets. The Canadiens has not been able to count on a reliable helper to support Price for several years. Allen was in the back-up goalie position for the first time last year. He had very convincing results with a 12-6-3 record, a goals-against-average of 2.15 and a save percentage of .927. His role is fairly well defined. I don’t think there are any surprises in his case. Hopefully he will be in good shape and give us a real chance to position ourselves well for the playoffs.

Joel Edmundson

First, Edmundson will bring weight to the Canadien’s defensive brigade. He stands tall at 6’4 » and weighs 215 pounds. Last year, he distributed 118 bodychecks, which placed him 29th in the NHL blueliners. He is not an offensive defenceman. Nevertheless, he had his best season with the Hurricanes scoring 20 points including 7 goals scored at equal force. We can expect to see him kill penalty minutes alongside Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot or Romanov. He will be useful in situations where the Canadien wants to protect a lead. Edmundson does not have the most fluid skate. The zone exits he initiates are mostly with a good first pass. It will be interesting to see in which chair Claude Julien decides to place him. He will be on a second pair at most. I expect him to be on the last pair with a young defenceman, maybe with a mobile skater like Romanov. Edmundson is left-handed, but can play right as well. 

Josh Anderson

What version of Anderson will we get at the start of next season? In 26 games last year, he scored 1 goal and 3 assists and maintained a -8 differential. I sincerely hope his injuries are behind him and that he can come back strong. His new contract giving him $5.5 million a year for the next 7 years could be painful in the long run if he doesn’t. Anderson combines an imposing size (6’3 », 222 pounds), a great skate and a scoring touch. Bergevin is right when he says there aren’t many players in the NHL who have that combination. The 26-year-old right-winger will create space for his trio mates. He could complement a duo like Suzuki (smart, creative, responsible) and Drouin (creative, fast execution, elite talent). In 2018-19, he scored 20 goals at 5v5 in addition to adding 7 with a one man advantage. Furthermore, with his stature, he could prove to be an interesting tool in the slot when Claude Julien deploys his second power play unit. 

Tyler Toffoli 

The Toffoli acquisition seems to be unanimously met with great acclaim among field hockey heads. The 28-year-old forward would be an important addition to any team. Toffoli is an honest goal scorer who has crossed the 20 goal plateau three times, including a season where he scored 31 goals, and is a right-handed forward who shoots very quickly. That’s something to keep in mind when looking at the Canadiens’ line-up. He is a player who is very successful in important moments. In the playoffs, he has 25 points in 54 games. He won the Stanley Cup in his first season in the NHL. Toffoli is a very reliable player in his territory and wins his battles along the boards. However, he is not a great skater. I don’t know how he’s going to behave in a system that requires a good rhythm on the ice. You can expect to see him next to a center with good game vision like Kotkaniemi. 

Michael Frolik 

Frolik’s signature is not a big shine. Honest player who will play mainly on the fourth trio, but who can give presences to help out on a third one. He is a reliable player who can give good minutes on a shorthanded play. The 32 years old right winger is an insurance policy, depth at low cost. Let’s not linger any longer on a player who won’t play every game this season.

Corey Perry

This 35-year veteran is an important addition, in my opinion. Perry is an aggressive and rebellious player who is not afraid to be in traffic and get his nose dirty. The Montreal Canadiens doesn’t have a lot of that type of player. He can be useful in front of the opponent’s net on a power play. During the playoffs last summer, he showed his usefulness in such situations and even scored important goals. The right winger will possibly make it into the fourth trio in the first game of the season. With his intensity, he will breathe the opponents out of breath and try to disturb them. Keep in mind that he can be an offensive weapon on occasion, for he has had several seasons of over 50 points prior to 2019. 

Winners

Allen, Edmundson, Toffoli, Frolik and Perry have all won the Stanley Cup. Romanov won the Gagarin Cup in 2018-2019 with CSKA Moscow. Bringing winners to the locker room is not insignificant. I even think it is Bergevin’s main achievement. The leadership of these players and the desire to find the path to victory will push everyone in the same direction. I sincerely think that we can be enthusiastic with the next season. Who knows what it will bring? 

Translated by Michel-Alexandre Broekaert

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