The Canadiens training camp is now only a few weeks away, beginning on September 23rd. There will be 60 players attending the camp including many youngsters looking to make a strong impression. While the team does have a projected logjam of roster players, barring any moves. That isn’t to say that there isn’t an opportunity for some youngsters to earn a spot out of camp. So without further adieu, let’s take a look at the projected lines for the Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal Canadiens Lines
Many may be surprised not to see Kirby Dach on the top line with Suzuki and Caufield. However, Dach’s play at centre in the back half of last season was one of the team’s few bright spots. He deserves an opportunity to thrive in that role and the team would be better long-term with Dach down the middle. The third line of Slafkovsky, Monahan, and Anderson get another chance to build upon their great play before Monahan’s injury. Playing with veterans would be beneficial for Slafkovksy as the team eases him into a top-six role.
Rafael Harvey-Pinard gets an outstanding opportunity on the top line as a complementary player, while Alex Newhook is immediately given a top-six role as well. It’s also important to note that if Christian Dvorak is healthy he would take the place of Pezzetta or Ylonen on the team’s fourth line. Likely at centre while Evans is shifted to the wing.
Extra: Jonathan Kovacevic
The Canadiens defence situation will be an interesting one with a lot of young guys in the mix. Matheson, Savard, Guhle, and Harris should be locks for the team. The city of Montreal would likely be in an uproar if fan favourite Arber Xhekaj were cut. This leaves one spot left, which should be given to Justin Barron. The 21-year-old showed flashes of his offensive capabilities potting 15 points in just 39 games last season.
Youngsters like 5th overall pick David Reinbacher as well as Logan Mailloux will also be pushing for roster spots. It was just recently announced that Mailloux is now eligible to play in the league after much controversy surrounding the player. However, both Reinbacher and Mailloux can benefit from more seasoning before joining the team. Especially since the Canadiens blue line is currently logjammed. Kovacevic fills out the blueline as a reliable 7th defenceman while Chris Wideman is the odd man out on the backend.
Extra: Casey DeSmith
The Canadiens goaltending situation has been a major point of interest and speculation this offseason. After the team acquired Casey DeSmith earlier this offseason, many expected him to be shipped out before the start of the season. However, that has not been the case so far. If the team goes into the year with three goalies, DeSmith would likely be the odd man out in favor of Sam Montembeault and veteran Jake Allen. Montembeault deserves the chance to prove he can build off last year’s solid performance. Allen on the other hand had a less than stellar campaign. However, he will likely earn the backup nod over DeSmith on familiarity alone.
Obviously with almost a month to go before the start of the regular season, a lot can change. Trades, signings, and even training camp performances could drastically change the outlook of this roster. Martin St. Louis will undoubtedly have some tough choices to make. However, as of now, this is the projected Canadiens lineup for the 2023-24 season.
Main Photo: Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports
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