The 12 Days of Christmas have started, and we would usually be excited about some deals that could happen before the Christmas break. This, however, is not a normal year, and instead of trying to figure out who is in a playoff spot or which player might get moved at the deadline, we are left just giving weekly offseason news.
The World Junior Championship
The World Junior teams have all made the final selections for their rosters, and three Montreal Canadiens’ prospects have been picked to play for their national teams: Kayden Guhle for Team Canada, Jan Mysak for the Czech Republic, and Cole Caufield for Team USA.
Guhle is slated to be on the third pairing with Halifax Mooseheads rearguard Justin Barron. He will bring lots of physicality to the Canadian team and play more of a shutdown role in his first-ever World Junior Championship (WJC). Mysak – who has struggled with HC Litvinov, tallying only one point in eleven games, participates in his first WJC and will be a key piece helping the Czech Republic try and win gold.
Caufield rounds out the trio and will be the most-watched Canadiens prospect at the tournament. He had a disappointing series last year, playing on a defensive line with limited ice time. This season he will be playing on Team USA’s top line and could be a key factor in its success; Caufield currently leads the NCAA in goals and points with 6 and 12, respectively.
Canadiens Hall Of Fame defencemen Guy Lapointe, who has been battling cancer, received some good news this weekend. His son announced on Twitter that the six-time Stanley Cup champion is in remission. (from ‘Canadiens Hall of Famer Guy Lapointe’s cancer is in remission, his son says,’ Montreal Gazette, 12/13/2020) It was around a year ago that it was announced Lapointe had cancer. His son states how proud he is of his father to come this far with his treatments so quickly.
Lapointe also is on record in saying how well he thinks the Canadiens improved the team this offseason. He believes they will make the playoffs and have no excuses if they don’t. Lapoint was part of the Big Three, including HHOFers Serge Savard and Larry Robinson, who helped guide the Canadiens to six Stanley Cups in the 1970s. He played 884 regular-season games and 123 in the playoffs; the Canadiens retired his No. 5 in 2014.
They’re going to be a contender, and there’s no doubt in my mind they’ll make the playoffs,” Lapointe said Friday. “They reinforced every position this offseason by adding backup goaltender Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson on defence and good forwards in Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli. They’ll have no excuses this year, and they’ll have to deliver.Guy Lapointe on the Canadiens success this season
On a personal note, my colleague here at The Hockey Writers Blain Potvin and I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lapointe at the 2018 draft in Dallas; it was a great experience with not only a great hockey mind but a wonderful person.
It was no big secret that if the NHL were to start the season, it would look much different than usual. It’s been announced the league is aiming for a start date of Jan. 13 with a shortened preseason and the regular season finishing in July. To keep the players safe through COVID-19, the NHL has decided to realign the divisions to be more time zone and travel-friendly.
The Canadiens will take part in an all-Canadian division, and it is unknown at this time whether they will play within the division or play teams from other divisions; one would speculate because of COVID-19, they would only play within the division, which would surely strengthen some rivalries, especially with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With a January start, the season will be shortened to ~53 games, and this should be in the Canadiens’ favour as they have a team built for playoff-style hockey. A shortened season and playing against the same teams several times is just like in the playoffs – with the Canadiens having two strong goalies and a tough, hard-hitting defence, they should find themselves near the top of the standings.
If you haven’t heard his name yet, you will. Canadiens prospect Sean Farrell was drafted in the fourth round 124th overall in the 2020 NHL draft. During his draft year, playing for the Chicago Steel in the United States Hockey League (USHL), Farrell had a solid season of 56 points in 44 games – nothing spectacular, but nothing to frown upon either.
However, this season, Farrell is lighting up the USHL and is on a two-point per game pace with 20 points in 10 games. He is playing again with the Steel only because Harvard, where he is enrolled, is not playing any hockey due to COVID-19. Obviously, Farrell has reached the point with the USHL where he is dominant, so hopefully, Harvard gets back to playing hockey, and we can see what he can do at the College level to get a better gauge at how good he really is.
Well, that’s it for this week! It has been a slow month as the NHL gears up for a shortened season, but the Canadian division looks like it will be a lot of fun. Until then, stay safe and have a good holiday!
Trege Wilson lives in Nova Scotia and is a member of the RCN. He is a life long Habs fan and is creator and co-host of the popular Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered.