For the most part, the Montreal Canadiens have been good at letting their prospects develop slowly and make sure they are more than ready when they finally get an NHL chance. Under the Marc Bergevin regime especially this has been the case as youngsters rarely get time in the NHL without at least a year in the AHL, the most notable exceptions being Alex Galchenyuk, who went from the OHL to the NHL and Brendan Gallagher who spent only half a season in the AHL before making the Habs for good.
More to Give?
This plan has worked for the most part as most of the prospects who do get called up look relatively ready. Often when they do get called up, they are placed in a very limited role. However, one player has been the exception where has been gifted with the opportunity to play a decent sized role but isn’t at the stage in his development to take advantage of it. For Montreal, that player is Jacob de la Rose.
When De la Rose was drafted with the 33rd pick in 2013, he was drafted primarily as a defensive forward who would be deployed in a shutdown role. Offense was never his calling card and that has become glaringly apparent since coming over to North America from Sweden. He has put up little to no offence and saw a decline in his overall play from his rookie to sophomore years. He looked solid during his first call up in 2015 but last season looked overwhelmed at times and didn’t make much of an impression.
It seems as though every time De la Rose gets into a groove in the AHL, where he starts stringing some offense together, he is called up to Montreal and thrust back into a strictly defensive role. De la Rose is rewarded with NHL chances based on the kind of player he is as opposed to his actual performance. Even though the Habs like De la Rose and seem to have a clear vision of how they want to use him in the NHL, they are hurting his development by not letting him grow the rest of his game. Right now, he looks like a fourth line shutdown player. If he could add some offence to his game, he could be a very solid third line guy who can chip in a few points here and there.
#HabsT25U25: Jacob de la Rose drops in 2016, but he has the ability to recover https://t.co/yp0PzUstM9 pic.twitter.com/o7iF6k3VPP
— Eyes on the Prize (@HabsEOTP) August 24, 2016
AHL Not NHL
It is clear De la Rose needs more time in the AHL to develop his game further. Big wingers who can skate well will always be in demand and it’s easy to see why the Habs like him. With the way teams are built these days, even bottom six forwards need to able to chip in some offence. It’s clear that Michel Therrien prefers to use players that fit his game plan which explains why De la Rose and Michael McCarron got call ups and extended time with the team last year even though they weren’t necessarily ready.
On the other hand, Charles Hudon looked good in a very small sample size in the NHL, but never got the chance like the other two did and of the three, he is arguably the most prepared to play at the highest level. Being only 21, there is plenty of time for De la Rose to round out his game and achieve his potential. He is better off doing it in the AHL, where he can have a bigger role and work on his weaknesses away from the pressure and glare of the NHL.