Storylines Heading into Habs Training Camp

After having a memorable first NHL game, Ryan Poehling will be looking to build on the momentum to make Habs roster. Photo Credits: Habseyeontheprize

With training camp less than a month away, it’s time to start talking about possible storylines heading into Montreal Canadiens training camp.

After a good season where the Habs fell just short of a playoff spot, the expectations are to get back to the playoffs. However in a crowded competitive Eastern Conference, it can be easier said than done. This will make for interesting storylines as the team gets geared up for the season.

Here are some of the storylines to follow at camp:

Can Ryan Poehling make the team?

Montreal Canadiens’ Ryan Poehling scores his third goal of the game during third period of first NHL game. Photo credits: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Ryan Poehling ended his season, scoring a hat-trick and the shootout winner in his lone NHL game. That performance has brought a lot of hype surrounding him going into training camp. However, Poehling’s game isn’t that offensive, having only scored five goals in the second half of his NCAA season with St. Cloud.

Poehling has potential to be more a middle six centre rather than the star some may think from his one game. That doesn’t mean he can’t make an impact as early as next season. He seems penciled in for a fourth line spot on opening night roster.

The league isn’t like it once was, having a big skilled centre on your fourth line is needed in this faster NHL. Getting NHL time will also help Poehling develop as the player he is expected to be. It will be interesting to follow this storyline into camp.

Who will take Andrew Shaw’s spot in the top 6.

Montreal Canadiens prospect, Nick Suzuki is entering camp with the goal of making the Habs opening night roster.
Photo Credits: Sportsnet

Earlier this summer, the Canadiens traded winger Andrew Shaw back to the Chicago Blackhawks for a second and third round pick. This was a cap dump, in order to potential sign a top free agent. However, it didn’t work out as planned and there is now a spot on Max Domi‘s wing up for grabs.

The interesting part is that the Canadiens could fill the spot with a young prospect who shows he’s ready for the NHL.

One name in particular that could make the opening night roster is Nick Suzuki. Suzuki has the skill to play in the top six. If he has a good enough camp, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start the season playing with Domi.

The player who most likely will play with Domi and Jonathan Drouin to start the year, is likely Artturi Lehkonen. Being a defensively responsible winger is important when playing with those two and Lehkonen is the perfect example of that.

He has an opportunity to finally breakout into the 20-25 goal potential he had from his rookie season. On paper, it looks like Lehkonen’s spot to lose next to Domi and Drouin. Will Lehkonen find his scoring touch? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Battle of the Backups

Netminder Charlie Lindgren will be looking to steal the backup job, despite rough year in Laval. Photo Credits: Getty Images

While it seems the backup role is locked up by Keith Kinkaid on the surface. However, Charlie Lindgren will be fighting in camp to steal it from him.

Lindgren could be ready to backup duties full time in the NHL. Kinkaid was signed to make sure Carey Price has a quality backup that can play 20-25 games.

However, both Kinkaid and Lindgren are coming off down years and both goalies will want to prove something. While, Kinkaid has the edge, don’t count Lindgren out just yet. This could be the most interesting battle at camp.

In fact, expect a goalie to be traded as the Laval Rocket already have a crowded crease. Only time will tell what will happen at camp with the goaltending depth.

How will the Defense look?

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Noah Juulsen looking to come back strong following a serious injury last season. Photo Credits: TSN

This isn’t as big of a storyline as it’s highly likely the Habs defensive corpse is set in stone, but there could be a few surprises. For one, how will Noah Juulsen look following his eye injury is a big storyline involving the defense.

If he can return to his strong play, his spot should be a lock. If not, that last spot could be up for grabs between Christian Folin and other prospects such as Josh Brook. While, Brook seems like a longshot as he still likely needs seasoning in the AHL, he could find his way with the Habs with a great camp.

The top five defenseman, seem to be locks, so barring an injury there is only one spot available in the lineup up for grabs. In truth, it will be a battle between many defenseman like Folin, Brook and even left handed Mike Reilly for that final spot in the top six at camp. It should be a fun storyline to watch.

We will see how these storylines progress come training camp.  One thing is for sure it should be a competitive camp.

Check out three players looking to break out for the Habs.