The 2018-19 season, saw many Montreal Canadiens hit career-highs. This included centre Max Domi who had his breakout season in his first season as a Hab, where he put up 28 goals and 72 points. Every year there are a few candidates to breakout, here are my candidates for the 2019-20 season. This list will also exclude rookies as they either haven’t played or not enough to say the player will breakout.
Victor Mete, D
Victor Mete will be entering his third NHL season, and has improved in each of his first two seasons. The 21-year old has yet to score his first NHL goal, but he has done a great job elsewhere. Being a new age defenseman, his best quality is his skating ability. While, his shot is likely the aspect he needs to improve the most, his strength will likely lead him to his first NHL goal.
The expectation for Mete for the 2019-20 season, would be to establish himself as a top four defenseman. He will primarily be playing alongside captain Shea Weber, barring a trade for a more establish top left handed defenseman. However, even at that the two compliment each other well and can hide the other’s flaws.
With Weber ageing, Mete could play a similar role to what another small stature defenseman Torey Krug plays for the Boston Bruins. Aside from the shot, Mete and Krug are extremely similar. For one, their defensive partners are big less mobile defensemen who benefit from playing with younger mobile defensemen.
Expect Mete to take a jump as he will be able to play a full season alongside Weber. A good expectation would be something like four or five goals and 30-35 points with some power-play time. He could also find his average ice time above 20 minutes per night with the experience.
Jonathan Drouin, LW
Jonathan Drouin is a little different than Mete, as he needs to break out and reach his potential. He looked like he was about to breakout last season,but a disappointing final 18 games where he only put up three points (a goal and two assists) changed the perspective of his season. Despite that, Drouin tied his career high in points with 53.
The 24 year old showed that he can live up to his 65-70 potential if he can just find consistency. Which in the most part, he had when playing with Max Domi. The two were dynamic together offensively. The main reason for the split up was likely due to Drouin’s defensive deficiencies which caused him to bring down his and Domi’s plus-minus. Drouin ended the season with the lowest plus-minus out of players who played regularly for the Habs. While, Domi finished second best behind Tatar in that category .
Now, that’s not to say Drouin shouldn’t play with Domi, as he performed significantly better with the Habs leading scorer. The Canadiens should put them back together as they are a lethal duo. They should add a very defensively responsible winger on their line who can help them from being on the wrong side defensively. Alongside Domi, the French Canadian can finally break out for 65 points over 82 games.
It is also much needed as this could be his last chance to stay in Montreal, if consistency isn’t there.
Artturi Lehkonen, LW/RW
With the trade that sent Andrew Shaw to the Chicago Blackhawks, this could be Artturi Lehkonen‘s chance to breakout. The Finnish winger will be entering his fourth NHL season. If there are no changes at training camp or in the off season to the team, he is penciled in as the team’s second line right wing. This could help him finally crack the 20 goal mark. He came close in his rookie season with 18, but since hasn’t had the same puck luck.
The problem isn’t that he hasn’t gotten the scoring chances, it’s that he has had bad luck hitting the twine. If his accuracy improves just a bit he can surely add another 10 goals to his 11 from last season.
His defensive game would also help the Domi-Drouin duo, which makes him a perfect fit on the other wing. Also by playing with those two, getting to 20-25 goals seems like a realistic feat for Lehkonen. He should also be good for 40-45 points next season.
Other Breakout Candidates:
Joel Armia, RW
Noah Juulsen, D