In the final game of a three-game road trip for the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, they fell to the Lightning with Tampa Bay, 5-3.
When Denis Gurianov was acquired from the Dallas Stars for Evgenii Dadonov, it was a ‘can’t lose’ trade. General Manager Kent Hughes said that he could have gotten a mid-round draft pick, but thought the opportunity to revive a career was better than the chance of landing a mid-round NHL player.
The upside for Hughes, as well, was that if Gurianov didn’t work out in Montreal, nothing was lost. As a restricted free agent, after the season was over, Hughes could simply let Gurianov go to the free market to see if he could find work. Dadonov was free already, so there was no downside.
But how about the upside here so far. This is incredible as Gurianov continues to make the case that he should get an offer from Montreal to continue his career in Quebec.
Here are the numbers, and on a team that doesn’t score much, they are spectacular. In the second period, Gurianov took a shot on a Josh Anderson pass to find the far corner for his fourth goal in the last five games. He is hot.
He’s also hot overall in Montreal with five goals in 11 games. That’s almost 40 over the course of a season, though it is obviously a very small sample size. However, an impressive small sample is better than no sample at all worth talking about.
More on Sports
These numbers for Gurianov are contrasted against the season long malaise suffered in Dallas where he scored only two goals in 43 games. It is impossible to know what rejuvenates a player, and how he can go so sour in one city, then revive in another.
Perhaps it has to do with head coach Martin St. Louis who seems to have an excellent way with getting to the core of what a player needs to do to find success. He’s made Josh Anderson this season a more complete player than he’s ever been.
Another player shining is Jesse Ylonen. In the second period, Ylonen ripped a shot into the top corner on a one-timer that was stunningly impressive. Ylonen seems to actually be a better National Hockey League player than an American Hockey League player. Ylonen had nine goals for Laval in half a season. For Montreal, his numbers are almost the same with five goals in 29 games.
Remember someone in Laval like Ylonen is getting all the opportunities available to a player: best line-mates, power play time, offensive zone starts. That means if that players’ numbers are similar on the fourth line in the NHL with a lot fewer minutes per game to find success, that player is shining at the NHL level by comparison.
Ylonen is shining. He, like another who is shockingly better at the NHL than the AHL Rafael Harvey-Pinard, are making the case for a job next season in Montreal.
Nothing wrong with a team of half Laval players competing well in one of the toughest arenas in the NHL in Tampa Bay. Montreal lost, but that’s an acceptable result considering the standings required to draft high. A fine night at the end of a long season to stay close, and compete well. No complaints.
NCAA conference finals concluded Saturday night in six cities. All eyes on two of the Canadiens prospects who just might be among the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.
The first defenceman to win the scoring race in Hockey East, Lane Hutson, leading Boston University against Merrimack.
The second best point-per-game player in America this year behind only Adam Fantilli, Sean Farrell, also had an overtime scare as Harvard survived against Cornell in its semi-final.
The finals in Hockey East saw Boston U win the title over Merrimack 3-2 in overtime. And Hutson did it yet again. Hutson scored two including the game winner in overtime. Hutson rises to the moment like no other.
The finals in the ECAC saw Colgate upset Harvard 3-2. Sean Farrell had one assist.
Both Harvard and Boston U will head to the regionals that sees the best 16 teams in the country divide into four cities. Each city will have two semis and a final to send a club to the Frozen Four which is set for Tampa’s Amalie Arena the first weekend of April.
That means it’s going to be a couple weeks potentially still for us to learn how quickly Sean Farrell will be signed with the Canadiens. It would be exciting to see Farrell play this year for Montreal as the last dozen games presently don’t have a lot of drama in them except for Team Tank hoping for losses and a higher draft pick.
Lane Hutson is expected to not be signed this April, but go back to Boston University for a sophomore season to continue to develop his game. It doesn’t seem like it needs a lot of developing when one is the best defender, arguably, in college hockey, but defenders don’t often jump to the NHL after only one season. He could use more seasoning.
Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on globalnews.ca after each Canadiens game.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.