Montreal Canadiens AHL Affiliate | Laval Rocket News: Promotions Schedule, Poehling Closest to NHL, Suzuki at Centre and Wing, Primeau Number One in Laval?
ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — With the Canadiens annual golf tournament taking place on Monday at Club de golf Laval-sur-le-Lac, I feel like the 2019-20 hockey season has officially begun. The main training camp will begin this Thursday, as the players report for medicals and physical evaluations and next Monday, the Habs will host the Devils on Monday for their first of seven pre-season games before opening night.
The Laval Rocket’s training camp will begin at the end of the month after the Canadiens have made their first significant cuts from the main camp. The Rocket will play two pre-season games before they open the regular season against the Cleveland Monsters on Friday, October 4th.
The Rocket announced on Thursday that fans can attend the two pre-season games free of charge at Place Bell. The games will be played on September 28th and 29th against the Belleville Senators with both games starting at 3pm ET. I think this is a great idea by the organization to get some new fans to experience the AHL and Place Bell. From a fan perspective, you get to watch a professional hockey game in one of the best AHL facilities, and from the organization’s point of view, this initiative will get more people in the arena and concession stands for a pre-season game than it would, if this was a paying game.
Fans wanting to attend the pre-season games, you need to reserve your seat by acquiring a free ticket online. I don’t want to be a bearer of bad news, but I don’t expect Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki to be with the team that weekend. If they don’t start the season in Montreal, they will remain in main camp until the final cuts.
The Rocket recently announced their promotion schedule at Place Bell, and it’s a busy one as there’s something on schedule for 32 of the 38 home games. Some of the new promotions for this season are $2 hot dog nights and Star Wars game.
The Rocket finished 14th in the AHL last season with an average of 5,578 fans in attendance, according to hockeydb.com. This was a decrease compared to the 6,691 average for the 2017-18 season. The organization is counting on their promotions and the expected talent with the team this season to increase those numbers.
Rookie Showcase Observations
On Thursday, the Canadiens rookie camp began as 28 players hit the ice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. On the weekend, the rookies were at the annual Rookie Tournament, which took take place at CAA Arena in Belleville. The tournament also featured prospects from the Senators and Jets.
The Canadiens rookies lost 4-2 against the Senators on Saturday. As much as many praise the Canadiens for having the best pipeline of talent that they have had in a long time, the Senators also have some good prospects, such as Drake Batherson, Logan Brown, and Vitali Abramov, that I think are closer to the NHL than those of the Habs.
On Sunday, the Canadiens lost 2-1 against the Jets. Rookie camp concludes on Tuesday with a game against a team composed of players from three Quebec universities: Concordia, Trois-Rivières and McGill.
Amy Johnson, and Rick Stephens were on site in Belleville to cover the event for Rocket Sports. For complete recap and post game interviews from both games, click here for coverage of the Senators game and here for coverage of the game against the Jets.
From all the Habs prospects, Ryan Poehling seemed like he was the most NHL ready of the group. Poehling was on the top line with Nick Suzuki for most of the tournament and that duo created some offensive chances. “His hands and his quickness that he plays with” said Suzuki on what surprised him about Poehling following the game against the Senators. “The vision too, we’re both seeing each other out there and it was a lot of fun to play like that.” Poehling finished the tournament with no points, plus-1, and two shots on goal.
Centre or Winger?
Is it just me or do you think that we will be discussing if Suzuki is a centre or a winger for a while? I hope that discussion doesn’t last six seasons similar to Alex Galchenyuk.
“I’m going be playing right wing and center, just so I can get used to playing both right now and moving forward to the main camp to be comfortable playing both positions” Suzuki said on Thursday prior to the team heading to Belleville. “I grew up mostly playing center. But a lot of junior years. I was playing on the wing and I’m comfortable with both.”
At the Rookie tournament, Suzuki played primarily on the wing, but also took some faceoffs. He finished the weekend with one assist, plus-1, and six shots on goal.
“I love playing with him. I think we kind of have similar styles and we’re both smart players, were playmakers” said Poehling on playing with Suzuki after Saturday’s game. “It’s fun to play with him, I hope we can continue to do that throughout camp and even maybe main camp.”
Will Primeau be Number One Goalie?
The biggest question mark for me when it comes to the Rocket right now, is the goaltending position. Marc Bergevin always says that young players always have the opportunity to force the team’s hand in giving them a roster spot in Montreal. Which could be true, to a certain extent. I think that it’s already been determined that Keith Kinkaid will be Carey Price‘s backup regardless of what happens at camp.
This means that Charlie Lindgren, Michael McNiven, and Cayden Primeau will battle for roster spots with the Rocket. Three-goalie tandems don’t work for an extended period in the AHL.
In an interview with Marc Denis that aired on Saturday on RDS, Bergevin hinted that Primeau will spend the season in Laval. “It takes goalies longer to develop” said the Canadiens GM. “We are expecting him to battle for a spot in Laval.[..] The projection is a good season in Laval, and take some professional hockey maturity.”
Primeau played both games during the tournament, allowing five goals on 43 shots.
This means that Lindgren and McNiven would battle for the remaining spot. “He had a very good first season, but after that he lost his reference points. He saw it himself and he will battle for a spot” said Bergevin when asked about Lindgren. “At the end of the year in Laval with our coaching staff and Rob Ramage had a discussion with him [on required improvements], the expectations are getting higher and I think he’s expecting the same thing.” Earlier in the offseason, I was projecting that McNiven would be the odd man out, but I’m starting to think otherwise right now. The decision might get simpler if Lindgren gets picked up on waivers.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Alex Belzile. Belzile signed a two-way contract with the Canadiens on May 24th. You can listen to the interview by clicking here.