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Canadiens News & Rumors: Brook, Kotkaniemi, Stapley, Poehling & Allen

What news and rumors are emerging from the Montreal Canadiens organization? Who’s going to be working towards making the roster next season?

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In this edition of Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors, I’ll share some of the recent news and rumors emerging from the Canadiens organization as a way to help Habs fans keep up with that’s going on.

Related: Montreal Canadiens’ Alexander Romanov Excited to Start 2020-21 Season

Item One: Josh Brook will be loaned to the Krefeld Pinguine of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. 

The Canadiens reported that they had loaned Josh Brook to the Krefeld Pinguine of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. The word is that Brook will come back to North America for the 2020-21 NHL and AHL training camps – whenever these happen.

Brooks, who’s a 21-year-old defenseman, scored four goals, nine assists, and 13 points in 60 games with the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate Laval Rocket last season. It was his first professional season. The 6-foot-1, 193-pound 21-year-old right-handed defenseman plays a physical game and had 43 penalty minutes, which ranked sixth for all AHL rookie defensemen.

Josh Brook, Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens choose Brook during the second round (56th overall) during the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Item Two: Canadiens Loan Jesperi Kotkaniemi to HC Assat Pori Oy of Finland’s Liiga

Earlier this week the Canadiens reported that the organization had lent Jesperi Kotkaniemi to HC Assat Pori Oy of Finland’s Liiga. Like many NHL teams are doing with their prospects, they’re not waiting for an “iffy” NHL season to begin; instead, they’re linking these prospects up with teams in Europe where they can begin playing.

At the earliest, the 2020-21 NHL regular season won’t start until at least the first of the new year in January 1. Again Director of Player Development Ramage was proactive in this move, suggesting that it was important for Kotkaniemi to be playing and, because he was home, the decision worked.

Ramage added that “It’s a familiar place for him, a very comfortable environment. And so just keep the momentum going that he had this summer (in the postseason), which was wonderful to watch.” 

Kotkaniemi’s momentum included scoring four goals in 10 games with Montreal in the 2020 playoffs. He looks like a strong prospect and should be worth watching during the Canadiens’ training camp. There’s a chance he might actually win a top-six role. (from “Stu on Sports: Canadiens happy Jesperi Kotkaniemi playing in Finland, Stu Cowan, Montreal Gazette, 03/11/20).

Item Three: Is Brett Stapley Ready to Surprise Canadiens Fans?

When asked recently whether the Canadiens’ organization had any late round draft choices that could surprise fans, Rob Ramage, the Canadiens’ Director of Player Development, didn’t hesitate to name Brett Stapley as a potential surprise.

Ramage noted, “We got a seventh-round pick in Denver that’s one of their offensive drivers and that’s Brett Stapley. He’s going to go into his junior year this season and he’s progressing really nicely. So we’ll see.”

Stapley was chosen during the seventh round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft (190th overall). Although obviously the NCAA’s season has been put on hold, when hockey restarts he’ll be a third-year player (a junior) at the University of Denver. Last season, he scored five goals, 25 assists, and 30 points in 35 games. In the 2018-19 season, he scored 19 points in 32 NCAA games.

Item Four: Can Ryan Poehling Have a 2020-21 Comeback Season?

Stated simply, 21-year-old Ryan Poehling did not have a strong 2019-20 season. In fact, he only scored a single goal and a single assist. He has to look forward to a much better season whenever the season begins.

Not only did Poehling not score, but he didn’t gain the trust of his coaches. He wasn’t used during the Canadiens’ run in the 2020 playoffs. 

Ryan Poehling, Montreal Canadiens

Ramage admitted that Poehling had a “tough year last year” and noted that “He’ll admit that. A little adversity is not a bad thing. I spoke with him a couple of weeks ago and he’s hungry.”

Ramage relayed a conversation he had with the young center. As the conversation went, Ramage asked: “How was your bubble experience?” Poehling responded, ‘You know, it would have been nice to play. But it made me hungry. It made me hungry. I want to be on the ice with the Canadiens next year.’ And so, he’s training hard, I think his attitude’s really, really good and he looks at last year as: Hey, you know what, it was a learning experience. We’ll take that and we’ll move on.” 

Canadiens’ fans should keep an eye on Poehling. He has lots of potential; and, he should have a strong season in 2020-21.

Related: 3 Reasons the Montreal Canadiens Might Be the Top NHL Canadian Team

Item Five: Does Jake Allen “Sentence” Cayden Primeau to the AHL?

When the Canadiens traded a third-round pick in 2020 (previously acquired from the Washington Capitals) and a seventh-round pick in 2020 (previously acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks) for Jake Allen in early September and then signed him to a two-year, $5.75 million contract extension, that not only gave the team a great backup goalie for star Carey Price but probably means Cayden Primeau will spend most of the next three seasons with the AHL’s Lavel Rocket.

Primeau played two NHL games with Montreal last season when Carey Price wasn’t available and had a goals-against-average of 2.52 and a save percentage of .931 in those two games. During his time at the AHL level, he had a goals-against-average of 2.45 GAA and a save percentage of .908 in 33 games.

Although Primeau was only chosen in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft (199th overall) he’s risen through the depth charts to the place where he’s now projectedas the Canadiens’ goalie of the future. But that future might have moved further away when the Canadiens decided to extend Allen for three more seasons.

As Canadiens’ director of player development Ramage said, “Cayden is still developing. (He’s a) physically, big body that just needed to get stronger and this is going to allow him to do that. Rack up more minutes, more games in the American League and there’s no negative about that. So as far as the timetable, I don’t have an answer for you for that.”

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