6 new players set to make their debut in Canadiens lineup this season

Sep 5 2023, 7:24 pm

With another Montreal Canadiens season on the horizon comes an array of new talent joining the team.

And after a busy offseason that saw Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes make a handful of trades and signings, more than a few faces are expected to debut in the bleu, blanc, rouge over the 2023-24 campaign.

Here are six players expected to play for the Habs for the first time in their careers.

Alex Newhook

It’s a foregone conclusion that forward Alex Newhook will be in Montreal’s starting lineup on opening night.

The 22-year-old winger, who was traded to Montreal from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for two draft picks and a prospect back in June, brings an impressive offensive skill set and some much-needed playoff experience.

He will be part of the team and have a good chance of maintaining a spot in the top six.

Emil Heineman

Acquired in a 2022 trade with the Calgary Flames, Canadiens prospect Emil Heineman recently told TVA Sports that he expects to make the team this year.

“Yes. You’ll see in October,” he said bluntly after being asked whether he expects to earn a roster spot with the Habs this season.

The 21-year-old forward, who has not yet suited up for an official NHL game, explained that his confidence is based on positive performances with the Laval Rocket and last year’s preseason stint in Montreal.

“I’ve never played an official game in the NHL,” he said. “But if I go by the three preseason games where I was used last year, I’m convinced that I have what it takes, not only to win a regular position with Montreal but also to help the team.”

While time will tell whether his October prediction comes true, it’s likely that we see him enter the lineup at some point this year.

Gustav Lindstrom

When Montreal flipped defenceman Jeff Petry to the Detroit Red Wings shortly after re-acquiring him from Pittsburgh, they obtained a defensive asset in Gustav Lindstrom.

While Montreal’s blueline is pretty loaded with young talent and depth pieces like Johnathan Kovacevic and Chris Wideman, they may give Lindstrom a trial run, especially if they suffer the same injury-prone fate they endured last year.

The 24-year-old, who is currently signed to a one-year, $950,000 deal, netted one goal and eight points over 36 games with Detroit last year.

Lias Andersson

Early in the offseason, Montreal inked 24-year-old Swedish forward Lias Andersson to a contract worth $775k over one season.

Andersson, who was taken seventh overall by the New York Rangers in 2017, has not lived up to his potential since making his NHL debut, netting just seven goals and 17 points in 110 games with New York and the Los Angeles Kings.

Montreal will be looking to unlock his potential this season as they have done with other late bloomers like Kirby Dach and Samuel Montembeault in the past.

Since Andersson is on a two-way deal, he will likely see both NHL and AHL action this season.

Nathan Legare

Added as a sweetener in the Pittsburgh Penguins deal that saw Montreal re-acquire Jeff Petry, forward Nathan Legare is expected to begin the season with the Laval Rocket.

With that said, the 22-year-old has as good a shot as any AHL prospect of earning a call-up sometime this year.

While his two-season stint with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins did not see him generate much offence, before being drafted in 2019, the Montreal native scored 45 goals and 42 assists through 68 QMJHL regular season games.

Maybe a homecoming is what’s needed to get him going again.

Casey DeSmith

Nobody knows exactly what’s going on with Casey DeSmith.

After acquiring the American netminder in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins last month, the Habs’ goalie trio of Jake Allen, Sam Montembeault, and Cayden Primeau became a foursome.

The fact that DeSmith has not met or spoken with the Montreal media yet leads many to believe he will be the odd one out.

And while it’s very likely that the Canadiens shed one of their netminders, it’s worth noting that the 32-year-old posted better stats last season than anyone in Montreal.

If Habs management decides to keep him around, he will emerge as one of their best options in net.

Al SciolaAl Sciola

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