Call Of The Wilde: Ottawa Senators dump the Montreal Canadiens - Montreal

Call Of The Wilde: Ottawa Senators dump the Montreal Canadiens - Montreal

Updated: 22 days, 15 hours, 31 minutes, 21 seconds ago

The Montreal Canadiens held the Ottawa Senators to only five shots for the first half of the game, but the Senators woke up in the third period, scoring three unanswered for a 5-2 win.

Wilde Horses 

There aren’t many nights in the Canadiens season where one is not pleasantly reminded of the great work of Kent Hughes so far as General Manager. He has not made a single mistake while clearly making some winning moves already.

Kirby Dach for the 13th pick in the draft is already a massive win as Dach is having a breakout season at centre. Ben Chiarot for a first round draft pick is also a huge win as Florida is a long shot to make the playoffs, meaning that pick is going to be top-15.

Sean Monahan arrived for another first round draft pick from Calgary, which looks like it is going to be higher than expected as that team seems to be trending lower in the standings.

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Another winning moment is the Mike Matheson for Jeff Petry trade. Hughes was able to get maximum return even when Petry demanded a trade, backing the Canadiens GM into a corner. Hughes still came out with a giant win.

Petry is 35. His career is winding down. The Pittsburgh Penguins are rumoured to be trying to move him. Matheson is 28 and is in the prime of his career.

In Saturday’s game, Matheson went end-to-end, finishing a rush by moving around Thomas Chabot like he was a pylon. Matheson scored on his own rebound.

Matheson looks like a first pair defender many nights. Petry looks like it’s nearly over for him. What a trade by Hughes. These are the building blocks of success.

The Canadiens have so many young pieces playing well. Nick Suzuki went through a stretch of fatigue mid-season, but he has found his game again. Suzuki made a deke that left Mads Sogaard’s head spinning for his 20th goal of the season. Suzuki has scored in three straight games.

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Wilde Goats 

Win or lose, this Canadiens team, without 10 regulars, is impressive. Martin St. Louis has this team of half Montreal/half Laval holding the Senators to five shots in the first half of the game. It is remarkable the hockey they are putting in.

The players from the Rocket aren’t even great prospects compared to the ones coming down the pike in the next three seasons. The prospects have a lot more skill and pedigree than the likes of Pitlick, Pezzetta, and Harvey-Pinard excelling now for Montreal.

It is as if something powerfully right is happening within the organization. It would be nice for a higher draft pick if this ‘something right’ could hold off for about 20 games, but an organic change happens when it happens. It can’t be controlled.

It is easy to see the excitement of the players when they score, and the camaraderie when they communicate. They tug on their crest when they are proud. The head coach celebrates with them when they succeed.

None of this is supposed to be happening with this line-up. The club is two games over .500 since the all-star break with the hardest ‘strength of schedule’ in the entire league. Imagine what they could do with ten more NHLers like a healthy Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle, and Kirby Dach.

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Bizarre, but the rebuild is happening too fast. They may not even draft top-ten. The third period was a great respite for Team Tank with Ottawa’s surge, but Team Rebuild has been the bigger winner in February.

Wilde Cards 

It can occasionally be a good idea in hockey circles to remind everyone what the percentages of success are for draft picks in the NHL.

This afternoon, the Winnipeg Jets acquired Nino Niederreiter, so the speculation immediately began who won the deal when the Nashville Predators received a second round draft pick in return.

The pick the Predators acquired will likely be at around the 50 spot for the 2024 NHL draft. Who won the deal depends on how successful that draft pick will be in the NHL. The odds do not favour that player.

The math shows a player taken in the second half of the second round has only a 20 per cent chance of making the league as a regular. The player has only a two per cent chance of becoming a star.

The Jets likely won the deal because they received Niederreiter, who has a contract for this and next season. He is proven and immediately makes the Jets a better team for their playoff run.

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The Predators will hope that somehow they beat bad math with the draft pick they eventually make.

Keep this in mind when the Canadiens are making their own moves at the trading deadline. If the player is an unrestricted free agent, then whatever can be attained is a good return. As an example, Evgenii Dadonov traded for a 10 per cent chance of making a good draft pick is better than him leaving the team for no return at all.

However, a player under contract for next season must return real value from the marketplace. A first round draft choice, even at the 30 spot in the overall order, has a 50 per cent chance of being an NHL regular. That’s the goal for Montreal – to somehow get a first rounder for an asset that is under contract and has already proven that he has an NHL pedigree.

Fans love to hope for a miracle in the draft where that gem is found late, like Henrik Zetterberg. It does happen, but it is a one in 100 event. The other 99 times, the player is a difficult trivia question during a night of fun with your mates.

Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on after each Canadiens game.