Drouin could be good fit at centre: Pacioretty
Published Tuesday, August 29, 2017 10:09PM EDT
After a busy off season that has seen some of the Canadiens’ best loved players depart, captain Max Pacioretty is eager to see his teammates come into training camp hungry.
Speaking to the media at his annual golf tournament, which benefits the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation and his own charity, Pacioretty said the turnover has provided an opportunity for a young team.
“A lot of guys feel this is almost a blank slate and they can come in prove what they’re made of,” he said.
The Canadiens youth movement is well underway, with the emergence of talented forwards like Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk and Artturi Lehkonen. The squad lost the popular Alex Radulov to free agency but brought into 22-year-old phenom Jonathan Drouin from Tampa Bay.
“We have a great group of young forwards right now who we’re expecting things from,” said Pacioretty. “I just heard I’m the second oldest forward on the team now. That’s crazy to me but it’s also a great sign we have young talent coming up.”
Drouin, in particular, has been the topic of much off season speculation, with rumours he might be vying for a spot as the team’s top line centre. Drouin has played some time at that position, though the majority of his ice time in the NHL has come on the wing.
“He told me either centre or the right wing but that stuff changes all the time,” he said. “If I had one message for him, it’s things change quickly in Montreal. One day you’re playing centre, the next day you’re not. Don’t get caught up in it because I know they’re going to try and get you caught up in it.”
Of course, some of the losses will be harder to replace. The Canadiens lost numerous defenceman, with Alexei Emelin being selected by Las Vegas in the expansion draft, Nathan Beaulieu being traded and, perhaps most infamously, longtime defender Andrei Markov heading to the KHL. While his departure does allow a youngster to step up, Pacioretty said there’s no doubt it’s a loss for the team.
“We knew this day would come knowing his age but we didn’t know when. I think the organization planned for that,” he said. “That’s the way it goes, there’s nothing we can do now. He was a huge part of my development and a huge part of this organization. He was one of the greatest players to ever play in this city and often didn’t get the recognition people felt he deserved.”