NASHVILLE – One year after the acquisition of Kirby Dach, the Canadian has carried out a transaction with a similar aim by appropriating the services of Alex Newhook and it will be necessary to see if the Montreal context will also allow Newhook to flourish.
Tuesday afternoon, the CH announced that it had sold the 31st and 37th picks of the 2023 draft to the Colorado Avalanche in return for the 22-year-old five-foot-ten, 190-pound forward.
Considering the many choices available to the Canadian, this year again, logic led to an action of this type.
“Alex gives us certain things including versatility, good rhythm, speed and a character that fits with what we want to establish within our team; we are working hard on that. As well as the fact of having already won the Stanley Cup ”, especially noted the general manager Kent Hughes.
“He’s from the same draft as Cole (Caufield) and Kirby who will probably be one of the good guys in NHL history. We believe Alex still has a lot of potential,” he continued of the 16th cap in 2019.
Of course, it does not have the magnitude of the pact sending Pierre-Luc Dubois to Los Angeles, but it is another step in the established direction. Head coach Martin St-Louis was stationed to the right of Hughes to answer a few questions and he will have to determine if Newhook will be more useful as a center or a winger.
“I don’t know yet, we’ll see how everything goes and how we manage everything. But like Kent says, he’s versatile, he’s able to play wing and center as well as special teams. It’s another piece that advances us in our vision,” retained St-Louis.
The coach took the opportunity later to draw a parallel in this direction.
“When Kent and I arrived, we were in the childhood phase, so to speak. We have moved forward and we have left childhood behind even if we remain a young team, ”said St-Louis, who was happy with the gesture from his boss.
“We ask the players to play the game and that’s what Kent is doing right now, he’s using the cards at his disposal. To add a player of his caliber, you have to give something good in return. You can’t just have a plan set in stone. »
The growth spurt would have been much more sudden with the addition of Dubois to the organization chart. Unsurprisingly, Hughes preferred not to answer questions about the Quebec forward who will be moving from Winnipeg to Los Angeles.
“As we know, I cannot speak because he is not a player in our organization. I thought I would start my press briefing by saying that, in the spirit of transparency, I cannot be transparent this time,” he admitted.
“We couldn’t have done both,” Hughes then agreed.
Newhook’s physique did not dampen Hughes, who was his agent before becoming general manager. It should still be remembered that the Canadian will rely on several small forwards like him and Caufield.
“We hear that we like the big players too much or the little ones. Small is defined by height or weight, but Alex is a pretty ‘thick’ guy especially in the lower body a bit like Sidney Crosby,” Hughes said.
A better chair, exploited potential?
Obviously the plan with Newhook is to maximize his potential like the team started doing with Dach. Starting from the fact that Newhook had to settle for an average use of 13 minutes per game, it shouldn’t hurt him to end up in Montreal.
“I think he will have an opportunity in a better chair. We’ll be able to use it a little more than that. It’s not the biggest, but it plays pretty heavy. I find that we add him in an environment in which he could demonstrate more,” said St-Louis.
“For sure in Colorado, he was a player in such a talented offensive team that was fighting for the Stanley Cup. I think we’re giving him a better chance,” Hughes said.
The GM of CH compared the case of Newhook to that of Chandler Stephenson who needed time to exert the desired impact in the NHL. So far, the southpaw is posting highs of 14 goals and 33 points.
The favorable environment deployed by St-Louis and its bosses has been beneficial for Dach.
“I always believe that a good player doesn’t forget how to play. But we often see a player that it helps when he arrives in a new context. I’m not saying it’s going to help everyone – but a guy like Cole Caufield, it changed a lot of things for him. We believe Alex has the potential to move forward,” maintained Hughes.
This context is accompanied by greater room for maneuver given the recovery initiated by the team.
“We are in a totally different situation from the Avalanche. We try to develop our players without handcuffing or suffocating them. That said, they have to show progress and you can’t repeat the same mistakes,” said St-Louis.
Upon taking office, Hughes was quick to say that it was impossible to describe the precise plan to be followed. He made another demonstration of it with this transaction and he was happy not to have sacrificed the future of his troop. One day tougher decisions will come along and he knows it.