The decision to cut Louis Leblanc was from the Montreal Canadiens training camp last week and return him to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL was confusing. The Habs first round pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft had come to camp highly motivated and in good shape. He played with the intensity of a potential third liner, a role management had indicated they saw him fulfilling within the organization.
Whether or not the GM Marc Bergevin and his staff believe Leblanc will be a valuable asset to the club in the future can be debated. An optimistic assessment of the situation at this juncture would be that they truly believe the best path for Leblanc to follow is at the AHL level.
The 22-year-old will have a chance to play an important role on a club with a young crop of rookies. It’s an opportunity for Leblanc to be a leader. Still, Leblanc will have to stick to what made him the 18th overall pick in 2009. He’ll have to work hard to earn his minutes, and often much harder than his teammates.
Adversity can be a double edged blade. The following season will indicate how Leblanc deals with that adversity in what should prove to be a make or break season for the Pointe-Claire, QC native. Will the 42 games he played in an abysmal 2011-12 season represent his only time with his hometown favorite Canadiens? Or will he get the call to the blue-blanc-rouge carpet again?
We posed the following two questions to the Habs universe and compiled some of the answers below:
– Do you believe that the Habs decision to cut Louis Leblanc was warranted?
– Would you trade Leblanc or remain patient with his development?
From the HW Forums:
The Chicoutimi Cucumber:
“If this demotion sends a message, it’s this: that you were a first-round pick cuts absolutely no ice with us, and doesn’t even win you the courtesy of surviving the first round of cuts just for the sake of form. Was this a message he needed to hear? Perhaps…if he showed up out of shape or something.
Given that he suffered a grave injury last year and that the path of player development is often bumpy, I don’t see the need to be in a rush to move Leblanc. My hope is that we’re becoming an organization committed to getting the best out of its young talent even if their progression goes through disappointing or erratic stretches. But I am kind of disappointed, inasmuch as I liked him when he played for us a couple of years ago; he seemed like a smart player with the potential to be a very solid “glue guy” type on the third or maybe second line. Obviously that’s not in the cards for the foreseeable future.
“I don’t think he should have been cut in the first round of cuts, but I don’t think it matters much either. He would have been cut in the second round of cuts and gone to Hamilton no matter what.
I think the organization is challenging him here, sending a message that he really needs to impress in Hamilton.”
“I think Leblanc was going to start in Hamilton anyways, coming off a poor season. Maybe they just never considered him as having a chance to start with the big club, so they sent him down early so that he’ll know where he stands (and avoid any media speculation).
I wouldn’t trade him yet, because I anticipate a bounce-back from him. He has a good head and work-ethic, and maybe he’ll adjust to a defensive role. As it is, he’s not worth much anyways.”
“I don’t think the cut was warranted, he got one game, played decent with Stone Hands Moen, and White, then was sent packing. He drew a penalty on Lucic, and did well overall. I think this is to send a message to him, I’m not sure why, which brings me to the second question…
I would trade Louis Leblanc in a heartbeat. The expectations of him are not realistic. If his name was Larry Lyons, he would already be labeled a bust, and be barely thought of, except in passing, like David Fisher or Kyle Chipchura. He reminds me of Jordan Caron on the Bruins, high expectations, but it’s not there. If he were in a good draft, he might have been picked in the late second round. His development has been screwed up, from going to college then junior, then pro, then Hamilton, etc. Get rid of him while you can get a 2nd round pick, or use him as a throw in in a deal.
“By Leblanc’s most recent poor season vs his seemingly direct competition Thomas’s good AHL season and limited roster spots, the cut was warranted and maybe is also to serve as potential motivation.
The Habs do not have any glaring holes in the roster, except a top 4 defense depth, so I would wait and see how Louis does in Hamilton this year.”
Not this early based on play. I would tend to believe they're sending a message.
— Ash Patel (@Ash_Patel_) September 17, 2013
Figured he would be cut eventually, but not this early. Thought he did a lot of things right last night as well.
— Michael (@Mike_Habs) September 17, 2013
don't forget that when LeBlanc was drafted, talking heads said he would top out as 3rd liner at best. #Habs #IsItWorthTheHype
— Lee Barcomb (@LeeBarcomb) September 17, 2013
Work on his dev, even if I was inclined to move him his value is low right now. Better to raise his value in any case.
— Robert Rice (@SeriousFan09) September 17, 2013
I wouldn't have made him a 1st round pick to start with. Expectations have always been too high. He'll never be a top 6.
— Chantal (@habsgirl4life) September 17, 2013
The early cut certainly did not help his value. I'd stay patient, as his play seems to have improved since last year.
— Étienne Tremblay (@EtienneTF) September 17, 2013