Laval put up a good fight against Springfield in the Eastern Conference Finals but ultimately came up just short of moving on as they fell in seven games to the Thunderbirds. Here’s a look back at the series.
The Series That Was
Rather than do a game-by-game quick recap, I’ll stick to the basics. The scores are below with links to our game recaps if you’d like to review certain ones in more detail.
June 4: Springfield 2, Laval 1 (OT)
June 5: Laval 4, Springfield 2
June 8: Springfield 6, Laval 3
June 10: Laval 3, Springfield 2 (OT)
June 11: Springfield 3, Laval 2 (OT)
June 13: Laval 5, Springfield 1
June 15: Springfield 4, Laval 0
Goals: Danick Martel (9)
Assists: Sami Niku (11)
Points: Danick Martel (15)
+/-: Martel/Schueneman (+7)
PIMS: Belzile/Martel (44)
Shots: Danick Martel (66)
News And Notes
– While Jesse Ylonen left Game 6 with an injury, it wasn’t a particularly serious one and had Laval made it to play Chicago in the finals, he would have been available. Nate Schnarr was injured mid-series as well and did not return while Gianni Fairbrother made his playoff debut mid-round and acquitted himself quite well.
– Expect a much different-looking roster for next season. Of the 26 players who suited up at least once for Laval in the playoffs, only six are under contract for next season and one of those (Joshua Roy) is ineligible to play in the regular season for the Rocket. Obviously, some of the unsigned players will return but there will be plenty of newcomers to the roster in 2022-23.
– When we look back to the last time Montreal’s farm team made the Calder Cup Finals, it was in 2007, more commonly thought of as the Carey Price year. His numbers in that postseason were quite impressive – a 2.06 GAA and a .936 SV%. Cayden Primeau wasn’t able to drag Laval past Springfield but his playoff numbers are quite similar to Price’s that season as Primeau posted a 2.17 GAA along with an identical .936 SV%.
Last Game’s Lines:
Harvey-Pinard – Paquette – Belzile
Gignac – Dea – Bourque
Teasdale – Abbandonato – Martel
Ouellet – Belpedio
Schueneman – Paquette-Bisson
Niku – Dello
Free Agent Synopsis
If you saw that stat above and wondered who all is on an expiring contract, let’s take a quick look at Laval’s free agent situation.
NHL RFA: D Josh Brook, G Cayden Primeau, F Nate Schnarr, D Corey Schueneman, F Joel Teasdale
NHL UFA: D Louis Belpedio, F Alex Belzile, F Jean-Sebastien Dea, D Sami Niku, D Xavier Ouellet, F Cedric Paquette, F Lukas Vejdemo
AHL Free Agents: F Peter Abbandonato, D Terrance Amorosa, F Jean-Christophe Beaudin, F Gabriel Bourque, D Tory Dello, F Cedric Desruisseaux, F Justin Ducharme, F Alexandre Fortin, F Brandon Gignac, F Max Kaufman, F Danick Martel, D Nicolas Mattinen, D Tobie Paquette-Bisson, G Kevin Poulin, F Kevin Roy, G Owen Savory, F Devante Smith-Pelly, F Shawn St. Amant
The start of the 2022-23 AHL calendar is July 1st so Laval will have some decisions to make sooner than later when it comes to their group of AHL free agents.
One of the common themes I’ve seen around Laval’s playoff run is that it doesn’t mean a lot since a lot of the team was comprised of veterans with no NHL future. I can understand that to a degree although keep in mind that even as the Habs bring in more prospects to the Rocket over the next few years, there will still be quite a few veterans with no NHL future on there. However, there was still a lot of value from a development perspective for those who participated.
Cayden Primeau had the run of extended strong play that he hasn’t really had before in the minors. That’s a huge plus for his long-term future.
Rafael Harvey-Pinard hit some rough patches early in the postseason but with the team getting far enough, he had time to adapt and was much better against Springfield. I’m not ready to say he has done enough to graduate to the Habs on a full-time basis but he undoubtedly raised his stock in the eyes of management. Jesse Ylonen, on the other hand, had a rough go of it overall which is still a good learning experience to go through the physically demanding grind of an AHL playoff. Nate Schnarr made a decent case to stick around while Joel Teasdale didn’t but the bigger sample size of games will help management decide his future. Lucas Condotta looked better every game and after watching the Syracuse series, I now see what the Habs saw in him that made them think he could be a fourth-line player down the road in the NHL.
Even on defence, Corey Schueneman got a good chance to stake his case for the #7 spot with the Habs next season with more ups than downs. Mattias Norlinder at least got a little bit of time to get reacclimated to playing in North America even though his playoffs ended on a low note with a concussion. Gianni Fairbrother was able to get a few games in to avoid any lingering uncertainty about being off for so long and, quite frankly, he looked quite good in his limited action which is a promising sign for next season.
Would it be nice to see a Laval team with more prospects make this type of playoff run? Of course. But there still was plenty of developmental and decision-making value for Montreal’s prospects from this playoff run. And what a run it was.