The Habs will have a total of seven players representing them at the 2023 World Championship with the majority of those being prospects. Here’s a rundown of who will be participating with a prediction of the role they’ll have.
Justin Barron: While Barron wasn’t able to return to Laval for their final few games, his season is going to be extended through this event. Canada’s back end isn’t particularly strong on paper but Barron, a right-shot player, is on the stronger of the two sides. At this point, he’s likely fourth on the depth chart among right-shot defenders behind Mackenzie Weegar, Tyler Myers, and Ethan Bear. Accordingly, Barron might be in a limited role, even if one of the righties moves over to play on the left; in that scenario, he’d still be on the third pairing. I don’t expect to see him in a particularly meaningful role as a result.
Samuel Montembeault: Well, he could have a meaningful role. At this point, the number one job appears to be up for grabs between him and Buffalo prospect Devon Levi, who played quite well for Canada in the past at the World Juniors. With a seven-game round-robin, Montembeault should get at least a few starts and if he performs well in those, he could be the guy for the medal round.
Frederik Dichow: If there’s one player out of Montreal’s group that has the most to prove here, it’s him. Frederik Andersen won’t be at the event, he’s busy with Carolina in the playoffs. Mads Sogaard won’t be there due to injury and long-time national team goalie Sebastian Dahm has retired from the national team. As a result, the starting spot is Dichow’s to lose. The Canadiens only hold his rights until the end of the month so if he wants to prove that he’s worthy of an entry-level contract from the Habs (or anyone else, for that matter), this tournament is his last chance to do so.
Joel Armia: I’m honestly a little surprised that Armia is going. First, except for last year, he typically doesn’t play in this event. Plus, after missing so much time with an upper respiratory issue, I’m surprised the Habs are letting him play. There are five NHL forwards on the Finnish roster plus some quality long-time national team players and Armia should slot into a middle-six role with secondary special teams time. He did quite well in this event last year and with the struggles he had during the regular season, it’d be nice for him if he could finish up the year on a high note.
Sean Farrell: Farrell impressed last year in his first taste of action with the senior team with good showings at the Olympics and the Worlds. He had more of a secondary role a year ago but the Americans don’t exactly have a lot of firepower. Following a year that saw him dominate in college, Farrell should be in line for a bit more of a bigger role although it’s interesting that he was on the third line in a recent tuneup game. If that’s where he starts, he should be able to move his way up. I think he’ll do just that.
Lane Hutson: A highlight-reel goal against Germany in a pre-tournament game will only heighten the expectations but they need to be tempered. As the youngest player on the team, Hutson is quite likely to start the event in a very limited role as the sixth or seventh defenceman, one that plays regularly on the power play and gets more time at five-on-five when they’re trailing. That would still be a great outcome development-wise as he gets his feet wet against professionals. He lit it up in the NCAA this season but it’d be surprising if that happened in this tournament.
Luke Tuch: I like Tuch but his inclusion on this roster was a bit perplexing. It might have helped entice his brother Alex to come to the event but if that’s the case, that might be his greatest contribution. Early on, his role is almost certain to be a fourth liner or 13th forward if he’s in the lineup. The Americans are leaving a couple of roster spots open and if other forwards are added, Tuch is a strong candidate to lose his spot in the lineup. Getting tossed against Germany in the exhibition game didn’t help his cause either. Having the opportunity to work with NHL coaches is nice but don’t expect much from the younger Tuch in this event.