The Montreal Canadiens have the rare luxury of having a surplus of quality players at the defensive position. Not only do they have some solid defencemen in their current lineup, but the Habs prospect cupboards are also full of quality defenceman prospects. This is where the Montreal Canadiens defence looks promising. The likes of Lane Hutson, David Reinbacher, and Logan Mailloux are all making their way towards the NHL sooner rather than later. Not to mention you have Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris, and Jayden Struble in the NHL currently. Justin Barron also spent much time in the league before being sent down earlier this week.

The Canadiens also have veterans like Mike Matheson, David Savard, and Jonathan Kovacevic in the rotation. With a surplus of prospects and only six spots in the future, who will be on the Montreal Canadiens defense for the future?

Montreal Canadiens Defence

Untouchables on the Canadiens Defence

The only untouchables on this defence core should be Lane Hutson and David Reinbacher. Players with Hutson’s skill set don’t grow on trees. The Habs haven’t had a dynamic defenceman of that calibre since P.K. Subban. If he reaches his ceiling, Hutson has the potential to be the #1 defenceman and powerplay quarterback of the future. David Reinbacher also falls into this category due to his status as a fifth-overall pick. We all know that Hughes was given some major offers for the fifth overall pick last summer all of which he declined. This shows how highly Reinbacher is valued within the Canadiens organization.

Kaiden Guhle is another nearly untouchable guy. Barring a swap for a major forward similar to the Drysdale for Gauthier swap, it seems unlikely that Guhle is shipped anytime soon. The final guy on this list is Arber Xhekaj. According to Elliotte Friedman, the Habs have been wielding calls on Xhekaj since his stint in the AHL and all of them have been shut down by Kent Hughes. The Canadiens see Xhekaj as a big part of the future core and his rare mix of skill and physicality will be needed for the team’s future.

Expendables on the Canadiens Defence

The expendables tier consists of Justin Barron, Jordan Harris, and Jayden Struble. It also includes several defensive prospects such as Bogdan Konyushkov, Adam Engstrom, Mattias Norlinder, and William Trudeau. Struble is probably the least likely to be shipped out of this group as he’s shown great progression this season with the Habs. Justin Barron has struggled defensively in the NHL and is still a very raw player. The Canadiens do have a weakness in right-handed prospects, however, so they may opt to hold onto Barron. If Logan Mailloux and David Reinbacher can make the jump and excel in Montreal however, it makes Barron expendable.

In Jordan Harris’ case, he suffers from not bringing anything unique to the defense group. Guhle and Struble both are also good skaters and puck movers much like Harris. However, they are both bigger and bring more physicality than he does. While Hutson, Mailloux, and Barron all bring more offensive upside than Harris, Xhekaj brings that unique physical element. This leaves Harris as the odd man out on the back end and the most expendable. The other Hab’s depth defensive prospects are all solid options to be thrown into a trade package to acquire a forward.

Verdict

Hutson, Mailloux, Reinbacher, Guhle, and Xhekaj are the five who should be a part of the team’s future assuming they all continue their strong development curves. The sixth spot will likely go to a guy like Struble or Barron. Mike Matheson is the team’s best defenceman right now but likely doesn’t fit in the long-term plans. Matheson could fetch a king’s ransom on the open market right now and Hughes may opt to take advantage. Savard and Kovacevic also will both likely be shipped sooner rather than later.

There are many unknown variables such as trades and unexpected developments. However, with that being said, this is the most likely outcome for the future of the Montreal Canadiens Defence.

Main Photo: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

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