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Looking Ahead: Joel Armia

August 12, 2019, 8:16 PM ET [232 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Some might even say that he settled in too nicely. A mainstay on the third line alongside Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Artturi Lehkonen for most of the season, Joel Armia eventually saw plenty of time on the power play much to many fans' displeasure. To be honest, it's hard to blame said fans, before coming over from the Jets, Armia had a grand total of 0 power play goals in 180 NHL games. That being said, the lacklustre execution of the man advantage all through the season left the Habs' coach scratching their heads to find a spark, any spark at all and so Armia eventually got his shot on the "power" play. In the end, he did notch two man-advantage goals in late March but I highly doubt that he is THE solution for the Canadiens abysmal special unit.

At the end of the season, Armia's contract had expired and having played only 57 games in which he got 23 points he was far from being in a position of force to negotiate. Unsurprisingly, he eventually filed for arbitration but Bergevin did manage to avoid the hearing with a temporary fix, a two year deal worth $2.6 M per year which will see the right winger to unrestricted free agency. This means that he got a $750 000 raise and he's got 2 years to prove not only to the Habs, but to the whole league, what he can actually do. Mind you, he's not currently in a bad position to do so. The Canadiens' depth on the right wing wasn't exactly great last season but it's even worst now that Andrew Shaw has been sent back to Chicago. Unless a youngster has an amazing training camp, number 40 could possibly find himself in the top 6. If this does happen, it will not be a good sign...Remember all those great set up plays orchestrated by KK last season and how we all wished he had wingers who had a better finish? Well, imagine that lack of finish in the top 6, that could hurt and it could hurt big time.

The most optimistic amongst us will say that Armia is still relatively young at 26 years old and that he is a former first round pick (16th overall in 2011 by Buffalo) who's yet to reach his ceiling. I can see this argument for Drouin who's two years younger and was a top 3 pick but for Armia? I'm far from convinced. That being said, he did miss 25 games last season due to a knee injury so perhaps he will hit a new gear if he can remain healthy. One thing's for sure, he's got plenty to be motivated about. A hockey player's career isn't exactly long and if a player wants to really cash in, he needs to deliver the goods to land himself a long term deal which always removes a bit of performance pressure and gives them some sort of peace of mind should injuries occur.



To be honest, I find it hard to believe that Armia could become a productive top 6 forward and the very thought that he might be called upon in that role this upcoming season scares me but I guess time will tell...Are you bigger fans of Armia than I am? Do you believe he can start burying some of his chances? See him with the Habs long term or do you think that in two years he'll be set free? Who knows though, we the 2019 Rookie Showcase less than a month away, perhaps some young prospect will make us all forget about the threat of a top-6 Armia in Belleville from Septembre 6 to 9, fingers crossed!
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