Montreal Canadiens: de la Rose Ready for NHL

Photo Source: All Over Press

It was announced last week on October 6th that rookie Jacob de la Rose had been-assigned to St. John’s. This move occurred shortly after the Canadiens claimed speedy Calgary Flames’ 4th liner Paul Byron off waivers. This move doesn’t sit well with me and below you will find out why.

Last season, when centre Lars Eller suffered a lower-body injury, de la Rose was called up and didn’t return to the AHL. The Swedish forward replaced Eller’s role as 3rd line defensive centre until the Danish forward made his return. Once Eller returned from his injury, many assumed that de la Rose would be re-assigned to Hamilton. However, that was not the case. Head coach Michel Therrien showed a serious confidence in the Swedish forward and spoke highly of his performance.

He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s a very responsible player. He’s responsible in his positioning when he doesn’t have the puck and when he has it as well. He doesn’t force plays. He always makes good decisions when he has puck possession. We’re really happy with a young player his age. Usually, youngsters have a tendency to force plays and they get themselves in trouble. When you watch him play, though, he never gets into trouble. – Michel Therrien

de la Rose was never a consistent or high-end goal scorer at any level. He played 33 regular season games with the bleu, blanc, et rouge and put up some decent statistics, tallying four goals, two assists for a total of six points and a plus -5. Throughout 37 AHL games, he knotted six goals, five assists for 11 points and a plus +7. Much like Lars Eller, Michel Therrien used de la Rose in some tough defensive deployments. The 2nd (34th overall) pick was playing some crucial minutes on the penalty kill, took care of multiple heavy defensive assignments and did an exceptional job at that. For the majority of his time, he played with stellar penalty killer Brandon Prust and the strong, defensive shutdown centre, Lars Eller. When playoff time came, he played on the 4th line with Torrey Mitchell and Devante Smith-Pelly. It was a demotion for the then 19-year old but he looked even better playing a 4th line chip, chase, cycle and hit role.

 

 

 

 

 2014-15 10-game average Corsi-for percentage with de la Rose on the ice (blue line) compared to when he was not (orange line). Score-adjusted five-on-five data from WAR On IceCharts created by Spencer Mann.

 

In my opinion, Jacob de la Rose had an excellent training camp, and his work ethic, especially when playing shorthanded is unparalleled. His jump from the AHL to the NHL is dissimilar compared to other rookies. His strong defensive play is something he has going for him, and as I mentioned earlier, is something Therrien saw in him. He differs from prospects such as Michael Bournival, Sven Andrighetto, Christian Thomas and Charles Hudon who are all small offensive threats but lack the defensive strength and awareness that is a necessity in the NHL. The Canadiens had a grand total of 26 roster players before the start of the season. With that number, many would assume that a trade would be brewing. Seeing that de la Rose wasn’t waiver exempt, it came to no one’s surprise that the 20-year old was sent down.

What I find puzzling though, is that he is given all this praise from the coaching staff, plays every game when called up along with playing every post-season game but then all of a sudden isn’t good enough? This is a reoccurring issue that happens a lot, especially with the management and coaching staff in Montreal. It is unhealthy to undermine a players’ confidence at such a young age (20).

General Manager Marc Bergevin is often given credit for the way he manages the team. When trading for a player, he doesn’t give up a lot nor does he overpay when signing them. Looking at the grand scheme of things, Bergevin has never been a risk taker. Many see this asset as a strength, but looking back at the moves he’s made along with Montreal’s current roster, the core of Bob Gainey’s team is still lingering. I’m not criticizing the moves that the GM has made, but he’s never taken a risk or made a big trade. Furthermore, seldom does he put faith in his prospects. Since his arrival as GM, he’s only ever made mediocre, marginal and conservative moves whether it be trading Prust for Zack Kassian (and a 5th), signing Tomas Fleischmann or signing or trading for players such as Daniel Brière, Thomas Vanek and PA Parenteau. There comes a point when the kids have to play.

Looking at the current roster, the only young NHL players are Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn. These stud defencemen who are far more skilled than both Tom Gilbert and Alexei Emelin aren’t getting ice time while Gilbert and Emelin play ahead of them. Up front they have Brendan Gallagher along with Alex Galchenyuk who at this point are experienced enough to be labeled as young veterans. de la Rose isn’t far off compared to them, no, not in offensive output but in his defensive reliability. Alex Galchenyuk is developing as a centremen, not as an NHL player and I believe that there is a significant difference between the two. The team has more than enough depth at all positions to play de la Rose and let him continue to get a feel for the NHL game. The management is playing it safe and I’m not buying it whatsoever.

The AHL separates itself quite a bit from the NHL. It is slower and far more predictable. It was quite noticeable throughout de la Rose’s regular season and playoff stint that he had all the necessary combined assets to be an NHL caliber 3rd or 4th liner. He’s fast, big, physical and thrived on the penalty kill. Sending him down to develop an offensive game that clearly doesn’t exist is absurd. Not only that, but playing him consistently in the regular season and playoffs only to send him down is only going to severely diminish his confidence level. Hopefully, when someone is dealt or when an injury occurs, Jacob de la Rose will find himself back in the line up as he clearly deserves to be there.

 

What are your thoughts? Should Jacob de la Rose been sent down?

 

Follow me on Twitter: @patrick__tallon

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3 Responses to Montreal Canadiens: de la Rose Ready for NHL

  1. Look at the record…how can you argue with the moves. More depth in organization than I can remember.

    Wayne McCrae October 15, 2015 at 8:37 pm Reply
    • Right now, there’s no issue with it. However, is de la Rose better than some of those who are currently playing? Could argue so.

      Michael Gomez October 16, 2015 at 6:39 pm Reply
  2. Impressive article young Patrick, I see this is where u get ur followers u lil bugger

    Nizar October 16, 2015 at 7:38 pm Reply

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