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Gurianov also looked good in his first game with the Canadiens. He had six shots on goal and one hit in the 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks Tuesday in San Jose and looked more engaged than Dadonov ever did with the team. Will this turn out to be a Kirby Dach-like situation, where the CH acquires a player the other team had given up on and somehow turns him around with a little help from inspirational head coach Martin St. Louis? Only time will tell.

The good news for the Canadiens is, if they don’t like what they see in the final 20 or so games of the season, he’s eligible to become a restricted free agent this summer, so they don’t need to keep him if they don’t want to.

Meanwhile, Hughes’s team is neither gearing up for a playoff run nor preparing for a downward sprint for a better chance to nab likely No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard. Prior to Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, Montreal was 26th in the overall NHL standings. In other words, it’s a huge long shot that they’ll end up with No. 1 selection.

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Many, myself included, have pretty well had nothing but praise for the work of Hughes and his boss, executive vice-president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton, since they took over management of the team last season. The same goes for St. Louis, who has worked wonders with a team notably short on talent and further decimated by a crazy amount of injuries for the second straight season.

But the pressure is going to be much tougher for Gorton, Hughes and St. Louis starting next season. As I mentioned last week, St. Louis is going to have to start paying attention to the standings next season. In Montreal, it’s simply unacceptable that they would muddle their way through a third straight season as a bottom feeder.

Most everything Gorton and Hughes have done thus far has looked good, but the NHL is littered with reconstruction plans that appeared promising and then went off the rails. Just ask fans in Buffalo or Edmonton.

Presumably, they will be locking up Cole Caufield to a lucrative multi-year contract sooner rather than later, so you’ll have a first line for years to come built around the diminutive sniper and his best buddy and favourite playmaker Nick Suzuki. That’s super exciting and, at the very least, guarantees the team will be fun to watch. But again Connor McDavid is the greatest offensive player of his generation and that still hasn’t translated into playoff success for Edmonton.

This content was originally published here.