The Canadians have boosted the depth chart with a strong start to the Kotkaniemi camp

Brussard, Cui. – There is no player in Montreal Canadian training camp more profitable than Jasper Kotcaniemi.

Think about this: The 20-year-old was seen as a big step forward in his development which has the opportunity to change the optics of his sophomore season to bring him back to a big step forward with a big step behind his development.

The door is wide open for Kotkanimi to gain the most valuable experience of his career to date. And after all, when the agency drafted him for the third time in 2018, he has the opportunity to prove that he deserves the role he envisioned.

If at first, (reasonably) it was assumed that Kotkanimi was probably competing for a deeper role and only Max Domi, who has type 1 diabetes and was awaiting a decision on whether to join the team place brosard in the coming days, Canadian coach Claude Julien on Tuesday The expulsion was a significant development.

The coach first went out of his way to praise Kotkanimi, in response to a question about Rocky Nick Suzuki, an indication that the child would at least have a chance to work on the lineup himself. When he landed in Montreal last week, there was no assurance from Kotkaniemi.

But this? It was something else.

“Well, what I want to think about and what I want to think about for Kotkanimi is this week and next week, if he can show us how much he’s improved …” “Before the end, Julian said,” Max isn’t here right now. Coming doesn’t mean it automatically goes back to Kotkanimi which is about to go out (a line with Paul Byron and Arthur Lehkonen). As we move forward here, as we told everyone else, we will make those decisions. “

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If they had been made before we got here, it would have been hard to imagine Kotcaniemi pencil in any kind of safe role, let alone in the third line.

Pori, a native of Finland, fought outside the gate in September. Shortly after the start of the season, he parked for two weeks to recover from a groin injury he had sustained since training camp began, after scoring just two goals in October. In early December, when he seemed to be gaining momentum, he received a devastating blow from Colorado iceberg defender Nikita Jadorov, who agreed to him and separated him for about a month.

During the tour around January, Kotkaniemi became a player Julian often answered questions with which he had nothing to do – and of course he should not have been praised.

The baby’s production was non-existent, he was very effective without touching and his confidence spread. Julian was patient with the process, as mistakes piled up and Canadians slipped further and out of the playoff debate.

Kotkanimi’s frustration clearly reached its tipping point. He categorized his trip on AHL’s Laval rocket on January 18th. This has been confirmed as “an exciting opportunity” – even if he was genuinely interested in getting the opportunity to play a more important role and was allowed to do something wrong at that level of forgiveness.

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It was a huge relief for the Canadians and it must have been a huge relief for Kotkanimi that he made 13 points in 12 games with the Rockets after making just eight points in 336 games with the big club.

But in that twelfth game he suffered a plane injury, an injury that was supposed to keep him out of action for the rest of the season, with Kotkaniemi considering any return-to-play scene between the NHL and NHLPA in mid-March and early May.

The month of rest – and the NHL’s break due to COVID-19 – changed for Kotkanimi, and now it appears that his performance through the three-day Canadian camp has changed in a significant way.

Julian said on Wednesday, “Well, I think the biggest thing (when) we got him down … we talked about it yesterday … his skating wasn’t at the previous level, and his whole game was disrupted,” Wednesday. Julien said. . “When you’re not in motion, you’re trying to make plays (and) plays are going to stop. He was frustrated as he was not seen and he saw that his confidence was clearly affected. But when you look at him now and you see how well he is skating, a lot of space is falling, which he didn’t have at the time. So this is probably the biggest thing here.

“Does he need coaching? Absolutely. Like everyone, there are certain things certain these good players do, they always want to make good plays and sometimes there are no plays. Some of it comes from experience, it will get better with some time. We have to be patient, and at the same time we have to teach. And I think right now, I keep saying it, I like what I’ve seen so far because his skating is back where I think we saw it at its best at one point and the rest of the game seems to be slowly falling into place. “

Even his self-employed teammate Philip Donalt has been fascinated by his first three rehearsals since March.

“I’ve only seen him in practice, so it’s hard to say,” Danalt warned. “But I can tell you his shot is really destructive. He became a little stiffer, a little bigger, obviously gaining some maturity there. However, as I said, I only saw him in three exercises, so it’s hard to say. I have to look at a game situation. But I like what I see so far. “

If you are a fan of Canadians, you need to like what you hear (or read).

Kotkaniemi had to be encouraged to learn that he could attend the training camp after the possibility of his serious injury was cast in doubt in March. One should be reassured to know that he is making an impression immediately – especially after his turbulent season.

And this comment by Julian should also be a welcome point.

“This guy is a future player here who should be with this company for a long time, so there’s no doubt he should work with you,” the coach said. “In his case, I think the best thing for KK is to do it now. He should be given a chance to come, he should be allowed to skate, he should be allowed to play, he should gain confidence. He doesn’t need a face to tell her on the first day, ‘I want you to do this and that’.

“What I’ve seen so far is what I’ve been encouraging. So I’m moving on a bit. But there’s no doubt we’ll sit down and have a conversation sometime.

It is a priority for Julian to do so, and in short, Kotkaniemi says a lot about the opportunity he had in front of him.

If the six-foot center could occupy it, it would be a huge development for both him and Canadians.

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