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Montreal Canadien Max Pacioretty cuts between two New Jersey Devils.
Max Pacioretty has developed into quite the star for the Montreal Canadiens and—bringing size and scoring ability to the team’s first line—is arguably the most important forward to the team’s Stanley Cup hopes, at least in the short term. However, Galchenyuk, who plays the wing in addition to center, is not far behind.
It remains to be seen just where head coach Michel Therrien opts to play the 2012 third overall pick. However, his 2013 season (27 points) showed great promise for the future and may be an indication it's only a matter of time before he and Pacioretty find themselves on the same line.
Rene Bourque, despite generally playing on the team’s second line whenever he was healthy last year (27 games played), really has a skill set more reminiscent of a third-line forward, especially with his lack of consistency. While he admittedly showed signs of life last year after a lackluster first year with the Habs, he shouldn’t be guaranteed his second-line spot back.
From there, Brandon Prust, Travis Moen, George Parros and Michael Blunden will jockey for position with the last few spots up for grabs on either wing.
Blunden will likely spend most of his time in Hamilton, and Moen needs to show more of the effort that earned him a four-year deal last summer. While tough-guy Parros won’t likely draw into the lineup every game, Moen risks being a recurring healthy scratch for very different—and worse—reasons.
Prust meanwhile, despite being paid an exorbitant $2.5 million per year, has been a pleasant surprise and plays bigger than his 6'0" frame and 195 pounds.
Having started last season playing with Galchenyuk and Rookie of the Year runner-up Brendan Gallagher without losing a step, he offers a lot of intangibles that could see him move up the lineup in a pinch.