Former first-round pick Louis Leblanc entered camp looking to make an impression. However good it was, though, it wasn't a lasting one as he was among the team's first cuts this preseason.
Taken 18th overall in 2009, Leblanc is just two years removed from a by-all-accounts successful season, during which he played 42 games with the big club.
Unfortunately, he’s just one year removed from a horrible one, during which he:
- Fell below 2012 first-round pick and fellow center Alex Galchenyuk on the team’s depth chart
- Was switched to wing and then fell below eventual Calder Memorial Trophy-nominee Brendan Gallagher on the team’s depth chart
- Suffered a high ankle sprain, ultimately playing in just 62 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs
- Scored just 10 goals and eight assists a year after he scored 11 goals and 11 assists in just 22 games
Leblanc should have still had an outside chance to make the Habs out of training camp based on his pedigree and skill. He even played well in the one preseason game he got in, registering an assist, two shots on goal and four hits against the Boston Bruins.
It all should have been enough to at least get a second look, but Leblanc might not have even gotten a look at the scoresheet before being sent down to Hamilton following the game.
There are two schools of thought out there. One is that Leblanc doesn't fit into the Habs’ plans anymore. The other is that he was going to be sent down regardless of how he played in order to send a message.
That message is inherently flawed, as he got into better shape over the summer and had a good attitude entering camp by head coach Michel Therrien’s own admission, per The Montreal Gazette. From the outside looking in, it seems to boil down to something to the effect of "hard work and on-ice results? Who needs them? Here’s a slap in the face for all your effort."
There's little denying that Leblanc was in all likelihood not going to make the team, but to dismiss his attempts to rebound from a bad season so easily and so early? That's the real surprise, especially since it came directly from a management team that has built a reputation in only one year of nurturing young talent instead of burying it.
Leblanc may very well not be as good as Galchenyuk or Gallagher, who made the Habs at his expense in 2013. Seeing as the last Habs fans saw of him was an up-and-coming prospect who didn't look out of place over a half-season, one would hope he eventually gets more of a chance to prove the opposite.