Already 2009 has proven to be a potential turning point for the Montreal Canadiens for the 2008-09 season, and for the future.
With newcomer Alex Tanguay sidelined for a minimum to six weeks with a left shoulder separation and Carey Price still being bothered by a lower body injury, the Canadiens have recalled four players from their AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs—Kyle Chipchura, Max Pacioretty, Marc Denis, and Yannick Weber.
In his first 31 professional games, Pacioretty has netted five goals and added 17 assists, along with 31 PIMs and a -1 rating. Pacioretty's transition into AHL hockey has seemed to be seamless, as he is a deadly shot on the Bulldogs' power play. Pacioretty doesn't mind shooting the puck, ranking fourth on the 'Dogs with 71 shots so far this season.
'Dogs captain Kyle Chipchura gets his second tour of duty with the Habs this season, playing an Oct. 21 game against the Florida Panthers, playing over 10 minutes of ice time and playing a hard two-way game.
Chipchura played 36 games last year after making the Habs out of training camp and went on to score four goals and add seven assists with 10 PIMs and a -1 rating before spending the rest of the season with the 'Dogs.
Yannick Weber's transition to the AHL has also been seamless and now he may get an opportunity to get some power play time on the Canadiens' blue line. Weber has eight goals and 10 assists through 31 games this season with the 'Dogs. Weber has a +6 rating along with 18 PIMs and leads the 'Dogs with 87 shots.
His booming slapshot may be a welcome addition to the Habs blueline after the departure of both Sheldon Souray and Mark Streit in consecutive years.
Marc Denis gets his second tour of duty in Montreal as well, and will likely be backing up Jaroslav Halak in the Habs next game against the New Jersey Devils.
With these call-ups, Habs fans will get to see a small glimpse of the future of the club.
Weber is touted as being one of the big names coming through the system that may be anchoring the defense in the following years. Weber's puck-playing smarts and shot make him a great quarterback for the Habs power play, which is quarterbacked by Andrei Markov.
Pacioretty is a speedy, lanky kid, but he can definitely play. Hopefully he and Chipchura can stick in the lineup long enough to make a positive impression that may initiate a move to free up space on the roster for them to play long-term. With so many re-signings imminent this coming off-season, these players may get a spot for good next season.
The Habs future will be on display in Jersey this weekend and hopefully the home fans can get a glimpse of the future in the Bell Centre.
We're all hoping the future looks bright. So far it is.