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Harvey-Pinard’s Future With The Canadiens After Injury

After a breakout campaign that saw him net 14 goals in only 34 games, many Canadiens fans were excited at what Rafael Harvey-Pinard‘s sophomore season may bring. However, it was announced that the 25-year-old Quebec native would miss up to six weeks with another injury. This is Harvey-Pinard’s second major injury this campaign, which raises durability concerns. His lack of production when healthy however also raises concern. Harvey-Pinard has only one goal and six assists in 24 games. Was Harvey-Pinard’s breakout rookie year a fluke, or will Harvey-Pinard be able to bounce back?

Harvey-Pinard’s Future With The Canadiens

Analysis of Harvey-Pinard’s 2022-23

When he was recalled by the Canadiens last season, he joined an injury-riddled team. The Canadiens had an unprecedented amount of injuries to their roster, and as a result, sat near the bottom of the standings. The depleted roster gave Harvey-Pinard an opportunity that he otherwise likely wouldn’t have gotten. He immediately got a chance to play alongside Nick Suzuki and Josh Anderson, with whom he found instant chemistry. With guys like Cole Caufield and Kirby Dach out, RHP saw lots of powerplay time as well last season.

This boost in minutes gave RHP more opportunity than he had ever received at the NHL level. As a result, his production skyrocketed. A player who had produced 16 goals at the AHL level in 40 games all of a sudden had 14 goals in only 34 games in the NHL. This pace would be difficult for RHP to repeat and maintain over a full campaign, especially without those top minutes.

Analysis of Harvey Pinard’s 2023-24

Harvey-Pinard’s much anticipated sophomore season has been riddled with injury. He suffered a lower-body injury in November that sidelined him for approximately six weeks. Now, the forward is set to miss another 4-6 weeks after suffering yet another lower-body injury. When he has been healthy, however, the forward has largely been a non-factor offensively. He has been playing bottom-six minutes for the majority of the year with subpar linemates, and as a result he he has only one goal to his name this season.

While it was unlikely for RHP to continue the torrid pace from last year, this production still comes as a disappointment. However, being lined up with players like Pezzetta, Evans, etc, who provide little to no offensive upside makes his situation difficult.

Is Harvey-Pinard a Long-Term Fit?

Harvey-Pinard has one more year beyond this season at a reasonable 1.1 million cap hit. After his current deal expires, RHP will still be an RFA, and therefore, under team control long-term. However, is he a fit for the team long-term? The Canadiens have a lot of young talent up front, with lots of prospects waiting in the wings. If Harvey-Pinard can’t provide more offence than he’s shown this year, he may eventually be nudged out of the lineup in favour of a younger more offensive option up front.

Harvey-Pinard has often been compared to Brendan Gallagher in terms of his playing style. If he hopes to be a long-term fit for the Habs, he needs to be that spark-plug type of player on a night-in basis. While it’s doubtful that he can return to the 30-goal pace of his rookie year, he can still secure his spot in the lineup in other ways.

Harvey-Pinard has quickly become a fan favourite during his short Canadiens tenure. His low offensive totals can be attributed to a mixture of injuries and opportunity. However, one has to wonder which version of Harvey-Pinard is closer to the final product. Furthermore, can he have a bounce-back 2024-25 campaign and solidify his role long-term during a contract year?

Main Photo: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

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