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Habs could soon have a problem at center

Management will have to make a decision.

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Long have the Montreal Canadiens waited to have quality and depth at the center position. Fans would dream about a dominant centerman who would lead the team from the front. While the Habs do not exactly have that dominant centerman just yet, there are certainly more than a few candidates who could eventually become just that.

In recent years, it seems that Montreal GM Marc Bergevin has come to the same conclusion as the fans; the Habs need better centermen. And so Bergevin set out on a quest so find such players. Four seasons ago, he traded Dale Weise and the ageing Tomas Fleischmann for Phillip Danault and a 2018 2nd round draft pick and the rest is history in that regard. Danault has become an excellent and is arguably the most valuable center the Canadiens currently have.

Bergevin also drafted quite a few centers in the last few drafts. Ryan Poehling and Jesperi Kotkaniemi come to mind. Both were picked with the Habs' first round pick in consecutive years. Last season, the Canadiens also acquired Nick Suzuki in the Pacioretty trade. The fact that these players aren't only very promising, but have also played games in the NHL makes them likely candidates for a spot down the middle for the Habs. 

It seems that Montreal may soon have solved its issues at the center position. Danault is 26 years old and has still got a lot of hockey left to play. Kotkaniemi, Suzuki and Poehling all could eventually fit the bill for a dominant first line center. Therein may lie a problem for the Canadiens, albeit not the worst problem to have as a Hockey organization. All three of these young guns may be ready to truly establish themselves as NHL players sonner than later, which may cause some headaches for Claude Julien and Marc Bergevin.

The center position is the most important position in Hockey and NHL teams often rely on experienced players down the middle, so having three inexperienced players may be a liability for the Habs. Keeping that in mind, the Canadiens' management will have to make a decision regarding the three youngsters. 

Suzuki can play on the wing but so far, he has shown better abilities as a center. Although Kotkaniemi played on the left wing during his last season in the pros in Finland and despite te fact that he is struggling so far this season, it looks like the Habs are keen on continuing his development down the middle. Ryan Poehling has also struggled after scoring three goals in his first NHL game and recently played a few games on the wing without much success. 

It will be interesting to see who of the three will get a spot at center. Max Domi has been very good as a center since his arrival in Montreal but is a natural winger. He would have to be moved back to the wing in order to make room for the up-and-coming centers. The decision will not be easy.