After finishing at the bottom of the NHL standings last season, Nick Suzuki believes the Montreal Canadiens are ready to surprise their doubters this year.
“I think I’m most excited about kind of proving people wrong,” Suzuki told the Montreal Gazette on Monday. “I think people have really put us down. I was actually talking to (Sean) Monahan about our lineup. We’ve got a pretty deep team and I think people are really underestimating us. That’s not a bad thing, either. I think we’re going to surprise people.”
Monahan, acquired earlier this month from the Calgary Flames, is part of a major overhaul for Montreal this off-season, which also saw the club acquire Michael Matheson as part of their return for veteran defenseman Jeff Petry and forward Ryan Poehling.
Additionally, the Canadiens traded defenseman Alexander Romanov at the NHL Draft, acquiring center Kirby Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks in the process, and moved former captain Shea Weber‘s contract to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward Evgeni Dadonov.
The off-season has also included the Canadiens selecting Juraj Slafkovsky No. 1 overall and general manager Kent Hughes announcing Carey Price is not expected to play this season.
“He has seemed to make a lot of strategic moves,” Suzuki said of Hughes. “We’ve lost a few great guys in the room, guys that I got pretty close with. But I think the team and the direction that we’re heading right now is really promising and I think the fans and the players see that. They definitely have a big plan ahead for us and we’re just kind of riding the wave there.”
After reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2021, the Canadiens started last season 8-30-7 before replacing head coach Dominique Ducharme with Martin St. Louis. The team posted a 14-19-4 record under St. Louis to finish the season, but still wound up dead last in the NHL standings, two points worse than the Arizona Coyotes.
While the team struggled, Suzuki had a career season in 2021-22, posting 21 goals and 61 points in 82 games. He’s signed through the 2029-30 season at a cap hit of $7.875 million.