Alex Newhook hopes to unleash his full potential with the Montreal Canadiens, after disappointing in his second full season with the Colorado Avalanche.
The 22-year-old Newfoundlander now knows he will have time to settle in with the Habs. He signed a four-year, $11.6 million contract on Tuesday with the team that acquired his services two weeks earlier.
“Knowing that the team was ready to commit for four years, it’s exciting, said Newhook by videoconference. On the monetary side, it obviously gives me some security.
“But four seasons gives me time to develop without feeling pressure with the arrival of another period of negotiations. »
Newhook admitted he was overcome with emotion when he learned he was being traded for two draft picks and defenseman Gianni Fairbrother on June 27.
He played 159 games with the Avalanche, collecting 66 points, including 27 goals, but he mainly participated in the conquest of the Stanley Cup in 2022. He had then registered four assists in 12 games during the team’s journey to top honours.
“It was the first team I played with in the NHL and I formed close ties with many players, especially winning the Stanley Cup,” Newhook said. On the other hand, it’s exciting to join a young team and maybe I’ll have a better chance to establish myself. »
Newhook had 33 points, including 13 goals, in 71 games during his rookie season in 2021-22. It was expected that he would improve a lot last winter and get more playing time, especially due to the departure of center Nazem Kadri.
In the end, Newhook was satisfied with a harvest of 30 points in 82 games and an average playing time similar to the previous winter.
After the trade deadline, he was employed 11 times for less than 10 minutes in 30 games, including five times in seven playoff games.
While Newhook noted that this situation was partly due to the addition of veterans to support the core of the Avalanche in the hope of defending its title, he also admitted to not having always seized the opportunities presented to him. him during the last campaign.
“It was frustrating and I’m not going to say that I wasn’t at least partly responsible for this situation,” Newhook said.
“I did not reach my goals or the potential hoped for last season,” he added. I think I could have gotten better chances, but also I should have taken better advantage of them when I got them. For one reason or another, I didn’t experience the hoped-for campaign. So I’m happy to get this new start and this new opportunity to unfold my potential. »
Newhook was a first-round pick, 16th overall, by the Avalanche in 2019. He was chosen one rank after Cole Caufield by the Canadiens. Kirby Dach was also selected third overall that year. Newhook also knows Justin Barron and Kaiden Guhle among the players of the Canadian.
During his discussions with these players, a theme seemed to recur: head coach Martin St-Louis will give him the chance to exploit his offensive talent.
“Everyone had nothing but good things to say about ‘Marty,'” Newhook said. Offensive players have bragged that he encourages players to make plays and be creative. I think it’s going to be good for my game.”
Newhook will therefore find himself in a different context, when he had less room for error with the Avalanche.
“It’s different when you’re with a team that’s fighting for the conference title,” he said. ‘Marty’ told me that he wants to help me gain confidence and that confidence has to go both ways. It’s still special to come to a team where you know you’ll be encouraged to play your game, to play to your strengths. »
Newhook added that he believes his style should fit well with that of the Canadian, who likes to attack the opposing zone with speed and generate scoring chances that way.
He also said he’s equally comfortable playing center and wing, though he’s mostly been deployed at center over the years.
Newhook is expected to travel to Denver over the next few weeks to pick up his belongings. He expects to arrive in Montreal towards the end of August or even early in September. He said he was looking forward to discovering the city.
“The guys I’ve spoken to have all told me what a nice group it is and that I should fit in well. I can’t wait to meet everyone,” he said.
If all goes well, Newhook will have at least the next four years to experience the ups and downs of playing hockey in Montreal.