It is a gamble that the Canadiens keep Armia


Armia handled that stint with the Laval Rockets like a true pro, scoring six goals and nine points in eight games. Then, an unfortunate season-ending injury to Kirby Dach forced Hughes to call up a forward. Armia's class and effort earned him his call-up. Getting off waivers and playing with Laval may have been just what he needed to refocus. He really took a step forward after the new year, as his ice time increased from the fourth line to the first six minutes. He finished the season fourth on his team's goal-scoring list.

The final season of his $3.4 million contract is no longer considered “untradeable.” It must be said that this is a player who has never scored 20 goals in a single season and has shown that he is best suited to a bottom-six position. That said, his value is not very high, but there is no doubt that teams would be interested in signing him for a year while they prepare for a deep playoff run. Granted, Hughes would likely have to take a pay cut or trade him away for very little in return.

Expectations of the Canadiens

This season, Armia was nominated for the Masterton Trophy as the Canadiens player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” He also scored the most goals of his career this season and is in the final year of his contract; his motivation should remain for the 2024-25 season. The last time he played for a contract, he delivered a physically dominant performance in the playoffs, helping Montreal reach the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

The good news is that Armia played much better last season than he has in recent years. He finally showed a consistent level of play, probably because he was more focused or even motivated. His mental approach to the game has also improved. Armia worked diligently with Canadiens mental coach Jean-François Ménard, working on not being so hard on himself when he makes a mistake, but also on letting that mistake go and moving on in preparation for his next shift. Renaud Lavoie describes Armia as a valued teammate who can make his teammates laugh. He also stated that the 6'3″ Finnish forward could be in the Habs' plans for the upcoming season (La résurrection, le Journal de Montréal, Renaud Lavoie, March 5, 2024).

At 30, it's clear who Armia is now. He's not suddenly going to become the top player the Buffalo Sabres thought they were signing in 2011. What he is, however, is a big, strong forward with forechecking skills who can hold the ball for long periods of time.