We often talk about the inspiring journeys to get to the top, those filled with hard work to reach said destination. However, once at the climax, a new quest begins: to stay there. This will be Rafaël Harvey-Pinard’s mission for the next few months.
On Monday, the 24-year-old winger was rewarded for his spectacular end to the season with the Montreal Canadiens by being awarded a two-year one-stop contract.
Besides this pact worth 1.1 million annually, formalized during a trip to the South, Harvey-Pinard knows too well that there will be no other gift for him next season.
“I was super happy [to sign this contract]. This is another step in the process of becoming an NHL regular. To continue for two more years with the Canadiens, it will allow me to prove that I deserve to be a regular in the NHL, “said the 7th round choice in 2019 when he met the media virtually Thursday.
Despite his collection of 20 points (14 goals, 6 assists) in 34 games last season, nothing is certain for the native of Arvida. If he managed to pull out of the game in a thin workforce, he will have to do it this time with too large a team. Fifteen attackers with clear aspirations to carve out a position with the club will have the same mission as the Saguenean, that of pulling the end of the cover.
Faced with this observation that there are too many dancers for the number of chairs, Harvey-Pinard does not worry too much. “It’ll be some great competition,” he said, before mentioning that he’ll be focusing on himself.
This is the theme evoked by number 49 of the Canadian throughout the videoconference. That of “fighting” and “working” to get your due.
However, it doesn’t always go as planned. Only Harvey-Pinard and Juraj Slafkovsky could be demoted without going through waivers, an “easy” way and without the risk of making room in the formation. Also, for the first time in his young professional career, the Quebecer could be left in the stands due to the surplus of forwards.
Nevertheless, he is quick to recall that “the goal is not to be in the stands”. “I try not to think about it too much. I will give everything to make my place in the line-up. My focus is on that,” he said.
Now, with this contract in hand, the sequence of events is clear for the next few weeks for Harvey-Pinard. He will do what he does best, which is work.
“I want to play the same way I played in the last 3-4 months of the season. Continue on this progression. Play well on both sides of the rink and continue to capitalize on chances,” he said.
To achieve this, he intends to perfect his skating during the summer to arrive ready for training camp. He will also work with specialist Nathaniel Marx to “add a speed mark” to his starts.
The idea of tweaking this aspect is the fruit of a discussion with the head coach of the Canadian, Martin St-Louis, at the end of the season. At the same time, the forward will train in Boisbriand, at the home of the Armada, with Alexis Lafrenière, Anthony Mantha and a few players from the Laval Rocket, the Habs’ school club.
If Harvey-Pinard made it to the top thanks to his hard work, he intends to use the same recipe to stay there.
Obviously, the negotiations to find common ground between the Canadian and the Harvey-Pinard clan did not drag out. They were more concrete after the draft, according to the principal concerned, and “it was done quickly”. It is the same result for the one-sided contract. “That was what I wanted,” he snapped, and again, it came quickly to the table. So no matter if he plays in Montreal or Laval, the winger will pocket a total of 2.2 million over the next two years.