Geek of the Week: Armia of One

Ben Burnett

2020-02-02


In bangers leagues, Joel Armia has been one of the fastest risers of the 2019-20 campaign. In his first four seasons, the 26-year-old Canadiens forward had never surpassed a 35-point pace. He started his career in Winnipeg, where he fluctuated through the bottom-six. In those first three seasons he managed around 1.5 shots per game, and just over 1 hit per game. Since heading to Montreal as a sweetener for the Habs to take Steve Mason’s contract off the Jets’ books, Armia has seen more consistent ice time and now Montreal is reaping the rewards.

Since joining Montreal, Armia has seen consistent middle-six ice time and decent power-play deployment. While the 2019-20-point totals aren’t elite, he’s pacing for 27 goals and 51 points over 82 games. A 50-point player with strong category coverage would represent excellent late-round values for owners in peripheral leagues. So let’s examine whether Armia’s current run of success is sustainable.

What is particularly heartening about Armia’s start to the year is coach Claude Julien’s commitment to using him with regularity. He averages more than 17 minutes per night, and despite Montreal’s roster starting to get healthy, he’s still seeing ice time with good teammates. Brendan Gallagher’s return could have easily pushed Armia down to a third line, but instead Julien has relegated Max Domi to playing between Artturi Lehkonen and Jordan Weal. Armia remains on a line with surprise Calder darkhorse Nick Suzuki and bounceback player of the year candidate Ilya Kovalchuk. That’s a promising sign of trust from the veteran coach.

Armia also has continued to see decent power-play time. He’s on a unit with Kovalchuk, Domi, Weal, and Shea Weber. The primary purpose of this unit may be to pump Kovy’s numbers ahead of the trade deadline, but hey. That’s a decent group of players, and they’re acting more as a 1B to the top unit than a full-on PP2 unit.

However, the power play has been a weak spot to Armia’s game so far, with only four power-play points to his