We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.
Today, we take a look at Canadiens de Montréal (Montreal Canadiens) By: Annie Shean (@JustPuckIt)
Free Agents Signed:
Manny Malhotra (C – Hurricanes)
Tom Gilbert (D – Panthers)
Jiri Sekac (LW – HC Lev Praha, KHL)
Joey MacDonald ( G – Flames)
Free Agents Lost:
Thomas Vanek (LW – Wild)
Brian Gionta ( RW – Sabres)
Mike Blunden ( RW – Lightning)
Devan Dubnyk (G – Coyotes)
Ryan White ( C – Flyers)
Josh Gorges to the Sabres for a 2016 Second Round Pick
Daniel Briere to the Av’s for P.A. Parenteau and 2015 fifth-round pick
Louis Leblanc to the Ducks for a Conditional 5th round pick in 2015
Nathan Beaulieu (D)
Jarred Tinordi (D)
Nikita Scherbak (RW)
Sven Andrighetto (RW)
Zachary Fucale (G)
The Montreal Canadiens had a strong end to their 2013-14 season, reaching 100 points for the first time since the 2007-08 season. They were able to make the playoffs after a dramatic winning streak, giving them the fire they needed to take it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. After a decisive sweep over Tampa Bay Lightening, the Habs faced off against their division rival how can you forget the intense rival series between Bruins? Between Bottlegate, the twitter war of words, and some nasty comments by Lucic in the handshake line it sure was one series to remember. When they lost elite goalie Carey Price to injury in game one of the Easter Conference Finals they kept fighting, but were eventually beat after six games by the New York Rangers.
During free agency the Canadiens lost their captain Brian Giontta, who signed a three-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres. They also lost Danny Brierre in a trade to the Avalanche, and the last-minute trade acquisition Thomas Vanek to the Wild. After an intense waiting period with salary arbitration, there was some good news for the team when they were able to sign P.K. Subban. His eight-year contract is worth almost $72 Million / $9 Million AAV, and locks him in until the 2012-22 season.
One of the Canadiens biggest problems last season was offense. The top line of Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, and David Desharnais lead the team in goals last season; but secondary scoring is still a major problem. They added P.A. Parenteau in a trade with the Avalanche. He’s expected to fill a second line role with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk. However they did little to bolster their secondary scoring with their third and fourth lines. One pickup this off-season was center Manny Malhotra from the Carolina Hurricanes who was touted for his leadership skills, but he is expected to fill a fourth line role. Unless they are able to develop or bolster their third and fourth line, the Canadiens will have to rely on their top two lines to carry the weight.
On defense P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov are expected to continue to be the blue line ‘wonder-twins’. They will continue to be the top pairing and see a lot of time on the power play unit, hopefully bolstering their teams numbers. Tom Gilbert was added in the off-season and is expected to play a role in the second pairing with Alexi Emelin. This 6’2 defenseman is coming off a season best 28 points with the Florida Panthers, racking up 25 assist in 73 games. Emelin, who so famously got under the skin of Lucic, is expected to have another strong (and agitating) season.
Carey Price’s return will bring a smile to the fans and the bench. He is coming off a .934 save percentage and was rated one of the top five goaltenders in the league last season. This Olympic-winning goaltender is the rock of this team, and providing he can stay healthy I expect another great year from him. With Price’s starter status locked, the only question will be however who will remain as the backup goalie. It will likely be Peter Budaj, but when the Canadians needed help during the playoff Dustin Tokarski stepped to the plate. While carrying three goalies is a possibility, It’s expected that Tokarski will unfortunately get the short end of the goalie stick.
As for leadership changes, with Giontta gone the team announced that no one will wear the “C” next season. Instead they are opting to have four alternates; Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, Tomas Plekanec, and Max Pacioretty. It will be interesting to see what sort of a dynamic this creates in the locker room this season. All four are leaders on and off the ice, but will one stand out more than the others? The leadership behind the bench has remained the same as coach Michel Therrien was signed to a four-year extension lasting through the 2018/19 season. Providing he fulfills his contact length that would make his coaching reign for the Habs seven seasons.
The cornerstones of the team will continue to succeed, but I do believe that secondary scoring will still remain an issue for this team. I expect to see Subban take on a much stronger leadership role, probably splitting primary duty with Pacioretty. Price will once again lead the pack, especially if he can remain healthy throughout the season. I expect the Canadians to play well again finishing high in their division, and anticipate seeing them advance through the playoffs again. Perhaps we could even see then in the Eastern conference final again providing they can once again keep the Bruins at bay.
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk – Tomas Plekanec – Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
Rene Bourque – Lars Eller – Michael Bournival
Dale Weise – Manny Malhotra – Brandon Prust
Jiri Sekac – Travis Moen
Andrei Markov – P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin – Tom Gilbert
Nathan Beaulieu – Mike Weaver