TORONTO, ON — The All Habs Mailbag is back and as popular as ever! This is the place to send in your questions about all things Montreal Canadiens.
Then check every Wednesday to read the answers to the most popular or poignant questions about the Habs. Keep in mind that we will discuss the entire Canadiens organization so questions about prospects and roster players are equally welcome!
Submissions can be mailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
Three Guidelines for Submissions:
- This is not for hate mail or complaints. If you have an issue with what you read on these pages, this is not the place to bring it up. The mailbag is for questions about the Canadiens.
- As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours. Therefore I will not engage in discussion of the validity of rumours — frankly I consider them a waste of time anyway. For every rumour that was close to accurate, there have been about a thousand duds.
- Nothing of essay-length please. There will be other people who will have questions and it is a bit unfair if I have to dedicate the Mailbag to answering one very large question or someone who’s asking five questions at once.
What names are at top of next years draft? Is it true it’s like a Crosby draft?
Presently, the biggest names for the upcoming 2013 NHL Draft are C Nathan MacKinnon, D Seth Jones , C Aleksander Barkov and C Sean Monahan. MacKinnon is presently the clear-cut No. 1 forward and top prospect in the draft, he is likely the most gifted player coming out of the Quebec Major Junior League since Sidney Crosby, but he is considered a generational talent by scouts, as Crosby was. Jones is the top defenceman in the draft and some believe could make the case to go first overall with his already being very advanced for his age as a defenceman. Barkov is probably the most interesting as he gets less attention compared to a North American player but his qualities are very notable. Barkov is already playing professionally in Europe in the Finnish League and as a 16-year old played at .5 points-per-game pace, a very notable accomplishment in a league were 18 and 19 year olds can fight for ice time and produce less. Monahan is not far behind the pack though and could easily step into the first overall conversation if his production stands out.
As for what kind of draft 2013 is, it’s too early to tell. Many teams were quite optimistic about the great defensive talent in the 2012 draft until injuries began to plague the top prospects for the course of the entire year. While 2013 is considered a higher-talent year compared to 2012, sometimes players plateau early or just fail to progress. One should also consider Sidney Crosby’s draft year is only truly remarkable because Sidney Crosby was drafted that year. The 2005 draft had acceptable depth but it wasn’t a draft for the ages like 2003.
What’s your opinion on David Desharnais? Is he the real deal? What is his potential?
I am one of the more unpopular critics when it comes to discussion of Desharnais. Most cite his offensive vision and hands, I am concerned with his physical drawbacks. His skating isn’t what you quite like to see from a smaller player and he doesn’t outpace his peers as often as he should. His size/strength isn’t ideal either, he’s 5’6” despite what the Canadiens say about him being 5’7” and is too often easily moved off the puck in my view. Due to his lack of elite speed and size, it’s difficult for him to be a strong puck carrier and can too often rely on his linemates to break into the offensive zone for him.
Desharnais has demonstrated an NHL-level talent no doubt and his production speaks to that since making it into the league. I think he can continue to succeed, but he may be better off going to the wing where the onus of being the puck carrier is removed and lets him sneak into the play more. He’s easily a Top-9 player, but as for Top-6 it would depend upon a team’s depth and size situation. With the undersized players on Montreal’s roster and Brendan Gallagher, all of 5’8” being the most NHL-ready scoring prospect, it creates some headaches for balancing size in the organization. Any NHL team can accommodate some smaller skaters, but when there are too many, it becomes an issue for projecting power in the offensive zone or just pushing into the offensive zone. I think in the future, Desharnais will have to switch to the wing, or ply his trade as a centre for another NHL team. Long-term, Galchenyuk, Plekanec, Eller make more sense from a size, skill and versatility perspective at the center position.
If the team’s opening day lineup is as expected, where can we expect the Habs to finish in the standings?
I would project between 7th and 11th overall in the standings. I would expect a new surge in the team from the change in management and organizational communication that would make the players more comfortable, but talent rules the day in the NHL. Montreal faces drawbacks in terms of able Top-4 defencemen and scoring talent that likely axe any hopes of contending for the Northeast Division Title. In terms of positives, I think we’re close to seeing P.K. Subban break out after dealing with some typical sophomore problems and adapting to playing top-line matchups as a defenceman. Price is going to determine the team’s fortunes quite a bit, I have no doubt he’s up to the task though and consider his new contract the best investment the team has made in years.
The primary issue is how does Michel Therrien manage his bench, we’ve seen in recent years teams have performed above, or below their abilities due to their coach. If Therrien can establish a system that takes advantage of his team’s strengths, we’ll see marked improvement. If not, we could be in for a long year. The opinion on what Therrien can do for the Canadiens is mixed, one can hope he learned a new perspective away from coaching and his assistants provide the right balance on the bench but coaching will likely determine Montreal’s odds for a post-season berth.
Do you think Lars Eller is ready to score 20 goals and or close to 50 points?
Lars Eller I feel is one of the more underrated players in the system and I believe with capable linemates he can score at least 20 goals this season. Eller’s scoring ability is underrated, while his 4-goal game against Winnipeg was an aberration (it would be for Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin as well) he’s often capped by his line assignments. Eller is often shorted on power play time and capable scorers on his line that would allow him to receive the passes, or generate the passes to that would allow him to flirt with a 50-point mark. Montreal’s depth harms Eller badly as they are just not presently able to field an effective 3rd line that features scoring talent on the wings. Unless Desharnais or Plekanec lose an extended amount of time to injury, it’s hard to imagine Eller getting the opportunity to get over even the 40-point mark.
What on earth could Bergevin have been thinking when he signed Bouillon?
Bouillon was one of the more surprising choices for me in Bergevin’s moves so far, as in my opinion he fills out no needed role on the team. It’s possible he was a pickup because he was a former favourite of Michel Therrien and incoming head coaches often want one or two of ‘their guys’ if they can get them. Bergevin may have also just wanted a more steady defensive depth for the start of the season, than having an Alex Picard or Chris Campoli as 6th-7th defencemen for the start of the year. I don’t think much of the season’s fortunes will depend on what Bouillon does, but I don’t believe he’s going to do anything special.
What are the odds of a serious trade going down soon? Are either Plekanec or Eller on the move?
I doubt we’re seeing any big trades. Bergevin has favoured minor moves that do not affect depth as I believe he wants to go forward with the majority of the roster to either determine their potential, or just raise the trade value of his assets. After such a poor season, the selling prices on most of the team is low so Bergevin would find it prudent to stay with his roster and try to raise their numbers and profiles before seeking to trade them.
Plekanec and Eller are likely staying on, due to the team’s lack of able centre depth with scoring ability. I’m not convinced at all presently that Alex Galchenyuk or any other centre in the organization can readily step into a Top-9 role out of juniors or Hamilton so at present, the team will likely go Plekanec-Desharnais-Eller as their Top 3 centres for the time being. With centre depth often determining a team’s fortunes, it seems quite odd that Montreal would deal away any of their current strength at the position.
Who on the Habs has to clear waivers to be sent down? Weber? Diaz? White? Geoffrion? Palushaj? Leblanc? Dumont?
Weber, Diaz, White are all currently on one-way contracts and are presumed starters with the team unless they are dealt. Geoffrion, Leblanc and Dumont have not played enough NHL games to automatically be sent back down via waivers at the start of the year. If Geoffrion were to play 3 games with the Canadiens in 2012-13 though, he will be subject to waivers. Palushaj will have to clear waivers due to his previous NHL games played going into this season even if he is sent down to Hamilton before the season starts. The incredibly hard-working Nicolas Collette of Habs Prospects always keeps such details as well for anyone who is curious.
When most people talk about bad contracts the usual names come up (Gomez, Bourque, Kaberle) but all are pretty hard to move, any possibility of another bigger contract with better value (Gionta, Markov) being moved instead to free up space for next year?
I would think Gionta is safe to finish out his contract in Montreal. I’m aware his captaincy is not popular amongst all Montreal fans (for reasons I’m not quite able to understand) but he does fill an important leadership role at present and is an able goal scorer for a team bereft of such players. I doubt Markov moves unless he were to play a very flawless and 70+ game season in 2012-13 due to his very troubled injury history over the past three years that has left him an incredibly damaged asset in the minds of almost any observer. Markov arguably is a bad asset on the trade market more than anything due to his health status and the unknowns of him being able to play a Top-4 role in the coming season. Not to forget either, both Gionta and Markov have No-Trade Clauses and would only have one full remaining year on their contracts as well, which also reduces value, not to mention their age. The final consideration is you typically clear salary space to target a free agent but much like 2012 free agency had a short list of attractive names, 2013 is shaping up to be much the same. Crosby and Jordan Staal are already off the market and if Getzlaf, Perry re-up with Anaheim early than I would charitably term 2013 free agency to be weak with no premiere talents available.