By J.D. Lagrange, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

 

PENTICTON, BC. – It’s just over three weeks since the Canadiens season ended. The biggest news of the offseason so far was Marc Bergevin signing defenseman Jeff Petry to a six-year contract. Now Bergevin and his team will look to re-sign Alex Galchenyuk and prepare for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

This week, I have the pleasure of answering questions received in our mailbag.

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allhabsmailbag

Do you have a question or a topic you would like us to discuss? Okay, here’s what you can do.

Let us know:

  1. who you are
  2. where you’re from
  3. if you wish, send us a photo of you in your favourite Habs gear
  4. who’s your favorite player, present or past
  5. and of course, your question

You can contact us via Twitter, our Facebook page or email at info (at) allhabs (dot) net

We’ll feature you, and your question, in the All Habs Mailbag!

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Here’s what you wanted to know :

Q. Should Bergevin and Therrien fire Daigenault, Lacroix and Jodoin? Robinson, Muller and Boucher are available. — Geno in Brooks, AB.

To start, it’s usually the head coach and not the GM who hires his assistants and that’s an important nuance. Count me in as being one of the biggest fans of seeing Larry Robinson join the Canadiens’ coaching staff to help coach the defense. He knows what it takes to play in Montreal, he is one of the greatest to having played in a Habs’ uniform, and he has all of the credentials and experience for the job. Kirk Muller did an outstanding job with the power play while he was with the Habs and as a former Canadiens, he also knows what the pressure is all about. Would those two help? I have no doubt that they would. But Michel Therrien will stick with his current assistants for at least this coming season, giving them a chance to improve. As for Guy Boucher, it would be shocking if Therrien wanted to have him breathe down his neck as soon as the team goes through a rough stretch of the schedule.

Q. Do you think the Habs need to hire G. Boucher to coach the AHL team? Give him NHL $ to wait for the big show!!  — Geno in Brooks, AB.

Guy Boucher is looking for an NHL head coaching job but most of the vacant jobs have been filed already. This leaves him with three choices: Accept an assistant-coaching job in the NHL, take a head coaching job in the AHL or go back to Europe to be a head coach. Marc Bergevin is a patient man and he has shown faith in Sylvain Lefebvre. He understands that the farm team is young and its role is not so much to win, but to develop the organisation’s young talent to prepare them for the NHL. We are seeing some great results in that aspect with Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn and Jacob De la Rose in particular. Right or wrong, I have a feeling that he will stick with him for next season as the Ice Caps head coach.

Q. Any news on Martin Reway?? If not signed by June 1st he re-enters the NHL draft. — Nathan in Canada

Martin Reway has not yet signed a contract. He is not subject to the provision in the CBA that requires him to sign within two years of being drafted.  We explained the issue last week in one of our Headline posts.

Q. Which UFA would you target if you were GM of the Canadiens: Matt Beleskey, Michael Frolik or Justin Williams? — Jake in Laval, QC.

In all honesty, I don’t think that any of those guys will be targeted by Marc Bergevin. Having said that, between the three, Justin Williams would likely fit in best with the current team. A right winger, proven playoffs’ performer capable of providing big goals. Michael Frolik could only be interesting if Bergevin traded a centre and moved Alex Galchenyuk to that position. The team would then be looking at replacing his production from left wing. Matt Beleskey is not without reminding me of the situation of Ryan Clowe and David Clarkson, where a lot of teams will be taking a long hard look at signing him and this could very well result in a severe overpayment… especially for a guy who, until this year, has not done much in his career.

Q. We hear about Therrien’s ‘defensive’ and ‘dump and chase’ system. But based on shots on goal against and scoring chances given up, it isn’t very defensive. What is his system and which other teams in the NHL use it? — Andrew in Kitchener, ON.

I personally think that too much emphasis is being place on the so-called ‘dump and chase’ system said to be dictated by Therrien. In all honesty, there are only a couple of guys who can successfully carry the puck into the offensive zone on a fairly consistant basis and we’re talking about P.K. Subban and David Desharnais. Even Tomas Plekanec, with his great speed, is not very shifty to beat a defender at the blue line while carrying the puck to enter the zone and while Galchenyuk has the ability to do so, he doesn’t seem to have the confidence quite yet. Better off dumping and using your speed to generate turnovers.

If people recall Jacques Martin’s system, you had one man forechecking and all five guys had to collapse in front of their own net. Under Therrien, the team uses its speed a lot more on the forecheck with a two-men (sometimes three) pressure and they use the stretch pass to force the opposition’s defensemen to respect the breakaway or the odd-men rush possibility. I think that the ‘system’ is based more so on player-personnel out of necessity than something that is imposed on the team in spite of the personnel available.

As for the defensive responsibility, let’s not forget that prior to the acquisition of Jeff Petry, the Canadiens’ defensive corp was average at best. Yes, they have Subban but while not bad defensively, he’s no Chris Pronger or Zdeno Chara in his prime. Andrei Markov has lost a step or two and they relied too heavily on guys like Alexei Emelin and Tom Gilbert to play roles that were too big for their ability in the long run. While young players like Beaulieu and Pateryn have shown a great progression in their play, they are inexperienced and they will make mistakes. This is why the team had to rely on Carey Price so much but what’s wrong with leaning on your best player? Don’t the Penguins lean on Crosby and the Blackhawks on Kane and Toews?

Q. Do you think that the Habs will go one more season without a captain? I think Pleks should wear the ‘C’. — Colin in Edmonton, AB.

Something tells me that had the organisation wanted Tomas Plekanec to have the “C”, he would have been wearing it this season. Not that he’s not a leader by any means, but he may not be “their man”, the guy that they have in mind. In my opinion, they have two guys who are already captains of this team. One of them simply doesn’t want the media circus that goes with it and that’s Andrei Markov. The undisputed leader in this dressing room is Carey Price but as we know, goaltenders can be a captain but cannot wear the ‘C.’

I won’t pretend to know why the team chose to go without an official team captain this season but I think that it’s because they were legitimately wanting to see who would stand up amongst their young leaders. At the start of the season, P.K. Subban was the fan favourite but by the end of the regular season, several changed their vote in favour of Max Pacioretty. In the playoffs however, Brendan Gallagher has conquered the hearts of most Habs’ fans, including Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur, who gave his support to the diminutive forward with a big heart.

In my opinion, the Canadiens will go one more season without a captain and will continue with Andrei Markov with a permanent “A” and if Plekanec is not traded, he will also keep his letter while Pacioretty and Subban will once again alternate. If Plekanec was to be traded, things could change with the alternates but I still feel like there won’t be a captain this year. If there were one, Gallagher would also get my vote.

Q. Who is more NHL-ready? Mike McCarron or Nikita Scherbak? — Trevor in Antigonish, NS.

Both guys showed some great things at camp last season and both had great seasons in junior. We are however talking about two very different types of players here. Scherbak is crazy skilled and talented and plays a very flash and dash style of game. He is an offensive force and if he was to make the team, he would have to be utilised in such role.

McCarron was drafted to fill a need: a combination of skills, grit and talent. Although not as “naturally skilled” as Scherbak, the Memorial Cup winner has the size and strength necessary to be able to hold his own against full grown men. Unlike in Scherbak’s case, McCarron could easily slot into a more defensive role, like Jacob De la Rose did at the end of the season and in the playoffs.

Both players have some learning to do at the professional stage and unless one (or both) has an amazing training camp, they should both start the season on Sylvain Lefebvre’s team, in the AHL. Who is more NHL ready? Big body players often (but not always) take a bit longer to come into their own so if I had to choose, I’d have to go with Scherbak… but not by much.

Which prospect would you like to see in the Canadiens lineup next season?

  • Nikita Scherbak (43%, 747 Votes)
  • Michael McCarron (30%, 530 Votes)
  • Charles Hudon (15%, 267 Votes)
  • Sven Andrighetto (8%, 146 Votes)
  • Christian Thomas (3%, 53 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,743

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J.D. is a Senior writer for All Habs as well as Associate-Editor for the French version Le Magazine All Habs, while one of three Administrators of the fan forum Les Fantômes du Forum. He has created the handle Habsterix as a fictional character for the sole purpose of the internet. It is based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule and his magic potion is his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. How old is he? His close friends will tell you that he’s so old, his back goes out more than he does! He was born when Béliveau lifted the Cup and remembers the days when seeing the Habs winning was not a wish, it was an expectation. For him, writing is a hobby, not a profession. Having moved to beautiful British Columbia in 1992 from his home town of Sherbrooke, Quebec, he started writing mostly in French to keep up his grammar, until non-bilingual BC friends pushed him into starting his own English Blog. His wife will say that he can be stubborn, but she will be the first to recognise that he has great sense of humour. He is always happy to share with you readers his point of views on different topics, and while it is expected that people won’t always agree, respect of opinions and of others is his mission statement. || J.D. est Rédacteur-Adjoint sur Le Magazine All Habs et il est un Rédacteur Principal sur le site anglophone All Habs, tout en étant un des trois Administrateurs du forum de discussion Les Fantômes du Forum. Il a créé le pseudonyme Habstérix comme caractère fictif pour l’internet. Celui-ci est basé sur Astérix de Gaule et sa potion magique est sa passion pour les Canadiens de Montréal. Lorsqu’il est né, Jean Béliveau soulevait la Coupe Stanley et il se rappelle des jours où gagner n’était pas un espoir, mais une attente. Pour lui, écrire est un passe-temps, pas une profession. Ayant déménagé dans la superbe Colombie-Britannique en 1992 en provenance de sa ville natale de Sherbrooke, Québec, il a commencé à écrire en français pour garder sa grammaire, jusqu’à ce que ses amis anglophones ne réussissent à le convaincre d’avoir son blog en anglais. Son épouse vous dira qu’il est têtu, mais elle sera la première à reconnaître son grand sens de l’humour. Il est toujours fier de partager avec vous, lecteurs et lectrices, ses points de vue sur différents sujets, et quoi que les gens ne s’entendent pas toujours sur ceux-ci, le respect des opinions et des autres est son énoncé de mission.