by Robert Rice, Senior Writer, AllHabs.net 

TORONTO, ON — As part of a new continuing feature, I have decided to re-open the All Habs Mailbag to take in and answer questions about all things Montreal Canadiens. While I have in the past taken questions and answers on my Twitter feed about Habs prospects, sometimes 140 characters is not really enough for a good answer.  This way I thought I could expand the scope of my discussions into complete coverage about the Montreal Canadiens.

This feature will run on Wednesdays, answering the most popular or poignant questions about the Canadiens. If you have any questions about the Canadiens or the farm system, feel free to submit whatever is on your mind. I’d like to kick this feature off with a strong showing so please don’t be shy!

Submissions can be mailed directly to robertr@allhabs.net

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  •  As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.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.
Let’s open the All Habs mailbag!
Alexandre: Does Thrower go to the AHL after next season?

Yes he does. CHL rules stipulate a player must be 20 years old, or turn 20 years old before the New Year of the season about to start to be AHL eligible for CHL-drafted players. With Thrower being a late 1993 birthday, he will be 20 by December of 2013. When Thrower completes his final season this year in the Western Hockey League, he will be free to sign an entry-level deal with Montreal and start playing at the pro level.

 

Paul: What are the rules regarding any potential demotions for Gomez, Kaberle, etc.?

Essentially, you can demote as many players as you want to the AHL if you’re looking to bury salary, provided that player does not have a No-Movement Clause. This isn’t the same as a No-Trade Clause, which only stipulates a player can choose to turn down being traded, a No-Movement means they can deny being sent to the AHL. Neither Gomez, Kaberle or perhaps Bourque have such a measure in their contracts to protect them. The other option for the Canadiens is loaning the players to European clubs, albeit Montreal must still pay their contracts. The Chicago Blackhawks did this in 2010 when they were looking to shed salary and needed to bury former Canadiens goaltender Christobal Huet.

 

Matyp: Who are your top 10 Habs prospects, where will they fit into line up and what is the eta to play in NHL?

Without ranking anyone between 1 and 10, I would name these 10:

Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu, Morgan Ellis, Louis Leblanc, Danny Kristo, Sebastian Collberg, Michael Bournival and Tim Bozon. I base this on best projectable upside and proximity to transitioning to an NHL role as a contributing player.

As for where they fit, Galchenyuk, Collberg are potential Top-6 skaters for scoring talent. Gallagher, Bozon, Leblanc, Kristo are more Top-9 offensive forwards based on current projectable abilities, although Top-6 is not out of the question. Bournival likely projects as a Bottom-6 checking forward. Tinordi could project as high as 1st-pairing defence as a punishing, minute-eating defensive defencemen. Beaulieu projects presently as a 2nd-pairing offensive defencemen, due to concerns about his drawbacks defensively. Ellis could potentially be a Top-4 two-way defenceman.

As per ETA to the NHL: I’d expect Leblanc to potentially move into a spot in the current lineup, and Gallagher, Ellis may get opportunities as well. Galchenyuk, Tinordi and Beaulieu will each begin auditioning for a permanent spot in the 2013-14 season. I would expect Bournival, Collberg and Kristo to get their chances for full-time in 2014-15. Tim Bozon will likely get his first honest chance in 2015-16.

 

Dan: How do you see dealing with all the righties in Habs forward prospect pool? (Gallagher, Leblanc, Kristo, Collberg…)

Unless the team wants to try some swaps for left-handed shooters or LWs, the team may just have to adjust to having an abundance of right-handed shots and have some RWs convert to the left. It is not a wholly ideal scenario but if Montreal is committed to drafting, developing and preparing players for their fishbowl market it’s a dilemma. It may be better to have the players they know are more able to handle it and committed to the game than the prospects, players from other teams they are far less confident of. Granted it is not ideal to force players to play on their off wings if they are a ‘natural’ left or right wing either. On the other hand, with a rich prospect base at the right wing, the team could also deal from a position of strength as they need to if the right deal comes up for a strong left wing candidate. I don’t think Montreal should try anything dramatic, just develop the talent they have and see what it comes out to.

 

Herman: Should we be concerned that Habs are giving out too many long term deals? Ex: Price, Gorges, Moen, Prust.

I would not stay up all night over the matter. Price and Gorges were signed to 6 years each because they are core talent that will determine the outcome of many games over the foreseeable future. It’s a good commitment that locks up solid talent for good stretch, but not so long that changing circumstances make the player immovable if they have to be dealt. Halfway through the term, only 3 years are left on the deal and teams are willing to take on the player in attempt to turn them around often enough. When you compare this to 3 years into a 12-year deal when the player has become a problem and the team has no beneficial way to drop the contract, it’s pretty solid. As per Moen, he’s a very useful grit player and is earning less against the salary cap now than when he was signed in 2009. Even if Moen slows down, it’s not a major inconvenience to buy him out if it comes to that. I’ve been pretty vocal in my dismissal of the Prust deal in term and dollars, but Prust should be able to give at least 2-3 serviceable years I believe and one benefit of the current NHL environment is the overvaluing of the Prusts. Teams are a bit too much in love with the character players at present, even if their skills are very limited and are willing to pay out more than they should to get one.

  • don

    I would have St.Denis, Nash, Pateryn and Holland in top 10 prospects, not include Leblanc and punt 3 of younger guys.

    Which d-man will be traded, as Weber is #8 in depth and Diaz is #7, it is a bit crowded.
    One of these Swiss guys going ASAP, Kaberle, or package deal with a top d-prospect tossed in for a top six forward (Beaulieu?)?

  • I think St. Denis is at best, a journeyman, Pateryn and Nash I’m not convinced they have a good leg in the race compared to the futures of Ellis, Tinordi and Beaulieu. As per Holland, I like him but not that much, he was close to Top 10.

    I’ll post the answer to your Q in next week’s Mailbag.