by Ty Prater, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

Marc Bergevin (Photo by Andre Pichette / La Presse)

MASON, MI. – 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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General managers are always on the lookout for new players to improve their teams, but I don’t think Marc Bergevin has a set timeline to acquire a top-6 forward. He will take a more passive approach and wait for the right player to come along. Bergevin is looking to boost the Habs’ scoring chances with the acquisition of Alexander Semin, who, despite his 19-point season last year, has posted eight 40+-point seasons in his ten years in the NHL. I suspect that the Canadiens have looked at both Nail Yakupov and Jeff Skinner, and both the Oilers and Hurricanes are willing to trade their respective players. If Bergevin were to pursue one of them, my money is on Jeff Skinner. Yakupov is a great young player with the potential to excel in the Canadiens organization, posting 31, 24, and 33-point seasons in his three years in the NHL, but Skinner has provided even greater numbers on offence with two extra years of experience. While Skinner has not been as consistent as Yakupov, he has still been very productive with 63, 44, 24, 54, and 31-point seasons. The Habs need a guy that has proven he can put points on the board, rather than placing their faith in a player that has the potential to do so.

There are so many rivalries that develop through the years that it’s hard to pin down to just one, but…being from Michigan, I was a big fan of the Detroit / Colorado rivalry in the late 1990s. It all started with Claude Lemieux’s dirty hit from behind on Kris Draper in 1996, causing Draper to be taken to the hospital with a broken jaw and orbital bone. Colorado went on to win the Stanley Cup that year, while starting one of the greatest rivalries in NHL history. The very next year, in their fourth game against each other that season, Detroit and Colorado met on March 26, 1997. The day is known to many as “Bloody Sunday,” due to the eight (multi-person) fights that happened during that game. One of the fights included Detroit’s Darren McCarty getting some revenge on Lemieux, with multiple punches to the head and body, followed by a knee to the head. Even both the goalies got in on the action. Very entertaining stuff. Detroit and Colorado combined to win five Stanley Cups between 1996 and 2002, while meeting three times in the conference finals.

Q.  I get that Semin has the potential to be a sniper. But I’m worried about how he affects the chemistry of the locker room. — Chad (Morden, Manitoba)

Alex Semin has great potential to return to his old status of a 40+-point player, as he has done eight times in his ten years in the NHL. He will have a lot of expectations from the Canadiens organization and the fans, to be a point producer. It can be a daunting task for players, especially coming off of a less-than stellar performance last season, but I believe the change of scenery will be good for Semin. It’s hard to produce points on a team that is struggling like the Hurricanes were last season; with the Habs, Semin has a lot of great players surrounding him that will feed him the puck and give him his chances to convert on offence. The Habs have shown that they can control the puck and get great offensive chances, but they struggle finishing plays. That’s where Semin’s game comes into play. Marc Bergevin took a chance with Semin that I believe will pay off, due to the one-year contract, forcing Semin to prove himself rather than automatically having a set spot on the team. With Semin being a healthy scratch much of last season, I feel that Semin will be ready to come out with the Habs and really show he deserves to be on the ice. As far as how he affects the chemistry in the locker room, I don’t see there being any problems. Having Semin in the locker room can only help the Habs bond and really stick together as a team. All joking aside, I think Semin will help team chemistry and boost team morale with his ability to produce points, something the Habs desperately need. While with the Hurricanes, Semin was known for not being very focused, which can worry some fans about the upcoming season but try to put yourself in his shoes. Much like a goalie in a game down 5-0, no one wants to keep putting in the effort when the whole team is struggling. On a team like the Habs, Semin will be more focused and have a harder work ethic because he’ll be surrounded by hard working teammates and players that are striving to repeat last year’s (50-22-10) season, rather than being on a struggling team where it’s hard to keep focused with no playoff hopes.

Having Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Semin on a line together would be great! After Galchenyuk’s last season, which left some fans disappointed, I feel that being on a line with Semin could really help him develop as an offensive player. Having Galchenyuk play along side of Semin could give him a player that can move the puck and make great plays, giving Galchenyuk a mentor as well as a good linemate who will improve Galchenyuk’s offensive abilities. I would like to see Gallagher on a line with Galchenyuk and Semin, where Galchenyuk and Semin play with finesse and move the puck around in the offensive zone, creating plays, while Gallagher does the dirty work in front of the net and along the boards to give the other two time and space to make plays. Sadly, both Semin and Brendan Gallagher are right wings so it could be difficult to put those three on a line together. I would also like to see Jacob De La Rose on a line with Galchenyuk and Semin. De La Rose proved last season that he is willing to sacrifice his body for the team and do the work in the corners to help the other two set up plays, and Rose also has the ability to move the puck up the ice as well. De La Rose only had six points last season, but on a line with Galchenyuk and Semin, he could gain a lot of points with assists, as well as some tip-in and rebound goals. If Galchenyuk does not end up as a centre this season and is the other wing, I would like to see Lars Eller centre a line with Galchenyuk and Semin. Eller also had a quiet season last year but he has great puck control and could really help out with the other two. Having those three on a line could be a very dangerous combination with all three being able to cycle the puck in the offensive zone and create great chances in front of the net.