MONTREAL, QC – Winner of four trophies at the NHL awards and a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Carey Price has had a dream 16 months. All that’s missing is a Stanley Cup ring. For that to happen, it will need more than a perfect year from Carey Price. The team in front of him, the Montreal Canadiens, will have to perform better in the upcoming year. In the 2014-2015 season, there were times during the season that Carey Price kept the team afloat.
There were moments where his defense wasn’t as solid as it should have been and Price showed hockey fans why he was the season’s most valuable player. Now, the question is…can he repeat such an incredible year? I personally fully expect Carey Price to have a very good season, but I also think that the team is going to have to give him more support than they did last year where Price had to correct a lot of mistakes. Part of the leaky defense was caused by a game-plan that relies on Carey Price making the “easy save” and then counter-attack from there, but some were simply mental errors from the players.
A Reinforced Montreal Defense
I believe that the defense will look more solid in front of Carey Price this season. Firstly, the long-term addition of Jeff Petry, who looked like a top pairing defenseman in last playoffs, will certainly bring an element of stability to this Montreal defense. Petry has signed a 6-year deal with the Canadiens and at the age of 27, this deal takes him through his prime years.
Secondly, the addition of Petry also allows Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban to play a bit less hockey in a lengthy season, which will allow the two most relied-on defensemen to have more energy throughout the season and into the playoffs. Finally, the Montreal defense is improved in the sense that it is as deep as it ever has been. General manager Marc Bergevin has definitely put an emphasis on defensemen this off-season. The signings of Joel Hanley, Ryan Johnston, Mark Barberio and the drafting of Noah Juulsen and Simon Bourque demonstrates this focus.
Out of this list, I am intrigued by defenseman Mark Barberio, a Montreal-native. He is a quick skater for his big frame and has excellent vision offensively. He has been able to put up a lot of points in his junior career with the Moncton Wildcats (168 points in 261 games) and in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch (134 points in 215 games). He hasn’t been able to bring that production to the NHL level, but at 25 years old, he remains an interesting depth option.
He will have a hard time getting regular playing spot barring any injuries with defensemen like Greg Pateryn and Jarred Tinordi still on the outside looking in with the current lineup. Certainly, there still could be movement on this front before the season starts, but the Montreal defense is definitely deep on the depth chart.
I believe that Carey Price won’t have to repeat his miracles from last season as his defense will play a much more stable game. He will, still in my opinion, nonetheless be his normal self and have a solid year.