Max Pacioretty (Photo by Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports)

by Mathieu Chagnon, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

An off-season for Canadiens hockey fans can be stressful. The wait for hockey feels like it is far too long. Fortunately for all of us, the wait is almost over.

Which members of the Canadiens will have an impactful season? In part one of this series, we will predict the number of points for the following players: Max Pacioretty, Thomas  Plekanec, Ales Hemsky, and Karl Alzner.

Here’s how to read the charts below.

For each player, you will prominently see my points prediction that they will record in 2017-’18, their statistics for 2016-’17 and their eSAT score.

If, you aren’t familiar with eSAT, it is a new predictive metric that I developed. You can read about it in detail in this in this article.

eSAT FAR: Shot Attempts For Above Replacement
eSAT AAR: Shot Attempts Against Above Replacement

I welcome your own predictions in the comments section.


2016-17 GP G A eSAT FAR  eSAT AAR 
MAX PACIORETTY 81 35 32 60.4% 52.9%


Max Pacioretty has been one of the most reliable scorers in the league over the past six seasons. Pacioretty is ranked fourth in goals since the season 2011-12 with a total of 189, just behind Alex Ovechkin (257), Steven Stamkos (202) and Joe Pavelski (192).

Pacioretty may not be significantly affected by the departure of Alex Radulov given the addition of Jonathan Drouin who he is surely to be paired with for play most of the season. The Canadiens captain has spent the entire summer in the Montreal region and had the chance to train with and to develop chemistry with the talented young player.

It should be a formality for Pacioretty to reach the 30 goals again. With the acquisition of Drouin, maybe the stars will align this season and playing alongside his new teammate the captain may be able to reach the 40-goal mark.

But Drouin is not just a terrific playmaker, he can score as well and this should increase Pacioretty’s assist totals. With that in mind, it is reasonable to believe that number 67 could achieve more than 70 points.


2016-17 GP G A eSAT FAR eSAT AAR
TOMAS PLEKANEC 78 10 18 48.3% 51.8%


The veteran will start his 13th campaign with the Canadiens, Tomas Plekanec definitively had the worst season in his career collecting just 28 points, a drastic reduction in production.

With the departure of Lars Eller, the entire defensive load fell to Plekanec last season which affected his offensive output. That said, he remained one of the most effective shutdown centres in the league.

Some were surprised that Plekanec was protected at the expansion draft. He is now just 79 games short of the thousand game mark.

“Considering my season last year, my age and obviously contract, putting all that together, it makes sense and didn’t surprise me at all obviously, I knew it’s gonna happen…” –- Tomas Plekanec.

With one more season left on his contract at $6 million average annual value (AAV), if he cannot return to form, this could his last strides in a bleu-blanc-rouge jersey.

Plekanec has been forced to adapt to a revolving door of wingers over the years. Even though he will likely have many different linemates again, he should get his share of points.

The veteran is just 19 points away from the 600 point milestone. That would place him 13th all-time in Canadiens scoring between Mats Naslund (612) and Dickie Moore (594.) If he can redeem himself this season Plekanec could reach 15 goals and 25 assists.


2016-17 GP G A eSAT FAR eSAT AAR
ALES HEMSKY 15 4 3 45.9% 59.4%


Ales Hemsky can be classified as a low-risk/high-rewards type of player. It’s the type of summer signing preferred by Marc Bergevin. The former 2001 first round pick has been bothered by hip injuries over the last few years.

The last injury sustained by Hemsky was during the world championships against Team USA. That incident led to a second hip surgery.

“You can come back after five months but usually takes longer to feel the same speed and the same touch,” “It takes eight months, sometimes a year. You just have to adjust to get used to it.” – Ales Hemsky

As mentioned, if Hemsky is fully rehabbed, the veteran could become an inexpensive pick-up. During his time with Dallas he maintained a ratio of .47 points per game.

If Hemsky remains healthy, he reach 35 to 40 points this season. If so, will be able to notch a few milestones. Hemsky needs to play 62 games to get to the 900 mark, two assists for 400 in his career and 28 points to reach 600.


2016-17 GP G A eSAT FAR eSAT AAR
KARL ALZNER 82 3 10 49.3% 51.9%


Being one of the most coveted free agent defenseman this summer, Karl Alzner became the biggest off-season signing for the Canadiens. After the Burnaby native made a tour of Montreal, our fine city made such a good impression that Alzner didn’t visit any others.

The possibility of being paired with Shea Weber or Jeff Petry must have excited him. We’ll see how the season evolves, but expect him to be a member of the Canadiens second pair.

Many will say that Alzner will be the replacement for Alexei Emelin, lost in the NHL expansion draft to the Vegas Golden Knights (later to be traded to Nashville.) But there’s just no comparison between the two big men. Emelin was feared by opposing forwards known for his punishing hits but Alzner is a lot steadier in his zone and will sacrifice his body by blocking shots. Alzner has a ratio of 5.99 shots blocked per 60 minutes (rank 26th.)

The stay-at-home defenseman has never been a big point producer in his career reaching  21 points twice. Don’t expect him to surpass that number this season.