Dale Weise (Photo by: Andre Pichette, La Presse)
Dale Weise (Photo by: Andre Pichette, La Presse)

by Corey Desormeaux , Managing Editor, All Habs Hockey Magazine

OTTAWA, ON – Well, well, well…the season is finally over and thank goodness. One thing I love about the Montreal Canadiens is their passionate fans that seem to never sleep. Despite this tough season and the year finally behind us, fans are already eager for the upcoming offseason. Marc and I will keep the Mailbag going throughout the spring/summer break so keep the questions coming.

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

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Let us know:

  1. who you are
  2. where you’re from
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  4. who’s your favorite player, present or past
  5. and of course, your question

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

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Well done, Scott. I see what ya did there.

It is without a doubt that Marc Bergevin will try to add scoring help. The problem is that every team wants to add scoring help making it more difficult to do so. With that said, there are some nice free agents that could be headed to the open market. The biggest fish in the sea is Steven Stamkos, but there is a nice second tier of forwards that if available Marc Bergevin may pursue, including Kyle Okposo and David Perron.

My co-host of Habs Banter and fellow All Habs colleague often talks about the potential lack of interest that goal scorers may have to come to Montreal given Michel Therrien’s lack of high flying offense. While I somewhat agree, the Canadiens were surprisingly sitting sixth in even strength goals for per 60 through the first 27 games of the season.

Before Price’s second injury, Michel Therrien had the team playing a much different system than we were used to seeing. Despite reverting back to some of the dump and chase tendencies we are used to when the season began to unfold, the Habs ended up at sixth in corsi for per 60 at season’s end. Aside from goaltending, goal scoring clearly became a problem after December 3, as the team finished sixteenth in goals for per 60. Basically the Habs put a significant amount of shot attempts towards net but had a lack of goals to show for it. Hopefully that gives Bergevin extra incentive to lure a free agent or make a trade.

Good question Lori. I’ve flipped and flopped numerous times on the Drouin talk…will the Habs pursue him? Should they pursue him? What will it cost?

Every time I watch Drouin play all I think about is how rare his offensive talent is. If you’ve been watching the playoffs, which I am sure you have, you must have noticed that the former third overall pick is proving that he is more than offensive. He’s been physical, not afraid to go to dirty areas and is confident with and without the puck.

I’m slightly para-phrasing here but listening to TSN’s Bob McKenzie on TSN 690 early this week he said this about Drouin “…very good offensively. He’s a physical force as well, playing with a chip on his shoulder.” Bob was asked whether he thought Drouin would be on the move this summer and he said that his hunch is that Steve Yzerman thinks he is too good of a player to trade and I have to agree. With that said, perhaps Drouin still wants to move on.

What we all know is that a package for Drouin would have to be substantial. The packages value increases as you remind yourself that the Lightning could be losing Steven Stamkos this offseason.

Let’s assume Stamkos stays and signs for around $10M. According to General Fanager the Lightning are projected to have no cap space left at season’s end and heading into next season already have approximately $70M tied up with Nikita Kucherov becoming an RFA and Stamkos becoming a UFA.

With this said, it’s safe to say that the Habs would have to take cap back, likely being an inflated contract with term like Ryan Callaghan or Valtteri Flippula.

Given that I don’t think Yzerman wants to trade Drouin, that they are extremely close to the cap heading into to next season and Montreal has a become a rival in recent years, Montreal’s package would have to be huge. I’m thinking their top 10 pick this year, a nice prospect like Noah Juulsen/Nathan Beaulieu/Michael McCarron, Lars Eller (to replace a Flipulla) and potentially another young depth forward like Andrighetto or Carr.

I answer the “trade up” question later on so I will take on Stamkos here.

In my honest opinion, every team in the league will be in on Stamkos. As mentioned above, trading with the Lightning will be tough given that Montreal is within the Division and Tampa Bay is extremely close to the cap. A trade for Stamkos would have to come before free agency and would basically provide Montreal an opportunity to sign him before he hits the open market (unless Tampa Bay signs and trades him).

If Montreal can land Stamkos, they’ll have to shed some cap space. This would most likely mean a buy-out for Desharnais and trading one of Plekanec or Emelin to another team.

One thing is for sure, you can bet PK Subban will be texting his old friend Stammer to remind him just how fun it would be as teammates again.

Weise loved Montreal, and there are so many reasons why.

For starters, the Habs were his favourite team growing up. In New York and Vancouver he could barely get into the lineup and when he arrived in Montreal he was a regular that was in and out of the top six. When Weise was dealt to Chicago this year he wasn’t afraid to express how much he loves Montreal, his teammates, the crowd, the city and that he would love to come back.

Before he was traded to Chicago, I would have said there is no way that Dale Weise comes back given that he will likely fetch $2.5M – $3M on the open market this summer. However, since being traded he has been in and out of the lineup and his value has been dropping significantly.

Simply put, Dale Weise is an NHL player in Montreal, and seems to barely be one anywhere else. With a plethora of bottom six forwards, Montreal will have to be very careful on the amount of money they spend to bring him back if they wish to do so.

Personally, I love Dale Weise and would love to see him back for the right price in a diminished role on the team. However, there are simply too many players that can play a bottom six role on the Habs. So, unless they miss out on some of the first, second and third tier free agents to help with scoring, I hope they pass.

Will the Canadiens finally do the right thing and buy out David Desharnais? — Jacob (Lennoxville, QC.)

Without a doubt this should be on the mind of Marc Bergevin, but I don’t think it will happen unless Bergevin is able to land a big fish via free agency and feels he needs to make more cap space.

Desharnais becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season which will wipe his entire $3.5M cap hit off the books. Buying him out now will have the Habs paying him $1.16M this year and next against the cap. Remember when Bergevin paid P.A. Parenteau to score 20 goals for the Leafs this year? That alone will make Bergevin think twice about jumping to the buyout too early this offseason.

L.A. Rams and Philadelphia Eagles traded up to get the first and second picks of the NFL Draft. What would it take for the Habs to trade up from ninth into one of the top three draft spots? — Jim (Syracuse, NY.)

One of the reasons I love the NFL so much is the immediate impact the draft can have on a team. Any player taken in the NFL Draft, despite the round, has a legitimate chance of playing in the NFL in the upcoming season.

The NHL is much different. It is rare for a player to jump into the NHL straight from the draft and the percentage of players drafted into the NHL to become a regular player I’m sure is quite low in comparison to the NFL. I think this is part of the reason first round picks are so rarely dealt.

As to what the Habs would have to give up to move into the top 3 is completely dependent on who they are trading with and their needs. For instance the Oilers need defenceman and the top three consensus picks are all forwards. Therefore, the Oilers can get a real nice defence prospect outside of the top 5. A potential package from the Habs could look like the Habs’ top 10 pick, Noah Juulsen or a Nathan Beaulieu and a young forward like Charles Hudon might spark a conversation for the top 3.

My name is Ron Maclean, not CBC Ron, as I had the name many years before him!

I live in Chemainus, BC after serving in the RCN for 20+ years. I was born in Montreal and brought up in towns throughout the province.  I have been a Habs fan since I knew hockey! As a goaltender I idolized Bill Durnan, while growing up. 

I wonder what  owner Molson is smoking?  Yes keeping an inept French speaking coach will be satisfactory for some of the French press, but, hey, these reporters are not stupid they won’t like losing in any language.

I subscribed to a $200 plus TV “Centre Ice” program this year so I wouldn’t miss any Montreal games.  Since Bergevin decided to keep the status quo. I am certainly not renewing that program.  Keep up the good work.

Ron MacLean

Ron, thanks for your email and kind words.

I too am a strong advocate for picking the best person for the job regardless of what language they speak, but this is Montreal and as a fan of the team since birth I’ve become used to this. Although a coaching change may or may not happen next season, I don’t see the team ever getting away from hiring French speaking staff and personnel.

That doesn’t make it right, but I guess what I am trying to tell you is if you love the Habs as much as I do (and it sounds like you do), the sooner you accept that Montreal will always have the French language debate the sooner you’ll get back to enjoying the game. Otherwise, you may find yourself smoking whatever Molson is smoking.

Take care.