LAVAL, QC. — At the end of season press conference, Canadiens owner Geoff Molson stated that changes would be made. Molson has kept his word so far as we have seen several changes. Time will tell if the result of these changes will be positive.
Here are my top 5 takes of the week:
- Free agency – It wasn’t surprising that John Tavares didn’t even consider the Canadiens as destination. In fact, based on his tweets and his comments made after the announcement, I don’t think any of the teams that presented to him in Los Angeles, had a real chance in the Tavares sweepstakes. In my opinion, Tavares’ decision had little to do with the Canadiens current state and a lot to do with the potential of the Toronto Maple Leafs. A lot of credit should be given to the Leafs organization on the steps they took to rebuild their franchise. On July 1st, the Canadiens made several signings of players that will probably begin the season with the Laval Rocket. A well-written essay by Brendan Gallagher, on the Canadiens website, wasn’t enough to attract top talent to Montreal. Marc Bergevin likes to call it a reset, but if the moves that he’s making aren’t with the purpose of a rebuild, I don’t know what Bergevin’s plan is.
- Weber surgery – On Thursday, it was announced that Shea Weber is out for at least five months following knee surgery that took place on June 19th in Colorado. The July 5th press release stated that a decision was made to delay the announcement in order not to be a distraction during the NHL draft and with free agency. As odd as that sounds, why didn’t Bergevin talk about it at his July 1st press conference? He wished media members a good summer, so you would think that he had no intention of making a major free agent signing after that point. Instead, Dr. Mulder, the team’s head physician, was made available to speak about the injury with the media, but no one spoke about the hockey aspect of it. That will have to wait for September. I suppose we have to give the organization credit for being transparent about their communication timeline. The way that this announcement was handled, makes me believe that not all the information that the team was communicating in previous years was accurate. Maybe one of these days, there will be a press release detailing the timeline of what happened with Carey Price’s injury during the 2015-16 season.
- Burrows to Laval – The Laval Rocket announced on Friday that newly-retired, Alex Burrows, will join the team as assistant coach. My initial reaction to the announcement was that Joel Bouchard has lost his mind. We all remember that Burrows attacked Taylor Hall with his knee in February, amongst other questionable plays and we’ve heard stories from his ball hockey career. I was wondering what made Bouchard select Burrows to be his assistant, so I read what his former teammates had to say about him. The Sedin twins said that Burrows is the best winger that they have played and spoke about that he’s hockey smart. That’s quite the praise coming from two respected players that will one day be in the Hall of Fame. Let’s hope that Burrows teaches the hockey smart to the players in Laval.
- Development Camp – Forty players took part in the 2018 Canadiens Development Camp from June 28th to July 1st at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. For many of those players, including this year’s third overall pick, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, it was their first opportunity to hit the ice in a Canadiens uniform. All the participants received an “Attitude is Everything” t-shirt at the start of the camp. It looks like “attitude” will be the team’s buzzword in 2018-19. The players at the camp went through several on and off-ice exercises before ending the day with a scrimmage. The player that caught my attention was this year’s 56th pick overall, Jacob Olofsson. In my opinion, he was the most consistent player on the ice at the scrimmages throughout camp. Ryan Poehling and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were off to slow starts but they did become more dominant as camp progressed. We learned at the conclusion of camp that Poehling was recovering from an infection, which may have affected his performance. I know that a development camp doesn’t define a player’s future career, but I am already looking forward to seeing Olofsson in Habs jersey. We will be seeing several of these players at rookie camp in September.
- Joel Armia acquisition – Simon Bourque was traded to the Winnipeg Jets and in return the Canadiens put their hands on Joel Armia, Steve Mason, who was bought out the following day, and two future draft picks. The knock on Armia, a first round draft pick, has been his inconsistency and taking shifts off, but did receive a passing grade for his play in the Jets playoff run. At the time of the trade, Armia said that he hadn’t spoken to the GM about his role with the team, but based on what we have seen so far, he should be slotted as a bottom-6 forward and play on the penalty-kill. Seeing that it looks like the Canadiens will have lots of room in the salary cap heading into the 2018-19 season, I think that the $1.3-million cap hit that they have to use for the Mason buyout is insignificant considering they also acquired two draft picks and gave up a player that will play in the AHL next season.
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