WINNIPEG, MB. – There have been some great articles written over the past few weeks from some of the All Habs team on the ongoing Canadiens development camp, some of the offseason trades and signings, as well as different speculation on the lineup we will see for the Habs this season. While Marc Bergevin was not very active during the first few days of free agency, I do think he made some smart moves.
Part of Bergevin’s quiet July could be attributed to some of the moves he made prior to free agency. Signing Brendan Gallagher to an excellent contract in November, followed by extending Jeff Petry in June to a deal below his perceived market value has set the team up well. Further depth was found by extending Greg Pateryn, as well as signing Mark Barberio, Brian Flynn, and Torrey Mitchell.
While all of Habs Nation was hoping for the home run on July 1st, Bergevin again played it safe with a double, trading Brandon Prust for Zack Kassian and a 5th round pick. While this is not a flashy move, it should pay some dividends, as Kassian is only an RFA at the end of his contract, which gives management some leverage next off-season.
At a glance, this lineup worries me. I’m not a huge fan of Michel Therrien, and getting more players who fit into his system is frightening. While some of the acquisitions this spring have some great upside, there is a lot of weight behind the Habs need to win now. While I don’t believe that the end of this window is a hard stop, the best chance the Canadiens to win with the current salary cap scenario is now.
P.K. Subban is the only member of the core getting paid appropriately for his services. Some might thing that his contract is too high, but based on his statistics, and some of the other contracts handed out to cornerstone players (10.25 million for both Jonathan Toews AND Patrick Kane), and I think it was a fair market value at the time.
Carey Price and Max Pacioretty are currently being underpaid in relation to their peers. While Price has the 5th highest cap hit among goalies, he’s still two million dollars cheaper than Henrik Lundqvist. Pacioretty has a similar cap hit as Scott Hartnell, Tuomo Ruutu, Clarke MacArthur, and Brad Marchand. Luckily for Habs fans, Max produces points in the range of Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Getzlaf, and Jonathan Toews, instead of the peers he shares salary with.
Players like Alex Galchenyuk, Jacob de la Rose, Jarred Tinordi, Greg Pateryn, and Nathan Beaulieu are all sitting in controlled contracts with plenty of upside. All four of them have seen significant time in the NHL, and should be poised for good years.
The Canadiens also have a group of players who have seen some time, but have for various reasons, be it injury or coaching, not seen a lot of ice time at the NHL level. Michel Bournival jumps to mind. While he has had his share of injuries, namely two concussions, he was also a common sight in the press box before his injury this past season.
Montreal has been rumoured to be “in” on just about every free agent forward that hit the open market this season, and even some who didn’t. While there would have been some good fits for the team (Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp would have looked nice in the bleu, blanc, et rouge), Bergevin tends to not allow his trade discussions to leak.
Bergevin has stated that this is a team in transition, and if we look at the roster as is, there is not much room for that transition to take place. Judging from the current roster, I’m inclined to believe that there may be a move or two coming, likely to shed an NHL contract for picks and prospects. If this does happen, then the lineup shifts considerably.
Charles Hudon and Daniel Carr both impressed in Hamilton last season, putting up some phenomenal numbers on a not great team. Nikita Scherbak and Michael McCarron had solid seasons in the WHL and OHL respectively, and could also provide the scoring touch for a Canadiens team that struggled offensively last season.
With some roster moves hopefully on the horizon to sort out the current situation on defense (I believe the Canadiens are currently sitting with nine signed defensemen), I don’t think we truly have any idea what the lineup will look like to start this season. I think we can all hope that something happens to solidify the Top 6 (or, ideally, the Top 9), but at this moment, it’s hard to picture whether that help is coming internally, or if Bergevin makes a deal that comes out of left field.
Hopefully, once camp starts, we will have a bit of a clearer picture as to whom we will see in the lineup on a day to day basis. If Pacioretty misses too much time due injury, the roster situation becomes even murkier. While the loss of P.A. Parenteau in itself isn’t a terrible thing, especially based on his performance last season, any possible delay in Pacioretty’s return puts the Habs in a considerable hole.
In all likelihood, we see a very similar lineup to last season. With all the players currently signed to NHL deals there is not a lot of room on this team for a younger player to make their way to the big league. But it looks like unless Therrien announces exactly who he’ll be using for the season, Habs fans will have a summer filled with speculation.
With that thought in mind, what do you think the Habs roster will look like come October? Feel free to comment below with your thoughts/ideas/dreams, and Go Habs Go!