by Andrew Giesbrecht, Staff Writer and Event Coordinator, All Habs Hockey Magazine

Jeff Petry (Photo by: Francois Lacasse/NHL via Getty images)

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.

Eric Bolte / QMI Agency
Eric Bolte / QMI Agency

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.

Jean-Yves Ahern / USA Today
Jean-Yves Ahern / USA Today

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!

  • Wayne McCrae

    I am hoping that during camp Therrien has AGally at C and looks for a chemistry with any of Hudon, Carr, McCarron, Sherbak, Ghetto.

    • Andrew Giesbrecht

      I hope so too.

      At the very least, with the possibility of Patches gone for a short period of time, I would like the team to look at Hudon/Carr/Sherbak/Ghetto for a little added scoring.

      McCarron might need a year in the AHL to finish, but I might still be down on him because I didn’t like the pick at the time. I know he’s put up solid numbers in the OHL this year

      Thanks for reading!

  • Fiat

    Yes I believe Bergy will move one D and one forward out this summer…I expect Gilbert and Davy will be gone …If he can get a solid 20 something winger in return he will go that route otherwise just settle for picks …Hudon and Carr will be with the Habs all year writing a pleasant story while McCarron and Sherbak do their apprentice time on the Caps ……..Chucky will likely not start as he will hold out using the leverage of Patches absence to get a better deal ….The team will do well without Patches and Chucky and he will cave by accepting the Bergy offer …The team will be competitive with constant cap room shaving for 2016 free agency when Bergy will get a couple of decent pieces …..The big 4 million dollar Russian D Emilin will be trade eledgible and be moved along with Plex . Bergy will move Plex at the trade deadline for picks and bring up big Mac for the rest of the season………2016 will have all our young elite prospects onboard with top free agent signings ………..2015 is the last year of major transition before the Habs are a real team with her two well managed support teams , Ice and Beast and several draft picks accumulated ….Bergy’s job will be easy in future years as his system churns out solid players …Those not used extensively will be in demand for whatever Bergy wishes in return …..He will not shoot for the cup by rolling the dice so to speak but have solid competitive teams every year that could win any year ……

    • Nate

      that’s the first eloquent well thought out internet post i’ve seen in 35 years. Now let’s hope its accurate

      • Andrew Giesbrecht

        I completely agree Nate! It’s a well thought out comment with both dreams and some decent possibilities.

        Thank you both for reading!

  • ken bo

    Pacioretty-Galchenyuk-kass
    dd-pleks-gallagher
    Dlr-eller-Smith-Pelly
    Bournival-Mitchell-Flynn/Weiss

    Markov pk
    beaulieu petry
    emelin gilbert
    tinordi pateryn
    barberio

    Ok… Obviously all the concern is in getting a bonafide top six scoring winger with size. If the habs can get stall, then we should be content with a center shifting to wing (Patches-Stall-Kass (to keep things honest) and DD-Chucky-Gallagher). As much as I like Pleks, we will not be able to afford his next deal and he brings the most value. So DD or Pleks, plus my proposed 5-6 pairing is expendable (and Tinordi and Pateryn played together in /Hamilton and college), throw in a prospect or pick and get that winger (Nash, Okposo,Vrbata,Eberle).

    • Andrew Giesbrecht

      The thought of “top line Kassian” kind of scares me, and I’m not sure that Smith-Pelly could keep up with DLR/Eller.

      But, it’s incredibly hard to figure out what to do with the current signed roster.

      Thanks for reading!

      • ken bo

        Me too- Kassian on the third much better- glaring hole noted.

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  • Hopefully Eller gets traded and that with the cap relief gets us some offensive help.

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  • Bart

    I honestly believe that Montreal has the talent, and scoring potential, in Montreal and on the farm, to push for the cup. A combination of young players and roster switches would do the trick, ie, moving DD to third line wing, wherw he showed sone flashes of offense during the Chucky at centre experiment, moving Eller to 2nd wave PP, and Chucky to 2nd line centre with Scherbak and Hudon could make things interesting. Kassian with Eller and DD could make for a dynamic 3rd line. 3rd line duty would also be a wise move, easing Kassian into a demanding environment. The $64,000 question is: will MT give the young guys a real chance, allowing to make their mistakes and growing into their roles? On that, I have little confidence.

    • Andrew Giesbrecht

      Thanks Bart!

      I’m not sure I quite agree, as I really think that we need another legitimate Top 6 player to truly compete.

      BUT, we do have a lot of pieces, either in Montreal or on the farm, that it could be a lot closer than I currently think. Moving DD away from the first line would certainly be a good start, and I like the idea of Kassian playing on a fast third line.

      I guess we’ll see how the next couple of months play out, and see what happens in October.