So we’re just over the quarter mark of the 2015/16 NHL and so far the biggest transaction by the Habs has been the long term resigning of GM Marc Bergevin.
Frankly I can’t complain. While I might not agree with some of his moves, you have to admit the results are impressive.
It’s not easy making trades or changes in the NHL. Look at the hot mess that is the Flyers. You’d think that it wouldn’t take two seasons to dump Lecavlier or some of the other horrible cap age contracts that have finished off the Flyer’s season, but there they all still are including having a D man earning over $5M buried in the minors.
GM – off season picks up Alex Semin, Tomas Fleischmann, Paul Byron (waivers) Zach Kassian (drug rehab) While Bergy didn’t address the core needs of the Habs I think a lot can be said for stability. Look at the tinkering Anaheim did in the off season and you can see the peril of breaking up a room. While Semin doesn’t seem to be floating his cost to the team was nil other than an easily cap buriable salary. Fleischmann has been a perfect fit and nice piece to the puzzle who’s in a role where he can excel. First quarters are for accessing. It should be interesting to see what happens next especially with former 1st Rounder Jared Tinordi sitting in the box all of this season.
Coach – Michel Therrien can be a very confusing cat. The team has really improved this year; not just numerically, but strategically. You have to give the coach credit for this even though it takes a team to make an effective change.
His record stands on its own and he is leading his squad to the play offs with some good expectations.
Tomas Plekanec resigned for two more years. He is finally being allowed to play top line with strong wing mates and not just be Guy Carbonneau 2. He’s on pace to having his most points per game at the NHL level. B+
Max Pacioretty is the Bionic Man of the NHL. He gets these injuries and rebounds fully. The Habs Captain is on pace for 40 goals, 300 shots and 100 hits while recovering from a knee injury. A
Brendan Gallagher, recently wounded, was also having a great season. He was on pace for 30+ goals and 250+ shots. B+
Tomas Fleischmann is off the charts for his salary. Can he keep up the pace and when the Habs do make a move will it impact his role? B+
David Desharnais was written off by many who thought that he’d be on the 3rd line until the Habs could dump him. He’s responded by racking up points and may have career highs. B+
Alex Galchenyuk wants to be the stud. He wants to be the Habs 1C, but now that he’s been given his shot at Centre has not been as productive as last season. There’s a learning curve of course and he’s not having the disaster of a quarter that Sydney Crosby has had. He’s leading Mtl in FO%. C+
Lars Eller is having an off year offensively. Wants to be a top six and is getting his chance, but needs to up the ante offensively. Still on pace for over 100 hits. C-
Dale Weise is having a career year. A bottom sixer that clearly wants to be more and a fun player to watch play hockey. On pace for 30+ goals and 150 hits which would be huge if he could maintain. A-
Torrey Mitchell is hurt now, but so far he’s rewarding the team for giving him a new contract. His one minus is that he’s under 50% on face offs. B-
Devante Smith Pelly lost weight in the off season and is now being rewarded by getting top line ice time after the Gallagher injury. He has the tools. It’s about putting it together on a consistent basis. B
Alexander Semin simply has failed. He’s shown just enough spark to keep from getting dumped, but not enough to earn a bigger role with the team. Odds are he won’t finish the season in Montreal. D
Paul Byron started his Habs tenure with a bang. The question is if the small forward can carve himself out a sustainable role with the team? C-
Over all Montreal’s forward core has played better hockey than was to be expected of them. While there have been some disappointments overall the cup is more than half full. B+
PK Subban is the team’s highest paid player. While at a point a game clip is always a good thing there’s something that feels…..disappointing about his season so far. Not in a major way mind you and it’s a long season, but that booming shot and flashes of greatness need to shine more. B
Andrei Markov seems to be keeping back the hands of time and is enjoying his changing role. He’s actually on pace for a career year in points while seeing his ice time dialed down a bit. The trick for the team is for him to have something left in the gas tank for the play offs. B+
Jeff Petry was the Habs late season pick up last year and they liked him so much they locked him up long term. He’s delivering a solid performance with some good numbers. B-
Alexei Emelin is just back from injury. The rugged D man is not there for his offensive prowess. C-
Nathan Bealieu seems quite beloved by the Montreal brain trust. I’m not quite sure why although this year he’s providing good value for his modest salary. B
Greg Gilbert has been mentoring Bealieu, but frankly his days on the team are numbered. It doesn’t make sense for his ice time with Pateryn and Tinordi on stand by. If Bergevin can dump his salary it will give him some extra cap space for late season call ups. C-
Greg Pateryn is a player that deserves a lot of respect. He’s not ruffling feathers while waiting for his spots to play and makes the most of them with some bone jarring hits when he does play of which he’s racked up 18 in the 5 games he’s played.
Over all the D corps is the weakest element of the team this season. Subban and Markov are not there for their defensive qualities and the Habs that seem to have those qualities don’t seem to know what to do with a puck.
Short of a trade there are no easy solutions.
Carey Price is having a good season when he’s not hurt. He may have been rushed back from injury as he left last night’s win vs the Rangers. .934 2.06 and 2 shut outs are not chopped liver 🙂 B+
Mike Condon earned the back up role over Dustin Tokarski who seems to have forgotten that he’s a pretty good goalie. Condon hasn’t put up numbers close to Price in about equal ice time this season, but he’s done what a good back up is expected to do while filling in for the star and that’s provide a solid and stable performance. A
Team Grade A
The Habs close room should serve them well this season. While there have been some performances that would be difficult to maintain there is room for improvement overall.
Expectations for the Second Quarter are strong. 17-4-2 record with 83 goals for and 52 against simply are amazing numbers.
What do you think Hab fans? You can post your comments below.