As good as the Habs were in their first twenty games this season is as bad as they’ve been since. Many of the top teams in the league have had injuries. Yes, the one to Price is a biggie, but the loss of Brendan Gallagher and yes, Alex Semin on the right wing have hurt more as they’ve lessened the offensive zone impact for Montreal and put pressure on a defense corp that isn’t as strong as some have written.
While not putting up points, the bottom line is that the team won with Alex Semin in the line up. Habs GM Marc Bergevin couldn’t or wouldn’t get help on the wing as the team struggled and had issues including the loss of Zach Kassian and Devante Smith Pelly.
Are there options for trades out there? Yes, but the price may be steep, but when you have a former first rounder in Jared Tinordi not playing at all, and sitting on the bench until last night’s loss is this asset management in the NHL cap age?
As the season progresses things tighten up as we get closer to Play off hockey. Currently Montreal is essentially playing with only two top six forwards, three if you want to put Alex Galchenyuk in that group, and of which one, Max Pacioretty, is recovering from off season knee issues.
On Defense we’re seeing an aging of Andrei Markov which is impacting PK Subban as Montreal doesn’t have a proper partner fit for him which reduces his $9M impact. Jeff Petry has been adequte as a number three, but Nathan Beaulieu rates out as best as Patrice Brisebois light. Tom Gilbert’s production has been Emelin like.
Bergevin perhaps had a false sense of security by the team’s start, but clearly this team needs help that only he can deliver. This isn’t about making the play offs; this team is supposed to be a cup contender this season.
The problem is that Montreal has many interesting pieces, but not a lot of the types that can land a top right winger which is critical even when Gallagher returns.
The line of Plekanec, Pacioretty, and Gallagher worked. After that, other than for some hot starts everything is fluid.
Internally the team has to decide what to do in goal. If they honestly feel that Carey Price will be back in time for the fourth quarter and play offs then Tokarski & Condon should suffice. If not then a veteran pick up is needed, especially if the defense and offense isn’t sufficiently upgraded.
So who’s UFA and interesting that plays right wing for Montreal?
Start with Columbus who are out of the race. Ryan Johansen would look good in Montreal, but the question is what would Montreal have to give up? Could a Lars Eller package be put together? Johansen has one more year at a reasonable cap hit, but his salary will be $6M at term.
Jakob Silfverberg has three more seasons at Eller cap range and might be a good fight. Chris Stewart is UFA at $1.75 and could be what the Habs were hoping for from Kassian.
Carolina has Eric Staal, but his cap hit would be a difficult one to swallow and the price would be great for a player that most likely wouldn’t stick.
Calgary has David Jones as a UFA at right wing. Arizona has Shane Doan and Steve Downie as possibilities although Doan will probably retire with the Coyotes as he’s a lifer.
One of the best options would be the Canucks Radim Vrbata who would fit in nicely on right wing. Alexandre Burrows still has term and hasn’t been putting up the points as he had earlier in his career.
Would Jaromir Jagr want to play in Montreal? Would he have an impact if he did? Jarome Inginla wants a shot at a cup. Will he get that with Patrick Roy?
Of course this could still simply be the Houle curse which sadly will not end until Reggie resolves it.
What do you think Habs fans? You can post your comments below.