End of Season Habs Player Review by Jamie Gilcig or Please Don’t Resign Thomas Vanek! June 2, 2014

Marc BergevinCFN – Habs GM Marc Bergevin is going to be a very busy GM pretty soon.  The biggest question of course is what to do with PK Subban?

The most obvious is lock him up long term; but then not everything is obvious.   While teams know that Montreal will match any offer sheet it might just be the best thing to happen rather than have another contentious contract negotiation.    And if like Shea Weber’s offer there’s no  no movement clause it can actually help the club.

There are two routes to go with PK a short term contract to UFA time which is kinda insane or simply to capitulate and roll out a max term deal which most likely will happen.

While we mull that let’s look at the rest of Geoff Molson’s squad.

Centre:   This is the Habs weakest area with no true number one centre.   I love Tomas Plekanec, but was very disappointed in his play off performance.    He withered, especially against the Rangers.  He also seems to not have a regular winger.  I call this Saku Koivu disease.    As odd as it may sound it may be time to let him be trade bait and maybe package him to trade up.

David Desharnais actually had a slightly better play off than Plecky.   The tiny tot is tied to Max Pacioretty so is most likely not going anywhere.   He fills that 2nd line centre role for now.

Lars Eller is RFA.  How much do you give him?   Do you really want him back?  He was the number two scorer for Montreal and led the forwards with a +6 rating in their second season, and was far better than the regular season.   He’s a confusing 3rd line option for the team.

I can’t see Danny Briere coming back.   The river boat gambler in me sees him somehow being traded to Philly for Vinny Lecavlier.   Even with Vinny’s reduced results he’s that big Centre that Montreal really does need, even if only for a season or two.

Or it simply may be time to let Alex Galchenyuk role at Centre.   The brittle 20 year old really needs to establish himself and the Habs really need to find out what they really have.  Alex is also a RFA.

Connor Crisp is an interesting player on the horizon.  Another year of seasoning should give us a clue to what he will become.

Wing: Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher are fixtures.  Pacioretty didn’t have a great play off and is flirting with Chris Higgin’s disease.   Rene Bourque will probably be back and probably be disappointing again during the regular season.   Brandon Prust will do what he does.  If I can’t trade Travis Moen I may dump his contract.   I know Bergevin has made the right noises about bringing Brian Gionta back, but it’d be a big mistake.   The team is too small and Gallagher needs more ice time; not less.  If the cupboard’s empty maybe he comes back for another year; but that would be a failure of management if that happens.

Dale Weise is an intriguing player.   He showed a lot during his stay with Montreal.  He definitely is more than a fourth liner; albeit not a top six. The fact that Michael Bournival played 14 games in the Habs run is a dark spot on the GM’s record.   The speedy winger really doesn’t offer much than a good attitude with very little offense to offer.

Thomas Vanek also should be thanked for his contributions and waved good bye to.   Maybe Minny will cough up a draft pick for his rights?

On the farm there’s not much ready to serve.   Most of those with any offensive upside are on the small side.   That’s why Gionta may be back for at least one season more.

Defense:   Subban and Markov are the question marks.   Both come down to money and term.   Markov had one of his best play offs in his career not that it was that good.   And he’s good for a lot of things.  The question is term and amount.   The Habs are in pretty good shape cap wise so there’s some wiggle room.   With what’s available it’d be hard to replace him without breaking the bank.

PK Subban needs a defense partner if he’s staying with Montreal.  Josh Gorges is not the guy.   Frankly I find him over rated; but that’s just me.   Is rookie Nathan Beaulieu the guy?  Probably not as he simply hasn’t shown a proclivity to produce yet and most likely will not according to his skill arc.   Jared Tinordi might make an interesting option; but I still think that Emelin should be given a shot to play with PK if he’s back again next year.

Greg Pateryn might be given a shot.   He had an interesting year at Hamilton with 15 goals and 19 assists in 68 games.   He’s worked hard and with a few breaks might get an opportunity to succeed.   He’s also a right handed shot that could compliment Markov or Gorges.

Josh Gorges is a valuable guy.   He blocks a lot of shots and certainly is inspirational to the team and a leader.   That being said I’m not sure he’s an incredible asset as a top 4 D man.   Of course he’s not a bottom pairing guy either.    He’s in the mix or of course Montreal probably could find a trading partner for him.

With Pateryn, Beaulieu, and Tinordi looking for more ice time with the big club it’s doubtful that Douglas Murray will be back.  I like Doug and he certainly delivered for Montreal.  He and Emelin combined for over 300 hits last year.  Sadly Murray is not mobile enough for today’s NHL; especially in a larger role.

Mike Weaver was impressive with his turn with the Habs.  With a light salary the veteran is a perfect fit to be a bottom paired d man who can help in a pinch.

Montreal has a few other intriguing options on the farm in Dalton Thrower and Darren Dietz, although Dietz had a horrible season last year due to injury.

Goal:  Carey Price simply had a good year and earned his money before injury took him out of the Ranger’s series.    I’m still not a huge fan of him for the Habs, but he delivered.   Peter Budaj is a great team mate and good back up goalie; at least as long as your main goalie doesn’t get hurt.  He failed late in the regular season when Price was hurt and the Habs used Tokarski in the play offs.   If they can’t trade him they may keep him rather than having Tokarski only play 15-20 games.

Dustin Tokarski is an interesting cat who’s made the most out of his opportunities.  He’s won at multiple levels and showed definite NHL chops.  He’s a great insurance or trading chip for the Habs.

Zach Furcale and Mike Condon are on the farm.   Montreal is well stocked in goal.

Montreal is still a work in progress.  It’s not even clear if they are moving forward this year as there are too many question marks at this point.

Subban and Markov; still needing a number one centre, and filling out the wings.   It should be an interesting Summer for Habs fans!

What do you think Hab fans?  You can post your comments below.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s going to be an interesting off-season for a lot of teams. There are a lot of quality players available through contracts running out and teams wanting to shed contracts or players not contributing enough.

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