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2014 Habs Offseason Recap



blog-0024798001410215825.jpgHi there folks. The dog days of summer are finally winding down, and I hope you all enjoyed your summer as much as I did. But, with the NHL season looming, the leaves on the trees will soon fade to brown and the lights in the arenas will turn on and our favourite superstars will hit the ice once again. The Montreal Canadiens enjoyed an offseason that could be be described as "transitional". We all knew Brian Gionta likely wouldn't be brought back and we'd have a new captain for this season, but the real surprise came when Gionta's apparent successor, Josh Gorges was traded to Buffalo a day after Gionta signed with the Sabres. Personally I am a Gorges fan as he gave his heart and soul to the Habs, but unfortunately the way Gorges plays, it tends to wear you down faster and it showed in the Eastern Final against the New York Rangers. Saying that, he will bring great leadership to the Sabres along with sturdy defensive capability and Sabres fans are going to love him.

Who do I think will be named captain? P.K Subban is an easy choice but I think choosing him right now would put too much pressure on the young superstar. It would make sense though, and I feel like if that's the way it plays out then it would work out fine, but there is always that possibility that Subban could crumble under the microscope. Brendan Gallagher is also a name that I've been seeing pop up in articles about the vacant captaincy and I'd be fine with that choice. He is a tenacious forward who is his coach's favourite player and the opposing coach's most hated, He drives the net like a bat out of hell and doesn't back down from anything, all while being a smart and efficient player. Super friendly with an infectious smile off the ice, he'd be a perfect choice if it weren't for his mere 2 years of NHL experience. Then again. the Colorado Avalanche named Gabriel Landeskog captain just before his second year and they experience tremendous success last season. But to me the obvious choice is Andrei Markov. The long time Canadiens defenceman just signed a new deal this summer that will likely take him into retirement so it would make perfect sense. The offensive minded Markov will be playing full time with P.K Subban this season so it seems, so his offensive numbers should rise, especially if he his named captain considering he is often labeled as more of an "on-ice leader" as opposed to a "locker room guy". His shy demeanor may have had something to do with him turning down the offer to become captain in 2010, but general feeling is he would accept the offer this time around. There are other candidates like Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec out there, but Markov or Subban would be my first two choices.

2014 Draft Picks:

26th overall: Nikita Scherbak, RW

2015 Team: Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

6-2 174lbs

Projection: Top 6 forward

Scherbak was expected to be picked in the top half of the draft but fell to the Habs at 26th. He was an outstanding offensive player in his first year with the Saskatoon Blades, leading the rookie scoring race by 19 points and at the same time leading a sub par Blades teams in points.

"Bergevin felt that the talented winger’s potential was too good to pass on him with their first round selection. His overall game improved as the season progressed and he was the best player available according to the team’s scouting group.

His playmaking, vision, and shot are top notch but his acceleration and defensive play need more development. He possesses top line skills but is not aggressive enough around the net and can be a perimeter player at times. The young Russian is a quick study with a high hockey IQ, is a strong character, and adapts well to new surroundings. He was able to explain the Blades systems to the coaching staff after sitting in the stands watching the team practice while awaiting his visa to be issued and being cleared to play. Scherbak could eventually be a great fit with Alex Galchenyuk as they both think and see the game the same way."

73rd overall: Brett Lernout, D

2015 Team: Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

6-4, 205lbs

Projection: 6-7 defenceman

This is a player that the Canadiens have been needing to draft for a long time. A hulking defenceman who clears the crease, has a big shot, can hit and is just a nasty competitor who is difficult to play against. Trevor Timmins (Canadiens director of Amateur Scouting) felt so highly about this prospect that the Canadiens flipped two picks (3rd & 4th round) to the Arizona Coyotes for the pick (3rd round) used to select Lernout.

"His skating is very good for a big man. It allows him to have excellent gap control and keep solid positioning defensively. The big man thrives to make life miserable for opposing forwards down low and is not afraid to drop the gloves with anyone. His offensive upside could be better than expected with his booming point shot and passing skills. Lernout definitely fits a big need on the Canadiens’ defense corps."

125th overall: Nicholas Koberstein, D

2015 team: Olds Grizzlys (AJHL)

6-2 190lbs

Projection: solid NHL defenceman

Kobserstein won't be rushed to turn pro, that's for sure. The 18 year old defender will play this season with the Grizzlys before heading off to the NCAA's Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks in 2016.

"Koberstein is a puck-mover that skates well with good offensive upside and plays aggressively in all three zones. The defenseman played in all the important situations for his team as a 17-year-old and will be the captain of his team this coming season. His character and work ethic as well as leadership qualities are a good match for Montreal’s criteria for their prospects. This has the potential to be a sleeper pick by Timmins at the 2014 NHL draft."

147th overall: Daniel Audette, C

2015 team: Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)

5-8, 168lbs

Projection: depth/AHL forward

At first glance, Audette is a very small centre with flashy offensive talent. Timmins felt that the organization could not overlook his talent despite his small stature or the team could miss out on another possible Brendan Gallagher-type prospect.

"Audette is a playmaker with good vision and patience when waiting for openings. His overall offensive skills are very solid but he can be a defensive liability at times and needs big improvement away from the puck. His size leaves him not aggressive in the corners and can stay to the perimeter while avoiding the dirty areas. He can finish but seems to create more plays handling the puck. His skating will need more speed as he gains weight to play at the pro level."

177th overall: Hayden Hawkey, G

2015 team: Omaha Lancers (USHL)

6-1, 180 lbs

Projection: solid NHL backup

Hawkey was the USHL goaltender of the year and the first goalie in 12 years to have a sub 2.00 goals against average in the USHL. This was another selection with a five-year development plan. Timmins likes the fact that the young netminder was returning to the Omaha Lancers for another year at the junior level before heading to Providence College in 2015-16

"Hawley is very quick laterally, possesses solid positioning, and is technically sound, but he needs to work on his rebound control and play the puck. He is still a very raw talent but has the work ethic and drive to succeed. The 18-year-old could be a potential starter at the NHL level but a long road ahead before reaching that upside."

207th overall: Jake Evans, C

2015 team: Notre Dame FIghting Irish

6-3, 200lbs

Projection: 4th line centre

The last pick for the Canadiens at the draft, Evans hopes to hone his skills over the next four years at Notre Dame. Timmins believes this prospect will evolve into the type of player that teams need in order to win championships: character, determination, grit and difficult to play against.

Evans is a solid two-way player with a strong character, above average faceoff skill and is physically engaged in all three zones. His skating is good but needs better acceleration to be more of an offensive threat when carrying the puck at the pro level. His hockey IQ is very good, he sees the ice well, and makes good passing decisions. He does however need to use his shot more often.

2014-2015 Roster:

Additions: P.A Parenteau, Manny Malholtra, Tom Gilbert, Jiri Sekac

Subtractions: Daniel Briere(COL), Brian Gionta(BUF), Josh Gorges(BUF), George Parros, Douglas Murray, Thomas Vanek(MIN), Devan Dubnyk, Ryan White(PHI), Francis Boullion


Max Pacioretty David Desharnais P.A Parenteau

Alex Galchenyuk Tomas Plekanec Brendan Gallagher

Brandon Prust Lars Eller Rene Bourque

Michael Bournival Manny Malholtra Dale Weise

Extras: Travis Moen


P.K Subban Andrei Markov

Alexei Emelin Tom Gilbert

Nathan Beaulieu Mike Weaver

Extras: Davis Drewiske, Jarrod Tinordi

Starting Goalie: Carey Price

Back Up Goalie: Peter Budaj

3rd String: Dustin Tokarski

Remember how I described the Habs' offseason as transitional? Well one look at the depth chart and you'll see why. Montreal will heavily rely on their young guns this season as studs Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher should see jumps in their point categories this season as they look to accept more offensive burden. Rene Bourque was great in the playoffs, but if he doesn't contribute at the same pace then I'd expect a trade in order to fill the spot on the right side, or Bourque could be moved for a pick or a prospect to allow Jiri Sekac some NHL minutes. The former KHL winger was a highly sought after free agent this summer before he decided to sign with the Canadiens. Sekac is said to have NHL level talent with decent defensive ability and he will get a great chance to make the team through training camp, but I suspect he will be sent to Hamilton so he can adjust to North American style ice. Look for Sekac to be called up should there be an injury or trade. I like the addition of P.A Parenteau too, as he will be looking to bounce back from an injury plagued season. Manny Malholtra was brought in to bring some character and grit to the 4th line, but Malholtra's value really shines through at the faceoff cirlce as he is one of the NHL's best in that category.

The departure of Josh Gorges opens up some room on the left side, meaning Alexei Emelin can return to his natural position. Canadiens will need to rely on young Nathan Beaulieu to play consistently during the season, something he did in the playoffs. Beaulieu's growth between the playoffs and this season may really relieve the burn of the Gorges trade. Also look for him to play some power play time with Tom Gilbert on the 2nd defence pairing. Gilbert had a rebound season in Florida last year after jumping from Edmonton to Minnesota. With Gilbert, the Habs get someone who can play the right side of the ice naturally and play on the 2nd powerplay pairing (last season it was Emelin-Boullion- ouch). Right now, I am uncertain about Gilbert because he's been shaky in the past and we don't really have anyone else who can come up right now and play those minutes besides Beaulieu, who is a rookie.

It's never really a problem when you have 3 good goalies. If it is, then it's a really good problem to have. Carey Price is the undisputed starter of this team and is a superstar in his own right. Peter Budaj was extremely helpful when called upon, and Dustin Tokarski was lights out in the playoffs after Price went down. I think we will see Tokarski start with the Hamilton Bulldogs this year but I don't think the Canadiens would be hesitant to trade/waive Budaj if he was outplayed in training camp.

Awards & Highlights:

Carey Price: Olympic Gold Medalist, named best Goaltender of Tournament by IIHF

P.K Subban, Olympic Gold Medalist, signed 8 year $72m contract in August 2014

Tomas Plekanec: Named captain of Czech Men's Olympic Ice Hockey team

Max Pacioretty: Named to USA Men's Olympic Ice Hockey team

Peter Budaj: Named to Slovenia Men's Olympic Ice Hockey team

Acquired Mike Weaver from Florida Panthers

Acquired Dale Weise from Vancouver Canucks

Acquired Thomas Vanek from New York Islanders

Projection: I'm horrible at predicting the standings, but I'll give it a shot anyway. I think the Canadiens will finish 2nd in the Atlantic division this year under the Bruins and ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Until next time,



Recommended Comments

Hey habs, nice blog.  Lots of content there.  I think Subban will be named captain.  This is a young team and I see no need for an old captain.  The one thing that strikes me with the Canadiens roster and that is what is the depth w/r to any injuries?  Last years team had a lot of depth, this year is there more concern?

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