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I used to do these for years, kinda got away from it, but quite honestly I always loved doing them.  Following along with a dozen bullet point question/answers along the same route that Bill James used to in his original abstract books from the early nineties. God willing and the creek dont rise I will probably knock out one a day for 32 days. Nice thing with this is if I skip a day I can double up or just go at my own pace. So to kick it off the Canadiens 2021-22 season

 

OFFSEASON EXPECTATIONS Pretty high. They kind of snuck into the playoffs last year but shocked the Leafs and the Jets then stunned the Knights, before falling convincingly in the finals to the Lightning, I dont think that anyone thought it was a complete fluke, most thought they would crash back to earth a bit but still contend for a wildcard spot.

 

FINAL RECORD 21-50-11 53 points dead last in division. 

 

HIGH POINT OF THE SEASON Sadly, pathetically none. They lost their first five games of the season by a combined score of 19-4 and it continued to go off the rails from there. 

 

LOW POINT OF THE SEASON On Feb 13th they lost 5-3 to the Sabres to fall to 8-33-7 it was their 10th consecutive loss. It was the seventh game of a season long seven game homestand, all of which they lost in regulation. This shameful spectacle capped a stretch where they went 2-18-5 from November 29th through february 13th.

 

WHAT WENT WRONG Weber was put on LTIR and saw his season/likely career come to an inglorious end. Carey Price missed most of the season. His partner in net from the year before Jake Allen who played so well the year before wasawful and then hurt followed by hurt and awful. Supposed super goalie prospect Primeau went 1-7-1 with a 4.62 goals against. Free agents Hoffman and Savard brought in to replace Tatar and Weber looked slow and disinterested. Wunderkind Caufield started off glacially slow and even spent time in the minors. Joel Edmundson, Paul Byron and Matthieu Perreault could not stay on the ice. Drouin either, and when he was he was awful. Gallagher was nicked up several times and had a career low 7 goals. Petry was supposed to replace Weber as the heart of the blueline and was hurt and a mixed bag at best for most of the season. Josh Anderson continues to baffle, how can someone so big who looks like a power forward only have a measly two power play goals. 

 

WHAT WENT RIGHT Suzuki looks like a star in the making and is established as the much needed 1C. Caufield after his slow start played lights out after Marty St. Louis took over as coach. St. Louis was a highlight, they went 14-19-4 after he came in a bit past midseason. Not great but a massive improvement over the product they were putting out before that. Jake Evans estabished himself as a legit 3C with upside. Dvorak came over from the Coyotes and while he didnt light the world afire scoring he wasnt bad and was a beast in the dot. In fact, their center position 1-3 for a team in chaos is actually pretty damn strong. They stole top defensive prospect Justin Barron from the Avalanche in a deadline deal. Ahem. Andrew Hamburgler Hammond went 3-0 with a 2.40 goals agaisnt for his first NHL wins in five seasons. Really. They loaded up on picks, 2 firsts, 2 seconds and ten in the first four rounds total.

 

FREE AGENTS Wideman was okay in a bottom pair role and wont be back, other than that a bunch of placeholders such as Pitlick, Perreault and Lagesson will be looking for work elsehwere. No big losses.

 

STRANGE STAT OF THE YEAR The Habs scored almost as many goals (92) as they did in the first and third periods combined (113). Caufield at home had 16 goals including 5 on the power play. On the road he managed a measly 7. Gallagher had only 2 goals away from home. Bruiser Perezzeta had nearly twice as many pims (52) on the road as he did at home (29). Petry had 15 assists at home compared to only 6 on the road.

 

OFFSEASON QUESTION MARKS The big one will be answered next week, follow the bouncing ball and see if they win the lottery and get Shane Wright. CAN THEY TRADE CAREY PRICE? His insane contract is the only reason for doubt, Vegas seems a perfect fit for Lehner with the Habs retaining salary. IS GALLAGHER DONE? As a top six player, yes, absolutely. As a Lucic type who hits and can score a bit from the bottom six he could still contribute. It is a matter of desire to do so. IS SUZUKI A LEGIT NUMBER ONE? IS CAUFIELD A LEGIT TOP LINE SCORING THREAT? IMHO a resounding yes to Suzuki who played like a man among boys all year. he was great from start to finish on an awful team, if they establish a few more scorers he is going to get 80 points in the very near future. Caufield, I want to say yes but his size scares me. He does  remind me of Gaudreau, Gaudreau floats and doesnt play the body ever, like never ever, hence he scores and stays healthy. Caufield doesnt check, floats around looking for transition chances alo Johnny Hockey but I think his top shelf is 70 point a year which is still a fine player. If you dont expect too much you wont be let down but yes, he can play. WILL PETRY BE DEALT? He performed well down the stretch, i would keep him as a calming influence on a young defense but he has value. If he can net a top six winger i would undestand a deal.

 

PROSPECTS FOR 22-23 Barron will almost certainly move into a middle pair puck moving defender role playing 20 minutes a night next season. Primeau is still considered by most to be a top five or six goalie prospect in the NHL and they would love to write off his struggles as a fluke. If Price is not dealt he will likely start in the AHL but when the inevitable IR time hits he will probably be ready. Kaiden Guhle and Jesse Ylonen are considered among the teams top 'ready now' prospects but truth is I havent seen much from either of them to convince me they are anything more than roster filler. This team IMHO has a ton of long in the tooth prospects who havent developed and likely wont, Josh Brook, Pinard, Ylonen, Guhle, Cam Hillis, Teasdale, all have been mentioned for years as going to take a role with this club, IMHO I just dont see it. This team is short of every day talent, adding Barron was a huge step in the right direction.

 

OFFSEASON OUTLOOK They are not as bad as they looked last year (if healthy) and certainly not the cup pretenders they posed as the year before. They are if everything breaks right a 70 point team, maybe 75 if Price is healthy and good. They have some likeable pieces in Suzuki, Caufield, Barron, Evans, (maybe) Primeau, but this club needs a makeover. They have ten picks in four rounds and already two firsts for 22-23 so astute drafting could fix things long term. I just dont see a short term solution to fix a poorly contructed team.

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As always, @yave1964, your team mullings always make for interesting reading.

One guy you didn't mention, and truly, don't see his name mentioned a whole lot...well, anywhere (maybe there is a good reason!), but who seems to pass MY eye test as a young defenseman, who, while still very raw, could turn out to be a very good middle pair type defenseman..... Alexander Romanov.

He reminds me of Mikhail Sergachev-lite.
Not the same offensive skill set (though he seems to like to shoot the puck), but he has that similar brick house body built tough, a mean streak about as long as Serge's, loves hitting, and just seems VERY unafraid to bash bodies with guys who have many more years service time in the NHL than he does.

Seems like the type of young man who, if he had the right kind of coaching and veteran partner on defense, could really blossom into a full fledged Alex Edler/Brayden McNabb (in their prime of course) or Ben Chiarot type terror on the blue line and be highly sought after as a playoff defenseman once fully matured.

Are the Habs the team to harness that? If not, do they see any value in him to perhaps trade him to a team that does and get back another type of defenseman they prefer?
Only 22 and is an RFA with his last contract being a paltry 894K AAV.
Still makes lots of decision making mistakes you'd expect from a defenseman so young....and many times, is a bit overzealous with his desire to make hits (yea, somewhat Ristolainen-esque), AND again, like Sergachev, sometimes lets his mean streak get the better of him and he ends up taking some retaliatory penalty he could have avoided. 
But, IMO, those things are all coachable....that is, if HE is coachable.

I'd LOVE for the Lightning to fleece....errrr, trade with the Canadiens again and perhaps get this young defenseman by offering a good minor league forward or two. ;) 

But then again, maybe MSL and the Habs have plans for this young man on their team.

Again, great write up, love reading your takes, whether accurate or not (and you often are, or pretty close), as I feel it gives much to think about regarding the team being talked about.

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