5 Questions About Habs’ Offseason

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I would like to take a moment to thank former Canadiens forward Guy Carbonneau for taking the time to answer questions for All Habs yesterday on Twitter. It was great reading his responses and I hope another Twitter interview can be arranged soon!

Written by Steven EllisAllHabs.net

OAKVILLE, ON. — With the season coming to a close, there really isn’t much to talk about in Habsland. Usually, we would be speculating on who the Canadiens would face in round one of the playoffs. Well, that isn’t an option this season.

After 73 games this season, the Canadiens compiled a 28-32-13 record. Only one team, the Carolina Hurricanes, had more overtime losses than the shootout masters in Montreal. Heck, the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team who hasn’t played a playoff game since 2004, is currently three points ahead of the Habs.

Change is needed. You, the fans, make it very clear. Today I have a few questions about the future of the club, and what needs to be done.

1.  Who should Montreal let go during free agency? Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche, Brad Staubitz and Chris Campoli are all pending unrestricted free agents (UFA), and Moen is likely the only player to return. Carey Price, P.K. Subban and Lars Eller are restricted free agents (RFA) that could receive offer sheets, so signing them is a must. The good thing is that they won’t be going anywhere, so keep your pants on.

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

2. Who should Montreal bring in this summer? The top free agents include Alex Semin, Shane Doan (related to Carey Price), Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Saku Koivu (bring back number 11!), Nick Lidstrom and Brad Boyes. As much as I admire Semin’s skill, he has struggled immensely this year while playing with none other than Alexander Ovechkin, and wouldn’t do any better with, lets say, Tomas Plekanec or Erik Cole. I know every single Habs fan will welcome back Koivu with open arms, and while it’s unlikely that Lidstrom, Doan or Parise will be moved, Boyes could be a decent second line option. This free agent class doesn’t look too strong, though. Heck, I’ve suggested that the Habs sign Richard Zednik, as he has nothing better to do (UFA).

There is also the possibility of trades, but don’t expect rumors to surface until closer to the draft. Paul Stastny, Dustin Brown, Roman Josi and Derick Brassard were some names being thrown around at the trade deadline, but none came to fruition. Stastny has a monster salary ($6M for 49 points), Brassard underachieves (47 points=best season) and Brown likely isn’t moving. Josi would be a great addition to a defensive core that already features Subban and Alexi Emelin, but he isn’t going to make the team a playoff contender.

3. What happens with Scott Gomez? I know most of you would like to see Gomez wearing something other than a Canadiens jersey next season, but the reality is nobody wants him. Former Canadien Patrice Brisebois claimed that Gomez will likely be bought out next summer, and maybe search for a second chance elsewhere. A buy-out would still hurt the Habs, costing $3,523,810 in 2012-2013, over $4M the next, and $1.6M the last two seasons of his contract, but this is certianly better than the $7.3M it will cost Montreal to keep him on the team the next two seasons.

4. Who should Montreal draft in the first round? (By the way, follow Robert Rice on Twitter for all prospect news. Great guy, great opinions, very informative.) The top names this year include Nail Yakupov, Mathew Dumba, Mikhail Grigorenko, Filip Forsberg and Alex Galchenyuk. Check out czechtacular’s overview of the prospects here and here.

In my opinion, Montreal needs a scoring forward much more than they need a defenseman, so I think Grigorenko will be Montreal’s choice. Columbus will likely get the first overall pick next season, so Yakupov to Montreal is very unlikely. The pick could be used to bring in a high quality player, but that is also very unlikely. I like this year’s draft class, and expect Pierre Gauthier, or whoever the GM is at the time of the draft, to make a smart decision (yet, with PG, there is a good chance he doesn’t make a smart move). Hopefully, picking this high won’t be a yearly tradition for the next few years, so draft smart.

Hugo Fontaine, canadiens.nhl.com

5. Who will be the new coach/GM of the Canadiens next season? It’s almost certain that GM Pierre Gauthier and coach Randy Cunneyworth will be gone next season. Gauthier did not have a good tenure as the GM, and Cunneyworth was unable to turn the team’s fortunes around. The big names that have been circling around the internet recently are Bob Hartley and Patrick Roy (Roy would be GM, Hartley would be coach). Personally, I like the way Roy coaches, as he pushes his players to play their hardest, while Hartley is known as a defense first coach. That didn’t exactly work with Jacques Martin, did it? Roy already knows what it’s like to play in Montreal, so the pressure shouldn’t phase him.

I welcome your answers to these questions. Post them in the comment section below.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL. Remember to follow all the All Habs writers here.

(Feature photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

7 COMMENTS

  1. makes no sense to put a neophyte in as GM…we did that with Rejean Houle and how well did that work out…i agree saint patrick behind the bench i can see but not as GM…

  2. It is obvious that the Canadiens will draft a forward this summer. They badly need a point per game player for the long-term future. That said, by taking a look at the Canadiens’ lineup for the next season, there’s actually a big hole to fill on defense that most people have seemed to ignore based on the fact that the Canadiens have so many defense prospects. Prospects though, are exactly that, unproven with potential. Here is a quick look at the possible lineup for next season:

    Pacioretty – Desharnais – Cole
    Gionta – Plekanec – Bourque
    Leblanc – Eller – **Moen
    Geoffrion – Nokelainen – White
    — Gallagher – Holland – **Darche

    Gorges – Subban
    Markov – Emelin
    Kaberle *cough – Weber
    — Diaz – St-Denis – Tinordi – Beaulieu

    As you can see, up front, Canadiens are ok with the addition with a good forward draft pick this summer. Gallagher, Holland or the the Canadiens’ 2012 draft pick can fill in for Bourque if he continues to underachieve or in case of injury (inevitable) in the top 6. For the bottom 6, resigning Moen and Darche is a must. Can’t have a repeat 4th line consisting of Enqqvist and Palushaj to emulate this past season’s disastrous start. If the former two don’t resign, Habs’ GM will have some work to do to replace them.

    In the back end, as mentioned, this is where the Habs will need to add one veteran. That 3rd pairing is BRUTAL. Weber and Diaz, although they have offensive potential, play very small on defense. The problem is, good defensemen are not available in the NHL and we saw what an upcoming UFA in Hal Gill can cost. Hopefully, Tinordi will be NHL ready but even so, with another injury to defense next year, (i.e. Markov), the Canadiens will need to bring someone in. Sure they can call up Beaulieu but then you end up with the exact same problem as this season, a very inexperienced defensive corpse. Now you see how critical of a mistake giving $4 Million + to Kaberle rather than using that cap for a good UFA does to a team.

    Enjoy the offseason! It’s going to be a particularly long one this year.

    • Although I too agree Montreal will take a forward, I wouldn’t say it’s a sure thing. There has been many teams saying they do not want Grigorenko, Galchenyuk has been injured all year, and Forsberg isn’t even playing in the top Swedish league. These may be small doubts, but doubts none the less. I don’t think we could go wrong if we chose a defensman like Dumba, Murray, Reinhart, or Rielly. I don’t think we will but if we do choose a defenseman it won’t be a bad pick.

  3. I’m surprised you didn’t include PA Parenteau in the free agents list. Quebec player who, in an interview with Francois Gagnon, admitted he’d love to play for the Canadiens. I think we lack a lot of players that really WANT to play for the Habs.

    Furthermore, we need to sign a couple of grinding players for a strong third line and not have to rush players out of the juniors to the show. Players like Gallagher, Tinordi, Beaulieu, Leblanc, heck even Eller, need more time playing in a league where they dominate the competition, can hone their skills and gain confidence in their ability. We have the tendency to rush players that have NHL upside, but seriously, very few will succeed at the pro level without a bit of exposure at the AHL level.

    Patience is a virtue in this game and this team just needs time to let the younger players become NHL calibre. Signing a lot of bodies would give them time, despite the probability of another disappointing season. Personally, I’d love to see a dominant Canadiens team for years than just the odd playoff where we get mild success in the first round.

    • I was thinking about adding P.A., but considering he is a big part of the Islanders squad, I find it hard for them to let him go. They have Cap room, and personally I believe there are better players out there.

      • Fair enough, but it would be worth a try. Also, I find it kind of funny that you wrote “6 questions about habs’ offseason” but only included 5, probably just a little oversight.

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