All Habs Mailbag: Eller, Galchenyuk, World Juniors, 2013 Draft, Revenue Sharing


By Robert Rice, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

TORONTO, ON — The All Habs Mailbag is as popular as ever! This is the place to send in your questions about all things Montreal Canadiens.

Then check every Thursday to read the answers to the most popular or poignant questions about the Habs. Keep in mind that we will discuss the entire Canadiens organization so questions about prospects and roster players are equally welcome!

Submissions can be mailed directly to [email protected]

Three Guidelines for Submissions:

  • This is not for hate mail or complaints. If you have an issue with what you read on these pages, this is not the place to bring it up. The mailbag is for questions about the Montreal Canadiens organization and the NHL.
  • As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.  Therefore I will not engage in discussion of the validity of rumours — frankly I consider them a waste of time anyway.  For every rumour that was close to accurate, there have been about a thousand duds.
  • Nothing of essay-length please. There will be other people who will have questions and it is a bit unfair if I have to dedicate the Mailbag to answering one very large question or someone who’s asking five questions at once.
So, let’s open the All Habs mailbag!



What do you think about Lars Eller’s performance over in Finland?

With Eller having scored 12 points in 8 games so far in the SM-liiga, it’s a positive sign he is capable of delivering offensive contributions greater than what we’ve seen in Montreal so far. While the Finnish league is not the NHL, Eller has stepped in quickly and been a leading source of offence for JYP Jyväskylä, easily assimilating into the league. Eller’s been at the advantage of not having to recover from illness or injury for the first time in three years this past summer, which also has allowed him to train to the best physical shape in his career so far.



Would like to know who would be the best candidate for the Habs to draft if they get a top-5 pick?

Well that depends if the pick is 1st overall as the consensus pick is Nathan MacKinnon and I would endorse him. If they were to land on say 5th overall, the prevailing logic in my mind is always “Best Player Available.” If Montreal were to select at 5th overall, I would estimate that, Nathan MacKinnon, Seth Jones, Sean Monahan and Aleksander Barkov are off the table. This would leave a possible mix of Jonathan Drouin, Elias Lindholm, Hunter Shinkaruk among forward talent and Ryan Pulock, Rasmus Ristolainen as the reigning defensive players.

If I were to take my pick, I would likely lean towards Jonathan Drouin, but not having compiled as much data as I would like about Elias Lindholm I can’t rule out backing him as a choice either. Drouin is having an outstanding campaign in the Quebec Major Juniors, but Lindholm has 18 points in 30 games in the Swedish Elitserien and that is quality production for a draft-eligible player. I know the ‘hometown’ factor is always in consideration in Montreal but given what Lindholm’s production is in Sweden right now and that he is a natural centre I have to give him serious consideration. Drouin could be the hometown talent people have been waiting for, but Lindholm could be the better player as well.



Will Alex Galchenyuk get to 100 points? He has missed a couple games already and will miss about 10 during WJC, so will he likely just fall short (barring injury)?

The United States tends to tie up their prospects from their junior commitments for fewer games than Team Canada typically does as they hold a more streamlined camp, I’ve estimated Galchenyuk will miss between 7 and 9 games for his World Junior appearance and given the one game he’s missed to flu, I’ve decided to project him on a 60-game season. At a scoring rate of 1.75 points per game over 60, Galchenyuk is pacing for 105 points at present, he’d be aiming for 119 points over a complete year. It should be kept in mind that sometimes prospects slow down a bit after a World Junior appearance as the tough schedule and competition of the tournament can take a toll on the players.



Are you surprised to see Brady Vail left off the preliminary roster for USA?

I am disappointed but not surprised. Team USA tends to hold a certain level of prejudice in my view towards players who spurn invitations to play for the US National Team Development Program or choose not to commit, or break a commitment with an NCAA Hockey Program. When such breaks occur, it usually requires the player be truly outstanding like Alex Galchenyuk, or be able to fill a role that Team USA doesn’t feel can be filled by one of ‘their’ players. Vail could receive an invitation next season, as he could push his play to such a level Team USA has no choice but to invite him if he is far superior to those who he would be in competition with for a role on next year’s squad.


Moose B

Which Habs prospects are you most excited by so far and which have disappointed you the most?

For this season, and obviously setting aside the heaps of praise due to Alex Galchenyuk I’ve had my eye on five particular prospects. I’m really enjoying the performance in the AHL by Brendan Gallagher and Jarred Tinordi, Charles Hudon in the QMJHL, Tim Bozon in the WHL and Brady Vail in the OHL. Gallagher’s taking a leading role in the offensive production in Hamilton, while Tinordi is showing an impressive adapation so far to the professional level. Hudon, Bozon and Vail are all producing at a strong rate in their post-draft season so far and displaying steady improvements over last season.

As for disappointments, I have four at present. One can hardly be enthused about the injuries that are derailing Dalton Thrower’s season, but that is somewhat out of his hands but it is hard to gauge if he is making progress given the small sample size of his season or if he was overachieving last season in his draft year. Olivier Archambault continues to be a lower-echelon prospect in the Quebec league, despite being in his final season he has not displayed many dominant points this year. In Hamilton, it appears missing a year to shoulder surgery has not done Brendon Nash any favours, as he’s been in and out of the lineup, after being a pretty consistent rookie with the 2010-11 Bulldogs. The final disappointment I would say is Alexander Avtsin, he once flashed great promise with his individual skills at lower levels, but he seems to be extremely deficient in hockey sense to the point where he is useless without the puck on his stick in the offensive zone.


Dan Hogg

Why is Geoff Molson getting a free pass? The big problem in NHL is the uneven distribution  of revenue. Montreal, Toronto, New York Rangers need to do real revenue sharing.

One could argue that Geoff Molson is being asked to throw good money after bad in a few places. I’m not sold that there is a real financial viability to Phoenix, Columbus, Florida, Dallas and arguably some others. While some of these markets have had some appreciable moments and okay starts with fans, their long-term neglect of hockey operations has bled them to a point where I don’t believe they can be rescued by an increased take in revenue sharing. It’s also dangerous to develop an overly generous revenue sharing system one can also consider. It has been suggested in Major League Baseball that the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals intentionally set themselves with the smallest possible payroll without the intention to compete as say, the “Moneyball” Oakland Athletics do, to in the end generate a net profit from league revenue sharing.

I would agree the NHL needs to adjust rules for which teams can get a piece of revenue sharing, but I’d contend a reason some of these teams are so often in dire financial straits is more to do with their own mistakes or placement in an impossible market. Revenue sharing could probably be better, but I’d say the NHL teams that so often need the revenue sharing could do a better job in being a better team, attracting more fans and make it possible to charge more for tickets.



What’s your prediction on lines and roles of Alex Galchenyuk, Charles Hudon and Sebastian Collberg at the World Juniors?

I would slot Alex Galchenyuk as the 1st line centre for Team USA and probably their most important skater in the tournament. Team USA does not often get to call on a player as dynamic as Galchenyuk and they will need offence to flow through him when facing heavyweights like Canada, Sweden and Russia.

Charles Hudon I would expect to slot in at either the 2nd or 3rd line for Team Canada, depending upon how well he generates with his linemates. His defensive ability would allow him to be a 2-way presence for Team Canada and be effective in a defensive/scoring role.

Sebastian Collberg should be in the Top-6 for Team Sweden this year, possibly the 1st line after being 2nd in team scoring with them as they won Gold in the 2012 Tournament. Sweden may need him to among their best, as injuries to defencemen Jonas Brodin and Oscar Klefblom are going to likely require Sweden deliver more offence to balance for their defensive gaps.



  1. Robert,
    Eller also never saw PP time in NHL yet and rarely has had quality (skilled) linemates, like Leblanc/Gallagher/Holland/Bournival are. And i 100% agree, his nice long off-season must be like night and day compared to surgery rehab last summer, missing training camp and starting last season a bit behind the 8-ball.
    I would like to argue your #5 pick, but again i 100% agree; Shinkaruk is a Phil Kessel clone (but not near as soft), i really think Pulock/Nurse will be super d-men, but Drouin may be the most skilled player in the draft and Lindholm is 2nd on his SEL team in scoring at 17, which is not too shabby (there are Several Swedes and Finns to keep an eye on at WJC).

    Agree on Vail, too bad but not too unexpected.

    Bennett’s production has been a surprise and Nygren’s +/-has improved while continuing to put up points, great to see.
    I think MacMillan, Holland and Quailer could all be good pros down the road also.

    Archambault is good offensively, but just dosent seem to have the drive to dig for pucks/win battles.

    Collberg has been a bit of disappointment, but not his fault, with only 4 minutes/game in SEL and only recently has he even seemed to get going in “Swedish AHL”, but should be fine and cant wait to see him vs his peers.
    Pribyl has also kind of not produced like i had hoped (but know little of his league/team/role).

    Berger and Avtsin are similar and seemingly going nowhere.

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