All Habs Mailbag: Free Agents, Training Camp, Huet, Trades, Bulldogs


By Robert Rice, Senior Writer, 

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

Then check every Wednesday 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 Canadiens.
  •  As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.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.
Let’s open the All Habs mailbag!


Any free agents the Habs may consider signing or are they at the max, contract wise?

 The Canadiens are currently at 47 contracts, with the current limit holding them to 50. For free agents, the team probably isn’t in very active pursuit. With the remaining ‘top free agents’ being generally marginal players, those in their twilight or those riddled by injury I doubt the team is hard after them. I know Doan is a popular consideration by some but I doubt he has any intention of dedicating his final years to a team that placed 15th in the East. There’s a lot of talk Montreal could use a little more scoring talent on the Left Wing, but with the top names being the very senior Andrew Brunette, Brian Rolston or Jason Blake, I doubt they’re eager to make the team older even on a short-term contract. The other side of it are those who have been badly set back by injury in Kristian Huselius or Marco Sturm. In my estimation, the free agent market is too unattractive to the Canadiens to consider making any moves at this point.



I’m looking forward to the Canadiens main training camp to see who is on the ice competing for spots.  Other than the usual suspects that are talked about (Tinordi, Gallagher, Bournival, etc) who else do you think will be invited into the main camp this year…will we see Pribyl come over?  I would like to see how his size and skill set matches up with some of our other young talent.

 Do you have dates for when the Rookie and main camps start.

 The main camp will largely be populated by the junior and college graduates of Tinordi, Beaulieu, Gallagher, Bournival, Ellis, Holland, Quailer and Pateryn. There will be looks at Bulldogs skaters such as Joonas Nattinen, Louis Leblanc, Blake Geoffrion, Alexander Avtsin, Gabriel Dumont, Brendon Nash, Alain Berger and Aaron Palushaj. Alex Galchenyuk will likely be a visitor to the main camp. As for Daniel Pribyl, he’s still under contract with his Czech Extraliga team Sparta Praha and there’s been no news that he has been released from his contract with the team.

All Habs will be reporting directly from both the Rookie camp and Habs Training camp in mid-September. Stay tuned, we’ll keep you apprised of the dates.



Who would bring Huet back with the Habs ? He and Price had good chemistry and Huet would understand his role as backup.

I think with Huet turning 35-years-old when the season begins and having not played against top professional competition for the last two years, he would be ill-suited to be a ready man to step in and handle 15 or more games per season. If Price were to be injured, I think it would be quite disastrous. I know Peter Budaj isn’t very popular but I found over the season, the instruction of goaltender coach Pierre Groulx was a solid influence and helped improve his game. Budaj’s lack of a full-time goaltending coach in Colorado meant damage to his game but I would argue it’s currently improving under Groulx’s tutelage.



Will the Habs do trades to improve defense and one top-6 forward?

 You can never rule out a team making a trade, but I think at present Marc Bergevin wants to ‘see what he has’ more than make any personnel changes. Right now the value of the majority of the Canadiens is at a low because of the dismal 2011-12 season and therefore they won’t command much in terms of trade returns. I think the idea is probably more to play the roster and generate results, which will raise player values and let Montreal better deal from a position of strength. It’s also possible Bergevin is waiting to see what other teams struggle with early on and dangle players to them to see if they are desperate for quick-fix alternatives.



What are your predictions for the Hamilton Bulldogs? Will they be much better than last year?

I would slot them back into the AHL playoffs, but for terms of impact I believe they are still sorely in need of a strong AHL veteran to lead the group and take pressure off so many rookie and sophomore players. They have a very strong talent base, but being short of veteran players and leaders to help the team along could harm the team as they go into the later part of the season and the long schedule takes it’s toll on the inexperienced skaters.



How about a guess at what the Bulldogs roster might look like.

At present I’d name the following forwards:

Blake Geoffrion, Louis Leblanc, Brendan Gallagher, Alexander Avtsin, Michaël Bournival, Gabriel Dumont, Joonas Nättinen, Mike Blunden, Patrick Holland, Phillippe Lefebvre, Aaron Palushaj, Steve Quailer and Ian Schultz. I still believe we’re going to see a veteran AHL forward signed to help this group out as the most experienced players on the roster are Geoffrion and Dumont and together they have less than 200 career AHL games played.

On defence:

Jarred Tinordi, Greg Pateryn, Nathan Beaulieu, Morgan Ellis, Kyle Hagel, Brendon Nash and Frédéric St-Denis. This could be a harmful issue for the Bulldogs as the season goes on, with only Hagel and Nash having any AHL experience, Hagel being the only veteran.


Cedrick Desjardins, Robert Mayer. Potentially there may be a training camp battle between Mayer and Peter Delmas for the number two spot but likely Delmas will see duty in the AHL barring an injury on the Canadiens that calls up Desjardins, or an injury on Hamilton. Desjardins returning to Hamilton may be one of the larger boons to the 2012-13 Hamilton Bulldogs.