All Habs Mailbag: Galchenyuk, Plekanec, CBA, Lockout, Kostitsyn, Desjardins, Darche


By Robert Rice, Senior Writer, 

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 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  •  As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.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.
 So, let’s open the All Habs mailbag!



What happens if the season starts in a lockout, comes back half way though, and Galchenyuk starts in the CHL? Can he play NHL?

There shouldn’t be a problem, Galchenyuk would be able to start with the Canadiens even if the season were to be delayed by lockout. Galchenyuk could even be in a better position to earn a start with the team as he’d have some legs under him from playing in the OHL. It would, at the very least, raise the odds he plays his “9-game tryout” with the Habs, the window of games before the first year of his entry-level contract would have to kick in. I’m not much of a fan of Galchenyuk starting especially in a shortened season as Montreal is not looking to do much in the 2012-13 season regardless of length. Allowing Galchenyuk to dominate the OHL and play the World Junior Championships is probably the safest course for his development presently.  As I so often remind people, he missed a season in his development.

It’s my view Galchenyuk arriving in 2013-14 is also best for the organization. Louis Leblanc could be a regular on the team by then, with Brendan Gallagher, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Morgan Ellis all much closer to capturing spots of their own, or at the least being strong replacement talent when injuries strike.


Do you think Michel Therrien will be keeping Pacioretty, Desharnais and Cole together this year or will Plekanec finally get some help?

It will be tempting to do so and they will likely begin the season as such, as many coaches are loathe breaking up a working line. One should keep in mind though that chemistry can fade, as the stunning power of the Kostitsyn-Plekanec-Kovalev line in 2007-08 lost what made them special in 2008-09. I’m sure for the need for some scoring out the door, Therrien will go with what was working best on last year’s team.

It’s my belief depth issues and the balance of scoring will force Therrien at some point to explore shifting Pacioretty to Plekanec’s wing, as Gionta will likely be taking the right wing slot on the Plekanec line. This still leaves Desharnais with Erik Cole, whose speed and power allows him to push offensive zone entries for his line, making Desharnais’s life easier. As for Desharnais’ left wing, that will be more challenging as the Habs are a bit bereft of talent there and that is with the consideration Bourque will be recovered from his abdominal surgery. When it comes down to it, Plekanec is the superior of the two centres and he both needs and deserves players with talent comparable to his.



Is the possibility of trades with teams taking on part of the salary in the new CBA talks?

There have been discussions of trading cap space between teams during these negotiations, but trading players by paying part of a traded player’s salary hasn’t come up from what I have seen. Granted, with negotiations continuing to stretch on and most of the focus being on revenue sharing, contract lengths and free agency, it could be a while before they get to discuss these concepts. The issue is it’s still not very favourable in a salary cap setting, as teams don’t like having dead space on their cap.



Will hockey be remembered as a great sport that was killed by greed or will it live?

I’d say that would be a big step towards the dramatic. Hockey struggles with labour disputes from time to time but with the size of the league and the profits involved there will be a resolution. Both sides seem content to play chicken with the September 15th deadline but there’s simply too much money to be made by both sides to do as anything as foolish as kill another season. We’ll see hockey, but not as soon as we’d like is my belief. Personally, I think it’s the callous take owners have towards their own player’s health that is harming the game more than anything.



With a hole in the top six left wing position, should we take a chance on Andrei Kostitsyn?

I’m not on record as being a big fan of his, but I’m perfectly fine with bringing him back. People can bash him all they want, but Andrei scores at least 20 goals when he’s healthy. It doesn’t seem like much, but considering there are maybe five skaters on the team who can reliably post 20 goals, Montreal is not a high scoring team and they need any help they can. Too often, the Habs have been haunted by simply one top-6 player being injured and it would cost them wins as they are too bereft of scoring talent to make it up. He’s not a great player and has inconsistent stretches, but that’s most of the NHL’s scoring talent outside of the spectrum of elite players.

People can make noise about all the good ‘character’ players on the Habs now and ‘non-character’ players aren’t needed but character doesn’t make you a goal scorer and teams don’t win games without scoring talent.



Does Desjardins have a future in the NHL? Could he be considered trade bait with a good season in the AHL?

I’ve seen him discussed as potential backup material in the NHL, but given his age (turning 27 this month) I’m dubious of him growing into much of anything. He’s entering the prime years of a goaltender and he’s yet to get a backup position in the NHL. It’s possible he could surprise this year, but I’m favourable of the progress Peter Budaj made over the course of the season and believe team goaltending coach Pierre Groulx has been a very positive influence on him.

For trade value, I doubt he’d fetch much. It’s hard to get a good price on NHL goaltenders sometimes, let alone AHL goaltenders in their late 20s.


Which Habs or Bulldogs player departing in the off-season will hurt the most? Should a team gamble on Darche?

Likely, Andrei Kostitsyn. People can complain but when the Habs are likely going to struggle for a 4th straight season to score goals, having someone who can post 20 goal seasons when healthy isn’t a bad thing. Campoli and Darche are easily forgettable and replaceable, as they weren’t giving much of anything to the team in a positive impact.

The Bulldogs may have a bit of trouble due to the departure of AHL veteran Brian Willsie. It will be a very young team in Hamilton next season that won’t any notable forward veterans to help the team out.

I suspect Darche will go unemployed in the NHL this season, he’s about to turn 35 and teams are loathe to handle the inescapable over-35 contract, especially on players who are just on replacement-level talent and don’t bring any stark positives with them.


    • absolutely what I would love to see…the Habs should just talk to his agent and explore I have watched AK from day one…and he is what I would have called in my trade “most-talented” but with proviso needs to be handled properly and some one-on-one to get him to do what he is absolutely capable of…in the end he is a potentially big star player and only held back by specific things as encouragement, knowledge of conditioners that he comes from a background that is extremely impovrished, does not know that he can by doing certain things achieve elite status…he can shoot and score, hit, defend but he has yet to get anyone to let him enjoy his achievements and potential…he showed extremely well playing with Eller but I am sure Plekanec would do well with him too…
      My plea ask him if he is ok and talk about an offer, even for a year or short period …I am sure he will deliver

      • Glad to see I’m not the only advocate for AK46 out there.

        Yes he’s not one of the Superstars from the 2003 class, but time to move on I say. He still generate more goals than 7 of the other forwards we’ve got lined up for the roster.

  1. Your answer about galchenyuk rejoining the Habs is not accurate. The CHL and NHL have a tentative agreement that players could join their NHL teams if a lockout were to end and the NHL season were to start. However, if the NHL season were to start late in the year or early next year, players committed to the CHL may not be able to join their NHL teams (I am not sure of the full details). Ryan Murray has not yet shown up to his junior team because of this reason.

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