All Habs Mailbag: Kristo, Trades, Playoffs, Draft, Kaberle, Depth

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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  • As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.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!

All Habs Mailbag (week ending March 14th, 2013)

Marc B

Love to know the potential of Danny Kristo joining Habs this season after the NCAA season is over. Looks at least as good as Chris Kreider.

In the case of Danny Kristo, I do not see a Kreider-type signing to add him for end-season depth is something that is very likely in my view. I imagine given the team is already carrying two rookie forwards that Montreal would not automatically jump to adding a third due to the inexperience that would have on the roster. Also to consider is that while Kristo is certainly a skilled scoring forward, he also does not really offer the size and physical impact that the Canadiens are probably looking to add for a playoff run. The final consideration would be that Kristo could very likely have final exams and projects as part of his education at the University of North Dakota and he may choose to finish his education in full before talking about a contract with the Canadiens.

 

Steve R

Clowe, Malone, Morrow, Chris Stewart are apparently being shopped. Which would be the right fit in Montreal?

I would not find any of these players to be of a particular interest to Montreal. Ryane Clowe is currently mired in the worst season of his career, he has played 23 games and has yet to score a goal and has only eight assists as well. There are growing concerns that Clowe’s tank is reaching empty and he just does not possess the ability to impact games the way he used to. Given the rumours of San Jose wanting a sizeable package for his services, it is hard to justify the cost given his present play.

In the case of Ryan Malone, I would say with two more remaining years on his contract he does not strike one as a long-term cap burden and he certainly brings the size Montreal would want. Malone has six 20-goal seasons on his resume, but trepidations do come up as he is not that much younger than Erik Cole, who notably declined this past season. The other consideration is the package Tampa might demand for him as they are not so far out of the playoffs to believe they should be sellers as of yet.

For Brendan Morrow, I feel he is a case much like Ryane Clowe. He seems to be nearing the end of his career and might not be able to give Montreal the contributions they need. His contract expiring would remove Montreal of any long-term cap burden, but the Dallas Stars would likely still demand a notable price for him. Given that Montreal is seemingly intent on building from within, I do not believe they should part with notable assets for Morrow.

Chris Stewart in terms of raw ability and upside is probably the most logical choice if the Canadiens were to make a deal in their long-term interests. While Stewart has not enjoyed a very consistent NHL career, floating between highs and lows, he is much younger than the others at 25 and has much better years in front of him by comparison. The issue would certainly be cost, with Stewart’s age and 23 points in 25 games this season for St Louis, the team could ask for a notable package for Montreal in such an exchange. Stewart is probably the best option, but the deal would have to make sense for Montreal in the long term and not deplete them of too many future assets.

 

Siva N

If the Habs are looking for a depth winger, do you think it would be wise to acquire Chris Higgins?

I would not say Chris Higgins is at the top of my priority list for the team’s acquisitions, but if Rene Bourque’s health is still in question as the trade deadline approaches closer, it is an option worth exploring. Higgins is an adept two-way forward and while he often frustrates fans with his lack of finish around the net, he can still make some contributions to the scoresheet. It would of course depend on cost, but given that Higgins is now 5 years removed from his last 20-goal season he likely would not set the Canadiens back too much in acquisition, especially as a pending free agent. He would be a good utility player who could provide some assistance on the penalty kill, which always a welcome notion in a playoff drive. Higgins would not be a top acquisition, but the players acquired as minor tweaks typically work out better for teams than the ‘big deadline move’.

 

Moose B.

If the Habs do make the playoffs, where do you see them finishing and in that case who are they drafting in the first round?

I would expect Montreal to at the least win their opening playoff round, but not go much further beyond that as the team’s defensive depth issues may very well haunt them during the post-season. I will for sake of argument say Montreal loses several spots in the overall NHL standings by the end of the season to finish 6th overall in the league. That would leave them with the 25th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. At that position, there are several options available to Montreal, especially with the leverage of 3 2nd-round picks and 2 3rds to leverage a move up in the draft.

I would imagine the Canadiens are examining names like RW Adam Erne, LW Anthony Mantha, RW Ryan Hartman, C Curtis Lazar and C Bo Horvat. The last third of the draft seems to be very forward-heavy going by some of the available rankings and these players all offer a respectable scoring profile or in the case of Curtis Lazar, a very strong two-way player. Some of these players would likely require a trade-up by Montreal but with the picks available to make a move, it can often be prudent to make a move for the higher-ranked player over the extra 2nd-round choice, especially given that less than 25% of 2nd-round draft picks have an appreciable NHL career.

 

messina

Looking at this years draft do the Canadiens look at adding size up front to crash the net with big offensive guys?

At the Draft, the philosophy for a team should always be Best Player Available. While the Canadiens could certainly use a power forward or two in the prospect system, drafting such a player is a tricky process. Many teams have attempted to draft the “Next Milan Lucic” only to find themselves with a Colton Gilles, a perennial 4th-line skater who was once a 1st-round draft pick. Teams that add the most talented players to their system give themselves the advantage of dealing from a position of strength when they see players they would like to go after. Teams that go in to a draft with a set agenda for drafting a certain type of player can often set themselves back by drafting much less promising players.

 

Lori B

Tomas Kaberle is not being showcased with Raphael Diaz out. Does this mean Marc Bergevin sees him as untradeable and is just preserving him for buyout?

 It is possible that Marc Bergevin has been working in the phones in the last couple of weeks and found himself without a buyer for the declining Tomas Kaberle. Right now the Canadiens seem intent to give their rookie defencemen some NHL experience while Raphael Diaz is out and do not seem too concerned with Kaberle sitting out at present. If more injuries strike, I imagine Kaberle will work his way back in to the lineup but at present he does not appear to be a player that Michel Therrien believes can help the team win.

 

Jimmy P

 Is left wing still the weakest point, prospect-wise, for the Habs?

At present, goaltending and centremen are arguably the soft points for Montreal. While Dustin Tokarski has shown some statistical improvements since been acquired, he is about the only goaltending prospect of note in the Canadiens system.

At the centre position, the Canadiens have certainly gained a boon in Alexander Galchenyuk, but behind him the ranks of scoring centres is thin. There is of course some hope that Daniel Pribyl brings that touch to the organization, but after him it is quite thin. Names like Michaël Bournival, Brady Vail and Joonas Nättinen speak more of possible checking-line centres than those with potential Top-6 scoring upside.

Left wing is actually now a growing strength for the organization with the selection of Tim Bozon and Charles Hudon in the 2012 NHL Draft. Both forwards have displayed solid production in their post-draft seasons and while not quite ready for the NHL, they’ve been a notable gain for an organization that has been lacking depth at the position for years.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Robert,
    Why answer a question as ludicrous as where will Montreal draft this year…you even suggest that they finish 6th and lose after one round…ARE you any kind of a fan….defensive depth????….Montreal has Price along with TERRIFIC defense…they are 19-5-4 as I write…..give your head a shake and answer questions accordingly…..be a proper fan and blogger!!!!…..I like most of your info but that is just horsemanure!!

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