All Habs Mailbag: Lefebvre, Kristo, Galchenyuk, Bulldogs, Gallagher, St-Denis, Tinordi


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  • As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.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



How do you feel Sylvain Lefebvre is doing as the head coach in Hamilton? Can he get the team winning consistently?

I am hesitant to judge Sylvain Lefebvre this early in to his first venture as a head coach in the professional ranks, with the Bulldogs not even a quarter into their season. Lefebvre has started the season with some disadvantages, often skating four rookies a night on defence since the season began and lacking any talented AHL veterans to share the load. Factor in the early injury to Louis Leblanc, starting goalie Cedrick Desjardins being out until just recently and the likely end of Blake Geoffrion’s season due to a depressed skull fracture, he’s not had the most stable lineup to work with. I would wait until the half-season mark before seriously evaluating his performance when the rookie-laden lineup of the Bulldogs has gained more experience.

If I had to raise one critique of Lefebvre, it would be his preference for the use of Zach Stortini and often Kyle Hagel as well in the lineup. Both of them lack any notable talent and are often hindrances to the Bulldogs more than anything else. Critiques of ‘team toughness’ aside, the use of the talentless enforcer is fading out of the game of hockey and Lefebvre should acknowledge this if he wishes to move up in the pro coaching ranks.



I would like your opinion on Kristo going the route of Justin Shultz. I am under the impression that if he isn’t signed by the Habs this season then he will become a free agent and can walk for nothing.

With the season locked out it seems likely this can occur. Do you know have any information about this and if the season started what might Kristo’s value be on the trade market?

If Danny Kristo is not signed by the Montreal Canadiens by August 15th of 2013, he will become a free agent and able to sign anywhere he wishes. I’m aware the concerns of him spurning Montreal have arisen before but I’m not convinced that it is an issue.

It is still in Kristo’s interest to sign with Montreal, he is one of the most talented forwards in the organizational depth chart and would be in a good position to contend for a roster spot. With Gionta and Cole aging while there remains an appreciable gap in available scoring talent for the team’s 3rd line, Kristo’s talent can likely carry him to a top-9 position in the NHL soon enough. One can also consider that the Canadiens organization overall is in a much improved position in terms of appearances, as the new administration is far more open in communication and has a much improved player development system to appeal to prospects. It should be considered after all that the theatrics of the 2011-12 Canadiens season may have made Kristo cautious about signing with the team until the team had reorganized itself. As for trade value, Kristo would likely net a mid-round pick at best presently, as while talented, he is still a player without pro experience. Also if teams believe he may spurn Montreal, they may decide just to court him when he becomes a free agent rather than spend a draft pick to acquire him.



 Should we be concerned with the slow starts for Ellis/Beaulieu/Tinordi in Hamilton, or just chalk it up to learning curve?

 I would attribute it to the learning curve of a defencemen learning to play against professionals after playing in the junior ranks. Each of the defenders has their own strengths and weaknesses to work on so they will each have a different timeline as well to reach the NHL.  Nathan Beaulieu’s priority will be to tune up his defensive game and make some adjustments to how a defencemen carries offence in the pro ranks. Morgan Ellis and Jarred Tinordi have more defensive roles to consider in the pro ranks so they will have to adjust to the challenge of playing a shutdown role against professional talents while developing their puck skills. On the whole, their slow start is just a reminder that defencemen generally take longer to develop than forwards. I would project each of these players is at least one year away from the NHL and more likely a 1 ½ to 2 years.



Are Galchenyuk & Kristo going to play for Hamilton when their seasons are over? What other prospects likely go pro next year?

It will depend on what happens with Alex Galchenyuk and Danny Kristo’s seasons, as well as what occurs in Hamilton. Galchenyuk must play out his season with Sarnia first, or potentially another team if the Sting decide since he is likely to depart for the NHL in 2013-14 and deal him to an OHL team aiming for a championship and get a large return to rebuild their team. Galchenyuk could potentially play longer than the Bulldogs if his OHL playoff run goes long enough and the Bulldogs fail to qualify for the AHL playoffs. The same could apply to Danny Kristo, for if North Dakota manages to earn a berth in the National Championship tournament, could be playing past when the Hamilton Bulldogs season ends if they do not qualify for the post-season.

For prospects eligible to move to the pro ranks next season, the next eligible players will be Daniel Pribyl, Dalton Thrower, Sebastian Collberg, Olivier Archambault and Darren Dietz. Albeit such an influx could also create a logjam given the many rookie bodies already in Hamilton, taking up spots that would be used to slot in these new talents to develop for the NHL. Some players may find themselves in the ECHL, Europe or sent back to Juniors if appropriate spots can’t be found for them.



Out of curiosity for Habs fans, if we don’t play this year what happens with the draft?

We will likely see the same decision that was carried out after the 2004-2005 lockout, when the NHL arranged for a general draft lottery. The lottery will likely be weighted towards teams that have missed the playoffs the most over a period of three years (or more) and odds will favour them to pick first overall, but all 30 teams will have a chance at selecting first overall, or last in the opening round of the draft. Also likely to be copied would be the mechanism to make matters a bit fairer for teams that find themselves selecting late in the 1st, as the draft will likely be a “Snake” configuration where the team picking last in a draft round will pick first in the next round, and the team that picked first will pick last in the following round. I believe some early projections of a general lottery determined the Canadiens odds of selecting 1st overall at around 2%. On an editorial note, given that the Canadiens essentially lucked into 5th overall during the last general draft lottery and that pick resulted in the acquistion of Carey Price, I wouldn’t wager the team having the odds go their way a second time and landing a top-5 or a top-10 pick.



I’m impressed by Gallagher and St.Denis. Where are they on the depth chart? Tinordi is huge, but needs 1 or 2 yrs.

I would put Gallagher as the No. 2 forward in the farm system at present, as I still believe Louis Leblanc has a leg up due to his previous pro experience but it’s not hard to see him getting ice time with the Canadiens in the near future. As for St-Denis, I’m not overly excited about him due to the younger defencemen coming up the pipeline that are likely to supplant him. St-Denis is another under 6’ defender who does not bring much to an NHL game in my view and at 26, it isn’t likely he is going to make any major leaps in his development to edge out one of the younger defensive prospects in the long term.

I would agree that Tinordi is more or less on the timeline you suggest, as he needs to fill out his frame to give him the physical advantage at the professional level that he enjoyed in the junior ranks, while adjusting to the speed of pro hockey and improving his puck skills to prevent him from being a liability with the puck in the NHL.


  1. Robert, Pateryn’s injury has also weakened the d-core, as he is the most pro-ready rookie d-man and main reason Commodore was just signed.

    Not much can be done about Kristo, if Mgmt has doubt likely try and trade him, but still an unproven amateur and not worth much (Geoffrion won Hobey Baker and can barely cut it in NHL so far, so Kristo may not be a big loss anyways)

    The d-men seem to be having biggest issue with partners so far.
    At least 1/2 of goals against are when both d-men are checking the same opponent below the goalline and leaving slot wide open, i would hope and expect coaching will kick in soon and correct a minor hockey-like flaw in coverage.

    Nygren will likely be in Hamilton next year also.

    For the draft, Habs likely want to play a short season for best picks.
    If is a short season, Habs wont contend and pick 10-15th and Flames will pick higher, thus giving Habs an early 2nd rounder.
    But if have lottery, Flames have good chance to pick top 10, but snake draft will give Habs a later 2nd pick and Habs have lower chance of picking in first half of first round (where cream of crop is).

    Beaulieu is likely the first d-man to get a call up, as his game is very similar to Subban’s. Super with puck, not so good without it. But can stick him as 3rd pairing, PP duty and live with his defensive lapses, turnovers, etc as he learns (same as Subban). Pateryn is likely most physically ready, moreso then the CHL kids anyways.

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