All Habs Mailbag: Questions for Robert


Written by Robert Rice,

TORONTO, ON — As part of a new continuing feature, I have decided to re-open the All Habs Mailbag to take in and answer  questions about all things Montreal Canadiens. While I have in the past taken questions and answers on my Twitter feed about Habs prospects, sometimes 140 characters is not really enough for a good answer.  This way I thought I could expand the scope of my discussions into complete coverage about the Montreal Canadiens.

This feature will run on Fridays, answering the most popular or poignant questions about the Canadiens. If you have any questions about the Canadiens or the farm system, feel free to submit whatever is on your mind. I’d like to kick this feature off with a strong showing so please don’t be shy!

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  •  As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.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


To start this new feature, I decided to give longer answers to some questions I had received on Twitter this past week.


With the addition of Kinsella would the Habs be looking at drafting (Zemgus) Girgensons or (Michael) Matheson or potentially both?

I wouldn’t read too far into it, Girgensons isn’t in range of any of Montreal’s picks as he’s favoured to go in the middle of the first round. Matheson is a potential pick at 33rd overall in the 2nd round.


When do you see Tinordi and Beaulieu in the NHL?

I expect them to be playing full-time for the Canadiens in 1 ½ to 2 years. Tinordi needs to fill out and adjust physically to pro-level play while improving his skating. Arguably, Tinordi may also have the opportunity to improve his puck skills to add offensive contributions. Beaulieu’s development will focus on improving his mental game and defensive-end play as he’s prone to bad penalties at present and lacks attention in the defensive zone. This could theoretically go faster, but it’s more reasonable in my opinion to fix a longer time for the two as defencemen have a longer development path traditionally.


The (Justin) Schultz situation worries me. Any Habs prospects potentially impacted by it?

Theoretically, Danny Kristo could choose to not sign with the Montreal Canadiens once he completes his Senior Year at North Dakota and become a free agent. This does not occur very often and one advantage for Montreal is that Kristo is old friends with Louis Leblanc from their days in the USHL. Pure speculation on my part, Kristo is a bit concerned with the state of the Canadiens after the tumultuous tenure of Pierre Gauthier and is waiting to see what the organization does.


My question is, does it really matter that much who the Head Coach is? I see many credible systems used. Isn’t still about the players?

At the end of the day, it is about the players producing on the ice but as we saw in the brief tenure of John MacLean in New Jersey in 2011, a bad coach can damage a team’s results with poor tactics. Montreal’s experiment with Randy Cunneyworth ended in similar fashion as his system wasn’t conducive to the team he had, nor were his methods for player deployment. There are many more examples but the key issue is often team identity. A GM decides what kind of team he wants to have on the ice and finds a Coach that will employ a system that achieves the best possible results. No one predicted Ottawa as a playoff team a year ago, but because of Paul MacLean identifying his team’s strengths, he designed a strategy to take them well out of the draft lottery and in to the post-season.


Do you see any of the Habs CHL prospects returning for their overage season? Hamilton lineup is going to be crowded.

I can’t see a valid reason for anyone to return looking at the field. The six CHLers eligible to move up to Hamilton in Beaulieu, Bournival, Ellis, Gallagher, Holland, and Tinordi, have all reached the point in their careers where they are ready to be tested in the professional ranks. Sending them back down would not accelerate or could even damage their development as they need to play in the next level of competition now.


Any goaltending talent coming up the pipeline?

I wouldn’t put anyone as even a viable NHL backup at present. I know The Goalie Guild likes Peter Delmas but he’s not even an established starter for the Hamilton Bulldogs yet. Robert Mayer is questionable and Nathan Lawson is a career AHL goaltender likely.


*Don’t forget to send your questions to me here:  [email protected]  Watch for the All Habs Mailbag every Friday!






  1. I enjoyed this, great answers.

    To add on to the goalie question (because, as many people know, I live and breathe the goalie position), I have to say after watching Delmas train and play at the ECHL/AHL level, he has been very streaky. Needs to be more consistent to become a regular in Hamilton. AHL backup at best. Both Mayer and Lawson are strictly AHL Goalies, as seen by the season they had this year.

    The team really does lack goalie depth, but, with Carey Price, is that a big concern? Not IMO.

  2. Would be nice to see the UND goalie, who is coming to Hab summer camp, get signed and battle for AHL back up spot.
    I wonder why Beaulieu hasnt signed yet?

    Greg Pateryn could be most NHL ready d-man in system (other than Nash/St Denis of course), will be an interesting fall.

    • I think Beaulieu may be signed at the evaulation camp MTL is holding in Mid-June. As for most NHL-ready, I am kind of leaning towards Morgan Ellis myself as the first to get spot duty from the new Hamilton recruits.

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