Habs Marc Bergevin in Evaluation Mode

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By Joce, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

In this his first season at the helm of the Montreal Canadiens, General Manager Marc Bergevin had to deal with a shortened season and a very short training camp in an attempt to familiarize himself with his new team and its assets. Bergevin did however surround himself with a very solid team of knowledgeable hockey minds in the front office, allowing him to have eyes everywhere around the organization, evaluating and reporting to him.

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PENTICTON, BC – This lockout-shortened season for the NHL resulting in a tighter schedule with higher potential for player fatigue, in combination with a shorter training camp, meant that the risk of injuries was prominent and many teams have been hit hard with the injury bug this season. If there is a silver lining, it’s the fact that it has allowed Marc Bergevin and head coach Michel Therrien to give quality ice time to some of the team’s young prospects, often putting them in situations in which they would not have been if it weren’t for this odd season.

While keeping outstanding rookie Alex Galchenyuk was almost a no-brainer, it didn’t take long before first-year pro Brendan Gallagher was called up and he sure has taken full advantage of his opportunity! At the time of writing this article, Gallagher has accumulated 10 goals and 19 points in 29 games so far in his first NHL season, tied for sixth in the teams’ scoring lead, tied with role model and mentor Brian Gionta. He is also the third best rookie in scoring, behind only Cory Conacher and Jonathan Huberdeau.

The new Canadiens’ brass seems to reward those who are having a good season with the Hamilton Bulldogs as Mike Blunden and Gabriel Dumont have also received some NHL time for their good season in Hamilton, and that’s a good thing. It also could explain why twenty-two year old and 2009 first round pick Louis Leblanc, with his minus–10 rating, has not received the call so far this season, in spite of having 42 NHL games under his belt.

It’s on defense however that things get interesting. As it has become very clear that Tomas Kaberle’s contract will be bought out this coming summer, it looks like he may not see the ice until the end of the season. Similarly to the Scott Gomez situation, the Habs cannot risk a long term injury which would prevent them from buying him out when the window of opportunity to do so presents itself. It is unfortunate as players want to play and Kaberle is no different.

That situation, combined with the injuries to Raphael Diaz and Yannick Weber, have made for a revolving door prior to the upcoming trade deadline, with three young defensemen being given a chance to show what they can do at the NHL level. Twenty-two year old Greg Pateryn was given a three game stint with the Canadiens, playing on average just over nine minutes a game. When he was sent back down to Hamilton, it was Jarred Tinordi’s turn to get the call. The twenty-one year old, in his first pro season, played six games for the Canadiens, getting credited with one assist while recording a differential of plus – 2. The announcement of Tinordi being sent back to Hamilton was immediately followed by the news that offensive-minded defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, twenty years old, was being called up from the Bulldogs.

Those call-ups, just prior to the trade deadline, serve many purposes. One of the most important ones for Marc Bergevin is the fact that it gives him a golden opportunity to better monitor not only the progression of the organization’s young assets, but also to see how far they are from being able to make an impact in Montreal. As the trade deadline looms in only a few days away, Bergevin will have a better understanding as to what his teams’ needs are not only in the present term, but in the long term as well. Should he go get a defenseman to satisfy a need and if so, is this need for the rest of this season or for longer? Or can he focus solely on getting some much needed help to Brandon Prust in the physical department?

Will we see twenty year old defenseman Morgan Ellis called up as well? Or could Frédéric St-Denis be of any use? While they have been playing better of late, something that’s expected from such a young team, the Hamilton Bulldogs are not expected to play very late this season and the expanded rosters will soon be in effect in the NHL. Which ones of those players if any will join the Habs for a playoffs’ run?

Some of us old timers will gladly remember the days when the Canadiens were calling up young players the same way, helping management to better evaluate what they had coming up. Well beyond the better salaries, this also served as an additional source of motivation for those young players, getting a taste of the five-star hotels, first-class airfares, bigger and more spacious dressing rooms and training facilities. They were working their butts off trying to get back up and to stay there, preferring that lifestyle to long bus rides in the AHL.

One thing is for sure: the next few days leading up to the April third trade deadline promise to be very interesting and while it will be impossible to match what the Pittsburgh Penguins did, all eyes will be on Marc Bergevin to see what he will do, with fans and media alike judging what the Canadiens will look like comes April fourth, the day after this year’s trade deadline.

En français: Marc Bergevin en mode évaluation

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J.D. Lagrange
J.D. is a Senior writer for All Habs as well as Associate-Editor for the French version Le Magazine All Habs, while one of three Administrators of the fan forum Les Fantômes du Forum. He has created the handle Habsterix as a fictional character for the sole purpose of the internet. It is based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule and his magic potion is his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. How old is he? His close friends will tell you that he’s so old, his back goes out more than he does! He was born when Béliveau lifted the Cup and remembers the days when seeing the Habs winning was not a wish, it was an expectation. For him, writing is a hobby, not a profession. Having moved to beautiful British Columbia in 1992 from his home town of Sherbrooke, Quebec, he started writing mostly in French to keep up his grammar, until non-bilingual BC friends pushed him into starting his own English Blog. His wife will say that he can be stubborn, but she will be the first to recognise that he has great sense of humour. He is always happy to share with you readers his point of views on different topics, and while it is expected that people won’t always agree, respect of opinions and of others is his mission statement. || J.D. est Rédacteur-Adjoint sur Le Magazine All Habs et il est un Rédacteur Principal sur le site anglophone All Habs, tout en étant un des trois Administrateurs du forum de discussion Les Fantômes du Forum. Il a créé le pseudonyme Habstérix comme caractère fictif pour l’internet. Celui-ci est basé sur Astérix de Gaule et sa potion magique est sa passion pour les Canadiens de Montréal. Lorsqu’il est né, Jean Béliveau soulevait la Coupe Stanley et il se rappelle des jours où gagner n’était pas un espoir, mais une attente. Pour lui, écrire est un passe-temps, pas une profession. Ayant déménagé dans la superbe Colombie-Britannique en 1992 en provenance de sa ville natale de Sherbrooke, Québec, il a commencé à écrire en français pour garder sa grammaire, jusqu’à ce que ses amis anglophones ne réussissent à le convaincre d’avoir son blog en anglais. Son épouse vous dira qu’il est têtu, mais elle sera la première à reconnaître son grand sens de l’humour. Il est toujours fier de partager avec vous, lecteurs et lectrices, ses points de vue sur différents sujets, et quoi que les gens ne s’entendent pas toujours sur ceux-ci, le respect des opinions et des autres est son énoncé de mission.

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