5 Things to Look Forward to in 2016-17

Well Habs fans, the last year or so has been an emotional roller coaster. From the 9-0-0 start to the 2015-16 NHL season to the 22nd place finish. From an Atlantic Division title to the 9th overall pick in the draft. From the loss of P.K. Subban and Lars Eller to the additions of Shea Weber, Andrew Shaw, and Alexander Radulov. Injuries of Carey Price, P.K. Subban, and Brendan Gallagher lagging throughout the season contributing to the draft pick of the OHL Most Outstanding Defenceman of the year – Mikhail Sergachev.

But now it is time to focus on the future, particularly the upcoming 2016-17 National Hockey League season. On your screens right here, we will be focusing on positive themes such as hope, excitement, and promising futures.

It’s not by any means wrong to be upset by the loss of your favourite player, or to skeptical after a poor season. But let us take a moment to look forward to the season ahead as a fresh start. Here are five things that Habs fans can look forward to in the 2016-17 season.



1. Healthy Carey Price
Photo: AP Photo/John Locher

Photo: AP Photo/John Locher

A healthy Carey Price will be undoubtedly be a 
difference maker between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 
seasons for the Habs. 

Montreal's starting goaltender was coming off 
of a 44-16-6 season with a 1.96 GAA and
.933 Save Percentage in 2014-15. Price clearly 
wasn't ready to cool off that elite status as
he begun the 2015-16 season with a 10-2-0 record 
with a 2.06 GAA and .934 Save Percentage.


Consider this for a moment: on November 26th 2015, the day after his last game of the season,
the Canadiens sat at the very top of the National Hockey League (NHL) standings. On this
date, the team held a 17-4-2 record. The best in the league. Let's not forget the 10-0-0
start to the season either. 

Unfortunately, after the fall of Carey Price, the team took a downward spiral with a 
league-worst 21-34-4 record from that point on until the end of the season. The 2015-16
Habs would finish 38-38-6, or 22nd in the NHL. 

Let's not forget that the last time Price played a near-full season, he earned the Hart
Trophy, Vezina Trophy, William M. Jennings Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and Lou Marsh Trophy.
Not only that, but he led the Canadiens to an Atlantic Division title and the Eastern
Conference semi-finals.

It's easy to look back at last season and have a nervous feeling inside going forward, but
lets not forget the difference Price can make, on top of the new additions made this summer.


2. Additions to the Montreal Canadiens
2016-17 Habs

Photo: NHL.com – “Canadiens have new look with Shea Weber”

On the floor of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Habs 
acquired (now) 25-year old Andrew Shaw from
the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for two 2nd-
round draft picks, both in 2016. 

The Blackhawks would go on to use those picks to 
select Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters/OHL) 39th 
overall and Chad Krys of the U.S. National 
Development Team 45th overall.


The Canadiens were set with the task of signing newly acquired restricted free agent (RFA)
Andrew Shaw before July 1st. This didn't take long as Shaw put the ink to the contract on June
27th. This would mark the beginning of a 6-year contract with an AAV/Cap Hit of $3.9-million
until his contract ends at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. At this point, Shaw will be
30 - turning 31.

Shaw is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, with the 2013 and 2015 Chicago Blackhawks.

Only two days after the signing of Andrew Shaw, the Habs signed off on a blockbuster trade
which would see Montreal acquiring Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators in exchange for
P.K. Subban.

Weber, who just turned 31 on August 14th, is coming off of a 0.65 Points Per Game (PPG) season
from the blue line. Improving from the 2014-15 season, Weber tallied 20 goals and 31 assists
in 78 games in 2015-16.

"A large defenseman with sound all-round game. Weber possesses one of the toughest and most 
accurate shots in the NHL, making him a lethal weapon on the man-advantage. A tough veteran 
with a large frame and the mindset to make the most of it. Worldwide elite in his 
position" - Matias Strozyk via Eliteprospects.com

The 6'4" / 236lbs defenceman is set to represent Canada for the sixth time in his career, this
time at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Weber has won gold with Canada at the World Juniors,
World Championships, and twice at the Olympics. He has also earned a silver at the World
Championships. Weber is named as an assistant captain at the World Cup of Hockey in September.

Weber's contract will begin its fifth season of 14 years total. With an AAV/Cap Hit of $7.8-
million, he is secure through the end of the 2025-26 season. This will make Weber 40 -
turning 41 by the completion of his deal.


3. European prospects with promising futures
Photo: Per Friske/Bildbyrån.

Photo: Per Friske/Bildbyrån

Artturi Lehkonen. Martin Reway. Nikita Scherbak. 
Jacob de la Rose. Mikhail Sergachev.
These prospects, among many others, have lots to 
prove coming into the Montreal Canadiens 
training camp.

Artturi Lehkonen is a 21-year old winger out of 
Piikkio, Finland. The 5'11" / 176lbs 
forward who can play on both wings was drafted 
55th overall by the Habs in the 2013 NHL 
Entry draft. He's improved every year since his 
draft, but since heading to the SHL in Sweden, 
he has really hit his stride. Last 
season he recorded 16 goals and 17 assists in 49 regular season games, as well as 11 
goals and 8 assists in 16 playoff games on route to a championship victory with Frolunda. 
He was also a major contributor to Frolunda's Champions Hockey League title with 
12 points in 13 games. As a young player in one of the most skilled professional 
hockey leagues in the world, all of that is impressive.

Martin Reway, who switches between centre and left wing, was drafted in 2013 - 116th
overall by Montreal. Standing at 5'8" / 170lbs out of Prague, Czech Republic, he split
time between professional hockey in the Czech Republic and Switzerland in 2015-16.
In 14 games with the Czech's HC Sparta Praha, he was a slightly above PPG player with 15
points. Reway also spent 19 games with HC Fribourg-Gotteron in Switzerland's National
League A, where he again impressed with 8 goals and 13 assists for 21 points.

Nikita Scherbak came over to Canada from Moscow, Russia in 2013 to play junior hockey in
the WHL with the Saskatoon Blades and Everett Silvertips. After a 1.23 PPG through two
WHL seasons, Scherbak made his professional hockey debut in 2015-16 with the AHL St.
John's IceCaps, where he finished with 23 points in 48 games. The 6'1", 20-year old
winger was drafted by the Habs 26th overall in 2014.

Jacob de la Rose has split much of the last two seasons between Montreal and their American
Hockey League affilates Hamilton Bulldogs/St. John's IceCaps. In 55 NHL games over the last
two years, de la Rose has tallied 4 goals and 3 assists. In 71 AHL games over the same
time span, he has recorded 13 goals and 12 assists. Although, Jacob is more known for his
large frame, shut down defensive role, and work ethic than for his ability to put offensive
numbers up on the board. Coming from Arvika, Sweden, de la Rose is 6'2" / 214lbs at the age
of 21.

Mikhail Sergachev is our newest and youngest prospect of those listed here. Drafted 9th
overall at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Sergachev is a 6'2" / 220lbs, 18-year old defenceman
from Nizhnekamsk, Russia. In this past year, the electrifying two-way defender put up 17
goals and 40 assists in 67 games with the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires.
While anything can happen, most assume Sergachev will be in Windsor for another year. If
this is the case, Sergachev will be on a competitve team which is also hosting the 2017
Memorial Cup. This will be a good chance for the 2015-16 OHL Most Outstanding Defenceman
to develop.

It's exciting just thinking about training camp this year, with other prospects including
Zach Fucale and Noah Juulsen joining this bright, young bunch.

4. Improved goal scoring
(Photo: Philippe Bouchard/Icon Sportswire

(Photo: Philippe Bouchard/Icon Sportswire

This one isn't so much an addition, as much as 
something that's already within the Habs
organization and is improving.

It's been argued over the last few years that
the stellar play of Carey Price in net has
masked the below average level of goal scoring 
that the team posses. Which is true.
Although, an exception to this has been left wing
sniper and captain Max Pacioretty.
Over the past three seasons, Pacioretty has 
reached the 30 goal plateau each time with 39, 37 
and 30 goals respectively. This is nothing new, and with Max turning 28, one can only
assume he will get better.

But somebody who flew under the radar around the NHL amidst the teams' disappointing season
is Alex Galchenyuk. The 22-year old reached 30 goals last season for the first time in
his career, and this certainly wasn't a fluke.

Brendan Gallagher, 24-years old, had 19 goals through an injury-ridden 53 game season.
This is more impressive when one considers that statistically, Gallagher was on pace for
29 goals if he had played a full 82-game season. Full seasons aren't a rarity for
Brendan, considering he played 81 in 2013-14 and 82 in 2014-15. We can reasonably
expect a goal scoring breakout season for Gallagher in 2016-17 if he can stay healthy.

Quick note on the new acquisitions: defenceman Shea Weber and his powerful shot has
scored 58 times over the last 3 seasons. Also, right winger Alexander Radulov scored 23
goals in 53 KHL games last year. Since 2008-09, Radulov has recorded a total of 169 goals
and 323 assists for 492 points in 391 total KHL games.


5. Additions to the leadership core

Photo: Alexey Kudenko/Sputnik

Photo: Alexey Kudenko/Sputnik

With Captain Max Pacioretty, the work ethic of 
Brendan Gallagher, and the veteran presence of 
Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec, combined with 
the on-ice talking of Carey Price, the Habs' 
leadership core is nothing to sniff at.

Despite losing alternate captain PK Subban, Montreal 
has benefited from acquiring former Nashville 
Predators captain Shea Weber. Weber has also had 
a letter on his jersey for
Canada several times, as well as a year of assistant captaincy in his final season with
his junior team - the Kelowna Rockets.

While there are notable concerns about the attitude of Alexander Radulov, he comes with
a resume of leadership experience as well. Radulov has spent time as captain and assistant
captain of CSKA Moscow (KHL), as well as his former KHL club Salavat Yulaev Ufa and the
Russian National Team.
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7 Responses to 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2016-17

  1. I have a better chance being Victoria next secret than the Habs have winning the Stanley Cup both this year and in the near future. Getting rid of Plek’s terrible contract would help, good thing Desharnas contract ends after this year.

    Vince Savoia August 30, 2016 at 11:19 pm Reply
  2. Five things to worry about in 2016-17.

    1) Now that Carey Price was injured last year, will he be injury prone down the road forcing Montreal to go with a backup in Montoya that rarely ever started.
    2) With PK Subban gone who rushes the puck up the ice now.? PK was instrumental to the Canadiens quickly moving the puck out of the Habs zone and rushing to set up the offense. Can we count on Beaulieu to finally live up to his potential, or will MB have to make a move for an offensive defenseman.
    3) Speaking of defense, with the newly acquired Weber added to a defense that includes the aging Andrei Markov and Emelin, the defense has lost alot of speed, and if you don’t think that’s important, just look at this year’s Stanley Cup winners, the Pittsburgh Penguins and how their speed helped them win it all.
    4) The offense, are you worried that we are counting on Radulov and Shaw to rejuvinate a poor offense? Are any of the kids ready to help in the goal scoring department?
    5) The bottom 6, with all the focus on the 3rd and 4th line players the last few years you would think a few of our prospects would have landed jobs by now. Not asking Trevor Timmins alot, but when most of our bottom 2 lines has so many castoffs from other teams, it makes you wonder how good a job Timmins has done here the past 12 years.

    Jean-Claude Levesque August 30, 2016 at 11:37 pm Reply
    • That’s not a question on Timmins, as he has made quality choices over the years and they have actually gone on to find roles on other teams. However, once he drafts players he hands them off to the development team and the AHL group. So you should be looking at them.

      Michael Gomez August 31, 2016 at 7:35 am Reply
      • Exactly

        Ray W Dares September 1, 2016 at 7:06 pm Reply
  3. How about will Price stay healthy or is he injury prone.
    Will our defense without PK be slower than molassas, Emelin and the aging Markov worry me.
    If adding offense by signing Radulov is the answer for our lack of scoring we are in trouble.

    zac August 30, 2016 at 11:41 pm Reply
  4. With today’s ban on the drug meldonium by the league, I sure hope Alexander Radulov wasn’t using it, as it is a popular drug in Russia.

    zac August 31, 2016 at 3:24 pm Reply
  5. “Over the past three seasons, Pacioretty has reached the 30 goal plateau each time with 39, 37 and 30 goals respectively. This is nothing new, and with Max turning 28, one can only assume he will get better.”

    Unfortunately, stats show that goal scorers start to fall off at 27 – 29. Max has pretty much peaked.

    Me September 1, 2016 at 1:15 pm Reply

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