AATH Mailbag: Condon, Brown, Upcoming Offseason and Bergevin

Welcome back to this week’s edition of the All About The Habs Mailbag. We will be taking questions from fans on Facebook and Twitter each week and answering them to the best of our knowledge. Keep an eye on our pages for when the post to send your questions in, you just might get featured!

1. With how this season went after Carey Price went down, should the Canadiens look into finding a more seasoned back up goaltender? (Not blaming Mike Condon, it was a tough situation he was thrown into). – Carlos Alvarez

No, I believe that Condon has done a decent job in the crease thus far. Sure, there are some aspects of his game that stop him from being a full time starter, but he is a great candidate to back up a healthy Price next season. He should be given the opportunity to win with the team as the #2 goaltender.

Not to mention Condon is also locked up for another year with a very affordable cap hit of $575K, albeit he will no longer be waiver exempt. With Ben Scrivens becoming an unrestricted free agent and most likely not receiving an extension with the Habs, keeping Condon as the back up is the ideal solution, while giving Zachary Fucale the reigns again in St John’s.

Mike Condon came into the season as a rookie and he was thrown into a situation that most rookie goaltenders would crumble under. However, he has shown he can remain calm and still be a viable option in net, even when the entire season has been put on his shoulders. Where the Canadiens finish in 2015-16 is not fully on him, he has performed well, but it is obvious he is not a Price and it is unreasonable to compare Condon to him. Moreover, he can still back up Price and give the Canadiens a winning chance in his starts next year.


2. Even if his teammates love him, should the Canadiens keep Mike Brown going into next season? – Chris Parsons

Brown scores his first with the Habs (Photo: Eric Bolte, USA TODAY Sports)

Brown scores his first with the Habs (Photo: Eric Bolte, USA TODAY Sports)

No, I think they should part ways this summer. Brown is a great locker room guy and all but, the fact is that he is a borderline 4th line player, plain and simple. The Canadiens have too many 3rd line and 4th line players as it is; they actually have enough players like Mike Brown to make a full 4-line forward corps built entirely of grinders and grit. What the Canadiens lack is more skill, which they will need to stock up on this summer via trade, free agency or give a shot to their prospects that possess it. Brown does not have the skill that the roster requires, however to some he makes up for that with his big heart. Unfortunately, heart alone should not keep him with the Habs next year and Bergevin will hopefully realize this.


3. Do you think GM Marc Bergevin will have a big offseason? What type of players should he target? – Julia Samuels

I sincerely hope he has a big summer with some great trades and signings, I really do. But that is not what he was taught by the Bowman clan in Chicago. Building a contender from within is his strategy. It’s a great way to build a Stanley Cup winning team, just look at Chicago Blackhawks or the LA Kings. However, the problem is that Montreal’s biggest asset, Carey Price, is not getting any younger. The “retooling” needs to be sped up a year or two. This summer SHOULD be one that is focusing on acquiring some big pieces, which is honestly all that is needed.

First off, Bergevin should be looking at skilled forwards right now. A right wing who can play in the top six is desperately needed; hopefully one who is either just entering his prime or still has some good years left. This could cost a premium, so you want to ensure you are getting more than just a year or two from this player. He will be a future building block of the team.

The Habs should bring back Mark Barberio this summer (Photo: Eric Bolte, USA TODAY Sports)

The Habs should bring back Mark Barberio this summer (Photo: Eric Bolte, USA TODAY Sports)

Secondly, they need to acquire another left handed defenseman; especially if they are able to trade Alexei Emelin once his NTC changes to limited on July 1st. However, if Mark Barbeiro were to re-sign with the Canadiens, then Nathan Beaulieu, Andrei Markov, Barbeiro would make for a pretty decent left half of the defense corps. If Barbeiro leaves for a sizeable contract with another team, and based on how he was playing with the Habs before his concussion, this could come to fruition, then adding another defenseman is needed. Preferably one that can bump Markov down to 3rd line minutes. Not a knock to the General but, his age is showing now and he cannot be the big minute munching reliable defenseman he has been anymore. It is time for Beaulieu to leapfrog Markov as the left-handed blue liner alongside P.K. Subban. If this defenseman the Canadiens acquire is young and can play second pairing minutes with Jeff Petry, then it is an even sweeter deal. Markov would be able to retire after his contract ends without any worries.

I believe these moves, along with trading some of the bottom six guys Bergevin has stocked up, will put the Canadiens back in the mix for the Stanley Cup. Some of these transactions will be costly, but the Canadiens have multiple draft picks and prospects to offer, as well as some roster players that may be desirable to some teams. Bergevin has a very important summer coming up.


4. Are you surprised the Canadiens did not do more at the deadline? What else would you have done? – Peter Dufferin

I was not very surprised, no. The Canadiens were not in a playoff position, nor were they in a spot to make a late push for the playoffs. They were sellers, but admittedly they did not sell very much. For everything they traded leading up to the Trade Deadline in Tomas Fleischmann, Dale Weise and Devante Smith-Pelly, they received a second round pick in 2018 and two young players who have not been able to crack their former teams roster for a full time spot.

The trade with the Blackhawks was the best trade, even though it was sad to see Weise leave, the Habs still acquired something for two impending UFAs. Furthermore, there isn’t anything stopping Weise and Bergevin from striking a deal in July, a la Antoine Vermette last summer with Arizona.

Again, I was not expecting some big moves. As stated above, Bergevin is building the team from the inside, so it was a low chance of him making a big trade in a season that would have such a big impact. There were no Eric Staal’s or Dion Phaneuf’s coming Montreal’s way; there was just the chance of a couple minor deals happening, which they did. I am more looking forward to the summer to see what Bergevin does to ensure the Canadiens future as a contender is safe.

Oh and to celebrate the day of Michel Therrien being fired.

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