Canadiens Player Report Cards (Regular Season + Playoffs)

Photo: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

After crashing out in a heartbreaking 3-1 loss in New York City on Saturday night, it’s time for my “end-of-season” Montreal Canadiens report cards. Here I analyze the players, top to bottom, assigning them grades with their performances this regular season and playoffs.

Let’s get started with the forwards.

Max Pacioretty: B+

The captain had a magnificent regular season, in my eyes. 35 goals and 67 points in 81 games, Pacioretty was a crucial piece to winning the Atlantic Division and bringing this team back into the playoffs this year. There were multiple times in games when he put the team on his back and truly led the squad to victory. The games in Dallas and in Arizona come to mind, where he was spectacular. However, the playoff performance is what is holding him back from an ‘A’ grading. With one assist in six games, his disappearance was critical in the Rangers overpowering the Canadiens, and it was a post-season Patch definitely wants to put past him.

Alexander Radulov: A- 

The Russian quickly turned into a fan favourite at the Bell Centre, scoring in the first home game of the season back in October. From there on, Radulov was one of the few bright spots in an offence that struggled to score consistently. With 54 points in 76 games, the effort was always present and his skill was put on notice to opposing teams. Marc Bergevin found a gem in the former Nashville Predator last summer and should look to sign him long-term this upcoming off-season, as his performances in the playoffs was one of the Habs only dangerous threats should earn him contract stability. ‘Radu’ was superb in the six games against the Rangers and to not see him back in Montreal next season would be a crime.

Alex Galchenyuk: B-

Is he a centreman? Is he a winger? Again, we didn’t get that answer this season. Plagued by a knee injury that saw him out for over a month, the American youngster just didn’t look right in the lineup all season. Michel Therrien and Claude Julien tried him on basically every single line, giving him the 1st line centre role that he didn’t flourish in. There were many stretches during the year that he was invisible and looked like he hasn’t been in the league for five seasons. His playoff performance didn’t help his grade either, as he was rather terrible and simply a ghost. With him being an RFA this summer, we cannot guarantee he will be a Hab still come opening night in October.

Paul Byron: B

The speedy winger has turned several heads since his arrival off waivers at the beginning of last season. Even with a stretch of 15-20 games where he didn’t score, Byron still ended up with 22 tallies, good for second in scoring on the team. He earns the B grade because of how much he makes, and how nobody expected him to reach the 20-goal plateau, especially on a team that has had problems scoring for 20+ years. Having only scored once in the playoffs and failing to use his dynamic speed to his advantage, his grade can’t go higher than ‘B’, for me.

Phillip Danault: B+

I’m proud to say I doubted this man at the beginning of the year. In October, Danault was the 4th line winger, alongside Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn. With a good string of performances and the responsibility shown, he slowly moved his way up the lineup, evidentially becoming the Habs’ 1st line centreman, developing chemistry with Max Pacioretty and Alex Radulov. He gets a B+ from me as he worked hard throughout 82 games this season, but struggled to score in the playoffs, hitting the post with only a few minutes left in game 5 that would’ve changed things. A good season from the 24-year-old and I’m excited to watch him play for seasons to come.

Andrew Shaw: B

The former Stanley Cup Champion struggled offensively in the first quarter/half of the season. He bounced around between a few lines and took some unfortunate, costly penalties. However, after he returned from his concussion, and uniting with Claude Julien, Shaw looked like the player that Bergevin knew he was. Physical, gritty and aggressive are just a few characteristics of Shaw’s play. He gets to the dirty areas like Brendan Gallagher, and has the knack for working hard and wanting to win. He only played five games in the playoffs, and was robbed by Henrik Lundqvist on the few chances he got. Looking to be a 15-20 goal scorer, Shaw will be part of the future of this team.

Brendan Gallagher: B

If this was a grade just for the regular season, I would’ve probably given him a C+. However, his constant hard work in the series with the Rangers didn’t go unnoticed, he truly looked like himself once again. Driving the net, working hard in the gritty areas and getting under the opponents skin are just a few of Gallagher’s qualities, and they were showcased in the playoffs. Also, he’s been extremely unfortunate with injuries. Breaking the same hand twice in two seasons is never easy, as I’m sure he’ll recover offensively in hopefully a healthy next season. Being a leader on this team , I fully expect Gallagher to come back fighting, as results depend on the presence of the Canadian.

Artturi Lehkonen: B+

In the summer, I was really excited about the Finnish talent who broke Daniel Alfredsson’s playoff scoring record in the Swedish Elite League last season. He started off the season strong, scoring a few goals to kickstart his NHL career. Like others, he had a major dry period where he was left off the scoresheet for 15-20 games, but he ended the season on a hot streak and continued it into the playoffs. Over the course of the season he developed his 200-ft game and has become a guy that can be relied on in every situation. He’s just scratching the surface, and I’m excited for the future with the Finn.

Tomas Plekanec: C+

What happened to our #14? Nobody knows, but my best guess is that father time has gotten to him. Turning 35 years old in October of this year, his measly 28 points in 78 games has drawn several question marks about his 6 million dollar salary as well. We can only hope Las Vegas takes him in the expansion draft this June, as there really isn’t any room for him in this lineup anymore, and the cap space he would free up can bring in some much needed offense. It’s too bad Pleky couldn’t perform like he did in the playoffs all season, as he did look more inspired.

Torrey Mitchell: B-

It’s safe to say he’s a solid 4th line centreman. He started off the year on fire, scoring 5 goals in the span of a month. Unfortunately, he only scored 3 goals the rest of the way, which didn’t help the joke of an offense the Canadiens had once again this season. He’s very tenacious on the puck, and I like seeing him in the lineup. He should be the middle man on the 4th line next season, as his penalty killing and face-off ability are qualities that the lineup could use.

Brian Flynn: C

A disappointing season for Brian Flynn. Once Steve Ott, Andreas Martinsen, Dwight King and the call-up of Michael McCarron took place, he lost his spot on the 4th line. He’s also a UFA this summer, so we probably saw the last of him in a Canadiens uniform on Saturday night.

Michael McCarron: C+

I’m still not sure about ‘Big Mike.’ He played 31 games in the regular season, including game 6 in the playoffs, and only tallied 5 points. Sure, he’s still young and theres tons of room for improvement, but if his skating doesn’t improve, there may not be a roster spot for him next season.

Dwight King: C-

To be honest, I’m shocked how ineffective King was. A guy with experience and played in a winning atmosphere in Los Angeles, you’d think he would bring a lot to the table. That, unfortunately was not the case, as he provided more frustration than happiness for Habs fans, but still kept a spot during the playoff series. He’s also a UFA this summer, so we most likely won’t see him returning.

Steve Ott: B-

Steve Ott played his role really well in my eyes. He was brought in to help the penalty kill, win faceoffs, bring some experience and protect some of the players with his physicality. Ott was actually one of the only forwards to bring an honest effort in every playoff game. He feels he still has two more seasons left in him.

Andreas Martinsen: C+

Martinsen wasn’t a favourite of Claude Julien since arriving from the trade deadline. When he was in the lineup, he provided physicality with decent skating ability to boot. Unfortunately, he found himself a healthy scratch most of the time. Another UFA this summer, so he likely won’t be returning.

 

Let’s move on to the defencemen. With the expansion draft coming up and what’s looking to be a busy off-season for Marc Bergevin, the defence core might be changed up come next season. Remember, Mikhail Sergachev and Noah Juulsen are those who will be coming to training camp looking for a spot.

Shea Weber: A

With immense pressure coming into his first season as a Hab, I believe Shea was fantastic. Logging over 25 minutes per game, the veteran was instantly a leader on this team and really brought stability at the back-end. With 17 goals on the season and 12 of them coming on the powerplay, Weber gave the team a dangerous outlet on the man-advantage, which worked in key situations this year. He was paired with Nathan Beaulieu to start the year, which changed fast due to poor performances from Beaulieu. Weber then paired with Alexei Emelin for a long stretch, until Claude Julien partnered him with other veteran Andrei Markov, as they made quite the shutdown 1st pairing. There was a stretch where Markov-Weber were only on the ice for two goals against in around 20 games, a remarkable stat. Also, Shea Weber was one of the top on the list for the fewest goals against and most time on ice, which really shows that not much took place around Carey Price’s crease when ‘Man Mountain’ was on the ice. A great season and playoff from Shea, which hopefully can be translated to next October.

Andrei Markov: A-

He’s 38 years old. It’s not a secret that his foot speed isn’t there like it used to be, but it didn’t really affect his play. ‘The General” was fantastic throughout the season, and proved his body is still healthy enough to earn another contract this summer. He played excellent throughout the end of the season and playoffs alongside Weber, and had numbers to back it up. Still as creative as he was a few years ago, it would be really hard to replace the long time Canadien. As a UFA this summer, I hope he returns on a 1-2 year deal, I couldn’t imagine this team without the creativity and skill of Markov.

Jeff Petry: B

Jeff Petry was brought in a few years ago at the trade deadline and it has looked to be a steal of a deal ever since. Realistically, he’s the perfect second pairing defenceman. Quick, big shot, picks his spots in regards to being physical, and can move the puck. He started off the season really strong, using his big slapper to score a few goals, but his offensive production slowly died down as the season went on. Late in the season, he didn’t look himself and turned the puck over too many times, which was a weird sight for Habs fans. Petry was mediocre in the playoffs, but he knows the team will be successful if he can consistently be that second pairing guy.

Nathan Beaulieu: B- 

What do the Habs do with Beaulieu? He just finished his 4th season in the NHL, and it doesn’t seem like he’s progressing like a 1st rounder should. The 24-year-old was supposed to be an offensive defenceman, but he only scored 4 goals and provided 24 assists. Therrien and Julien both had him in their doghouse this season, which speaks volumes to how his performances were. Scratched in game 6 of the playoffs by Claude Julien, we may have seen the last of Nathan Beaulieu in a Canadiens jersey, as he is another RFA this coming summer.

Alexei Emelin: B

I give Emelin a ‘B’, because the best way to describe him is inconsistent. Some games, he looks like a top-4 guy; physical, moves the puck and outmuscles guys. Then theres some games where he looks completely lost. However, when he was injured for the first few games of the playoffs, the whole missing was noticeable. It may be hard to admit, but the Russian is important to the defence core, as is presence and physicality is something that cannot be replaced, right now.

Jordie Benn: B+

The deal that sent Greg Pateryn to the Dallas Stars for Jordie Benn was a great deal by Marc Bergevin. Benn has filled his role and has really impressed in his time here. He’s valuable to the roster as he can play those tough penalty killing minutes, giving Markov a break and has a physical edge to his game as well. Sure, he probably had his worst game as a Hab in game 6 versus the Rangers, but I wouldn’t doubt that the management will protect him in the expansion draft over Nathan Beaulieu.

Nikita Nesterov: C+

Brought in from the Tampa Bay Lightning for essentially nothing, Nesterov played himself out of a spot on the 3rd pair and didn’t convince the coaching staff whatsoever. He does have a big shot that he scored on in his first game against the Flyers, but aside from that he wasn’t very effective. He’s an RFA this summer as well, as I can’t see Bergevin giving him a qualifying offer.

Brandon Davidson: B

Acquired from the Edmonton Oilers for David Desharnais, the 25-year-old actually impressed me in the games he played on the 3rd pairing. He can skate, move the puck decently well, and his big body has a presence on the ice. He worked his way to the 6th spot on the depth chart, taking Nesterov and Beaulieu’s place. He still has a couple years left on his deal, so we’ll see more of Brandon next season, as he’ll be fighting for a spot.

 

Time for the guys between the pipes.

Carey Price: B+/A-

There were more ups than downs this season for the Olympic Gold Medalist. He started the season off very strong, going 13-1 in his first 14 games, looking like his Vezina form from a few years ago. There was a stretch of about a month and a half where Price wasn’t himself at all. His save percentage was under .900, and there were nights where he didn’t give the team chances to win the game. Although, as soon as new coach Julien arrived, his numbers inflated. He was back to his normal rock-like goaltender self and helped the team clinch the division. No, he didn’t steal any games in the playoffs, he let in a few softies here and there but you’ll never win a playoff series scoring 11 goals in 6 games. Hopefully with more offensive support next season, the Vezina candidate will look to be rock solid once again in hopes of a long playoff run.

Al Montoya: B+

Aside from that 10-0 loss to Columbus, Montoya’s back-up statistics were absolutely stellar. Realistically, he was one of the best back-up tenders in the league. The 32-year-old was solid in Carey Price’s absence on back-to-back nights and gave the team a chance to win. He will be exposed on the expansion draft, so there’s no telling if Las Vegas decides to take him as their back-up or not. If not, he may play second fiddle to Price once again next season, if Charlie Lindgren isn’t ready to do so yet.

Now, I’ll conclude with the head coach and general manager, as they will most likely be behind the bench/in the press box come next season as well.

Claude Julien: B+

It’s safe to say with the trade deadline acquisitions, Julien and Marc Bergevin tried to “Bruin” it to a Stanley Cup, with depth and the ability to play stingy defensively and win 1-goal games. Unfortunately, because Lundqvist was a star, the Habs were on the negative side of the tight contests, with a struggling offense. He didn’t have that much time with the club, but we slowly saw his system come into effect. Hopefully, with more front-loaded talent next season, Julien’s system could lead the team to glory.

Marc Bergevin: B

Yes, the general manager wasn’t able to add any scoring to the lineup at the trade deadline. However, what scoring was available at a low price? It wasn’t. Bergevin tried to add size, players that Julien likes to have in the lineup. In the end it failed, but everyone knows what needs to be addressed this summer. The problem down the middle, scoring, and decisions needing to be made on players like Galchenyuk and Beaulieu. Sure, it was a disappointing season for Bergevin but adding someone like Jordie Benn, who can be part of this team for years to come was a big positive.

It’s safe to say that it’s going to be a very interesting and long summer in Montreal. With holes to fill, the expansion and NHL entry draft, Marc Bergevin will definitely have his hands full. I hope you enjoyed my player grades, and feel free to discuss what you think in the comments or on twitter.

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One Response to Canadiens Player Report Cards (Regular Season + Playoffs)

  1. lets see,the captain keeps disappearing and shows no leadership when it counts the most in the playoffs..so needs to be traded while we can get decent assets for him.I am not sure where Weber gets an A..he was not that good in the playoffs and showed why Nashvile got rid of him, he slowed down and lost a step.and with a 9 year contract left he will only diminish every year. he can not carry the puck and needs to pass it which often turns to icing or give aways.lets face it, his best days are over. i can only see Benn & Davidson returing of those we got at the trade deadline.the biggest chance needs to be the firing of the GM as he has not helped us in 5 years

    bay bye April 24, 2017 at 6:34 pm Reply

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