Habs Don’t Need Another Defenseman

With all the rumors and rumblings surrounding the Canadiens these days, it’s important to seek out the legitimacy of each source, as well as use a whole whack-tonne of common sense. This is not a video game and it never will be. With that being said, and the couple of major trades that have gone down this past week, we are reminded and relieved to see that blockbuster trades do, in fact still happen.

As reported by legitimate sources, such as, Pierre Lebrun, Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie earlier this week, Marc Bergevin has been one of, if not the most active NHL general managers since the new year in regards to calling other teams. Calling around is exactly what you expect of a good manager. He’s not calling around asking Dale Tallon and Dean Lombardi what the weather is like in their (Florida and Los Angeles) neck of the woods, but he’s also not calling to make a mammoth 5-team deal. Bergevin is calling to test the waters, and see who’s available and what teams are “sellers” and who are “buyers”. Only good managers know the market and what other teams are up to. Bergevin is in the know.

A perfect example is this morning’s deal between the Leafs and Predators. Way too many fans and media alike were rumoring how Cody Franson would be a great addition on the Habs blueline because of his skill, size and price-tag. Guys like Basu, Berkshire and Engels were making their thoughts known regarding the potential addition of Franson. Clearly Bergevin was on top of this because Franson is now a Pred and not a Hab. He did, however, have a long talk with Nonis at last night’s game between Toronto and Montreal.

Let’s just imagine the Habs were to make the same deal David Poile (Nashville GM) did, including adding Santorelli. The Habs 1st rounder would be heading to Toronto. A promising young forward who is producing at the AHL level similarly to Leipsic… well see you later Charles Hudon. And even though a shoe-in to the deal because of cap issues, (former) flow-city Olli Jokinen heads to Toronto which is equivalent to around Manny Malhotra. So to add Franson and Santorelli would come at the expense of a 1st rounder, Hudon and Malhotra. Yeah, I think I’ll pass.

Congrats Greg! Photo: Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

Congrats Greg!
Photo: Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

For some reason Bergevin loves defensemen. Be it because he himself was one, or because his old Blackhawks won with a great core of them, either way, Bergevin loves his depth on defense. Gonchar went down last night due to a reckless hit into the end boards by David Clarkson. Reports out of Montreal say Gonchar is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Instead of the anticipated recall of Jarred Tinordi, it was actually Greg Pateryn as the one to be brought up.

The likelihood of Bergevin adding a defenseman before the deadline? I’ll set the over/under number at 60%, but I will take the over on this one. For whatever reason, Bergevin severely overvalues defense, when his team is literally starving for an offensive punch. Names like Franson, Jeff Petry (Edmonton), and Keith Yandle (Arizona) have all been linked to the Canadiens for much of this season, but why? What purpose would another defenseman bring to the blueline?

At 2.22 goals against per game, the Canadiens are alone atop the entire NHL, so is defense really an issue? Well if you concede 30.4 shots against per game (22nd shots against), it’s clear your goalie is the Hart Trophy favourite. No other playoff team surrenders more shots against than the Habs do. Montreal is 21st in the NHL for goals for per game at 2.58, and 25th in the NHL for shots for per game at 28.3. Yeah, the Habs are such a fantastic team. But seriously, the single reason the Habs are where they are in the standings is because of Carey Price. End of discussion.

Offensively Challenged Syndrome (OCS) is a mental disease; diagnosed by Dr. Di Stefano himself out of Napanee University. OCS is the very real battle for a playoff team to generate goals. 5 on 5, 4 on 4, even strength, power play, penalty kill, OCS targets every area of offense. The most likely cause for this disease is ice-time mismanagement. Icing 4th-liners on a line with top tier talent causes much stress to OCS victims.

So why would it make sense to add another defenseman? It would make no sense at all actually. The numbers depict how hollow the Habs are as a team but adding a defenseman would not help on any level. Carey is still going to have to be Carey regardless of adding another defenseman. Surrendering picks or prospects for a rearguard is actually moronic at this point, especially with Tinordi and Pateryn just sitting in Hamilton.

Gonchar has been a decent blue-liner since arriving in Montreal, but not overly good either. His offensive skills were supposed to help the powerplay, which has been so evident with all the success the Habs have had with the man-advantage. What’s impressed me most about Gonchar has been that he hasn’t appeared to have lost a step with his age… He’s actually lost about 2 or 3 steps. RDS and other Habs media love to say that Nathan Beaulieu has been the beneficiary of playing with and learning from Gonchar, but it’s actually been the exact opposite. As per Berkshire, Gonchar and Beaulieu have a D-pair Corsi of 44.8% but Beaulieu’s Corsi without Gonchar is at 52.5%.

Emelin has also been a mild trainwreck this season other than his abuse of Boston’s Milan Lucic. A perfect number 7 capable to play bottom pair minutes and kill penalties is exactly what Emelin is these days, but the problem is that he makes $4.1 million. I believe along with many others that Bergevin is trying to find someone to take Emelin at the right price, but don’t be surprised if he’s still here after the deadline, especially with his NTC.

Perhaps now with Gonchar out for a few games, we now get to see the youth movement in full-swing. As mentioned earlier, Pateryn and Tinordi both are very capable to be in the NHL at this point, and it’s good to see one getting the call. Don’t forget about Magnus Nygren; who was off to a fantastic start to the season before getting concussed in late November, would have also been in that mix of NHL-ready defensemen. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Tinordi called up in the coming weeks just to see what he’s got which will help Bergevin decide if he wants to pull the trigger on adding another defenseman.

At the end of the day, the Canadiens will not be better if they add another defenseman unless his name is Doughty or Weber. Montreal needs another big forward who can score. Wayne Simmonds is could be and likely is, that guy.


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One Response to Habs Don’t Need Another Defenseman

  1. Good comments, Colton. You’re right about Price and the Hab’s current defensemen and prospects, but particularly the continuing need to increase shots on goal and score more 5 on 5 or on powerplays.

    PH habs fan February 19, 2015 at 5:20 pm Reply

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