What Montreal Needs From Here

Montreal is in a unique position. The Canadiens currently sit at 35-15-4, and they have the most points through February 13th since the 1992-93 season (74 points). However, many feel that the Habs are not in a position for a drive for the cup and the majority of the Canadiens success rests firmly on the shoulders of Carey Price. You can interpret that as you please, nevertheless, there are a few things that I would like to see done to the Canadiens to for lack of a better word “bulk up” for a playoff run.

 

Step One: Acquire a top six forward

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Every team needs depth, especially in the goal scoring department. Montreal needs another top 6 guy to bring in more offense to a team that lacks it. A good target that comes to mind is Jaromir Jagr. He leads the Devils in points as a 42 year old, and has been quoted saying he would like to play for an Eastern conference contender. Who better to play with than his friend, Tomas Plekanec? Another target could be Nail Yakupov. His time in Edmonton has been controversial to say the least, but he could come cheaper than other options out there, and a change of scenery could be what the very talented Russian needs. It also wouldn’t hurt to reunite him with his old Sarnia Sting teammate in Alex Galchenyuk. One more target would be Sean Bergenheim from the Florida Panthers. Due to a recent fallout with head coach Gallant, Bergenheim has requested a trade and his agent is definitely not happy. This could potentially decrease his value significantly, and could be acquired for an affordable price.

Step Two: Acquire a top four defenseman

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Montreal is in need of another strong player on the blue line as there are a few that are currently not up to snuff. Two players come to mind, firstly Toronto’s Cody Franson. Franson has been the subject of trade rumors for awhile now, especially after turning down an offer from his present club, and would be a wonderful asset to add to the defense corps. His two-way ability could work wonders 5v5 and on both sides of the special teams. However, maybe that ship sailed when Josh Gorges blocked a deal to the Leafs in the summer. Next, although it would take a large package, I believe Montreal could get Keith Yandle from Arizona. Yandle is a top 4 rearguard on any team; the fact that Arizona has accepted a major rebuild means that they will want to move out some players with term on their contracts. Yandle, who has been in the rumour mill for multiple seasons, could be the first major player with term on his contract that the Montreal Canadiens acquire under the Bergevin era.

Step Three: Get the defensive zone in order

This step does not involve getting new talent, but rather requires the main coaching staff to sit down with one another and get on the same page. Throughout the entire season, one thing has stuck out to myself as well as other fans, and that is the complete lack of coverage in Montreal’s end. JJ Daigneault, the assistant coach who is assigned with working with the defensemen, needs to make adjustments and talk with his players more often to get things in order. The current system is not performing like a well-oiled machine and the breakout play that is in place is being eaten up by the opposition. In order to be successful in the NHL, you must have a strong defensive structure. If Daigneault along with Michel Therrien can get this in order, Montreal will have far greater success for the rest of the year and rely on Carey Price less to bail them out.

 

 

If these improvements are made, Montreal could have significant accomplishments during the 2014-15 campaign, and who knows how far that could take them as they were cut off early last season by the New York Rangers.

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One Response to What Montreal Needs From Here

  1. Good article, Ben. Like you, I’ve been a Habs fan all my life. That includes even the lean years. I think I remember when Maurice Richard scored his 500th goal! I agree with you that this year’s Habs could do well in playoffs, but need to improve various aspects of their game. Their constant hard work, particularly forechecking and defense overall, but so often again this year Carey Price has kept them in games. And the games Dusin Tokarski has played haven’t gone particularly well (5-5-2) as well as their record this year against weaker team (e.g., Edmonton, Buffalo, Ottawa). You’re right about Habs needing more scoring and certainly a top six forward would help, but I wonder if the Devil’s and Oiler’s management would really let Jagr or Yakupov go. Surely both are too valuable. Sagr no doubt fills a lot of seats and Yakupov’s great asset for the team being built. I see your point about picking up an experienced defenseman before the trade deadline, but the Habs also have some defensemen in Hamilton they can call on, e.g., Tinordi and Pateryn. You’re right about the need to fix things up in the defensive zone: too many unforced turn-overs in the Habs’ end or the current defensive pairings, pressed by forechecking opponents, unable to get the puck out consistently. Habs still need to improve the powerplay. I hope the coaches are analyzing how other teams do this better: e.g., move the puck around faster and rely less often on splat-shops from the point.

    PH habs fan February 19, 2015 at 5:05 pm Reply

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