Rapid Fire: Habs Off Season, Staff, Pacioretty, Draft, Free Agency

With a ton of speculation floating around, the Habs off season lingers on with more questions than answers until that all important time of action.  The painstaking countdown to such times has many entering their darkest hour but it helps to remember that it is always darkest before dawn.  With the groundwork being put in, all that remains is to see what gets built upon the fresh foundation.

 

  • Following a rather dismal showing from Marc Bergevin in the season’s end press conference, the sense of no added confidence was quickly disposed… as were his former cronies.  That said, with Geoff Molson being so on the ball in that same press conference, it does beg the question that has stemmed from the back of many minds: did Marc Bergevin truly read the writing on the wall or did Geoff Molson outright read it to him? Marc Bergevin will seemingly only make the long overdue move of terminating his old, incompetent pals once he knows that his position itself is on the line and that if he were to be removed, so too would his friends be anyhow.

 

  • Winning is done from the top down.  The dismissals of Jean-Jacques Daigneault, Dan Lacroix, Sylvain Lefebvre and others and the hirings of Joel Bouchard, Dominique Ducharme plus possibly others to come mean more to this team’s success than anything else.  Any blockbuster trade or free agent acquisition would never mean as much under a less than able regime.  This off season has already been a success.

 

  • Speaking of Marc’s friends, one has to think that with Rick Dudley entering the fold in Carolina and the Hurricanes sudden willingness to disrupt the most mobile young defence corps that the Montreal Canadiens and Marc Bergevin himself will likely benefit from Dudley moving on.  One is only an average of what they surround themselves with and the best leaders surround themselves with the best people; a trend that is perhaps now emerging in Montreal…

 

  • With much hype surrounding QMJHL free agent turned Habs prospect Alexandre Alain, familiarity with Joel Bouchard will breed comfort.  Moreover, Bouchard inspires confidence by saying that (paraphrasing here) the key to coaching young players like this is to find what gifts they have and to build around that as opposed to forcing them to play a way that they are not comfortable with or does not come naturally to them.  What a breath of fresh air from the round peg/square hole tyranny of the former coaching regime.

 

  • The same familiarity and winning formula should, too, be found in World Junior champions and gold medalists Dominique Ducharme and Victor Mete.  Many of the Habs recent moves have been predicated upon those that have had past success as opposed to the success that they will bear going forwards but the considered dynamics here are ones that bear potential fruit for the future as well as any prior successes.

 

  • Discussions of a Max Pacioretty contract extension recently broke and suddenly some are convinced that it automatically means that trading him is off the table.  Funny because this sounds identical to that extension that Tomas Plekanec was getting back in February.  Should memory serve one correctly, it also bears a striking resemblance to the extension Dale Weise was on the verge of getting a couple years ago.  For those that can read between the lines, this is Marc Bergevin’s way of reinforcing an asset’s value and he is wise to do so.  Mark these words: Max Pacioretty will be traded.  With a retooling of the roster and a surplus of skilled wingers, a guy that is no longer emerging into his prime and has been a less than remarkable captain certainly is not part of the team’s future plans anymore.  Furthermore, why –in Pacioretty’s shoes– should he want to burn up any additional time as he approaches 30 years old if he knows that this team may not be immediately competitive again?

 

  • How funny is it that the same Habs fans that rage on about a need for a guy that can score goals are the same fans that, now that the team is in a position to draft one, are talking about reaching in said draft for players with a lesser ability to do so that is projected to go below them? One does not simply “reach” with the third overall pick.

 

  • Free agent frenzy hype is a strange being.  Many fans were up in arms to acquire Joe Thornton at this time last year after his production for the season dropped from 82 points to 50.  Another year later, a drop has happened again and left him at 36 points.  At what point did the hype train on Jumbo leave the station? Did anyone expect in his age that he would bounce back and suddenly be that target that the Canadiens should so covet once again? Was it the plain point totals? Is it the fact that Tavares is on the list for July 1st this year? The answer likely is not just one of these things nor limited to these possibilities.

 

  • With less pressure than normal to be an immediately competitive team this season, the draft day scenarios being conjured up could so easily be only speculative dreams.  One interesting note of Habs recent history is that a draft day transaction was essentially an annual tradition it seemed until Marc Bergevin came around.  Aside from a move up in the third round in 2014 to nab the pick that turned out to be Brett Lernout, Bergevin had been completely inactive on draft day until 2016 but it was not for a lack of trying.  He has tried to move Pacioretty in the past on draft day (in 2013: to Philadelphia for Wayne Simmonds that would also see the Canadiens rise 14 spots in the draft with an exchange of first round picks – then Flyers GM Paul Holmgren refused the deal) but in a time where the Montreal Canadiens are looking to the future for answers, the four second round picks may very well stay put.  That said, with this lessened pressure and plenty of possibilities and flex room, the power in the hands of the Habs is worth noting… but is this team ever more powerful than when Trevor Timmins is allowed to work his magic? This question is not rhetorical.  This is an answer any Habs fan already knows.

 

  • Addressing the issue at center with mere stopgaps are only going to hurt the Habs at this point.  In the event that Tavares cannot be signed by the Canadiens or the failure to acquire a center worthy/capable of playing in a legitimate top six role that is going to help them for future years, signing someone that is merely a consolation prize is going to result in the same old situation and wasting more years of more players careers.  Make no mistake: the outcome of this season was the best result the Habs have had since their playoff run of 2014.  Any season that does not end with a strong playoff run (so approximately conference final series or better) or a top 5 range draft pick should be considered, by and large, a waste.  There are exceptions to be had but any franchise should hope to either improve themselves significantly (draft lottery) or to show just how competitive they really are (deep playoff run) as a result of the years of improvement.  This is how winning is done now and has been done for a while now.  The reason for driving this point home here is that elite center prospect Jack Hughes (younger brother of Quinn Hughes, projected top 10 pick this year) is setting records with the United States National Development U18 team and is slated to go first overall in next year’s entry draft in Vancouver.  Another year of sheer misery is far more worthwhile and fruitful than another X amount of years of mediocrity.  So unless the name brought in over the summer is a bona fide difference making superstar, just bear with them while they pursue drafting one next summer that does fit the definition.

 

Let the festivities begin…

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