NHL Season Recap – Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens

2016-17 season: 47-26-9, 103 points

Lost to the Rangers 4-2 in the

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Claude Julien (2017)
1st Place Atlantic Division General Manager: Marc Bergevin (2012)
4th Place Eastern Conference AHL Affiliate: St. John’s IceCaps

ECHL Affiliate: Brampton Beast

Draft Position: 25th

Top Forwards

POS Age Name GP Points Goals Assists +/- CF%
LW 28 Max Pacioretty 81 67 35 32 15 55.4
RW 30 Alexander Radulov 76 54 18 36 10 54.2
C 22 Alex Galchenyuk 61 44 17 27 -5 50.4
LW 27 Paul Byron 81 43 22 21 21 53.9
LW 23 Phillip Danault 82 40 13 27 5 55.6
C 25 Andrew Shaw 68 29 12 27 4 55.1
RW 24 Brendan Gallagher 64 29 10 19 7 55.8
LW 21 Artturi Lehkonen 73 28 18 10 -1 52.8
C 34 Thomas Plekanec 78 28 10 18 10 52.6
C 32 Torrey Mitchell 78 17 8 9 5 48.2

Top Defensemen

POS Age Name GP Points Goals Assists +/- CF%
D 31 Shea Weber 78 42 17 25 20 51.3
D 38 Andrei Markov 62 36 6 30 18 54.0
D 29 Jeff Petry 80 28 8 20 3 54.4
D 24 Nathan Beaulieu 74 28 4 24 8 50.7
D 30 Alexei Emelin 76 10 2 8 1 50.0

Top Goaltenders

POS Age Name Games Started W/L Record Shutouts GAA Save %
G 29 Carey Price 62 37-20-5 3 2.23 .923
G 31 Al Montoya 18 8-6-4 2 2.67 .912
G 23 Charlie Lindgren 2 2-0-0 0 1.48 .949

Trades Made During the Season

What They Acquired Team They Traded With In Exchange For
LW Andreas Martinen Colorado Avalanche RW Sven Andrighetto
F Dwight King Los Angeles Kings Conditional 2018 4th RD Pick
F Steve Ott Detroit Red Wings 2018 6th RD Pick
D Brandon Davidson Edmonton Oilers F David Desharnais
D Jordie Benn Dallas Stars D Greg Pateryn

2017 4th RD Pick

D Keegan Lowe Carolina Hurricanes D Philip Samuelsson
D Nikita Nesterov Tampa Bay Lightning D Jonathan Racine

2017 6th RD Pick

D Jonathan Racine Florida Panthers F Tim Bozon

Impending Free Agents

POS Age Name 2016-17 Cap Hit
D 38 Andrei Markov $5,750,000
RW 31 Alexander Radulov $5,750,000
LW 28 Dwight King $1,950,000
RW 29 Brian Flynn $950,000
LW 35 Steve Ott $800,000
LW 27 Andreas Martinsen $640,000

Draft Needs

  • The Canadiens have just five picks in the upcoming draft but do have four in the first three rounds.  In my opinion, they desperately need to get some help at the center position, which has been a mess for several seasons now.  Finding that player who can be a puck-driver down the middle will help this team for the future.  They also need to find scoring help on the wings since they have had a hard time scoring goals for awhile.

What I Said About Them Before the Season

  • In my preseason preview of the Habs, I addressed the trade that the team made with Nashville to send P.K. Subban to the Predators for Shea Weber.  I shared a similar opinion on the trade that others did in that the Canadiens may be able to argue that they won the trade in the short-term but that Nashville is absolutely the long-term winner.  I thought that Weber could help boost Montreal’s powerplay and also help to create a stronger defensive system in front of goaltender Carey Price.  I also talked about the signing of free agent Alexander Radulov and liked the move in that it was a low risk, high reward deal for the team and that if it paid off, Radulov could provide the team with some much-needed scoring.  My ultimate prediction for the team was that as long as Carey Price stayed healthy and was their regular starting goaltender, they should be a playoff team, but if he had another injury-plagued season, then they would be in trouble.  I also thought that if they got off to a slow start, head coach Michel Terrien’s job could be in trouble.

Success/Failure

  • Failure – The Canadiens actually started off the season very well, going 13-1-1 in their first 15 games.  They rode this hot start all season long, ultimately winning the Atlantic Division by five points.  Their hot start masked a lot of the team’s problems throughout the season, especially their inability to score timely goals, an issue that arose in the playoffs.  Montreal had just one player who scored more than 25 goals (Max Pacioretty with 35) and just two with more than 20 goals.  On top of that, they only had two players eclipse the 50 point plateau, Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov, a real issue since both skate on the team’s top two lines.  This lack of scoring was a problem and should have been addressed at the trade deadline but GM Marc Bergevin addressed the team’s bottom six instead, acquiring Dwight King, Andreas Martinsen, and Steve Ott instead of someone like Patrick Eaves who could provide goals.  Another big problem is that the Canadiens lack a true number one center and therefore have a difficult time driving possession for large portions of games.  The only player on their roster who potentially has the talent to be that player is Alex Galchenyuk and he has never really been given the opportunity to develop into a first line center.  Montreal has never given him the linemates that could show what he is capable of with good wingers and instead was relegated to the bottom six for much of the season, including in the playoffs.  The Canadiens also struggled this season with getting the puck out of their defensive zone.  They don’t have any defensemen on their current roster who are capable of competently skating the puck out of the defensive zone or making that hard, long pass up to forwards.  They did have this player in P.K. Subban but decided he was a problem in the locker room and the front office didn’t like how flamboyant he was.  Now the team is stuck with the problem of trying to find that defenseman once again.  This season was also a failure because their head coach was fired late into the season.  I was calling for Michel Terrien’s firing last offseason and was not surprised that he was canned during the season.  My issue is that I think he wasn’t the only one who should have been let go.  Marc Bergevin, the architect of this roster, has to take some of the blame for the team’s shortcomings.  They have the best goaltender in the world and have one of the best cores in the league yet have been unable to advance past the second round of the playoffs since the 2013-14 season.  Overall, this team wasn’t bad this season.  They were an above-average team in basically every category and should have had a better showing the playoffs against a mediocre Rangers team than they did. This is a roster group with a lot of problems that may not be solved with just one offseason.

Offseason Needs

  • The Canadiens basically have two paths to choose going forward: they either continue with a roster group consisting of Carey Price as their goaltender and attempt to acquire a solid number one center such as Matt Duchene, or they go all-in on an elite first line center and possibly lose Price in the process.  It seems obvious at this point that the Canadiens need that true first line center and they don’t believe that Galchenyuk is that player.  I think he will be on a different roster by the start of next season.  One possible plan is that they send him in a package that would probably include defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev to Colorado for Matt Duchene. Duchene would give Montreal that center but is he worth giving up all of that value for considering he is a free agent in two seasons? I’m not sure.  The other thing to consider is that Carey Price is a free agent after next season and has to be getting tired of the team’s inability to create a solid roster that can go deep in the playoffs.  Will he even listen to contract extension talks beginning in July? I don’t know.  There are a lot of rumors that perhaps the Habs would consider moving Price for an elite first line center, such as Sean Monahan from Calgary.  I think that regardless of what path Montreal decides to pursue going forward, their roster is going to look significantly different after this offseason and the team’s front office can’t even consider a sell-off considering what they gave up to acquire Shea Weber. As long as Weber remains on their roster, the Canadiens have to try and be competitive.  For next season, assuming that they don’t do anything completely drastic, Montreal should do nearly everything possible to re-sign Alexander Radulov.  I wouldn’t go long-term with him but giving him a shorter contract with a high AAV would be smart because I don’t know how competitive they would be without him. They have over $22 million in cap space available for next season but do have to re-sign Radulov plus Galchenyuk is an RFA and they’ll have to figure out what they want to do with him.  I would re-sign him and actually give him a real shot to develop into a first line center, but I don’t think that’s what Montreal will do.  They also have defensemen Nathan Beaulieu and Nikita Nesterov as RFAs and I think that they will at least keep Beaulieu. Regardless of who they decide to re-sign, the Canadiens should have plenty of cap space to sign a free agent forward who can give them some offensive spark.  Perhaps they’re the team that will sign T.J. Oshie or Patrick Marleau?  I think that there is some argument to be made for either or both.  I would also like to see Montreal try and find a puck-moving defenseman but that type of signing won’t be cheap.  If they can convince Vegas to take one of their larger contracts in the Expansion Draft, then that would free up the space to acquire or sign a strong puck moving defenseman.  I think that they may be in the market for Kevin Shattenkirk, although that is a deal that will certainly be overpriced for what Shattenkirk can provide a team.

*All stats and information came from hockey-reference.com, rosterresource.com, spotrac.com, NHL.com, hockeydb.com, capfriendly.com, tsn.ca, and eliteprospects.com*

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