Torrey Mitchell

Getty

Grim times for Canadiens: Price struggles, surgery for Schlemko

5 Comments

Forgive the Montreal Canadiens if they feel beleaguered heading into Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings (which is part of NBCSN’s doubleheader).

After another captivating-but-polarizing summer of changes thanks to GM Marc Bergevin, the spotlight shone a little brighter on the Habs to start. Such magnification made it tough to hide the blemishes of what’s now a 1-4-1 start, even if abysmal luck takes the ugliness to an unrealistic extreme.

If getting beaten down in the local papers and in conventional wisdom didn’t leave them staggering, the Habs are also closing off a back-to-back set after dropping a fifth game in a row via last night’s loss to San Jose.

The hits keep on coming, too, with news that an already-shaky defense corps will lack savvy free agent addition David Schlemko for an estimated three-to-four weeks following hand surgery.

You know things are dreary when one of the more positive bits revolves around starting Al Montoya instead of Carey Price.

It’s true, though, that Montoya’s the right choice here. Most obviously, Price played last night, and you don’t want to lean too hard on any goalie, even one who will begin to cost $10M per season in 2018-19.

Price check

Price’s struggles feel like a microcosm of what this team is going through, as a whole, right now.

In the short term, it’s difficult to imagine things remaining this abhorrent both for the star goalie and his struggling team.

Price’s save percentage stands at .885 so far this season; he’s never been below .905 for a campaign. A 3.56 GAA won’t persist for a netminder who’s never averaged anything above 2.83 (and that was almost a decade ago).

The Canadiens are still easily the worst team in the NHL in both shooting percentage and save percentage perspectives at even-strength. They’re doing so despite grading well by Natural Stat Trick’s various metrics, including getting a friendly percentage of high-danger scoring chances (their fellow dour would-be contenders, the Oilers, feel their pain).

So, a lot of those patterns will just sort of work themselves out naturally.

Still, there are some nagging concerns.

Price already turned 30, and his new, massive cap hit hasn’t even kicked in yet. While goalies have a decent track record of aging more gracefully than, say, snipers, Price’s history of knee issues provides some worry.

Even if he continues to be Carey Price in italics, there really isn’t a great comparable for his contract (Henrik Lundqvist‘s is the closest, according to Cap Friendly). Montreal could serve as a guinea pig for other NHL teams pondering building around an expensive goalie.

Growing pains or signs of a fall?

There are also unsettling questions about Bergevin’s vision, and the way Julien uses players.

Bergevin’s win-now mentality is the source of plenty of debate, but it’s objectively clear that many of his moves have made the Habs older. Shea Weber‘s considerably older than P.K. Subban, and even very young Jonathan Drouin is a grizzled veteran compared to Mikhail Sergachev.

Re-signing Alex Galchenyuk hasn’t ended that saga, and the Habs can’t just blame the media, either.

At the moment, Galchenyuk ranks ninth in even-strength ice time average among Canadiens forwards. He’s currently slated for fourth-line duty alongside Torrey Mitchell and Ales Hemsky.

If the goal is to eventually trade him, this is a backwards way of doing so. If the goal is to “send him a message,” there seems to be a better time than when your team isn’t exactly setting nets on fire like “NBA Jam.”

***

When you break things down issue by issue, it’s reasonable to expect better times. Still, it’s tough to shake the worrying signs overall, whether you’re just looking at 2017-18 or beyond.

Things could at least look a little sunnier if Montreal can dig deep and come out of this California trip with a win or two.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

Canadiens looking to spark, not ‘bury’ Alex Galchenyuk after move to fourth line

Getty Images
7 Comments

Alex Galchenyuk won’t be playing center for the Montreal Canadiens this year. At least that’s what general manager Marc Bergevin said last month just before training camp opened up.

Wanting to ease the drama around the Galchenyuk’s place in the lineup, Bergevin’s statement was odd given how thin the Habs are down the middle, even with the acquisition of Jonathan Drouin.

Through four games, the 23-year-old Galchenyuk has zero points and eight shots on goal while grabbing 16:21 of ice time. And after playing 18 minutes in Montreal’s opening two games, he saw a little over 14 minutes in losses to the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.

Head coach Claude Julien has his hands full trying to spark a listless Canadiens offense that’ is averaging a goal per game through four games and is also dead last in even strength goals (two). Unlocking Galchenyuk is certainly one issue of many that the team is trying to solve.

Galchenyuk, who signed a three-year, $14.7 million extension over the summer, found himself on the fourth-line during Wednesday’s practice with Torrey Mitchell and Ales Hemsky, a move Julien is hoping will help the forward find his scoring touch again.

“Alex is having a tough start,” said Julien on Friday. “With the amount of ice time he’s had on the power play and everything else it just doesn’t seem like he’s getting scoring chances right now. I have to do what I have to do as a coach and it’s certainly not indicative of him only because there’s other guys that we think can help produce as well and they’re not.”

Averaging 3:49 of power play time (third-most on the Habs), Galchenyuk, who missed Friday’s practice with the flu, has generated four shots, tied with Jonathan Drouin just behind team leader Max Pacioretty (six).

“I think with him, as usual when you have Hemsky on your right side you’re not playing with guys who have no skill,” Julien said. “So it’s not about a situation where we’re trying to bury him. I think it’s just a situation where we need to make decisions and move players around for the time being to get us going in the right direction.”

According to Left Wing Lock, Galchenyuk has played nearly 20 percent of the time with Andrew Shaw and Phillip Danault at even strength. That hasn’t worked, so why would bumping him down the lineup be the ideal situation? He might get the ice time against an opponents’ lesser lines, but Hemsky and Mitchell haven’t created much where they’ve played with two shots combined between them.

Despite the struggle to find a regular home for Galchenyuk within the Canadiens’ lineup, this is no time for Bergevin to give up on his young forward. History hasn’t been kind to teams who have done that.

As Arpon Basu of The Athletic noted earlier this week, Galchenyuk is Julien’s new Tyler Seguin: a young, talented player who’s struggling to find consistency. The Boston Bruins could certainly use a Seguin in their lineup right now while the Dallas Stars are enjoying the fruits of a team not showing enough patience.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

MORE FROM NHL ON NBC SPORTS:

Canadiens’ Drouin ‘day-to-day’ with upper body injury

Getty
3 Comments

Some mildly concerning news for the Montreal Canadiens on Monday as the team announced Jonathan Drouin will not play in their preseason game tonight due to an upper body injury.

He is currently listed as being day-to-day. He will be replaced in the lineup tonight by veteran forward Torrey Mitchell.

At this point it is just something that is keeping him out of a preseason game, so it’s not really a huge deal at this point. Seeing as how the game doesn’t count there is no sense in risking further injury for a player that is going to be a key piece of this year’s roster. But the fact he still has something that is bothering him enough to keep him out of a game has to be at least a little bit of a concern for Canadiens fans.

The Canadiens acquired Drouin this summer for top defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev and are counting on him to be an impact player. They also immediately signed him to a six-year, $33 million contract extension.

The plan right now seems to be to try him out at center to help fill what might be the Canadiens’ biggest organizational need — a top-line, No. 1 center.

Drouin is an exceptional talent and still has superstar potential and is coming off of a season that saw him take a huge step forward. In 73 games with the Lightning he scored 21 goals and added 32 assists. His 53 total points would have made him the third-leading scorer on the Canadiens. If he takes another leap in his development and solidifies that No. 1 center spot his addition could be a total game-changer for the Canadiens’ roster.

NHL reveals all 30 teams’ available, protected players for expansion draft

44 Comments

That moment is finally upon us: the NHL released protected and available players lists for all 30 teams regarding the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft on Sunday.

As you’ll see, teams generally chose two alignments:

1. Protecting four forwards, four defensemen, and one goalie.

– 0r –

2. Protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.

The New York Islanders interestingly bucked the trend, protecting five defensemen.

While you dream up armchair GM (or armchair GM GM, in the case of George McPhee) scenarios, do note that the Golden Knights must meet these requirements as they select 30 players overall:

Also remember that McPhee can strike deals with teams to not pick certain exposed players, though such arrangement will come at a price. In addition to that note, it’s crucial to remember that younger players might not be exposed just because they weren’t protected, as some are exempt.

Got the basics? Good. The league lists the expansion draft rules here if you want to dive into the full details.

Excuse the big list, but here are all the players who are available and protected for each team.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

Available
Spencer Abbott (F)
Jared Boll (F)
Sam Carrick (F)
Patrick Eaves (F)
Emerson Etem (F)
Ryan Garbutt (F)
Max Gortz (F)
Nicolas Kerdiles (F)
Andre Petersson (F)
Logan Shaw (F)
Nick Sorensen (F)
Nate Thompson (F)
Corey Tropp (F)
Chris Wagner (F)
Nate Guenin (D)
Korbinian Holzer (D)
Josh Manson (D)
Jaycob Megna (D)
Jeff Schultz (D)
Clayton Stoner (D)
Sami Vatanen (D)
Jonathan Bernier (G)
Jhonas Enroth (G)
Ryan Faragher (G)
Matt Hackett (G)
Dustin Tokarski (G)

Protected
Andrew Cogliano (F)
Ryan Getzlaf (F)
Ryan Kesler (F)
Corey Perry (F)
Rickard Rakell (F)
Jakob Silfverberg (F)
Antoine Vermette (F)
Kevin Bieksa (D)
Cam Fowler (D)
Hampus Lindholm (D)
John Gibson (G)

ARIZONA COYOTES

Available
Alexander Burmistrov (F)
Shane Doan (F)
Tyler Gaudet (F)
Peter Holland (F)
Josh Jooris (F)
Jamie McGinn (F)
Jeremy Morin (F)
Mitchell Moroz (F)
Chris Mueller (F)
Teemu Pulkkinen (F)
Brad Richardson (F)
Garret Ross (F)
Branden Troock (F)
Radim Vrbata (F)
Joe Whitney (F)
Kevin Connauton (D)
Jamie McBain (D)
Zbynek Michalek (D)
Jarred Tinordi (D)
Louis Domingue (G)

Protected
Nick Cousins (F)
Anthony Duclair (F)
Jordan Martinook (F)
Tobias Rieder (F)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D)
Alex Goligoski (D)
Connor Murphy (D)
Luke Schenn (D)
Chad Johnson (G)

BOSTON BRUINS

Available
Matt Beleskey (F)
Brian Ferlin (F)
Jimmy Hayes (F)
Alex Khokhlachev (F)
Dominic Moore (F)
Tyler Randell (F)
Zac Rinaldo (F)
Tim Schaller (F)
Drew Stafford (F)
Linus Arnesson (D)
Chris Casto (D)
Tommy Cross (D)
Alex Grant (D)
John-Michael Liles (D)
Adam McQuaid (D)
Colin Miller (D)
Joe Morrow (D)
Anton Khudobin (G)
Malcolm Subban (G)

Protected
David Backes (F)
Patrice Bergeron (F)
David Krejci (F)
Brad Marchand (F)
Riley Nash (F)
David Pastrnak (F)
Ryan Spooner (F)
Zdeno Chara (D)
Torey Krug (D)
Kevan Miller (D)
Tuukka Rask (G)

BUFFALO SABRES

Available
William Carrier (F)
Nicolas Deslauriers (F)
Brian Gionta (F)
Derek Grant (F)
Justin Kea (F)
Matt Moulson (F)
Cal O’Reilly (F)
Cole Schneider (F)
Brady Austin (D)
Mathew Bodie (D)
Zach Bogosian (D)
Justin Falk (D)
Taylor Fedun (D)
Cody Franson (D)
Josh Gorges (D)
Dmitry Kulikov (D)
Anders Nilsson (G)
Linus Ullmark (G)

Protected
Tyler Ennis (F)
Marcus Foligno (F)
Zemgus Girgensons (F)
Evander Kane (F)
Johan Larsson (F)
Ryan O'Reilly (F)
Kyle Okposo (F)
Nathan Beaulieu (D)
Jake McCabe (D)
Rasmus Ristolainen (D)
Robin Lehner (G)

CALGARY FLAMES

Available
Brandon Bollig (F)
Lance Bouma (F)
Troy Brouwer (F)
Alex Chiasson (F)
Freddie Hamilton (F)
Emile Poirier (F)
Hunter Shinkaruk (F)
Matt Stajan (F)
Kris Versteeg (F)
Linden Vey (F)
Matt Bartkowski (D)
Ryan Culkin (D)
Deryk Engelland (D)
Michael Kostka (D)
Brett Kulak (D)
Ladislav Smid (D)
Michael Stone (D)
Dennis Wideman (D)
Tyler Wotherspoon (D)
Brian Elliott (G)
Tom McCollum (G)

Protected
Mikael Backlund (F)
Sam Bennett (F)
Micheal Ferland (F)
Michael Frolik (F)
Johnny Gaudreau (F)
Curtis Lazar (F)
Sean Monahan (F)
T.J. Brodie (D)
Mark Giordano (D)
Dougie Hamilton (D)
Mike Smith (G)

CAROLINA HURRICANES

Available
Bryan Bickell (F)
Connor Brickley (F)
Patrick Brown (F)
Erik Karlsson (F)
Danny Kristo (F)
Jay McClement (F)
Andrew Miller (F)
Andrej Nestrasil (F)
Joakim Nordstrom (F)
Lee Stempniak (F)
Brendan Woods (F)
Klas Dahlbeck (D)
Dennis Robertson (D)
Philip Samuelsson (D)
Matt Tennyson (D)
Daniel Altshuller (G)
Eddie Lack (G)
Michael Leighton (G)
Cam Ward (G)

Protected
Phillip Di Giuseppe (F)
Elias Lindholm (F)
Brock McGinn (F)
Victor Rask (F)
Jeff Skinner (F)
Jordan Staal (F)
Teuvo Teravainen (F)
Trevor Carrick (D)
Justin Faulk (D)
Ryan Murphy (D)
Scott Darling (G)

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Available
Kyle Baun (F)
Andrew Desjardins (F)
Marcus Kruger (F)
Pierre-Cedric Labrie (F)
Michael Latta (F)
Brandon Mashinter (F)
Dennis Rasmussen (F)
Jordin Tootoo (F)
Brian Campbell (D)
Dillon Fournier (D)
Shawn Lalonde (D)
Johnny Oduya (D)
Ville Pokka (D)
Michal Rozsival (D)
Viktor Svedberg (D)
Trevor van Riemsdyk (D)
Mac Carruth (G)
Jeff Glass (G)

Protected
Artem Anisimov (F)
Ryan Hartman (F)
Marian Hossa (F)
Tomas Jurco (F)
Patrick Kane (F)
Richard Panik (F)
Jonathan Toews (F)
Niklas Hjalmarsson (D)
Duncan Keith (D)
Brent Seabrook (D)
Corey Crawford (G)

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Available
Troy Bourke (F)
Gabriel Bourque (F)
Rene Bourque (F)
Joe Colborne (F)
Turner Elson (F)
Felix Girard (F)
Mikhail Grigorenko (F)
Samuel Henley (F)
John Mitchell (F)
Jim O’Brien (F)
Brendan Ranford (F)
Mike Sislo (F)
Carl Soderberg (F)
Mark Barberio (D)
Mat Clark (D)
Eric Gelinas (D)
Cody Goloubef (D)
Duncan Siemens (D)
Fedor Tyutin (D)
Patrick Wiercioch (D)
Joe Cannata (G)
Calvin Pickard (G)
Jeremy Smith (G)

Protected
Sven Andrighetto (F)
Blake Comeau (F)
Matt Duchene (F)
Rocco Grimaldi (F)
Gabriel Landeskog (F)
Nathan MacKinnon (F)
Matt Nieto (F)
Tyson Barrie (D)
Erik Johnson (D)
Nikita Zadorov (D)
Semyon Varlamov (G)

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Available
Josh Anderson (F)
Alex Broadhurst (F)
Matt Calvert (F)
Zac Dalpe (F)
Sam Gagner (F)
Brett Gallant (F)
William Karlsson (F)
Lauri Korpikoski (F)
Lukas Sedlak (F)
T.J. Tynan (F)
Daniel Zaar (F)
Marc-Andre Bergeron (D)
Scott Harrington (D)
Jack Johnson (D)
Kyle Quincey (D)
John Ramage (D)
Jaime Sifers (D)
Ryan Stanton (D)
Oscar Dansk (G)
Anton Forsberg (G)
Joonas Korpisalo (G)

Protected
Cam Atkinson (F)
Brandon Dubinsky (F)
Nick Foligno (F)
Scott Hartnell (F)
Boone Jenner (F)
Brandon Saad (F)
Alexander Wennberg (F)
Seth Jones (D)
Ryan Murray (D)
David Savard (D)
Sergei Bobrovsky (G)

DALLAS STARS

Available
Adam Cracknell (F)
Justin Dowling (F)
Cody Eakin (F)
Ales Hemsky (F)
Jiri Hudler (F)
Curtis McKenzie (F)
Mark McNeill (F)
Travis Morin (F)
Patrick Sharp (F)
Gemel Smith (F)
Matej Stransky (F)
Mattias Backman (D)
Andrew Bodnarchuk (D)
Ludwig Bystrom (D)
Nick Ebert (D)
Justin Hache (D)
Dan Hamhuis (D)
Patrik Nemeth (D)
Jamie Oleksiak (D)
Greg Pateryn (D)
Dustin Stevenson (D)
Henri Kiviaho (G)
Maxime Lagace (G)
Kari Lehtonen (G)
Antti Niemi (G)
Justin Peters (G)

Protected
Jamie Benn (F)
Radek Faksa (F)
Valeri Nichushkin (F)
Brett Ritchie (F)
Antoine Roussel (F)
Tyler Seguin (F)
Jason Spezza (F)
Stephen Johns (D)
John Klingberg (D)
Esa Lindell (D)
Ben Bishop (G)

DETROIT RED WINGS

Available
Louis-Marc Aubry (F)
Mitch Callahan (F)
Colin Campbell (F)
Martin Frk (F)
Luke Glendening (F)
Darren Helm (F)
Drew Miller (F)
Tomas Nosek (F)
Riley Sheahan (F)
Ben Street (F)
Eric Tangradi (F)
Adam Almquist (D)
Jonathan Ericsson (D)
Niklas Kronwall (D)
Brian Lashoff (D)
Dylan McIlrath (D)
Xavier Ouellet (D)
Ryan Sproul (D)
Jared Coreau (G)
Petr Mrazek (G)
Edward Pasquale (G)
Jake Paterson (G)

Protected
Justin Abdelkader (F)
Andreas Athanasiou (F)
Anthony Mantha (F)
Frans Nielsen (F)
Gustav Nyquist (F)
Tomas Tatar (F)
Henrik Zetterberg (F)
Danny DeKeyser (D)
Mike Green (D)
Nick Jensen (D)
Jimmy Howard (G)

EDMONTON OILERS

Available
David Desharnais (F)
Justin Fontaine (F)
Matt Hendricks (F)
Roman Horak (F)
Jujhar Khaira (F)
Anton Lander (F)
Iiro Pakarinen (F)
Tyler Pitlick (F)
Zach Pochiro (F)
Benoit Pouliot (F)
Henrik Samuelsson (F)
Bogdan Yakimov (F)
Mark Fayne (D)
Andrew Ference (D)
Mark Fraser (D)
Eric Gryba (D)
David Musil (D)
Jordan Oesterle (D)
Griffin Reinhart (D)
Kris Russell (D)
Dillon Simpson (D)
Laurent Brossoit (G)
Jonas Gustavsson (G)

Protected
Leon Draisaitl (F)
Jordan Eberle (F)
Zack Kassian (F)
Mark Letestu (F)
Milan Lucic (F)
Patrick Maroon (F)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (F)
Oscar Klefbom (D)
Adam Larsson (D)
Andrej Sekera (D)
Cam Talbot (G)

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Available
Graham Black (F)
Tim Bozon (F)
Jaromir Jagr (F)
Jussi Jokinen (F)
Derek MacKenzie (F)
Jonathan Marchessault (F)
Colton Sceviour (F)
Michael Sgarbossa (F)
Reilly Smith (F)
Brody Sutter (F)
Paul Thompson (F)
Shawn Thornton (F)
Thomas Vanek (F)
Jason Demers (D)
Jakub Kindl (D)
Brent Regner (D)
Reece Scarlett (D)
MacKenzie Weegar (D)
Reto Berra (G)
Sam Brittain (G)
Roberto Luongo (G)

Protected
Aleksander Barkov (F)
Nick Bjugstad (F)
Jonathan Huberdeau (F)
Vincent Trocheck (F)
Aaron Ekblad (D)
Alex Petrovic (D)
Mark Pysyk (D)
Keith Yandle (D)
James Reimer (G)

LOS ANGELES KINGS

Available
Andy Andreoff (F)
Justin Auger (F)
Dustin Brown (F)
Kyle Clifford (F)
Andrew Crescenzi (F)
Nic Dowd (F)
Marian Gaborik (F)
Jarome Iginla (F)
Trevor Lewis (F)
Michael Mersch (F)
Jordan Nolan (F)
Teddy Purcell (F)
Devin Setoguchi (F)
Nick Shore (F)
Matt Greene (D)
Vincent Loverde (D)
Brayden McNabb (D)
Cameron Schilling (D)
Rob Scuderi (D)
Zach Trotman (D)
Jack Campbell (G)
Jeff Zatkoff (G)

Protected
Jeff Carter (F)
Anze Kopitar (F)
Tanner Pearson (F)
Tyler Toffoli (F)
Drew Doughty (D)
Derek Forbort (D)
Alec Martinez (D)
Jake Muzzin (D)
Jonathan Quick (G)

MINNESOTA WILD

Available
Brady Brassart (F)
Patrick Cannone (F)
Ryan Carter (F)
Kurtis Gabriel (F)
Martin Hanzal (F)
Erik Haula (F)
Zack Mitchell (F)
Jordan Schroeder (F)
Eric Staal (F)
Chris Stewart (F)
Ryan White (F)
Victor Bartley (D)
Matt Dumba (D)
Christian Folin (D)
Guillaume Gelinas (D)
Alexander Gudbranson (D)
Gustav Olofsson (D)
Nate Prosser (D)
Marco Scandella (D)
Mike Weber (D)
Johan Gustafsson (G)
Darcy Kuemper (G)
Alex Stalock (G)

Protected
Charlie Coyle (F)
Mikael Granlund (F)
Mikko Koivu (F)
Nino Niederreiter (F)
Zach Parise (F)
Jason Pominville (F)
Jason Zucker (F)
Jonas Brodin (D)
Jared Spurgeon (D)
Ryan Suter (D)
Devan Dubnyk (G)

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Available
Daniel Carr (F)
Connor Crisp (F)
Jacob De La Rose (F)
Bobby Farnham (F)
Brian Flynn (F)
Max Friberg (F)
Charles Hudon (F)
Dwight King (F)
Stefan Matteau (F)
Torrey Mitchell (F)
Joonas Nattinen (F)
Steve Ott (F)
Tomas Plekanec (F)
Alexander Radulov (F)
Chris Terry (F)
Brandon Davidson (D)
Alexei Emelin (D)
Keegan Lowe (D)
Andrei Markov (D)
Nikita Nesterov (D)
Zach Redmond (D)
Dalton Thrower (D)
Al Montoya (G)

Protected
Paul Byron (F)
Phillip Danault (F)
Jonathan Drouin (F)
Alex Galchenyuk (F)
Brendan Gallagher (F)
Max Pacioretty (F)
Andrew Shaw (F)
Jordie Benn (D)
Jeff Petry (D)
Shea Weber (D)
Carey Price (G)

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Available
Pontus Aberg (F)
Cody Bass (F)
Vernon Fiddler (F)
Mike Fisher (F)
Cody McLeod (F)
James Neal (F)
PA Parenteau (F)
Adam Payerl (F)
Mike Ribeiro (F)
Miikka Salomaki (F)
Colton Sissons (F)
Craig Smith (F)
Trevor Smith (F)
Austin Watson (F)
Colin Wilson (F)
Harry Zolnierczyk (F)
Taylor Aronson (D)
Anthony Bitetto (D)
Stefan Elliott (D)
Petter Granberg (D)
Brad Hunt (D)
Matt Irwin (D)
Andrew O’Brien (D)
Adam Pardy (D)
Jaynen Rissling (D)
Scott Valentine (D)
Yannick Weber (D)
Marek Mazanec (G)

Protected
Viktor Arvidsson (F)
Filip Forsberg (F)
Calle Jarnkrok (F)
Ryan Johansen (F)
Mattias Ekholm (D)
Ryan Ellis (D)
Roman Josi (D)
P.K. Subban (D)
Pekka Rinne (G)

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Available
Beau Bennett (F)
Michael Cammalleri (F)
Carter Camper (F)
Luke Gazdic (F)
Shane Harper (F)
Jacob Josefson (F)
Ivan Khomutov (F)
Stefan Noesen (F)
Marc Savard (F)
Devante Smith-Pelly (F)
Petr Straka (F)
Mattias Tedenby (F)
Ben Thomson (F)
David Wohlberg (F)
Seth Helgeson (D)
Viktor Loov (D)
Ben Lovejoy (D)
Andrew MacWilliam (D)
Jon Merrill (D)
Dalton Prout (D)
Karl Stollery (D)
Alexander Urbom (D)
Keith Kinkaid (G)
Scott Wedgewood (G)

Protected
Taylor Hall (F)
Adam Henrique (F)
Kyle Palmieri (F)
Travis Zajac (F)
Andy Greene (D)
John Moore (D)
Mirco Mueller (D)
Damon Severson (D)
Cory Schneider (G)

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Available
Josh Bailey (F)
Steve Bernier (F)
Eric Boulton (F)
Jason Chimera (F)
Casey Cizikas (F)
Cal Clutterbuck (F)
Stephen Gionta (F)
Ben Holmstrom (F)
Bracken Kearns (F)
Nikolay Kulemin (F)
Brock Nelson (F)
Shane Prince (F)
Alan Quine (F)
Ryan Strome (F)
Johan Sundstrom (F)
Calvin de Haan (D)
Matthew Finn (D)
Jesse Graham (D)
Thomas Hickey (D)
Loic Leduc (D)
Scott Mayfield (D)
Dennis Seidenberg (D)
Jean-Francois Berube (G)
Christopher Gibson (G)
Jaroslav Halak (G)

Protected
Andrew Ladd (F)
Anders Lee (F)
John Tavares (F)
Johnny Boychuk (D)
Travis Hamonic (D)
Nick Leddy (D)
Adam Pelech (D)
Ryan Pulock (D)
Thomas Greiss (G)

NEW YORK RANGERS

Available
Taylor Beck (F)
Chris Brown (F)
Daniel Catenacci (F)
Jesper Fast (F)
Tanner Glass (F)
Michael Grabner (F)
Marek Hrivik (F)
Nicklas Jensen (F)
Carl Klingberg (F)
Oscar Lindberg (F)
Brandon Pirri (F)
Matt Puempel (F)
Adam Clendening (D)
Tommy Hughes (D)
Steven Kampfer (D)
Kevin Klein (D)
Michael Paliotta (D)
Brendan Smith (D)
Chris Summers (D)
Magnus Hellberg (G)
Antti Raanta (G)
Mackenzie Skapski (G)

Protected
Kevin Hayes (F)
Chris Kreider (F)
J.T. Miller (F)
Rick Nash (F)
Derek Stepan (F)
Mika Zibanejad (F)
Mats Zuccarello (F)
Nick Holden (D)
Ryan McDonagh (D)
Marc Staal (D)
Henrik Lundqvist (G)

OTTAWA SENATORS

Available
Casey Bailey (F)
Mike Blunden (F)
Alexandre Burrows (F)
Stephane Da Costa (F)
Christopher DiDomenico (F)
Nikita Filatov (F)
Chris Kelly (F)
Clarke MacArthur (F)
Max McCormick (F)
Chris Neil (F)
Tom Pyatt (F)
Ryan Rupert (F)
Bobby Ryan (F)
Viktor Stalberg (F)
Phil Varone (F)
Tommy Wingels (F)
Mark Borowiecki (D)
Fredrik Claesson (D)
Brandon Gormley (D)
Jyrki Jokipakka (D)
Marc Methot (D)
Patrick Sieloff (D)
Chris Wideman (D)
Mikael Wikstrand (D)
Mike Condon (G)
Chris Driedger (G)
Andrew Hammond (G)

Protected
Derick Brassard (F)
Ryan Dzingel (F)
Mike Hoffman (F)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (F)
Zack Smith (F)
Mark Stone (F)
Kyle Turris (F)
Cody Ceci (D)
Erik Karlsson (D)
Dion Phaneuf (D)
Craig Anderson (G)

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Available
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (F)
Greg Carey (F)
Chris Conner (F)
Boyd Gordon (F)
Taylor Leier (F)
Colin McDonald (F)
Andy Miele (F)
Michael Raffl (F)
Matt Read (F)
Chris VandeVelde (F)
Jordan Weal (F)
Dale Weise (F)
Eric Wellwood (F)
Mark Alt (D)
TJ Brennan (D)
Michael Del Zotto (D)
Andrew MacDonald (D)
Will O’Neill (D)
Jesper Pettersson (D)
Nick Schultz (D)
Steve Mason (G)
Michal Neuvirth (G)

Protected
Sean Couturier (F)
Valtteri Filppula (F)
Claude Giroux (F)
Scott Laughton (F)
Brayden Schenn (F)
Wayne Simmonds (F)
Jakub Voracek (F)
Shayne Gostisbehere (D)
Radko Gudas (D)
Brandon Manning (D)
Anthony Stolarz (G)

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Available
Josh Archibald (F)
Nick Bonino (F)
Matt Cullen (F)
Jean-Sebastien Dea (F)
Carl Hagelin (F)
Tom Kuhnhackl (F)
Chris Kunitz (F)
Kevin Porter (F)
Bryan Rust (F)
Tom Sestito (F)
Oskar Sundqvist (F)
Dominik Uher (F)
Garrett Wilson (F)
Scott Wilson (F)
Ian Cole (D)
Frank Corrado (D)
Trevor Daley (D)
Tim Erixon (D)
Cameron Gaunce (D)
Ron Hainsey (D)
Stuart Percy (D)
Derrick Pouliot (D)
Chad Ruhwedel (D)
Mark Streit (D)
David Warsofsky (D)
Marc-Andre Fleury (G)

Protected
Sidney Crosby (F)
Patric Hornqvist (F)
Phil Kessel (F)
Evgeni Malkin (F)
Brian Dumoulin (D)
Kris Letang (D)
Olli Maatta (D)
Justin Schultz (D)
Matt Murray (G)

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Available
Mikkel Boedker (F)
Barclay Goodrow (F)
Micheal Haley (F)
Patrick Marleau (F)
Buddy Robinson (F)
Zack Stortini (F)
Joe Thornton (F)
Joel Ward (F)
Dylan DeMelo (D)
Brenden Dillon (D)
Dan Kelly (D)
Paul Martin (D)
David Schlemko (D)
Aaron Dell (G)
Troy Grosenick (G)
Harri Sateri (G)

Protected
Ryan Carpenter (F)
Logan Couture (F)
Jannik Hansen (F)
Tomas Hertl (F)
Melker Karlsson (F)
Joe Pavelski (F)
Chris Tierney (F)
Justin Braun (D)
Brent Burns (D)
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (D)
Martin Jones (G)

ST. LOUIS BLUES

Available
Kenny Agostino (F)
Andrew Agozzino (F)
Kyle Brodziak (F)
Jordan Caron (F)
Jacob Doty (F)
Landon Ferraro (F)
Alex Friesen (F)
Evgeny Grachev (F)
Dmitrij Jaskin (F)
Jori Lehtera (F)
Brad Malone (F)
Magnus Paajarvi (F)
David Perron (F)
Ty Rattie (F)
Scottie Upshall (F)
Nail Yakupov (F)
Robert Bortuzzo (D)
Chris Butler (D)
Morgan Ellis (D)
Carl Gunnarsson (D)
Jani Hakanpaa (D)
Petteri Lindbohm (D)
Reid McNeill (D)
Jordan Binnington (G)
Carter Hutton (G)

Protected
Patrik Berglund (F)
Ryan Reaves (F)
Jaden Schwartz (F)
Vladimir Sobotka (F)
Paul Stastny (F)
Alexander Steen (F)
Vladimir Tarasenko (F)
Jay Bouwmeester (D)
Joel Edmundson (D)
Alex Pietrangelo (D)
Jake Allen (G)

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Available
Carter Ashton (F)
Michael Bournival (F)
J.T. Brown (F)
Cory Conacher (F)
Erik Condra (F)
Gabriel Dumont (F)
Stefan Fournier (F)
Byron Froese (F)
Yanni Gourde (F)
Mike Halmo (F)
Henri Ikonen (F)
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (F)
Tye McGinn (F)
Greg McKegg (F)
Cedric Paquette (F)
Tanner Richard (F)
Joel Vermin (F)
Dylan Blujus (D)
Jake Dotchin (D)
Jason Garrison (D)
Slater Koekkoek (D)
Jonathan Racine (D)
Andrej Sustr (D)
Matt Taormina (D)
Luke Witkowski (D)
Peter Budaj (G)
Kristers Gudlevskis (G)
Jaroslav Janus (G)
Mike McKenna (G)

Protected
Ryan Callahan (F)
Tyler Johnson (F)
Alex Killorn (F)
Nikita Kucherov (F)
Vladislav Namestnikov (F)
Ondrej Palat (F)
Steven Stamkos (F)
Braydon Coburn (D)
Victor Hedman (D)
Anton Stralman (D)
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G)

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Available
Brian Boyle (F)
Eric Fehr (F)
Colin Greening (F)
Seth Griffith (F)
Teemu Hartikainen (F)
Brooks Laich (F)
Brendan Leipsic (F)
Joffrey Lupul (F)
Milan Michalek (F)
Kerby Rychel (F)
Ben Smith (F)
Andrew Campbell (D)
Matt Hunwick (D)
Alexey Marchenko (D)
Martin Marincin (D)
Steve Oleksy (D)
Roman Polak (D)
Antoine Bibeau (G)
Curtis McElhinney (G)
Garret Sparks (G)

Protected
Tyler Bozak (F)
Connor Brown (F)
Nazem Kadri (F)
Leo Komarov (F)
Josh Leivo (F)
Matt Martin (F)
James van Riemsdyk (F)
Connor Carrick (D)
Jake Gardiner (D)
Morgan Rielly (D)
Frederik Andersen (G)

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Available
Reid Boucher (F)
Michael Chaput (F)
Joseph Cramarossa (F)
Derek Dorsett (F)
Brendan Gaunce (F)
Alexandre Grenier (F)
Jayson Megna (F)
Borna Rendulic (F)
Anton Rodin (F)
Drew Shore (F)
Jack Skille (F)
Michael Zalewski (F)
Alex Biega (D)
Philip Larsen (D)
Tom Nilsson (D)
Andrey Pedan (D)
Luca Sbisa (D)
Richard Bachman (G)
Ryan Miller (G)

Protected
Sven Baertschi (F)
Loui Eriksson (F)
Markus Granlund (F)
Bo Horvat (F)
Daniel Sedin (F)
Henrik Sedin (F)
Brandon Sutter (F)
Alexander Edler (D)
Erik Gudbranson (D)
Christopher Tanev (D)
Jacob Markstrom (G)

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Available
Jay Beagle (F)
Chris Bourque (F)
Paul Carey (F)
Brett Connolly (F)
Stanislav Galiev (F)
Tyler Graovac (F)
Garrett Mitchell (F)
Liam O’Brien (F)
T.J. Oshie (F)
Zach Sill (F)
Chandler Stephenson (F)
Christian Thomas (F)
Nathan Walker (F)
Justin Williams (F)
Daniel Winnik (F)
Karl Alzner (D)
Taylor Chorney (D)
Cody Corbett (D)
Darren Dietz (D)
Christian Djoos (D)
Tom Gilbert (D)
Aaron Ness (D)
Brooks Orpik (D)
Nate Schmidt (D)
Kevin Shattenkirk (D)
Pheonix Copley (G)
Philipp Grubauer (G)

Protected
Nicklas Backstrom (F)
Andre Burakovsky (F)
Lars Eller (F)
Marcus Johansson (F)
Evgeny Kuznetsov (F)
Alex Ovechkin (F)
Tom Wilson (F)
John Carlson (D)
Matt Niskanen (D)
Dmitry Orlov (D)
Braden Holtby (G)

WINNIPEG JETS

Available
Marko Dano (F)
Quinton Howden (F)
Scott Kosmachuk (F)
Tomas Kubalik (F)
JC Lipon (F)
Shawn Matthias (F)
Ryan Olsen (F)
Anthony Peluso (F)
Chris Thorburn (F)
Ben Chiarot (D)
Toby Enstrom (D)
Brenden Kichton (D)
Julian Melchiori (D)
Paul Postma (D)
Brian Strait (D)
Mark Stuart (D)
Michael Hutchinson (G)
Ondrej Pavelec (G)

Protected
Joel Armia (F)
Andrew Copp (F)
Bryan Little (F)
Adam Lowry (F)
Mathieu Perreault (F)
Mark Scheifele (F)
Blake Wheeler (F)
Dustin Byfuglien (D)
Tyler Myers (D)
Jacob Trouba (D)
Connor Hellebuyck (G)

Canadiens spent too much time getting tougher, not enough time getting better

Getty
27 Comments

For several years now the Montreal Canadiens have been a very good, but very flawed hockey team.

Before this season their biggest issue was an overreliance on starting goaltender Carey Price, where they would be content to allow him to make as many saves as he had to make for the team to squeeze out a bunch of 2-1 or 2-0 wins. When he was healthy and on top of his game, his performance masked a lot of the flaws and the team won a lot of games (and he won a lot of awards). When he wasn’t there a year ago, the entire thing collapsed on itself and the Michel Therrien-led Canadiens were exposed for the house of cards they always were. If they were ever going to make the leap to serious Stanley Cup contender they were going to have to find a way to offer their All-Everything goalie some additional support and give him some help.

Their apparent strategy in doing that for this season only seemed to create more flaws. They were on display in their six-game first-round exit at the hands of the New York Rangers.

From the very start of the offseason the Canadiens’ plan for this season seemed to revolve around getting bigger, tougher, stronger, grittier and more difficult to play against. Before the start of the 2015-17 season they traded Lars Eller for draft picks. They traded different draft picks for Andrew Shaw and his playoff experience and “hate to lose” mentality. They traded P.K. Subban for Shea Weber in a deal that will be dissected, analyzed and second-guessed for decades.

To be fair, they also added Alexander Radulov during the offseason, and he not only proved to be the best free agent signing by any team this summer, he was almost certainly the most impactful move the Canadiens made. But even with that addition, the direction general manager Marc Bergevin and then-coach Michel Therrien wanted to take the team in was clear.

It became even clearer at the trade deadline when almost every move the Canadiens made was centered around adding size and grit to the bottom six as opposed to some much-needed offensive punch. Along with adding Jordie Benn and Brandon Davidson to their defense, they made the following changes to their forwards before the deadline.

  • They traded for noted cage-rattler Steve Ott, a fourth-line forward that has scored just six goals and recorded only 14 assists in 152 games over the past three seasons.
  • They traded for 6-4, 229-pound winger Dwight King from the Los Angeles Kings.
  • They traded for 6-3, 220-pound winger Andreas Martinsen from the Colorado Avalanche

After the deadline Bergevin talked about not being able to add offense because the price was too high, and that a lot of their goal scoring issues could be fixed by improved confidence from within and that because playoff hockey gets tougher there would not be as many goals scored anyway.

From the Montreal Gazette:

“For us, we felt we had a good start (and) we had four lines producing,” said Bergevin. “Of late, that hasn’t been the case but I feel comfortable that, as guys get more confidence as we move forward, they’ll be able to chip in. And down the road, there won’t be as many goals and there will be those one-goal hockey games 2-1, 3-2, 1-0. It’s a tight league.

“I always say you can play with a bad shoulder or a bad foot but if you have no confidence, you can’t play,” said Bergevin. “Also down the stretch, it’s hard to score. You look at Columbus last night, one of the highest scoring teams in the league. You have to grind it out to score goals down the stretch.”

In other words: We might as well just try to embrace continuing to win every game 2-1.

As for the players they did add, those three forwards (Ott, King, Martinsen) combined to score 15 goals this season. These were their big trade deadline acquisitions.

The Canadiens played two games in this series where all three of them played in the same game. They lost one 2-0. They were 18 seconds away from losing the other one if not for some late-game (and overtime) heroics from Radulov to set up the tying goal in the closing seconds then score the winner early in overtime.

When it came to the decisive Game 6, when Martinsen and Shaw were out of the lineup (and Torrey Mitchell, who had played well in his limited action in this series was, also scratched) Brian Flynn and Michael McCarron (seven combined goals between the two this season) were inserted in.

The Canadiens were basically playing as a (at best) three-line team when it came to creating offense, and that is simply not good enough, especially when the whole mindset of the team seemed to be focussed on getting bigger and tougher. It runs counter to most everything the NHL’s most successful teams have done in recent years. The Pittsburgh Penguins are 20-9 the past two seasons with one of the NHL’s smallest, least physical rosters. When the Chicago Blackhawks had their mini-dynasty they were consistently one of the smallest, least physical teams in the league. Even the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that reached the NHL’s final four in two of the past three seasons, did it with a collection of forwards that can be described as “undersized.”

It is a speed, skill league, and you can’t beat teams anymore by simply grinding them down with bigger, stronger players (you could argue there was never a time that was possible, but that’s a different argument for a different day). The Canadiens seemed to lose the plot on that one from the start, and then doubled down on it later in the season just before the playoffs began.

The Canadiens added their size and grit. But the end result was the same as we have seen from them in recent years: A flawed team that couldn’t produce anywhere near enough offense to make a deep playoff run with arguably the NHL’s best goalie playing at a high level.