pksubbangetty

It’s Montreal Canadiens day on PHT

13 Comments

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team?  The Montreal Canadiens.

After the Montreal Canadiens finished 2011-12 with a disastrous 78 points, they shook up their front office by bringing in Marc Bergevin to serve as the new general manager. Bergevin in turn hired former Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Michel Therrien to once again serve as the team’s bench boss.

Bergevin and Therrien’s first season saw the Canadiens improve by leaps and bounds for a number of different reasons. For one thing, top-tier offensive defenseman Andrei Markov enjoyed his first healthy campaign in years and P.K. Subban took another step forward en route to winning the Norris Trophy. The duo played a prominent role in Montreal going from one of the worst power-play teams in 2011-12 to the fifth best last season.

Montreal was also led by a youth movement, including rookie forwards Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. In fact, four of the team’s top six scorers and five of their top eight are 24 years old or younger.

With their improved offense, Montreal managed to capture the Northeast Division title, but they imploded against the Ottawa Senators in the first round. Goaltender Carey Price struggled towards the end of the season and that carried over into the playoffs.

After dropping three of Montreal’s first four games against Ottawa, Price was held out of Game 5 due to a knee injury. Backup Peter Budaj proved to be equally ineffective against the Senators and thus the Canadiens’ postseason run ended with a 6-1 defeat.

Offseason recap

The Canadiens have plenty of young players in their core and they’re on an upward trajectory, so Bergevin wasn’t inclined to make major changes this summer. That being said, they did make one big splash by signing Danny Briere to a two-year, $8 million contract after his previous deal was bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers.

At the same time, they watched 2013 midseason acquisition Michael Ryder walk as an unrestricted free agent. He ended up signing a two-year, $7 million deal with the New Jersey Devils.

Montreal claimed forward Michael McCarron with the 25th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

Offseason Report: Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens
10 Comments

From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.

2011-12 season

31-35-16, 78 points. Fifth place in the Northeast Division, 15th in the Eastern Conference.

Additions

Brandon Prust, Colby Armstrong

Departures

Brad Staubitz, Chris Campoli (pending — still unsigned)

2012 Draft

1st round, 3rd overall — Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia (OHL)

Looking back

The biggest changes happened off the ice rather than on it. Montreal has a new GM (Marc Bergevin) to go along with a new head coach (Michel Therrien), new assistants (Gerard Gallant, JJ Daigneault, Clement Jodoin) and new faces in the front office (Rick Dudley, Scott Mellanby, Martin Lapointe and Patrice Brisebois.)

On the ice, the Habs will return almost all of last year’s team — with some added toughness. Prust and Armstrong should bring an edge to a team often accused of playing soft a season ago.

Montreal will also be buoyed by the return to health of captain Brian Gionta, who missed 51 games last year.

Looking ahead

The offseason plan suggests Montreal’s disastrous season wasn’t about the players as it was coaches and management, giving last year’s group another “bite at the apple,” so to speak. Even though that squad finished dead last in the East, there are some compelling pieces:

— Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty scored 35 and 33 goals respectively (Montreal was one of just seven teams with two 30-goal scorers last year.)

— The defense could legitimately go eight deep with Andrei Markov, Tomas Kaberle, Josh Gorges, Alexei Emelin, Francis Bouillon, Raphael Diaz, Yannick Weber and the still-to-be-signed P.K. Subban.

— Carey Price was the team’s lone All-Star from a year ago and recently signed a six-year, $39 million extension.

Have your say

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of Montreal’s 2012-13 outlook in the comments section.

It’s Montreal Canadiens day on PHT

Montreal Canadiens
1 Comment

Welcome to the start of our offseason initiative — 30 teams in 30 days.

From now until Aug. 14 we’ll be dedicating each day to a new team by recapping the offseason and looking ahead to 2012-13.

There’ll also be a series of posts looking at key stories, player profiles and burning questions regarding each squad.

Today, we begin with one of the most storied franchises in hockey history, the Montreal Canadiens.

Les Habitants are coming off a disappointing campaign that saw them finish with 78 points — their lowest total since the lockout — and a last-place finish in the Eastern Conference.

Following the season, sweeping changes were made. Marc Bergevin became the 17th GM in club history and he proceeded to overhaul both the coaching staff — most notably by hiring head coach Michel Therrien — and the front office.

Bergevin also added toughness to the lineup with free agent acquisitions Colby Armstrong and Brandon Prust, and extended the contract of starting goalie Carey Price.

So, what does the future have in store for the Canadiens? Stick around PHT today to find out.

Montreal Canadiens are Day 2’s unofficial draft winners

Sebastian Collberg
12 Comments

Day 2 of the NHL Draft was somewhat lacking in drama, but what it did have was the Montreal Canadiens doing well enough to wow prospect watchers.

The Habs cleaned up getting the No. 3 overall European skater, forward Sebastian Collberg with their second-round pick, 33rd overall, and following it up by choosing rugged defenseman Dalton Thrower later in the round at 51. We highlighted both of those players in our draft preview and could be considered steals in the second.

In the third round, Montreal selected forward Tim Bozon (No. 42 North American skater), son of former St. Louis Blues forward Philippe Bozon. The Habs then followed that up with forwards Brady Vail (No. 38 North American skater) in the fourth round, Charles Hudon (No. 95 North American skater) in the fifth, and Erik Nystrom (85th European skater) in the sixth.

For GM Marc Bergevin and Montreal’s Director Of Amateur Scouting Trevor Timmins, it could turn out to be a draft that helps turn around an organization that was lacking in prospects. By aiming to take the best player available each time they picked, Montreal has hope once again. Now they’ll just have to hope these kids can live up to their billing.

Are the Montreal Canadiens as bad off as they seem?

Jacques Martin
14 Comments

It’s no surprise that the Canadiens fired GM Pierre Gauthier. He made a number of controversial decisions and the end result was simply not satisfying. When you look at the Montreal Canadiens right now, you see a team that’s grossly overpaying several players and in the Eastern Conference basement. The next general manager will have a very difficult job because the 2012-13 squad already has over $44 million in cap space tied to 13 players and that’s not including Carey Price or PK Subban, who will both be restricted free agents this summer.

Still, as former Canadiens coach Jacques Martin recently pointed out, this team isn’t exactly devoid of talent. There’s a good young core of players that includes Subban, Price, and David Desharnais. They also have a couple of forwards whose roles could increase in the coming years, including Louis Leblanc and Lars Eller. Throw in a healthy Andrei Markov and, according to Martin, this franchise might be better off than you think.

“The team has to add pieces,” Martin said. “But the key elements are in place.”

It might be more complicated than simply adding pieces, given how bad their cap situation is. Still, it is true that the foundation for a competitive team is already there.

Martin, by the way, is interested in returning to the Canadiens as their general manager. However, it seems unlikely that Martin will go from being fired as the head coach to being selected as the same organization’s general manager in less than a year.