Just a note of congratulations to Vancouver’s Stanley Cup riot for being named the top news story of the year in British Columbia by CBC. It’s an honor that wouldn’t have been possible without thousands of people joining forces, tipping cars over together, and sharing lighter fluid to set stuff on fire. There were also some great individual performances in the categories of smashing windows and stealing purses. Hats off to all the participants.
Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Montreal Canadiens.
29-40-13, 71 pts. (6th Atlantic Division; 14th Eastern Conference)
After getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs in 2017, the Canadiens put together a horribly disappointing season last year. None of their core players played well, which obviously didn’t help. Max Pacioretty didn’t score as often, Shea Weber suffered a serious injury and Carey Price wasn’t himself.
For the first time in five years, Pacioretty failed to hit the 30-goal mark. Now, he’s entering the final year of contract, and it sounds like a divorce between he and and the team is imminent. If the Habs ship their captain to another team, who will score goals for this team? They traded Alex Galchenyuk for a playmaker like Max Domi, so they don’t have any natural scorers left on the roster.
As for Weber, he’s fallen on hard times injury-wise. He got off to a great start (16 points in 26 games), but he eventually missed a good chunk of the season with a foot injury. The 33-year-old will also be out until at least Christmas because of knee surgery. Not having Weber will be tough overcome.
The biggest question surrounding the Canadiens upcoming season is whether or not Price can bounce back from the dismal season he had in 2017-18. He missed an extended period of time with lower-body injury and then a concussion. The team is light on talent, but if they can get Price back to where he was a few years ago, they’ll have a chance in every game they play. If he can’t get back to form, the next eight years will be incredibly long (they owe him $84 million).
This is a big year for GM Marc Bergevin. If botches a potentially Pacioretty trade, or if the team crumbles again, he might be looking for a new job. No matter what happens, it should be an interesting year in Habs land.
• Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, 18, Assat Pori – 2018 first-round pick
The Canadiens have been searching for a number one center for years, and Kotkaniemi might finally be that guy. He’s a big body with good offensive instincts. Kotkaniemi is also capable of playing a strong all-around game. He has the ability to develop into a top-line player, but he might just need a bit more time to develop. The young Finn racked up 10 goals and 29 points in 57 games in the SM-Liiga
• Ryan Poehling, C, 19, St. Cloud State – 2017 first-round pick
Poehling made some huge strides in his second year at St. Cloud. He went from being a 13-point player in his first year to producing 31 points in 36 games last season. Like Kotkaniemi, Poehling is also big (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), but the American forward isn’t as gifted offensively. The biggest question around his game is whether or not his offensive abilities are good enough to make him a second-line center. Poehling is heading back to St. Cloud State for another year, but he could join the Canadiens next season.
• Noah Juulsen, D, 21, Laval Rocket – 2015 first-round pick
Juulsen got his first taste of NHL experience during Montreal’s “lost” season last year and he certainly didn’t look out of place. He’s a good skater that can move the puck efficiently. He might not develop into a top pairing defenseman, but he’s certainly capable of being a top-four blueliner for years to come. Even though the Canadiens have several defensemen on one-way contracts, Juulsen has a pretty good shot at making the team out of camp.
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• Meet Beacon, the new mascot for the ECHL’s Maine Mariners. It’s jacked. [Mariners]
• Ryan Ellis on leaving some money on the table after signing his eight-year, $50 million extension with the Nashville Predators: “For me it was a no brainer. I think a lot of guys are going to follow suit, and hopefully if everything works out we’ll keep this thing together and keep going in the right direction for many years.” [Tennessean]
• “An interim payment of $50,000 will be paid out to each of the survivors and families of the 29 people affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus collision. A Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench judge agreed Wednesday that $1.45 million could be spent on the payments.” [CBC]
• Speaking of questions, what’s the future look like in goal for the Detroit Red Wings? [Detroit News]
• Former NHLer Darryl Sydor on his life after the NHL and battling alcohol problems. [CFJC Today]
• How long can Stars coach Jim Montgomery keep the top line together? [Dallas Morning News]
• Herb Brooks’ biggest regret? Never getting the chance to coach Mario Lemieux. [Post-Gazette]
• Where exactly will this Vancouver Canucks rebuild go? [The Province]
• “Career years are, by definition, uncommon. There is a large number of Capitals claiming them in 2017-2018. One thing to watch for as the 2018-2019 season unfolds is whether the ‘uncommon’ becomes ‘common’ for these players. If it does, it will go a long way to giving the Caps a chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champion.” [Japers’ Rink]
• A good look at what this current New York Rangers rebuild looks like and when it began. [Blueshirt Banter]
• Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma are heading to Switzerland to play for Geneve-Servette HC. [Swiss Hockey News]
• Finally, there’s 48 days until opening night. Let’s take a look at the Washington Capitals clinching in Game 5:
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Anaheim Ducks have re-signed right wing Ondrej Kase to a three-year, $7.8 million contract.
The Ducks announced the deal Wednesday.
Kase scored 20 goals last season, establishing himself as a promising talent when given his first extensive NHL playing time. The 22-year-old Czech forward added 18 assists and had five game-winning goals along with a plus-18 rating.
Nick Ritchie is the Ducks’ only remaining restricted free agent one month before they open training camp.
The NHL’s off-season is under way and with free agency beginning July 1 there will be plenty of action this summer. Check back here for all of the trades and signings that teams will be making in hopes of improving their chances at winning the 2018-19 Stanley Cup.
• Noah Dobson signs his three-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders. (Link)
• Matt Read joins the Wild on a two-way deal. One-year, $650,000. (Link)
• David Rittich, Calgary Flames agree to one-year, $800,000 contract. (Link)
• Dan Hamhuis returns to the Predators with a two-year, $2.5 million deal. (Link)
• Troy Stetcher and the Canucks agree to a two-year, $4.65 million extension. (Link)
• The Edmonton Oilers sign their 2018 first-round pick Evan Bouchard to an entry-level deal. (Link)
• Philip Danult re-signs with the Canadiens. Thee years, $9.249 million. (Link)
• The Blackhawks send the contract of Marian Hossa’s contract, Vinnie Hinostroza, Jordan Oesterle and a 2019 third-rounder to the Coyotes for Marcus Kruger, Jordan Maletta, Andrew Campbell, MacKenzie Entwistle’s rights and a 2019 fifth-rounder. (Link)
• Alex Lyon re-signs in Philadelphia. Two years, $1.5 million. (Link)
• Oscar Dansk re-signs with the Vegas Golden Knights. Two years, $1.35 million total. (Link)
• The Dallas Stars re-sign Jason Dickinson to a one-year, $875,000 contract. (Link)
• The Buffalo Sabres send Ryan O'Reilly to the St. Louis Blues for a 2019 first-rounder, 2021 second-rounder, forwards Tage Thompson, Patrik Berglund, and Vladimir Sobotka. The Blues also pick up O’Reilly’s $7.5 million signing bonus. (Link)
• After two seasons in the KHL, Val Nichushkin returns to Dallas with a two-year, $5.9 million deal. (Link)
• The Bruins, Sabres Stars find backups with Jaroslav Halak (two years, $5.5 million) headed to Boston, Anton Khudobin (two years, $5 million) on his way to Dallas and Carter Hutton (three years, $8.25 million) going to Buffalo.
• Winnipeg Jets clear valuable cap space by shipping Steve Mason to Montreal Canadiens. (Link)
• Capitals name Todd Reirden as Barry Trotz’s replacement. (Link)
• Carolina Hurricanes re-sign Valentin Zykov with two-year, $1.35 million contract. (Link)
• Penguins hand one-year, $650,000 deal to J.S. Dea. (Link)
• Penguins re-sign Riley Sheahan to $2.1 million, 1-year deal. (Link)
• Ottawa Senators buy out final year Alex Burrows’s contract. (Link)
• Sam Morin gets three-year, $2.1 million extension from Philadelphia Flyers. (Link)