Are the Montreal Canadiens as bad off as they seem?

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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.