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.
31-35-16, 78 points. Fifth place in the Northeast Division, 15th in the Eastern Conference.
Brandon Prust, Colby Armstrong
Brad Staubitz, Chris Campoli (pending — still unsigned)
1st round, 3rd overall — Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia (OHL)
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.
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.
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