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.
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.