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Habs’ Twitter Blunder… Or Not

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Sometimes, fans and media get rather desperate and this year seems to follow the trend of last year. The loss of a couple of key players from last season seems to have overtaken fans and media’s mind, even making them forget the gains the Montreal Canadiens have made this summer. This has for effect to blow little things out of proportion, even taking everything as facts even if it makes absolutely no sense. Guys like Eklund, for example, have been feeding on this for many years now.

The Habs’ fan base had a perfect example this week when a Reddit user apparently caught a glimpse at Colorado Avalanche’s forward Matt Duchene‘s Twitter account noticing that the Montreal Canadiens’ Twitter had, for a very short time, followed the centre’s account.

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It didn’t take more to make this the talk of town amongst Habs’ fans. It is no secret that Duchene and the Avalanche are not in best terms and team GM Joe Sakic has admitted listening to offers for him. It has also been well documented that the Canadiens, in desperate need of a top-two lines centre, are one of the most serious suiters for Duchene, as reported as recently as earlier this week by the most notable NHL insiders. But not so fast folk!

Common sense

Who runs the Montreal Canadiens’ Twitter account do you think? If you answer Marc Bergevin or any of the people “in the know” of classified information about such topics like trades or player signings, I’m sorry to say that you are dead wrong. And it’s not Geoff Molson either folks. No, the twitter account is maned by a few staff members in the social media section of the PR department, no more, no less.

So before taking this to the bank as the Canadiens having a deal in place for Duchene, ask yourself: would Bergevin and his team inform the Twitter account users or the NHL for an announcement? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Also, don’t you think that it’s bizarre that nobody else but this user saw that and “reported” it immediately? Further, in a world where fake Twitter accounts pop up at every trade deadline or free agency period, have you ever heard of how easy it is to photoshop something like that, to get their 5 minutes of fame?

Some are comparing this to the instance of this past summer when Alexei Emelin started following the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Twitter. We all know that Vegas ended up claiming Emelin at the expansion draft. However, those making the correlation are forgetting one important fact: a player finding out that a team will select them at an expansion draft is NOT the same as a NHL social media team staff finding out about a trade of such magnitude as Duchene to Montreal. Nowhere close, even.

Conclusion

While there is no doubt that Matt Duchene has been on the Habs Radar for quite some time, there are two possibilities, in my humble opinion:

1- It was made up and photoshop

Yes, this is the most likely possibility, in spite of the desperation in hoping that Marc Bergevin would pull the trigger to address one of the Canadiens’ biggest need. Someone feeding on the biggest fan base’s desperation, what an incredible concept, right?

2- It was a mistake

The staff tweeting from the Canadiens’ Twitter account all have their own personal Twitter account as well and it is very likely that they all use Apps and programs such as UberSocial, TweetDeck, HootSuite (just to name a few) to run their multiple accounts. If you have used those yourself, you will know how easy it is to mistakenly pick the wrong account. I’m guessing that if the image is legitimate and that the Canadiens’ account followed Duchene for a short time, it was a staff member wanting to follow him from his personal account and clicked the wrong account to do so. Realizing the mistake, the Tweet was immediately deleted.

So before letting desperation dictate our thoughts, let’s think the situation over folks. Yes, it is possible that Bergevin and the Canadiens get their hands on Duchene. They have $8.4 million reasons do to so and definitely the need for him. But if or when that happens, you can bet your pay check that the NHL and major insiders like Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun or Elliott Friedman will know and publish the news well before Mr. or Mrs. Smith working the team’s Twitter account. I’m not a betting man but I would definitely gamble on that one.

If you would like to follow Matt Duchene on Twitter, you can do so by following @Matt9Duchene. If you are wanting to do this and are handling the Montreal Canadiens’ official Twitter account, please ensure that you are doing it from your personal account, not to give desperate fans a heart attack. Go Habs Go!!!

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No Depth on Defense? Think Again!

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Defense wins championships. That’s what everyone around hockey, not only the NHL, is saying. In his book, the great Scotty Bowman always claimed that preventing a goal is more important than scoring one as if you allow a goal, you have to score two more to win. The NHL doesn’t look at the scores when awarding points in the standings. Only wins, losses and more recently, looser points (points obtained by losing in regulation or in skills’ competition) have an effect on the teams’ standings. So whether you win 8-7 or 2-1, it counts the same.

In Carey Price, the Montreal Canadiens have the best goaltender in the world, and he was rewarded with a contract this summer that will make him paid as such, starting in 2018-2019. They still have arguably the best shutdown defenseman in the NHL in Shea Weber, against whom opponents struggled to score when he was on the ice all season long last year. That hasn’t changed.

Losing Andrei Markov however should have its effect and that, in spite of the fact that he’s not getting any better with age. He was still a key contributor to the Canadiens’ defensive core last season and there is no doubt that he will be missed. But the Habs’ defense was not Markov. It was a group effort, including the two corner stones mentioned earlier.

Here’s what Marc Bergevin had to say about the loss of Markov:

“Loosing Markov creates a big hole. Andrei was a very good player for us, but we added Mark Streit, which I think fills some of that role. We added David Schlemko. I think by committee we should be able to fill that gap. Let’s keep in mind we didn’t lose a 25-year-old defenseman. All respect to Andrei, he’s going to turn 39 in December. At some point we have to move forward.”

A Deeper Group

In a recent article on Sportsnet, beat writer Eric Engels tried to paint a picture claiming that the loss of Markov, Nathan Beaulieu and Alexei Emelin has affected the team’s depth at that position. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, the defense heading into training camp is the deepest in NHL quality than it’s been in Bergevin’s tenure as the team’s GM. Don’t take my word for it, look for yourself, including regular season’s games played in the NHL:

 

  • Shea Weber (841 GP)
  • Mark Streit (784 GP)
  • Karl Alzner (591 GP)
  • Jeff Petry (445 GP)
  • David Schlemko (360 GP)
  • Jordie Benn (315 GP)
  • Eric Gelinas (189 GP) – PTO
  • Zach Redmond (130 GP)
  • Brandon Davidson (101 GP)
  • Joe Morrow (65 GP)
  • Matt Taormina (59 GP)

You add to that group a guy like 26 year-old Jakub Jerabek (367 pro games) and young Brett Lernout who had a taste of the NHL at the end of last season. You also have Thomas Parisi and two newly pro in Noah Juulsen and Simon Bourque, who will likely all start the season in Laval, followed by non other than Victor Mete, the only junior-age player invited to the main camp.

 

If that’s not having depth, very few NHL teams have depth. Perhaps only the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who have 11 defensemen on one-way contracts, have more NHL depth than the Canadiens heading into camp.

Are they lacking a Top-4 defenseman, one who can log quality minutes with Weber? Absolutely and the organization isn’t denying it either. But quality depth, they have. At centre however, that’s a whole different story…

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Truth About Habs’ Bergevin’s Trade Record

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Marc Bergevin took over as the Montreal Canadiens’ General Manager on May 2, 2012. Since then, his team has a combined 210-128-38 record, including three Atlantic Division Titles and with at least 100 points (or on pace during lockout year) in four of the five years. As July 16, 2017, he has also completed a grand total of 46 trades, making him one of the most active GM’s in the last five years. While it’s one thing to trade players, the ultimate goal for a GM is to, at the very least, improve your team and Bergevin has done just that… for the most part.

As determining who “wins” or “loses” a trade is arbitrary, I tried to stay as unbiased as humanly possible but some won’t agree with my assessment and that’s just fine. You will see that regardless, if people take an unbiased approach, the results might change ever so slightly but they should rapidly realize that things aren’t as sombre as some want you to believe.

 

WINS

  • Cedrick Desjardins traded to Tampa Bay Lightning for Dustin Tokarski (2013) Tokarski was very good when Carey Price went down to injury.
  • (W) 5th round pick #146 (Patrick Bartosak) traded to Los Angeles Kings for Davis Drewiske (2013) Drewiske brought NHL experience at a time when the Habs needed some at the blueline.
  • Philippe Lefebvre and a 7th round pick #182 (Hugo Fagerblom) in 2014 traded to Florida Panthers for George Parros (2013) While some don’t like enforcers, it was a very low price to pay to bring in the best in the game at the time. It’s unfortunate that a fluke play during a fight against Colton Orr ended his career.
  • Raphael Diaz traded to Vancouver Canucks for Dale Weise (2014) Do we really need to explain?
  • 5th round pick #147 (Ryan Pilon – NYI) in 2015 traded to Florida Panthers for Mike Weaver (2014) Weaver was one of the NHL’s top shot blockers.
  • Sebastian Collberg and a 2nd round pick #57 (Johnathan MacLeod – TBL) in 2014 traded to New York Islanders for Thomas Vanek and a 5th round pick #125 (Nikolas Koberstein) in 2014. (2014) Vanek ended the season on one of the NHL’s top producing lines with Pacioretty and Desharnais.
  • Josh Gorges traded to Buffalo Sabres for a 2nd round pick #45 (Chad Krys – CHI) in 2016 later traded to Chicago (Weise/Fleishmann trade, turned into Danault + 2nd) (2014) The fact that the pick turned into Danault…
  • Jiri Sekac traded to Anaheim Ducks for Devante Smith-Pelly (2015) Smith-Pelly is still in the NHL.
  • 2nd round pick #57 (Jonas Siegenthaler) in 2015 and a 4th round pick #117 (Caleb Jones) in 2015 traded to Edmonton Oilers for Jeff Petry. (2015) Considering that Petry signed long term with the Habs bringing excellent minutes on the second pairing.
  • 5th round pick #129 (Philip Nyberg) in 2016 traded to Buffalo Sabres for Brian Flynn (2015) Small price to pay for a NHL forward capable of playing a sound game.
  • Jack Nevins and a 7th round pick #189 (Austin Osmanski) in 2016 traded to Buffalo Sabres for Torrey Mitchell (2015) Mitchell has provided excellent minutes for the Canadiens.
  • Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann traded to Chicago Blackhawks for Phillip Danault and a 2nd round pick (TBD) in 2018 (2016) This could very well be a steal of a trade.
  • Lars Eller traded to Washington Capitals for a 2nd round pick #58 (Joni Ikonen) in 2017 and a 2nd round pick (TBD) in 2018, which was later conditionally traded to Tampa Bay in the deal for Jonathan Drouin (June 15, 2017) (2016) Ikonen already looks very promising while the pick helped get Drouin.
  • Greg Pateryn and a 4th round pick #118 (Markus Phillips) in 2017 traded to Dallas Stars for Jordie Benn (2017) To the point where the Canadiens were forced to protect Benn, Phillips better be really good to make this one even.
  • 6th round pick (TBD) in 2018 traded to Detroit Red Wings for Steve Ott (2017) Ott has provided experience and grit down the stretch and in the playoffs.

LOSSES

  • Daniel Briere traded to Colorado Avalanche for P.A. Parenteau and a 5th round pick #131 (Matthew Bradley) in 2015 (2014) Briere never could find a niche with the Canadiens.
  • Peter Budaj and Patrick Holland traded to Winnipeg Jets for Eric Tangradi (2014) A meh trade, with relatively low cost.
  • Brandon Prust traded to Vancouver Canucks for Zack Kassian and a 5th round pick #124 (Casey Staum) in 2016 (2015) Twice Kassian has made the “losses” for Bergevin in a trade, a lot having to do with his addiction.
  • Devante Smith-Pelly traded to New Jersey Devils for Stefan Matteau (2016) Although DSP is not lighting it up, at least he’s in the NHL.
  • Zack Kassian traded to Edmonton Oilers for Ben Scrivens (2015) See above.
  • 4th round conditional pick (TBD) in 2018 traded to Los Angeles Kings for Dwight King (2017) King was a big disappointment with the Canadiens.

TIES

TO BE DETERMINED

  • 3rd round pick #87 (Anton Karlsson) in 2014 and a 4th round pick #117 (Michael Bunting) in 2014 traded to Arizona Coyotes for 3rd round pick #73 (Brett Lernout) in 2014 (2014)
  • 2nd round pick #39 (Alexander DeBrincat) in 2016 and a 2nd round pick #45 (Chad Krys) in 2016 traded to Chicago Blackhawks for Andrew Shaw (2016) If the prospects don’t pan out, it will be a win for the Habs.
  • Philip Samuelsson traded to Carolina Hurricanes for Keegan Lowe (2017)
  • Sven Andrighetto traded to Colorado Avalanche for Andreas Martinsen (2017) Andrighetto had a good start with the Avs. Let’s see what he does this year.
  • Nathan Beaulieu traded to Buffalo Sabres for a 3rd round pick #68 (Scott Walford) in 2017 (2017) Some would like to pounce on Bergevin for that one but the fact and the matter is that no team offered more than an early 3rd for Beaulieu.
  • 5th round pick (TBD) in 2019 traded to San Jose Sharks for David Schlemko (2017) This could very well be at the Canadiens’ advantage, in the win column for Bergevin but let’s wait to see how Schlemko plays in Montreal.

So as you can see, according to my calculation, Bergevin’s record when it comes to the trades that he made is an astonishing 15-6-19 with another six trades where it’s too early to tell. This means that he has tied or won 85 percent of the trades that he’s made so far, give or take a few trades here and there depending if you have an axe to grind against the organization or not. Any NHL team will take that and we better understand why Brian Burke feels like the attacks on Bergevin are absurd.

Camp Week One: Surprises and Cuts

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The Montreal Canadiens’ training camp is only a week old and fans and media were already given plenty of opportunities to see the organization’s prospects and veterans in action. While the results in terms of wins in pre-season games hasn’t been impressive thus far, there have been plenty of very interesting stories to follow and, for some, stories to add to their “worry pile”. But it’s just training camp, and very early, right? Right?…

Simply put, some players have left head coach Claude Julien‘s job simple and he has had some rather easy decisions to make so far, and my good cyber-buddy from All Habs, Blain Potvin, summed it up nicely:

It didn’t take long for Julien to make some cuts as Antoine Waked, Simon Bourque, Tom Parisi, Niki Petti, Yannick Veilleux, Stefan Leblanc and Thomas Ebbing were cut from camp and will report to the Laval Rockets‘ training camp. Not a fan batted an eye as no surprises are found on that list of players, none of them figuring on anyone’s list as favourites to cause an upset.

So who is left? The Canadiens posted this list on their twitter account:

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Aside from the injured list, something the organization doesn’t control, there are some guys on that list that are either intriguing or just plain surprises. On defense, the fact that Matt Taormina, Brett Lernout and Eric Gelinas are still there is a good sign. At forward, Peter Holland, Markus Eisenschmid, Jeremy Gregoire, David Broll and Daniel Audette are all pleasant surprises. Does any of them stand a chance to start the season in Montreal? You bet they do! Remember a few years ago when a young Brendan Gallagher forced the hand of GM Marc Bergevin?

There are however two players making the most of their opportunity: 19 year-old defenseman Victor Mete, who has been paired up with none other than All-Star defenseman Shea Weber, and Charles Hudon, playing on a line with Tomas Plekanec. After a week of action, those two are the ones who seem to have the best chance at starting the season in Montreal and while Hudon could stick, Mete would have to be dominant for him to stay more than the 9 games stint ruled by the NHL in order not to lose a year of contract.

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Charles Hudon is making a strong case to start the season in Montreal

There are also some who have lost some ground to others, guys from whom everyone was expecting a bit more from. We know the story of Martin Reway, who has missed an entire season to illness. He will need time to find his bearings and it’s likely to happen in the AHL. Joe Morrow has been hot and cold so far, and so has veteran Mark Streit, although it’s not unusual to see veterans having a slower start to training camps. Perhaps the two most disappointing players have been big Michael McCarron and young veteran Alex Galchenyuk. While the young American-Russian’s spot in the line-up is guaranteed, baring a trade, the same can’t be said about McCarron, who has everything to lose. Expect Streit, Galchenyuk and McCarron to step it up in week two.

Of note: One guy who has looked rather good so far is Jakub Jerabek. We knew, through the scouting report, that he was a good skater, good puck mover with offensive upside. He seems to have adapted rather quickly to the small ice and it’s on the defensive side of the puck that he has surprised the most. Perhaps former Canadiens Jaroslav Spacek did see something in that guy that management saw as well prior to signing him. If he keeps it up, he could very well battle for the empty spot to the left of Weber, who knows?

Understanding training camp

The first week of training camp has exposed some rather strange behaviour amongst the fan base and some media personalities. Perhaps driven by their concerns over “losing” veteran Russians Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov, the incapability of some to discerning training camp from regular season, or at least early camp to later when most veterans are dressed for games, it a big concerning. Pile that to the building mount of skewed behaviours by some or our media personalities and disgruntled fans finding nothing positive to talk about, I guess. Life must be incredibly dark, morose and depressing when everything about what you are supposed to love is seen in such manner that it overtakes any positivity you might have. To each their own I guess.

Regardless, entering the final week of training camp is when you separate the men from the boys and this is when it’s really time to step up for those searching for a NHL job. This promises to be a more interesting week, it will be a stepping stone for the coaching staff and management in establishing the base for the upcoming season. Claude Julien does have his work cut out and so does Marc Bergevin, who has $8.4 million in the bank. But something tells me that hard work doesn’t faze the top-two front men of this prestigious organization. Go Habs Go!!!

Sept22sched

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