Let’s first give credit where credit is due. The idea came about this afternoon when CTV’s own Brian Wilde tweeted a couple of one-two punch at centre for some teams, pointing out to the difference with the Canadiens. This came about after a Western Conference executive told him that the Habs only had three top-6 forwards on the team… Guy Carbonneau seems to agree as he came to Michel Therrien’s defense after the loss against the Bruins by saying that the coach is going hunting with sling-shots!
Further, I have been claiming loud and hard in the off-season that this team cannot be considered a serious contender as long as it has Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais and Lars Eller as its top-3 centres. Well, they switched Alex Galchenyuk to centre and placed Eller on the wing… with mixed results so far.
Because I happen to agree with that unnamed NHL executive quoted by Mr. Wilde and since we had recently explained that the Canadiens’ need to improve at centre, I figured it would be a great complement to this first article to compare the current Canadiens’ centres to some other teams across the NHL. Without further due, here are the top centres across some of the teams:
Compare that with Plekanec, Galchenyuk, Desharnais, Eller… If you’re honest with yourself and know the players mentioned in the table above, you’ll recognize how disproportionate this is.
What the Canadiens do have that few teams have is, when he’s healthy, the best goaltender in the game, which helps cover for the lack of natural scoring ability, size and quality up the middle. While it will never be mistaken with the great group of the 70’s Canadiens, the addition of Jeff Petry has solidified the defense.
It’s great to see that Marc Bergevin really wants Jonathan Drouin, a local talent and recent 3rd overall pick, even if it means having to deal with this awful agent that is Allan Walsh. And even if Drouin’s stocks will likely fall a bit after the Lightning suspended him for refusing to play, it is still very unlikely that he gets him.
Bergevin is on the right track. A young player with top-6 potential and who would be with the team for a long time is a smart move. He does however also needs one more top-6 forward and that one might be best to come from the pending free agents’ market at the trade deadline. With names like Steven Stamkos, Eric Staal and David Backes being possibly available, those players might decide to re-sign if they accept to wave their no-trade clauses to come to Montreal.
The fact is that status quo is not an option for the Canadiens’ GM at this point. It is unfortunate because he is now dealing in a position of weakness, other teams seeing him coming from miles and they are in no hurry to bail them out. If he wants quality, he’ll have to pay for it. But he must help his coaching staff to stop that terrible slide they are on.