No matter how often this question is being asked, and whom it is asked to, you always find two totally different answers to it. Wives and girlfriends are split on the topic, and so are Habs’ fans, who have had to suffer through years of “shortage” and nicknames like Smurfs for their beloved team.
For a while, it seemed like team GM Marc Bergevin was trying to change things in that aspect, injecting some much needed size and toughness to his line-up but 2016 seems to be a step back into a direction that few fans want to see their favourite team return to. While it’s hard to blame the GM for the fact that Zack Kassian refused to take his career seriously, we saw bigger guys like 6-foot 6-inches Jarred Tinordi traded for 6-foot Victor Bartley. The deadline also saw 6-foot 2-inches Dale Weise, 6-foot 1-inch Tomas Fleischmann and 214 pounds Devante Smith-Pelly find their way out of Montreal, making more room for 6-foot Phillip Danault, 5-foot 8-inches Paul Byron and long-shot 6-foot 2-inches Stefan Matteau.
Recent signings have done nothing to address the size issue for the Canadiens as talented but undersized Artturi Lehkonen (174 pounds) and 5-foot 8-inches Martin Reway signed their entry-level contract in hope to make the big club next season. Add the rumour that 6-foot 2-inches Lars Eller has been rumoured for some time to be available on the trade market, it seems like this team is getting much smaller instead of addressing their size issue. Good thing that prospect Mike McCarron (6-foot 5-inches) is still part of the organization!
Looking at the NHL Playoffs, particularly in the Western Conference, I’m not so sure that a smaller team like Montreal could have survived the grind of playoffs’ hockey and its physical play. Just look at the two finalists in that conference, San Jose and St. Louis, two big and nasty teams who not only play the body, but use their size and strength to keep puck control and grind the opposition in the offensive zone. As much heart as Brendan Gallagher can have, he is no match in a one-on-one battle with the Joe Thornton and David Backes of this world.
Out of curiosity, let’s have a look at the line-ups between our beloved Canadiens and those two hot playoffs’ teams:
Bergevin has his work cut-out for him this summer in what could very well be a deciding off-season for him and his management team. He must turn last year around and prove to everyone, his supporters included, that the monumental collapse of 2015-2016 was bad luck and not a step backwards from years past.
In spite of the fact that Alex Galchenyuk Has Gained in Maturity, the Canadiens desperately need more goals’ scoring but at the same time, they must revert back to getting some much needed grit and size. There is nothing wrong with having a couple of smaller players, but the rest of the team should be able to compete against bigger and meaner clubs in order to succeed, particularly in the playoffs.