Habs’ Plans: Now What?

Grit

When the Montreal Canadiens got up to a slow start this, while seeing Carey Price not being himself in net and the team being unable to score and to defend, many people like yours truly were preaching for patience. After all, when was the last time that the Stanley Cup was ever won in October or November? Thankfully for us, the team did manage to get back on track after their California trip by winning seven of their next 10 games, all without Price who suffered an undisclosed injury. Then came this past week… 

After a heartbreaking loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets who, let’s be honest here, had no business of winning as Sergei Bobrovsky literally stole the game for his team, Claude Julien‘s team looked absolutely brutal two games in a row, resulting in one single point in three games this week. While the offense was present against the Arizona Coyotes, the defensive play was worth Pee-wee aged players, as did the goaltending, and it didn’t get any better against Toronto on Saturday. And no folks, we’re not only talking about the defensemen here. The forwards had more turnovers than the Pillsbury Doughboy in the last two games!

This past week’s results saw the Canadiens slide all the way down to 14th out of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference standings, and only four teams in the NHL have a worse record that the Habs. Having allowed 23 more goals than they have scored, Julien’s team can thank the Coyotes’ dismal season to prevent them from being the worst in the NHL in that department. As a matter of fact, the last time that the Canadiens perform that badly, a guy by the name of Carey Price only played 12 games that season. Yet that year, those blaming the Shea Weber trade for this year’s misery tend to forget that they had a guy by the name of P.K. Subban in their line-up back then.

JulienBench
Claude Julien is running out of options

Now what? 

Don’t go all ape-crap on Marc Bergevin here. The Jonathan Drouin for Sergachev was a good trade, for both teams. But no matter what the reasons, the Canadiens’ GM made two crucial mistakes this summer:

  1. He never addressed the centre position in spite of having plenty of cap space to do so.
  2. Losing Markov and Radulov and not replacing them simply could not happen.

So while Drouin has performed well while getting used to a new position at centre, that simply wasn’t enough to support and improve on a team already thin at that position and offensively challenged.

According to Capfriendly.com, Bergevin now has over $7 million in cap space available at the time of writing these lines. The problem that he’s facing is that the demand is higher than the supply, which means that finding an immediate solution will be extremely difficult through trades… and the price is going to be very high.

The reality of the situation is that Bergevin has painted himself into a corner with no way out, unless the players he put together start performing as they were expected to perform, allowing the paint to dry. If they can stay in the race until trade deadline, then Bergevin might be able to make a big move with the cap space available. But will it be too late?

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Jason Spezza

Jason Spezza 

Please stop with the Spezza rumours in Montreal as that train has passed last year already. This season, he’s having a horrible season and has been moved to the wing on a team struggling to meet expectations. With one more year at $7.8 million cap hit after this season, it would be shocking to see Bergevin tie his own hands when this summer’s free agency looks very promising, including a guy by the name of John Tavares. But then, why would Tavares pick the Habs… unless the players in place turn things around?

Do you see a pattern here? Go Habs Go!

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