Claude Julien: Developing Young Players Into Stars

Mark Twain was a great philosopher, perhaps the best in history. Although he passed over 100 years ago, he is one of the most quoted individual today. He once said: “The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it’s that they know so many things that just aren’t so.” The amazing thing is that it still applies today and I was reminded of how timeless his sayings truly are.

Similarly to team GM Marc Bergevin, Montreal Canadiens’ head coach Claude Julien seems to have this “reputation” following him based on… well, we don’t know what it’s based on. Julien’s reputation about not being good in developing young NHL players seems to be making the rounds once in a while. It’s like when people repeat something often enough, they start believing in it and they are doing everything in their power to convince everyone else.

But why? Where does that concept come from? There has to be some solid grounds for hockey fans to say that, right? Well let’s look. Let’s see how many young players got their starts with Julien as a coach and developed into great hockey players, shall we?

All of those players made their debuts with Julien as their head coach. Most of them were developed under Julien’s teaching and became excellent hockey players. Many had their best seasons or had their breakthrough season under his tutelage. I know, I researched it. You don’t believe it? Research it yourself, I promise that you will be surprised.

Some people are disgruntled, for one reason or another, towards specific individuals and they will believe anything that’s said that fits their belief, or preconceptions. Others are just being mislead involuntarily and took what someone said as the truth. “So and so said it, so it must be true”, right?

So now that we know the truth about this misconception about Julien, can we please drop the narratives and move on? He is more than capable to develop Kotkaniemi, Mete, Poehling, Suzuki, Brook, Romanov, Primeau and company. Even his assistants have an excellent track record so rest at ease Habs’ fans, the team’s young guns are in good hands. I wouldn’t have said that just a couple of years ago but they truly are. Go Habs Go!

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Recent Trades: The Proof is in The Pudding

As a NHL General Manager, sometimes you complete trades that work out for your team, sometimes they don’t. In all cases, the price paid to acquired those new acquisitions is key to determine if it was a good trade or if it wasn’t, how much you’ve lost in the deal. No, that doesn’t apply only to Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens as every team in the league goes through those assessments and every GM has good deals and not so good ones.

We’ve discussed how disappointing it was to see Bergevin fail to address the team’s biggest needs so let’s not rehash on that. But it’s not like he didn’t complete any deals. He did revamp his bottom-six and added a depth defenseman and those deals seem to be paying off… for the time being.

Here are the trades completed by the Canadiens’ GM leading up to the February 25th trade deadline:

As you can see, Bergevin traded three players who had been sent to the Laval Rockets in the AHL and has added four players to his NHL roster. For the sake of this exercise, we won’t get into what the players shipped out are doing with their new team as that’s not the purpose. The goal is to see if Bergevin has improved his team with the players used by head coach Claude Julien over the players he decided to sit in the pressbox. So here’s the breakdown:

NAMEGPGAPts+/-2019-2020 CONTRACT
Jordan Weal11246+2UFA
Nate Thompson210660UFA
Dale Weise9000-21 year – $2.35M
Christian Folin14044+11UFA
Matthew Peca383710-131 year – $1.3M
Charles Hudon32325-9RFA
Nicolas Deslauriers45213-101 year – $950,000
Mike Reilly573811+16RFA

As we can see, it looks like the trades have panned out so far. Further, Weal (56.4%) and Thompson (55.5%) have helped take some pressure off Phillip Danault (54.7%) in the faceoffs’ circles, particularly in the defensive zone. All things considered, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bergevin offer contracts to both Weal and Thompson for sure, perhaps even Folin by season’s end.

In order to do that, the team will have to unload some of the NHL contracts for next season, unless Geoff Molson want to have the biggest payroll in the AHL, which already includes Karl Alzner. And Bergevin hasn’t addressed the team’s biggest needs for a left-handed Top-4 defenseman and some help for the powerplay. It will be a busy summer for Canadiens’ GM but then again… when hasn’t he been busy since taking over? Go Habs Go!