On this St. Jean Baptiste day of 2018, while residents in Quebec and Quebec-born Canadian citizen celebrate our birth province’s holiday, the dust is settling on what was a very uneventful NHL Draft. Aside from a few trades picks for picks, this year’s Draft was abnormally quiet on the trade front, with only one major trade having been completed between the Calgary Flames and the Carolina Hurricanes. Like everyone else, Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin sat there and let his Draft experts, led by Trevor Timmins, work their magic in hope that it pays off in the long run.
Now before anyone thinks that since moving to beautiful British Columbia, I have become an anti-Québécois, let me remind you of a piece I wrote a few years ago, one of my most satisfying article, one that I point out to anglophones who downplay the need to have Quebec-born players on the Canadiens.
The outrage on Twitter was, however, palpable with many residents in Quebec, particularly French speaking, being outraged with the fact that their beloved Habs only managed to select one player from the QMJHL.
Le Canadien a encore une fois ridiculisé la ligue junior majeure du Québec en ignorant,Benoit-Olivier Groulx,Gabriel Fortier,Olivier Rodrigue,a quand le congédiement de l`anti québecois Trevor Timmins?#ch#habs#canadienspic.twitter.com/mUObh1XoUf
True that with all the picks that they had, the Canadiens only managed to select one local player, by calling Samuel Houde‘s name at number 133. But I was curious to find out why it was the case. Were the Canadiens really spitting on players from their own backyard and selecting others at similar talent? If that were the case, those Quebec-born players would have been selected soon after the Habs’ picks, I figured… right?
Well I did the research and here’s what I discovered:
217 players were selected at the 2018 NHL Draft
22 of them (10%) came from the QMJHL
Half of them were born in Quebec
Of those 11 selected, 4 were goalies, a position the Habs don’t need
And of the 7 remaining, the Habs were able to select one.
So what does that tell you folks? It is telling me that overall, the QMJHL is doing extremely poorly at developing players attracting interest not just for the Montreal Canadiens, but for the other 30 teams! It tells us even more, as off those playing in the Q, more than half (55%) of them are not even Quebec-born players! Yes folks, it means that 0.05% of the players drafted in 2018 (11 out of 217) were born in Quebec. And that’s Bergevin and Timmins’ fault for not selecting them?!?
Et j’aimerais que les québécois m’expliquent, comment êtes vous aveugle avec le fait que Timmins et MB veulent rien savoir du QC? Qui dans leurs sélections de 2-7 rondes des dernières années sont dans l’équipes aujourd’hui?, donc pourquoi pas aller chercher un QC en 1ere?
Oh really? Is that really how fans feel in Quebec? What are Jonathan Drouin, Phillip Danault, Nicolas Deslauriers and Charles Hudon? Chopped liver? That’s four local products, more than we’ve seen on the Habs in a long, long time and considering that the number of them is dropping like flies in the NHL, that’s actually very remarkable. Further, someone tweeted this to me…
It seems like it’s not because the Habs aren’t trying. Under Bergevin, they even invested more in scouting in Quebec and in the QMJHL. The team is building outdoor ice rinks to allow young people to skate and play hockey! To borrow an expression from François Gagnon, “Simonak”, what more do you want them to do?
So for those who can differentiate the forest from the trees, let’s take a bit of a break, and hope that Bergevin can pull the trigger on a trade or two to solidify his formation, mostly at the centre position and even find a defense partner for Shea Weber. We’re less than a week away from free agency. Go Habs Go!
Here are a few thoughts on different topics surrounding the Habs’ as the NHL Draft is fast approaching and the Canadiens are set to make a splash, whether it be by trade or by drafting up to 5 times in the first two rounds. Feel free to share on Social Media and post your comments as they are always welcomed.
Rumours, rumours and more rumours and that, both from our traditional nameless rumouroids and by more reputable hockey insiders. What will John Tavares do? If not Tavares, who will play at the centre position next season? Will Shea Weber finally have a defense partner worthy of logging quality minutes on his side? Will the Habs start the season with the same captain? So many questions, all of which should be answered within the next few weeks. Exciting times to say the least.
But before we get too deep into the Canadiens’ situation, the shameful presence of an expansion team reaching the Stanley Cup finals is now over and Alexander Ovechkin‘s liver is taking a major league beating as he and his Washington Capitals have ended the 2017-2018 season on a high, taking away the Cup from Gary Bettman. Whoo-hoo! Who cares?… aside from a few who still hold a grudge against Habs’ GM Marc Bergevin that is.
Yes, some attention-seeking media personalities and constantly disgruntled ‘fans’ have ensured to point out to whoever would listen to their cries, that former Habs Lars Eller and Devante Smith-Pelly have raised the Cup and were key contributors in the finals. One can see the point in regretting losing Eller, due to the fact that the Canadiens are looking for centres but Smith-Pelly? Really folks? The guy who was released by the New Jersey Devils not all that long ago? The guy who, while in Montreal, enjoyed the nightlife a little too much, along with a few young quality players? The guy who managed eight points in 24 games in the playoffs and 16 points all year in the regular season? If you genuinely think that this guy is missed in Montreal, give your head a shake.
And onto the beloved Canadiens… Unless you live under a rock, you have certainly heard or read Montreal reporter Mathias Brunet speculate on his beliefs that perhaps the Habs should go after Milan Lucic. For the record, Lucic managed 10 goals with the offensively gifted Edmonton Oilers last year. Further, he carries a contract on which he is still owed five more years with a cap hit of $6 million… and some people in Montreal complain about Andrew Shaw?
Even if the Oilers sweetened the pot by adding value to the trade and/or taking back a ‘bad contract’, what good would Lucic, who can’t keep up with today’s fast paced NHL, bring to the team? The Habs need centres, not left wingers. I don’t have a problem with overpaying for a player but if you overpay, at least do it to fill a team’s need! In other words, I can see overpaying for a Ryan O’Reilly or a Oscar Klefbom, but not for Lucic. It makes absolutely zero sens.
But wait… what if Bergevin managed to talk Peter Chiarelli to, in addition to Lucic, include the 10th overall pick at this year’s Draft? If you keep Lucic, it doesn’t change that his contract is an albatros and should not be touched. The only way it might make sense is if the Canadiens managed to use that 10th overall or their own 3rd overall to get a quality centre. For example, if the Oilers’ 10th overall pick was included in a package to land O’Reilly? After that, be creative and find a way to trade Lucic for a bag of puck. See NOW you’re addressing a need and now it’s starting to make some sense. But folks, don’t read it as a rumour because as of now, it’s only an idea thrown out there by Mr. Brunet.
Pierre Lebrun on Milan Lucic : “#Habs have absolutely no interest at this point”. It’ll be interrsting to see how this plays out. Apparently Lucic is the one who wants out.
There are a few NHL insiders worth listening to and Bob McKenzie comes at the top of the crop. So when he came out to say that the Canadiens had some sort of interest in pending UFA Jack Johnson, one should listen… although how often does information leaks from Bergevin and his crew? It makes me wonder where that came from. But seriously, is Johnson really the solution for the Habs? Wouldn’t it be preferable to find a mobile defenseman instead? I’m hoping that Johnson is not Bergevin’s target. As mentioned in a couple of previous articles, there are plenty of choices out there either via free agency or even by trade. But for for me, Johnson is not one of them.
For some odd reason, it’s all over Twitter: Habs’ fans wishing for the team to draft left-winger Brady Tkachuk, in hope to turn him into a centre. Yes, you’ve heard it right folks. In all due respect, Those people must have a very short memory. The team still has a player that they drafted in hope that he would become a top-notch centre and they had to scrap the experiment. Yes, we’re talking about Alex Galchenyuk. But then again, there is another one, Mike McCarron, who is trying to turn into an NHL player, let alone a top-end centerman. Last but not least, people were all over Bergevin for trading Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin, only to ask him to learn to play centre. When do we stop with the experiments and pick players who are used to their position? Lets hope that the organization has learned.
There is no denying that Tomas Plekanec would like to return to the Canadiens. He loved his time in Montreal and would like to finish his career in his notorious number 14. Plekanec is 35 and will be turning 36 by October so his next contract will count against the cap no matter what happens. The Czech only managed six goals and 24 points in 60 games with the Habs and the Leafs last season, but he was one of the few players on his team to have some pretty good playoffs.
Beyond the points, Plekanec is only two games away from reaching the prestigious plateau of 1,000 NHL games and what better story than to see him do it with the Canadiens? While he has lost his offense, he knows Claude Julien‘s system to a tee and he is still very reliable defensively and on the penalty kill. Many fans would like to see him back for one last season if he is willing to take a substantial pay cut from the $6 million he was making.
Something else made the news recently: the infamous ‘concussion protocol’ and the Canadiens were named as one of the teams fined for not respecting the NHL’s protocol in that regard. Of course, those who have an agenda against the current organisation took full advantage of the situation to run with it, conveniently forgetting that George Gillett was the owner and Bob Gainey the GM back then.
That aside, anyone who has had concussions and/or have coached or played a competitive sports will tell you that it’s very easy for players to fool the coaches, even the medical staff. More often than not, a concussion is not easy to diagnose, particularly in pro sports when players are so competitive that they will go to great extends to get back on the ice, on the field, on the track, on the bull… and that, even with the baseline tests. You need an MRI to determine the gravity of the brain injury and teams don’t have one readily available. So let’s take a deep breath before accusing anyone. More often than not, players are driving the bus here.
Last week, I created a poll on both this website and on a pin on my Twitter account. The question was simple: I was asking the fans what they thought the future of Habs’ captain Max Pacioretty was, in their opinion. Here’s what you guys think:
Poll results are in:
55% think that Pacioretty will be traded by the NHL Draft
22% think that he will be traded between Draft and July 1st
17% think that he will sign a contract extension with #Habs and stay
We like to complain about the Habs but come to think of it, this organisation is in great shape… particularly if you compare it with what’s going on down the road in Ottawa! The team’s downward spiral after a great playoffs run is worse than what the Canadiens have done… There have been rumours up to the trade deadline surrounding team captain Erik Karlsson‘s future with the team. Then former captain Daniel Alfredsson comes out and publicly states that the Sens need a new owner, a direct shot at Eugene Melnyk. Not judging if he’s right or wrong, but coming from Alfredsson, that’s a statement that stirred the pot for sure. As if it wasn’t enough, assistant-GM Randy Lee was arrested in Buffalo and charged with second-degree harassment after allegedly inappropriately touching and making lewd comments toward a hotel employee. To top it all up, there’s the story of Karlsson’s wife, who filed a protection order against her husband’s teammate Mike Hoffman‘s girlfriend. I will spare you the details but that one is very nasty. So before you complain about your favourite team, Habs’ fans, look around you a little bit.
The Canadiens and their fans are all-in, perhaps more than they were over the Stanley Cup finals, as the future of the team – and perhaps GM Bergevin – will be played in the next few days, or weeks. Here are some of the key dates coming up:
June 15-30 – Last chance for NHL teams to buyout their bad contracts
June 22 – The NHL Draft. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy the excitement!
June 24 – NHL players scheduled to become UFA’s can talk to other teams
July 1st – The UFA market officially opens, and players with one year remaining to their existing contracts can sign an extension (Pacioretty, OEL, Karlsson…)
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, take your seat, buckle your seatbelt and hang on to your hat and your popcorn as the next few weeks promise to be filled with excitement… something that has been lacking all season long with the Canadiens, let’s admit it. Enjoy the ride! Go Habs Go!!!