As you all (probably) know, Fansided has been doing previews of every NHL team. Today is our turn. A Winning Habit Presents:
The Montreal Canadiens.
The New Guys In Town:
Erik Cole-Playing with Eric Staal in Carolina, Cole had a decent year with the Hurricanes in 2010-2011. He had 26 goals and 26 points in 82 games. The stat that really got Montreal’s interest is his 9 Game winning goals last year, 4th in the NHL. He is a consistent 50-60 point player. He brings an offensive ability and size the Habs have lacked for years. Cole has a great skating ability. Oh ya, he likes hitting people. Cole had 250 hits last season, not bad for a player plagued with injuries. Cole’s broken vertebrate in the 2005-2006 proved to be costly for his career, and hasn’t been the same since he had 61 points in 2006-2007. Some experts think he is on a decline in production, but for the sake of Montreal fans, lets hope this is not the case.
Peter Budaj: Many teams look to free agency to lock up a good goaltender, and in this case, Montreal turned to the former Avalanche keeper. He is a reliable backup who has shown he can win games in big situations. He has a large frame (6’1, 200 pounds), which allows him to take up a big chunk of the net, and limiting what the opposing players can do. You will almost never get a puck past him in the shootout, where he is virtually unbeatable. He doesn’t know why hes unstoppable in shootouts, but if a game came down to a one on one breakaway to see who wins the Cup, Budaj is the guy you want in net. He’s got a great attitude and will do whatever it takes to win. His game total likely was one of the main reasons Pierre Gauthier wanted to bring him to the Habs as he has averaged just over 40 appearances per season in the NHL, providing them with a bit more of a safety blanket if Price were to go down with an injury. Price isn’t bulletproof, and Budaj has starting experience if needed.
Nathan Lawson: Lawson played for the NY Islanders as a 27 year old last season. He may have come as an odd signing, due to the fact he only had 1 win and 4 losses last year. He was outplayed by his goalie counterparts, Al Montoya and Kevin Poulin. He Possesses good size and vision on the ice. He gets down in the Butterfly very well. But he gives up many rebounds. Lawson gets beaten up high a lot, which is typical for a butterfly goalie. He isn’t expected to play unless injuries occur, and for $550K, he isn’t expected to do much.
Mark Mitera: The Habs traded AHL defenceman Matheiu Carle to Anaheim for Mitera, a former 2006 first rounder by the Ducks. Mitera is a stay at home defenceman who will never put up big numbers. Some compare him like Hal Gill or Jaroslav Spacek. Mitera’s main asset is shutting down and neutralizing any attacking forward who might find himself in the way of the big defender from Michigan. He’s not exactly Zdeno Chara (ew) size, but he can still hammer a player into the boards. His play in his own zone needs some work, but not much. Some think he may never make the NHL, but you never know. Many people said Josh Gorges wouldn’t make it….
Mike Blunden: Michael Blunden skated in just one game with the Jackets last season and has 51 games of NHL experience in his career. Blunden recorded 21 points and 41 penalty minutes in 37 games with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons in 2010-11. For a grinder, those AHL numbers sound great, but has only 4 career points in the NHL. His physical play, though, has a lot to desire. Good size (Ht: 6-4 Wt: 211), and toughness make him a great team player, and if he can get his scoring ability in the right track, he could be a very favorable asset in the Canadiens organization at a cheap price ($590,000).
Brian Willise: Wilise was signed to what will likely be an AHL only deal. The 33 year old has never made a big impact in the NHL, with his best season being in 2005-2006, with 19 goals and 41 points. He will mentor the young kids in the AHL. His best feature may be his shot, but he rarely uses it, and that will never win your coach over. He has a strong work ethic and likes to battle hard. Plays well in his own zone. and in the AHL he loves the opposing teams net. He has 365 points in 473 games in the American Hockey League with 3 different teams. It’s unlikely he will be called up for anything other then an injury.
Jeff Woywitka- Woywitka is a depth defenceman who will likely play in the event of injury. He is a big guy (6’2, 224 Pounds), and has lots of strength. He can be offensive, but is better offensively in the AHL.
Zack Fitzgerald- Fitzgerald had played for Vanvouver, St. Louis and most recently with Carolina, in the AHL with Charlotte. In 2010-2011, FitzGerald played in 76 games with the Charlotte Checkers recording eight assists and leading the team in penalty minutes with 229