Mar 24, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Montreal Canadiens center Lars Eller (81) skates with the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers during the 1st period at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Szagola-US PRESSWIRE

Montreal Canadiens Depth Chart: Centers Scrutinized


Center has rarely been a point of pride for the Canadiens since age of Turgeon and Damphousse. At points they’ve been relatively good down the middle due to a decent 1-2 punch of a 1A/1B center but its never been a position one could point to as significantly better than average. Largely because while Plekanec and Koivu were both number one centermen, they were never above average for that spot.

Despite the Habs’ record reaching its nadir last year there is plenty of reason to feel about the team’s center position now. The team’s current top three boasts a nice balance of offense and defense, with two decent offensive centers they were about league average in points from the position and have two solid defensive options between veteran Plekanec and young Eller. League average is the best way to describe the team’s centers last year, a criteria the Habs middlemen have often met in the past decade but rarely surpassed.

The real reason for optomisism though is that a way out of the eternal cycle of middling centers came due to the team’s collapse. Finally the Habs had access to the one place where getting top level centermen is a relatively likely occurance in the top 3 of the draft table. Alex Galchenyuk represents the best chance the Habs have had in two decades to get a centerman that is consistently in the league’s top 15 for value.

2 Year Points Per 82 AVG

Age

Projection

Gomez

34.030

32

Bottom Six/Out of the NHL

Plekanec

56.498

30

1B Two-Way Center

Nokelainen

13.694

26

4th Line/Pressbox

Desharnais

54.202

26

Top 6 Playmaking Specialist

Eller

23.534

23

2nd Line Two-Way Center

So what does the Habs have in the pipeline to add to this decent but not spectacular group?

Experience

Age

Projection

Dumont

2 Years AHL

21

4th Line

Nattinen

1 Year AHL

21

4th Line

Bournival

4 Years CHL

20

3rd Line

Holland

4 Years CHL

20

3rd Line

Galchenyuk

2 Years CHL

18

Star Center

Not a lot beyond Galchenyuk. Really just the assortment of AHL prospects that stand a decent chance of one day being depth players in the NHL. Fortunately if Galchenyuk works out the team is set down the middle for a good 4-5 years, with Eller and Plekanec as long term solutions for the 2nd and 3rd line duties, Desharnais an offensive weapon and Galchenyuk at the top of the unit.

 

 

 

Tags: Alex Galchenyuk David Desharnais Lars Eller Montreal Canadiens Scott Gomez Tomas Plekanec