May 14, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) makes a save on Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37)during the second period in game seven of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

A Look Ahead At Future Montreal Canadiens Lineup Shows Youth Movement Is Working


With the few number of offseason dates on the NHL calendar that create excitement already in the rearview mirror, we are officially in the dog days of NHL summer. The draft in late June and free agency kicks off July with a bang, but once those two events are in the past, hockey news comes to a screeching halt for the rest of the month.

Many people in the northern hemisphere look forward to July and August, where they are either lounging on the beach, enjoying their days at the cabin, having fun on the lake or in the ocean, or just relaxing on their summer vacation.

However, hockey fans who indulge in summer activities are just trying to pass the time as they count down the days to October, when the puck will finally drop once again. It is down to 86 days until the season begins with the Habs taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs, but who is counting? Well, lots of us.

May 29, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban (76) handles the puck during the second period against the New York Rangers in game six of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

In my early July non-hockey stupor, withdrawal quickly settling in, and evening-boredom taking a stranglehold, I began looking at the Habs roster, and wondering, who is going to still be on this team a few years from now, when we are counting down the days to puck drop on the 2016-17 season?

Then, I started making opening night roster depth charts for each of the next few seasons. Upon doing this, I started to wonder, why don’t the Montreal Canadiens put a focus on being a powerhouse in three years time, and build towards that starting right now?

Allow me to explain. And hey, it’s July so none of you should be on sparknotes, or Coles Notes, or whatever kids use these days to avoid doing homework for English class right now, so I am going to give you the long version.

Oh, and before anyone points out I forgot all about Jiri Sekac, the Czech sensation who came out of nowhere, I expect him to return to the nowhere he came from in fairly short order. Why? Remember Jiri Dopita? The best player outside the NHL for years, who was going to take the NHL by storm and put the Philadelphia Flyers over the top in the early 2000’s? Or Ric Wallin who was going to be a big help for the Leafs a few years ago? Wasn’t there a Frogren guy that came with him?

At least Ville Leino and Damien Brunner were decent for a short time before disappearing. Anton Belov was a flop, “The Monster” Jonas Gustavsson fell far short of his Henrik Lundqvist comparisons and the list goes on.

I am not saying Sekac has no chance of being a good NHL player, but let’s just say I am not overly optimistic. There are successful players who were veteran signings from Europe, and Sekac is not old at 22, but I am not counting on much, so I more or less left him out of the future picture.

For opening night in 86 days, I see the Habs lineup as follows. Also, I assumed anyone taking the time to read this already knows the first names of the Habs players don’t need me to specify who Weaver or Desharnais are.

May 14, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Montreal Canadiens center Daniel Briere (48) celebrates his goal with teammates center Tomas Plekanec (14) and right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) during the third period of Montreal

2014-15 Roster

Pacioretty – Desharnais – Parenteau

Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher

Bourque – Eller – Sekac

Prust – Malhotra – Weise

Extras: Moen – Bournival

Markov – Subban

Emelin – Gilbert

Beaulieu – Weaver

Extras: Tinordi – Pateryn

Carey Price

Tokarski

Contracts up in 2015: Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Bournival, Beaulieu and Tinordi are all restricted free agents, and Malhotra and Weaver are unrestricted.

Each of the RFA’s will be retained and get significant raises, while both Malhotra and Weaver are replaceable, and likely move on as the youth movement continues.

Any significant additions may be difficult to make as the five RFA’s could take up plenty of salary cap space. Let’s assume the Habs don’t make significant alterations and continue to build from within.

May 19, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (40) skates against New York Rangers during the third period in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

2015-16 Roster

Pacioretty – Desharnais – Gallagher

Galchenyuk – Eller – Parenteau

Bournival – Plekanec – Andrighetto

De la Rose – Prust – Weise

Extras: Bourque, Moen, Scherbak

Beaulieu – Subban

Markov – Tinordi

Emelin – Gilbert

Extras: Pateryn

Carey Price

Tokarski

Contracts up in 2016: Plekanec, Parenteau, Bourque, Prust, Moen, Weise, Gilbert are all UFA’s while Sekac, Andrighetto and Pateryn could be significant RFA’s if they continue to improve. This is where big changes are coming for the Montreal Canadiens. Two summers from now the Canadiens will have more than 20 million dollars worth of cap hitting the UFA market.

The Habs could very well see Plekanec leave by this time, and I doubt he is a part of this team in the fall of 2016. Parenteau will be a couple of years older and may not still be up to the challenge of being a top six winger in Montreal, and the depth guys like Moen, Weise and Prust could return on short term and small cap hits.

Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Nikita Scherbak puts on a team sweater after being selected as the number twenty-six overall pick to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

2016-17 Roster

Pacioretty- Galchenyuk – Gallagher

De la Rose – Eller – Scherbak

Bournival – Desharnais – Andrighetto

McCarron – Prust – Weise

Beaulieu – Subban

Emelin – Tinordi

Markov – Pateryn

Price

Fucale

Now, I am not one to get overly excited about prospects before they show anything in the NHL, so this roster in two years time could be phenomenal, or could be downright alarming. We are basically expecting a pair of young players to develop into top six wingers on short notice, and have three more make names for themselves in the bottom six.

May 8, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) makes a save against Boston Bruins right wing Reilly Smith (18) as defenseman Andrei Markov (79) defends during the first period in game four of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

I used to always be excited about the next wave of Habs players, but so many of them are hyped to be great players, and fail horribly to meet expectations. Not long ago, the Habs were a supposed dynasty in the making with Chris Higgins, Mike Komisarek and the Kostitsyn brothers ready to take charge of the organization. They were all gone within three years.

Of course, other moves could be made in the process and signings, trades and surprising prospects could alter the future lineup drastically. The only roster spot that is definite is Carey Price will be the starting goaltender for the foreseeable future, and that is a huge bonus for the Habs.

The top line of Galchenyuk between Pacioretty and Gallagher would be incredible. I am a big Eller fan and think he will be able to handle the role of second line center in the very near future, but would be concerned about Desharnais taking third line minutes. It is just not a great fit, much like Briere was an odd fit as a fourth line center. At times it looked pretty good, but at other times a defensive specialist and faceoff ace would have been a much better option.

Both wings are fairly weak in prospect depth and if the Habs have a need to fill in the near future, it is not down the middle, or the blue line or in net. If Nikita Scherbak can’t handle top six minutes in two years time, the Habs will be desperate for second line scoring help. De la Rose is one of my favorite prospects in the system, but he is a defensive minded player who may be best suited in the bottom six, and not someone you count on to bring consistent offense.

May 17, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens center Lars Eller (81) celebrates his goal against New York Rangers with teammates defenseman Josh Gorges (26) and defenseman Mike Weaver (43) and left wing Michael Bournival (49) during the third period in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Then there is Bournival, McCarron, Andrighetto and a few other such as Hudon, Crisp, Gregoire, Holland and Thomas. None of them appear to be first line wingers in the making, but if just one of them exceeds expectations, the Canadiens will be in much better shape going forward.

This led to me a few conclusions. First, should the Habs just throw the Galchenyuk, Gallagher and Pacioretty line together now, and try to let me develop into one of the top lines in the league? Secondly, if the Habs ever do decide to move Plekanec, or anyone else in the near future, they should be looking to add a skilled young winger who can score.

Things look very promising in net with Price eventually handing the reins to Zach Fucale, but not anytime soon, as Price remains one of the top tenders in the league. The group of defenders could be excellent as well, as young first round picks Beaulieu and Tinordi take over for the aging and failing veterans who left this summer, and will be joined by Subban and Pateryn. Center ice can also be a strength with Galchenyuk and Eller playing in the top six and De la Rose, Bournival and Desharnais in the bottom six.

The wings look a little weak right now but are led by Pacioretty and Gallagher. They are just a second line winger away from having a solid top six. Versatile youngsters like Bournival and De la Rose could find themselves anywhere from first line wingers to fourth line centres, but will surely be helping this team in some role.

The youth movement has begun already with Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray all leaving town this summer. Expect that trend to continue for at least the next two summers in Montreal, as Marc Bergevin attempts to turn this team into a juggernaut.

 

Tags: Alex Galchenyuk Featured Marc Bergevin Montreal Canadiens Popular

  • Tom

    I can’t wait already but you were talking about trading Plekanic but also if desharnais would look to bring in a solid winger and trade them together even a better winger obviously there’d be cap issues and so on but I love Eller to and if it were up to me I would have him playing second line this year with actual wingers that won’t drag him down (Bourque), I’d even give an opportunity this season to give one or two prospects to slot in on the third line with him if he doesn’t end up playing second line and gallchenyuk playing first line like you said but also I would try to work as many prospects as possible into the roster next year at least if not this year

    • Kenny MacMillan

      Trading Plekanec would just be much easier as his contract has less term on it and he is much more reliable defensively so teams would be more willing to take him. I could see Desharnais being moved in the future, but it is a tougher trade to make because I don’t think you get as much in return

  • Steve Zax

    I agree with the assessment of Sekac and I would go as far as not to pencil him into the lineup at all. If he proves that wrong then it’s a good problem to have, especially with injuries. I don’t like the idea of Bournival being an extra. He belongs in the lineup. I would even like to see an increase in minutes and perhaps an extended look on the 3rd line, but at least regular duty on the 4th. There’s definitely a need for a top 6 winger, otherwise scoring is going to be an issue again and it should be someone young that will grow with the youth they already have.

    • Kenny MacMillan

      Yeah I could see Bournival being on the third line instead of Sekac for sure. Even as an extra, he would still be rotated in and out and around the lineup, but I can just see Sekac given a chance to prove what he can do at the start of the year.

    • Tom

      I think their best forechecker is bournival

  • Dar Krum

    Your look to the future scares the hell out of me for one big (small) reason: David Desharnais.

    Desharnais has demonstrated that he can only play in the number one centre role. He is not a checker. He is not going to be good enough on a second line with secondary players. He needs to be traded; now. He is the reason that Galchenyuk continues to languish as a LW and get no experience as the number one, all-star centre that he was drafted to be. Because there is no other position or slot on the team where he can play, he has to go.

    But, I hear his fans saying, what can we get for him? Frankly, I don’t care. My questions are what could we expect from him in 2 years and is he worth keeping when the guy who is supposed to be the best player on the team on the wing?

    Moving DD allows Galchenyuk to move to his destined position.
    Pacioretty Galchenyuk Parenteau (Good for two more seasons.)
    LW??? Eller Gallagher (Here is a spot to be filled now and in the future.)
    Bourque Plekanec De La Rose/Sekac (DLR is likely to be our 3/2 centre after Pleks. Give him a chance to learn from him.)
    Prust Malholtra Weiss (4th lines can be changed as necessary on a year to year basis.)

    There is a hole on LW. Berg needs to be bold and fill it this summer. Kane is available. Sharp could be available. Or surprise us with some other deal. The above team is one that can compete NOW and in for a few years down the road.

    It is going to take a bold move from Bergy to acquire a LW and to move DD now.

    • Kenny MacMillan

      Before Galchenyuk moves to center, the Habs need to find a suitable replacement on left wing. I think Desharnais is a valuable player on this team, but I can see the argument for trading him if a second line left winger were acquired as well

      • Dar Krum

        Desharnais is a separate deal and there are takers out there. As long as the ask in return is not a lot, Edmonton could take a chance on him. Other teams need a depth centre and if all you want is a 7th and a bag of pucks for him, someone might take the chance. He is what is slowing down our future, and that future is Galchenyuk who could easily be 20pts better than DD with those wingers this year.

        You are correct in that the hole Galchenyuk leaves at LW is the problem. This is where Bergy needs to get bold and/or creative. Philly and Chicago are both over the cap and hard up against it for next season. Tampa is over the cap, but Bergy would have to be very creative to get a deal done there as they and Montreal could be slugging it out this coming year. Kane continues to be speculated about in Winnipeg. I see potential in a lot of different places.

        Sharp, Simmonds/Voracek, E. Kane. Boldness and creativity could land one of these guys. Bergy has shown he is willing to be ruthless if he thinks it improves the team. Gorges showed us that.

        Trading DD also gives you some talking points with Eller and a bridge deal. By moving DD you demonstrate that Eller has the potential of a future with the Habs. No DD means that Eller is more likely to get consistent wingers who have skill to play with. If he can show that he is ready to take his game to the next level, then that is a big win. If he shows the same inconsistency, even when given a fair chance (the chance he has been denied by having management coddle DD), then we have players in the system who can get the job done and Eller is gone in two years.

        For me, (who the hell am I?!) my boldness would show itself in trusting the kids we have on D, and moving Emelin. There are a couple of UFA vets that could be had for cheap replacement minutes. Morris. McBain. etc. The return would have to be high to move Emelin, but add in Nygren, and a #1 pick for either Voracek or Kane and you might be able to get something done. Philly and Winnipeg both need help in goal, put Tokarski in the mix. Both are young, highly skilled, and big. Again, I’d only do a bold deal like that for a young star. Sharp or Simmonds would have to be a different kinds of deals.

        Pacioretty – Galchenyuk – Gallagher
        Kane/Voracek – Eller – Parenteau
        Bourque – Plekanec – DeLaRose/Sekac
        Prust – Malhotra – Weise
        Bournival

        Markov – Subban
        Beaulieu – Gilbert
        UFA/Tinordi – Weaver

        That team, on paper, can roll with any team in the East easy. Skill, speed, and size. The current holy trinity of hockey. The addition of a skilled, fast, and large winger gives us a legit shot, a shot, against a stacked Western conference. All it takes is letting DD go and a bold move from Bergevin.

        Piece of cake, right? ;-)

        • Kenny MacMillan

          Tampa Bay and Philly are technically under the cap, since they can put Ohlund and Pronger on LTIR for the year. Chicago is up against it, but I think would be looking to move Oduya, Hjalmarsson or Bickell and not Sharp.
          The thing with galchenyuk is, I think expectations are a little too high for him right now. 20 points better than DD, like you said, is 72 points, which would have ranked 15th in the league last season. I love Galchenyuk, but expecting him to finish with more points than Kopitar, Krejci is a bit much at this point in his career.
          Getting a guy like Simmonds, Kane or Voracek would be amazing, but those guys would cost a lot more than Nygren and a 1st. Probably more like Beaulieu a 1st and Eller for Kane.

      • Moby Dick

        Trade Desharnais for a solid 2nd or even a 3rd line winger, i.e. right winger.

    • B Gash

      i’d say based on what Andrighetto has done just in his first AHL season on an awful offensive team, all things seem to indicate that he will slot into that top 6 winger slot within 2-3 years, but since he’s an overachiever thus far at every level he’s been in thus far, it could be much sooner imo

  • mcpoooooooooooooooooookles

    you forgot lekhonen,
    trade pleks now…we are not winning with him in the next 3 yrs after which his value is diminished.. target say a kane or someone of that size, youth and talent… DD remains with pacc and (kane), galch centers shcerback and Gallagher or andrighetto …

  • Cap-Size

    Purely puerile. Kenny, my man, your projections are entertaining since that is what I believe you set out to do. Certainly, I’m amused – reminds me of that line from MacBeth, “If you can look into the seeds of Time, And say which grain will grow and which will not.” Trust me, Sekac will play and he will do so alongside Plekanec.
    Open season on Desharnais again by the great minds outside the management structure of the team. DD is not worth this or that, his corsi is poor (btw, jim corsi was a flop as a goalie) ad nauseum. Of course, fans are entitled to their opinions but DD has overcome worse things from better people – from Cincinnati to Montreal. Without him Max Perimeter is useless. We have seen DD succeed without M. Perimeter but not vice versa. The games that MP missed did not affect DD: in fact, Bourque benefitted. People see what they want to see and we are all experts, hence the fact that we are not employed by a NHL team.
    Finally, why rush Galenchyuk into the middle? He had suffered a grievous injury, missed a year of development and was hurt last year once more. Is he as good as the team’s PR seems to suggest? I think only time will tell. As for Plekanec, he is slotted into a role on the team, one that he performs admirably. He would be my choice for captain. With Sekac and Bournival, his role would expand into that of a mentor. And, I see you tout McCarron as a future Hab. The Hunters can do remarkable work but they are not miracle workers. Fucale is questionable, but Condon will be solid. Eller will not be a Hab past January.

    • Fghhf

      I stopped reading after you were basically stating that DD was better than patches.

      • JumpinJack

        Yeah I gave up on this response too. The notion of Patches not hacking it without DD is laughable. Eller being the heir apparent to Plek…it makes absolutely no sense to deal him.

      • Cap-Size

        Good. You probably wouldn’t have understood the rest anyway. Btw, another beneficiary of DD’s talents was Erik Cole. With DD he had 35 goals in ’11-’12. In 122 games since, he has scored just 25 times. But you probably won’t read this anyway. Poor me.

  • yoshii47

    What do you think MB is trying to do? He said he wants the habs to be a perennial

    playoff team that’s strong every year. The GM has to be continually planning for down the road; that’s what the draft is for.