We have just about finished out voting on what the Montreal Canadiens forward lines will look like this season. Brandon Prust and Michael Bournival are in a tight race for the final spot, but the rest of the lineup is listed below.
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Parenteau
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Bourque – Eller – Sekac
******* – Malhotra – Weise
We will now shift our focus to the Habs blue line, and take your opinion on who will be in the Canadiens lineup on opening night. Fresh off signing a 72 million dollar contract, I am going to assume Subban gets 100% of the right side of the first pairing and jump to the bigger question, who will be Subban’s partner?
Subban has been partnered with safety net Josh Gorges for most of the past three seasons, but Gorges was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres on July 1st. This leaves a very huge role on the team up for grabs, and many potential candidates to fill the void.
Andrei Markov was the Habs most used defenseman last season, and plays in all situations, including a ton of minutes at 5 on 5. He was usually paired with countryman Alexei Emelin, but the younger Russian appears to be switching back to the left side of the ice, and will need to find a new partner.
Markov is also fresh off a new contract that will pay him 5.75 million for the next three years. At 35 years of age, he is still a great passer and can move the puck as well as any defender on the roster not named Subban.
The offensive minded duo was put together for short stretches last season, and though they were successful, the four blue liners behind them suffered, and the blue line pairings needed a shuffling to balance things out.
Is the Habs group of defencemen now deep enough that Michel Therrien can afford to put Markov on the top pairing with Subban?
Subban has always been used with a very defensively reliable partner throughout his career. Whether it was Roman Hamrlik, Hal Gill or Gorges, Subban always had a steady hand on his left side that was much better defensively than offensively.
If that trend is to continue this season, the partner for Subban would be Alexei Emelin. The Russian defender is moving back to his left side with the addition of Tom Gilbert and removal of Gorges from the lineup. He is a punishing hitter that plays a defensive role and showed in the postseason against the Boston Bruins that he can handle a heavy workload.
Does Emelin’s defensive game and massive body checks make the most sense on the top pairing?
Youngster Nathan Beaulieu was drafted in the first round in 2011 draft. He is yet to make the roster on a full time basis, but after getting an audition in the playoffs last spring, he looks like a sure thing to break camp in the Habs top six for the first time.
Beaulieu is an exceptional skater, moves the puck well, and has excellent offensive instincts. He is certainly not at the same level as Subban, but shares many common traits on the ice.
Would Beaulieu make a perfect pair with Subban?
A final option is to use the enormous Jarred Tinordi on the top pairing. Though he has not locked up a top six spot with the team yet, there is room for at least one rookie on the roster. Tinordi is 6’6” and skates very well for a big man, and has proven to be defensively responsible. He has been put into action at the NHL level for short stints in each of the past two seasons, and could very well be on the team full time this season.
Does Tinordi on the top pairing spread out the D-pairs sensibly?
It is up to you, who of Markov, Emelin, Beaulieu and Tinordi will have the pleasure of being on the Habs top pairing when the regular season kicks off in October?
Who Will Be The Montreal Canadiens First-Pairing Left Defenseman Next Season?
- Andrei Markov (40%, 153 Votes)
- Alexei Emelin (30%, 115 Votes)
- Nathan Beaulieu (18%, 70 Votes)
- Jarred Tinordi (12%, 46 Votes)
Total Voters: 384