We continue out vote to predict who will be in the Montreal Canadiens lineup on opening night when the Habs take on the Toronto Maple Leafs to kick off the 2014-15 season on October 8th.
Currently, we have chosen the twelve forwards who we think will crack the lineup, and we have picked half of the six defender who will suit up for the Canadiens.
Our lineup right now looks like this:
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Parenteau
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Bourque – Eller – Sekac
Prust – Malhotra – Weise
Markov – Subban
******* – Gilbert
******* – ******
We will now open the poll on who will round out the Habs top four on the second pairing with newcomer Tom Gilbert.
Gilbert is an offensive minded puck mover who comes to the Habs via free agency from the Florida Panthers. After being bought out by the Minnesota Wild a year earlier, Gilbert bounced back with a solid season alongside Brian Campbell on the Panthers top pairing.
Lining up aside from Gilbert with the Habs could be Alexei Emelin. Emelin is a hard hitting blue liner who has been in the Canadiens top four for the past three seasons when healthy. His usual partner, Andrei Markov, appears to be moving up to play with P.K. Subban on the top airing after Josh Gorges was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres.
Emelin established himself as a tough, responsible defender before blowing his knee out in a collision with Milan Lucic late in the 2013 season. He had plenty of ups and downs last season after returning to the lineup, but got his revenge on Lucic, shutting the rugged winger down in a seven game playoff series, and emerging victorious.
Another option to crack the Habs top four is Nathan Beaulieu. He has suited up in several games with the Canadiens over the past two seasons, but will take on a much larger role with veterans Gorges, Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray gone.
Beaulieu is an exceptional skater with great offensive instincts and can move the puck well. If he finds a spot in the top four, the Canadiens will have two pairs of defenders who can easily move the puck out of their own zone, whether it is with a pass or just skating the puck out on their own.
Jarred Tinordi will be in a direct battle with Beaulieu for ice time this season. He is another young defenceman who has played sparingly in the NHL over the past two seasons. Though Beaulieu got a chance in the playoffs this spring, Tinordi played in the Habs five game series loss to the Ottawa Senators last spring.
He is a physical presence at 6’6”, but he also skates well and has developed his puck moving skills exponentially over the past two years, mostly with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League.
Who Plays With Tom Gilbert in the Montreal Canadiens Top Four?
- Jarred Tinordi (53%, 153 Votes)
- Alexei Emelin (33%, 95 Votes)
- Nathan Beaulieu (14%, 40 Votes)
Total Voters: 288