Montreal Canadiens: Four Takeaways from the Marc Bergevin Presser

Montreal Canadiens, Marc Bergevin (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Montreal Canadiens, Marc Bergevin (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin held his first press conference of the year.

Just over a week remains until the Montreal Canadiens hit the ice for the 2020-21 regular season. As training camp is now underway, general manager Marc Bergevin held his first press conference of the new year and covered various topics concerning the upcoming season. There were several takeaways from the conference that deserved further attention.

The Case of Kaiden Guhle and Jan Mysak

As the World Juniors are underway, it felt appropriate to touch base on comments made by Marc Bergevin regarding two of the Montreal Canadiens prospects. On account of the COVID-19 pandemic leading to strict, but necessary safety protocols, there remains the possibility that the CHL does not allow its leagues to begin their respective seasons. In turn, the Montreal Canadiens 2020 draft choices in defenseman Kaiden Guhle and forward Jan Mysak could lose valuable playing time.

If that is the case and the CHL does not resume its operations, Marc Bergevin spoke of the possibility that both Kaiden Guhle and Jan Mysak could join the organization. Per Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, exceptions may be made for players under the age of 20 to participate in the Laval Rocket training camp. However, barring an emergency recall, they will not be permitted to play in the NHL.

Importance of New Acquisitions Finding a Place in the Lineup

A reason for excitement amongst the Montreal Canadiens fanbase is credited to the team’s offseason acquisitions in what has been the busiest offseason of Marc Bergevin’s tenure as general manager. Between the time of their playoff elimination and training camp, the Montreal Canadiens added six new players to their roster whilst only subtracting one player.

In September, the Montreal Canadiens acquired Jake Allen from the St. Louis in exchange for a 3rd and 7th round pick and defenseman Joel Edmundson from the Carolina Hurricanes for a 5th round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

In October, the Montreal Canadiens shipped Max Domi to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Josh Anderson who was quickly signed to a 7-year contract. Not long after, the Habs general manager dipped his toes in the free agent market and in the process of doing so, signed Tyler Toffoli to a four-year deal in the hopes of improving the team’s scoring.

It was not until the month of December that we would hear more from the Montreal Canadiens. By the end of the month, the team had made two depth signings in forwards Michael Frolik and Corey Perry at $750 000 apiece. Both players bring some much-needed experience to a young Montreal Canadiens centre core.

Regarding these new acquisitions, Marc Bergevin acknowledged the potential challenges the team may face in introducing so many new players into the fold at once:

"It’s going to be a little tricky, but we’re in the same boat as every other team. The good thing we have going for us is that the teams we play from the get-go are Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. Those teams started at the same time as we did. Ottawa started a little earlier, but it’s basically the same for everyone. It’ll be equal to start the season, especially early on."

A short training camp, the lack of a preseason and a tight schedule leaves the Montreal Canadiens little time to waste when it comes to building chemistry. While other teams are in the same boat, it will nonetheless be interesting to see how all these new players fit into the lineup.

The Likelihood of Future Moves?

Given that the Montreal Canadiens are currently over the $81.5 million salary cap, the expectation among many was that the general manager would orchestrate a trade to become cap compliant. However, this does not appear to be the case as the plan is to maintain the current roster:

"We’re going to be a juggling act every day with how many guys we’re going to carry- it all depends on our schedule."

This likely entails that the Montreal Canadiens will be making use of the taxi squad, a group of players who will be available in the case of positive COVID-19 tests. If a player is a part of the taxi squad (maximum of six players and one goalie), their cap hit will be treated the same as if they were sent to the AHL. Likewise, any player who is eligible for waivers must also clear them prior to being sent to the taxi squad.

It is not surprising that Marc Bergevin is looking to hold onto all his playing cards as the Canadiens cannot risk being caught lacking depth in a shortened 56-game season where an accumulation of injuries could spell disaster for the team.

Setting Expectations for the 2020-21 Season

To conclude, the question on everyone’s minds is whether the Montreal Canadiens will qualify for the post-season. While only time may tell, Marc Bergevin set expectations for his team during the presser:

"We have high expectations internally. We won’t hide that. We have to perform. I really like the team we’ve put together. Every team is in the same boat. We only have a 10-day training camp and there aren’t any preseason games. I fully expect us to be prepared for the season-opener on January 13 in Toronto."

The “reset” that Marc Bergevin began in the summer of 2018 should now start to yield results as the team is coming off impressive playoff performances by their young centre core and an offseason that, on paper, served to solve many of the roster’s underlying issues.