Montreal Canadiens: Almost All Former Habs Having Tough Season

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 04: Alex Galchenyuk. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 04: Alex Galchenyuk. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin took over a team that had a bad 2011-12 season, but had what we all thought were promising building blocks.

They had the third overall pick that was used on Alex Galchenyuk who was predicted to be a future first line centre. They had P.K. Subban to build around on the blue line. They had Max Pacioretty, Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher up front as well.

Also, they had recently drafted Louis Leblanc, Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi in the first round of the past three NHL Drafts. Surely, they couldn’t all fall well short of expectations, right?

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Well, a quick look around the NHL today shows a lot of former Montreal Canadiens players that haven’t reached expectations or are just clinging to life in the National Hockey League. There are a few exceptions, but almost all former Has around the league aren’t missed in Montreal at all right now.

Some of Bergevin’s biggest trades were controversial at the time, but have turned out to be well in his favour.

Last offseason, Bergen traded Max Domi for Josh Anderson. He also gave up a third round pick in the deal and most fans were shocked that the Habs had to give up the extra piece in the deal. Well, Domi was brought in to be a second line centre and he is currently playing fourth line left wing with seven points in 26 games this season.

Nick Cousins, Nate Thompson and Marco Scandella are filling their usual roles on other teams, but none are having excellent seasons. Mike Reilly has nine points in 25 games for the Ottawa Senators, but he would have a difficult time staying in many other team’s lineups as regularly.

Andrew Shaw has battled more concussions since leaving Montreal and has played just 40 games combined in the past two seasons. Jordie Benn has been okay for the Vancouver Canucks but has been a healthy scratch a few nights as well when everyone was healthy.

Beaulieu is still playing regularly for the Winnipeg Jets, but his defensive struggles continue as he was a minus 4 against the Habs on Saturday night. Tinordi was picked up on waivers by the Boston Bruins last week.

Alex Galchenyuk being moved was once considered controversial in Montreal, but he has been with five different organizations in the past two seasons and couldn’t carve out a role with the lowly Sens.

It wasn’t considered as controversial as trading P.K. Subban. At the time, it looked like a move that would be awful for the Canadiens in the long run, as they got the older player, but it was Subban whose play fell off a cliff about two years after the deal. Formerly known as an offensive weapon, Subban has just 28 points in his last 89 NHL games over the past two seasons. He also makes $9 million through next season.

Bergevin’s three most questioned trades resulted in Subban, Galchenyuk and Domi leaving town for Weber, two good years of Domi and Anderson. Turning waiver fodder like Galchenyuk into a powerhouse like Anderson is a stroke of genius for Bergevin.

There are a handful of former Habs that are enjoying success elsewhere.

Jaro Halak is playing excellent for the Boston Bruins for the third consecutive season, but it came down to either him or Price way back in 2010 and the right call was made to move Halak.

Halak was traded for Lars Eller who was later dealt for a couple of second round picks. Eller had proven to be an excellent third line centre for the Canadiens and continues to play that well extremely well for the fifth consecutive season for the Washington Capitals.

Alexander Radulov had one great season for the Canadiens, but then chose to take big money on a long term contract to sign with the Dallas Stars. He finally took as step back last season but then had a great playoff run. He has another year after this one with a $6.25 million cap hit. There is no way Tyler Toffoli ends up in Montreal is Radulov is still here.

Max Pacioretty was traded away and is playing extremely well for the Vegas Golden Knights. But when another team offers you Nick Suzuki, Tomas Tatar and a second round pick, you make the trade.

The only player that Habs fans really wish was still wearing a Canadiens jersey is Mikhail Sergachev. He is still just 22 and has been really good for the Tampa Bay Lightning since being acquired for Jonathan Drouin. Drouin has been solid for the Habs, but a left defenceman like Sergachev would be perfect for the Canadiens right now.

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That makes Sergachev the only player around the league that we really wish we could have a mulligan on. Meanwhile, the group that was once thought to be a future core, including Galchenyuk, Subban, Beaulieu, Tinordi are barely hanging on to their NHL careers.