Montreal Canadiens: Marc Bergevin’s Vision Leads To Award Nomination

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin had a vision last offseason. He clearly wanted to bring in players who had Stanley Cup winning experience, and players that are difficult to play against in the postseason.

His path didn’t look great at times in the regular season, but everything came together in the playoffs.

Things have worked out so well in the postseason, that Bergevin has been named one of three finalists for the General Manager of the Year Award.

Looking back at all of his moves in the 2020-21 NHL season, Bergevin laid out a plan to make this team more playoff ready and they certainly have not disappointed the man who put the team together through the first two playoff rounds. Most awards are voted on after the regular season but the GM of the Year is picked after the second round of the playoffs.

This allowed time for Bergevin’s offseason moves to show what they could do at the time of year they were brought in to shine. Not one of them has disappointed.

The first thing Bergevin did was trade a third round pick for Jake Allen. Carey Price needed a reliable backup to allow him proper rest during the season and I must say, Carey Price looks very rested and relaxed in this playoff run. Allen rode shotgun when Jordan Binnington led the St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup in 2019.

Bergevin’s next move was to acquire Joel Edmundson’s rights from the Carolina Hurricanes and get him signed to a four year contract. Edmundson has been solid defensively for the Habs all year, taking on a huge role in the postseason on a pairing with Jeff Petry and playing 22:13 per night. He was also teammates with Allen on the 2019 Stanley Cup winning Blues team.

Bergevin then traded Max Domi for Josh Anderson. Anderson hasn’t piled up the points in this playoff run, but he plays a fast paced, physical style that wears down opponents. He constantly wins races and battles for pucks and keeps the puck in the offensive zone for long stretches of time.

The best move he made was to sign Tyler Toffoli to a four year contract with a cap hit of $4.25 million. The winger led the team in scoring in the regular season and is carrying the offence in the postseason as well. The two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Los Angeles Kings was unquestionably the Canadiens MVP in the regular season and has been their best skater in the postseason as well.

Bergevin added some depth just before the season when he signed 2007 Stanley Cup winner Corey Perry to a modest (for NHL standards) $750,000 contract. Perry has been a key in the postseason, fitting in well on the fourth line and playing a role on a suddenly hot power play.

Bergevin also re-signed some key players to keep them in town. He doled out big contract extensions for Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher, two key components of the Canadiens roster. He also signed Anderson to a long term deal and added two more years to Allen’s contract at a cap hit less than $3 million per year.

Bergevin’s toughest decision was probably the one he made behind the bench. With the team sputtering after a hit start, Claude Julien was let go and Dominique Ducharme stepped in to fill the role. The Canadiens have been playing a disciplined, reliable, defensive style in the postseason that limits mistakes and capitalizes on opponent’s turnovers.

Bergevin didn’t have a lot of room for tinkering at the trade deadline but he did make a few moves. He added 2006 Stanley Cup winner Eric Staal who didn’t fit in perfectly right away but has played between Perry and Joel Armia on a terrific fourth line that gives the Canadiens incredible depth at forward.

Bergevin also picked up defenders Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on the cheap at the deadline. Gustafsson has been something of a lucky charm for the Habs, being inserted into the lineup in Game 5 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Canadiens immediately began a seven game winning streak.

Merrill hasn’t been excellent, but was acquired for a fifth round pick and added some depth down the stretch when Ben Chiarot was hurt.

While not every single one of Bergevin’s moves worked out perfectly right away, they all came together at the right time for the Canadiens to go on a deep playoff run for the first time since 2014.

When Bergevin put this team together, he brought in physical, smart, experienced players that have won Stanley Cups before.

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Bergevin built this Canadiens team for the playoffs and they look terrific in the playoffs. That’s why he is up for General Manager of the Year.