Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin had a terrific 2020 offseason. Unfortunately, his 2021 offseason was a tire fire that not only made the team less competitive but also alienated much of the fanbase.
This offseason has been a really painful one. The highs of the underdog playoff run continued with Bergevin’s masterful strategy at the Seattle expansion draft, but once the 2021 NHL Entry Draft hit, Bergevin’s failures began.
In this article, I will grade each and every significant move and event of the Canadiens’ offseason from my subjective standpoint. I will explain why I give every grade that I do, and I am more than happy to have some civil debates in the comments on any differences in opinion. This is the third annual installment of this article, in retrospect, some of my grades in 2019 were quite bad (sorry Mike Reilly!) but I stand by most of them; last year’s article, on the other hand, has aged surprisingly well, the only change I’d make is bump the Joel Edmundson signing from a B- to an A. Enough with past years’ offseasons, let’s look at 2021.
I’ll spoil this piece right at the start, the best grade is this one. Marc Bergevin and Carey Price pulled off quite the expansion draft performance on Seattle. The Habs were virtually assured to lose Jake Allen to Seattle, which would have really stung, considering he’s the first competent backup Carey Price has had in ages, and Allen outplayed Price in the regular season. Without his heroics, the playoff run never would have been possible.
As a result, both Price and Bergevin chose to take a risk to hold on to Allen by waiving Price’s NMC and exposing him and his behemoth contract to Seattle. While I’m certain Ron Francis and his management team were very close to picking Price, they didn’t. The Habs held on to both Price and Allen and didn’t even lose Drouin, who was exposed.
While Cale Fleury is a fun player to watch he probably doesn’t have top-4 upside and will likely figure as a physical and steady presence on the bottom pairing of an NHL team for years to come. He’s a player that I’d have love to keep, but losing him is cushioned by the abundance of quality defensive prospects the Habs have accumulated in the last three years.
The Habs somehow came away from the expansion draft without losing a roster player or a player with a high upside, which was a stroke of mastery. This performance really got my hopes up for an exciting offseason, and while it was certainly eventful, it wasn’t for the right reasons.
Grade: A +