Montreal Canadiens: The One Move To Look For That Would Signal A Full Blown Tank

HUDSON - Spectators look on during the Tank Demonstration Weekend at the American Heritage Museum on Saturday, July 10, 2021.Loc Tanks 2
HUDSON - Spectators look on during the Tank Demonstration Weekend at the American Heritage Museum on Saturday, July 10, 2021.Loc Tanks 2 /

The Montreal Canadiens have some difficult decisions to make this offseason. The team just finished 32nd in the NHL standings and don’t have many reasons to believe they will be a lot better next season.

That only leaves them with a couple of options this offseason. With playoff contention an unrealistic scenario, the Canadiens will either try to get incrementally better next season or they will actually try to finish last again.

The reason for trying to finish last is simple and his name is Connor Bedard. The Canadiens are picking first overall at the 2022 NHL Draft and while that is terrific for the long term health of the organization, whoever picks first in the 2023 NHL Draft is getting an absolute phenom.

Bedard plays for the Regina Pats of the WHL and scored 51 goals and 100 points in 62 games this season. The kid is still 16 years old and averaged just about two points per game in a tough Western League on one of the worst teams in that league. He is going to go first overall next season and he is going to quickly fix everything that is wrong with whatever team picks him.

Will that be the Canadiens? Will they actively try to get him? Well, there is really just one simple move to look for this offseason to see if they are going to tank in 2022-23 or not. Tanking is simple, you put a bad hockey team on the ice and lose more often than not. The players on the ice aren’t going to try to score on their own net, so it is up to the general manager to build a flawed team.

The easiest way for the GM to do that is by having awful goaltending. When we have seen teams trying to finish last in previous seasons it was easy to spot because they had goaltenders you have never heard of in net, or someone like Anders Lindback playing a ton down the stretch of the season.

If the Canadiens go into next season with a healthy Carey Price and Jake Allen, they aren’t tanking. 40 games from each of those goaltenders would make it difficult for the Habs to finish last overall and give them the best chance at picking first overall again.

But what if Price can’t play? That gives the Canadiens management a chance to put an inferior product on the ice by having bad goaltending. They could really double down on this by trading Jake Allen this offseason without bringing in another steady veteran to replace him.

We won’t know Price’s status publicly until training camp probably. Even if he thinks he is healthy, we saw last season there were no guarantees. We really shouldn’t expect a ton of games from Price next season either.

But, if you see the Canadiens trade Allen, that would be a clear signal the team is entering tank mode because they would not have reliable goaltending all season.

If they also sign a veteran goalie who had bad numbers, like Dustin Tokarski, Aaron Dell, Scott Wedgewood or Martin Jones, you will know for sure that the tank is on.

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