Some players played out of their skin during their playoff run and I think most should be weary of those guys, who can act more like landmines than hidden treasures.
There are definitely going to be a few players that will draw the attention of your fellow poolies, if not yourself, but on scoring alone, I think picking from Montreal will be all about those grains of salt then listening to your heart (which is a bad move for every team).
The way that the numbers panned out for Montreal, I don't see them as a team that improves, rather a team that has given up much of what they are great at to the opposition and may find themselves working against teams that have seen what they can do and know how to play against it better. This will be a collision course between confidence and coaching and I think the opposition may have the upper hand on this one.
|Forwards||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Defense||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Goaltenders||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit|
|Max Pacioretty||65||4.500||P.K. Subban||65||9.000||Carey Price||75||6.500|
|Tomas Plekanec||50||5.000||Andrei Markov||45||5.750||Peter Budaj||15||1.400|
|David Desharnais||50||3.500||Tom Gilbert||25||2.800|
|Alex Galchenyuk||50||0.925||Alexsey Emelin||15||4.100|
|Brendan Gallagher||50||0.685||Mike Weaver||10||1.750|
|BUYOUTS & OTHER||0.000|
|Jiri Sekac||25||0.925||Nathan Beaulieu||5||0.925|
|Manny Malhotra||10||0.850||Jarred Tinordi||5||0.870|
First Round Picks
The way that numbers panned out for Montreal doesn't see any players worthy enough to be taken in the opening round of the draft, but that isn't to say that Carey Price won't be taken. My projections have him coming in as a better 2nd round pick, but the fanboys and fangirls out there will likely see things a bit differently. Also, I think it goes the same for P.K. Subban, who doesn't project for me to be taken in the 1st round, but the value on blueliners may sway someone to take him after Erik Karlsson, early on.
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
More so to my point about the speedy and hard-working players getting the most out of the team's playoff run last year, Brendan Gallagher takes the most intriguing player nod in my post, as his sophomore campaign did see a bit of a snag, but his playoff performance suggests that he has plenty of grit left to use in his career and I think his numbers take an up turn for the better. The 50-point range may only be the bottom end of the spectrum for Gallagher, but that may have to do with the supporting cast around him, more than his actual ability. I don't think he is the guy to carry this team on his shoulders, but with the right help, he can boost this team with a good rush up the wing on a nightly basis.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
No one really pops out of the list of forwards to say that they'll take the lead in scoring for your pool team, but the team does look solid, albeit smaller and faster than most teams. The core group, which includes Gallagher above, also boasts Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Alex Galchenyuk and newcomer PA Parenteau. This will be a lot for the rest of the league to cover and they showed how speed kills in the playoffs, so they may need to be taken seriously. I would expect some Habs to go fairly early, but be sure to not over-value them.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The Habs have quite a bit of cap space tied up in their defensemen, maybe not as much as some teams, but it's still a lot. P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov head the list and rightly so. Those two have been fairly steady, when healthy, and will be looked upon for big numbers again in the 2015 season. Montreal was able to make an addition of a pool worthy blueliner in Tom Gilbert, who could be a good shot in the arm for the club.
It's fairly cut and dry in Montreal, as Carey Price is the number one guy, plain and simple. When you're one of the best in the world, there are very few questions about it. I expect Price to show more flashes of brilliance, but the Habs may not be built for the everyday rigors of the league, so there will be some tough starts still, but Price will win more than he gets lit up. In behind Price, it should be Peter Budaj's job, as he's a career back-up and the team would save Dustin Tokarski to start more games in the AHL, likely to Tokarski's chagrin.
Team To Pick From Late?
I think there are a few landmine kind of picks on the Montreal roster, which may look safe to take a chance on, but will likely blow up in your face. I wouldn't recommend many gambles beyond the regular scorers on the team, no matter how much promise they may give in the preseason interviews.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The team has one outstanding restricted free agent that was qualified in June and he is going to be playing in Europe in 2015, so for the sake of an argument, the Canadiens have no unsigned players left to worry about. With that being said, they still have a number of openings, including a couple on the blueline, which are likely reserved for the likes of Nathan Beaulieu or Jarred Tinordi, neither of which played enough games to make the projected cut. Right now, the Canadiens have 19 spots taken up at a cost of $62.8 million, leaving roughly $6.2 million to fill the other four spots. Beaulieu and Tinordi are prospects with smaller cap hits, so even if they do make the cut, they won't hurt the team going into the year.
The club did run into a couple of injuries in the playoffs, but it sounds like everyone is getting the green light heading into camp. Good news for the Canadiens going forward.