This team already boasted the league's MVP and top goalie, all wrapped up under one jersey, they have one of the league's best defensemen and they had an offense that may or may not have been underrated.
By all accounts, they could have done better in the playoffs last year, if the game was played on paper, but we all know how that goes, don't we? Habs fans can't really complain, their team's management has not sat idly by and watched the rest of the league improve around them, without them taking some calculated risks in their acquisitions.
For us poolies, the Canadiens are going to be pretty good team to pick from, after what I've put together, as some fairly reserved pool projections. I don't think this team's offense blows teams out of the water, but with that MVP manning their crease, they don't need to obliterate their opponents on the scoreboard, but they can lay the occasional thumping.
|Jacob de la Rose||F||20|
Table last updated on August 10th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
As I had highlighted in my piece, when Alex Galchenyuk re-signed with the team, I think his consistent improving, year over year, will help to make him the real breakout player on this team in 2016.
The 21-year old American forward has been a breath of fresh air in the Canadiens lineup, since he kicked off the shortened 2013 season and now that he has come to his bridge deal, right out of his entry-level contract, Galchenyuk should be ready to step up and become the player that the 3rd overall pick in the 2012 Entry Draft should be.
The only thing that could really hamper this kid's scoring style is the team-first mentality that the Canadiens operate with and if that leads to more wins, I'm sure this kid won't mind too much. It's the challenge of being that top end player in a team-first system, which should excite him the most and thus, make him into a top end player in the NHL.
First Round Picks
Someone is going to have to provide a very worthy argument, not to take Carey Price with the 1st overall pick in this year's draft. Not only was his team good in front of him, there is little doubt that Price pulled the Habs out of the fire a few times, helping to earn his 2 points on the night. Price finished with 44 wins and 9 shutouts last season and unless there is a complete breakdown in front of him or within him, there is again, little reason to think he can't do it again. He sits atop of all the players on the projection list with his 100 points.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
There are a number of locks for the draft this year, including Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, but after that, there is going to be some real judgement brought to the tables. How many teams are going to be willing to take a flyer on Alex Semin, Zack Kassian or even Lars Eller? I'm sure some will take more of a chance than others and at this point, they shouldn't be too disappointed, assuming that they take these guys at the appropriate times and not jump on them too early in the draft.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
We know P.K. Subban is going to go really early, Andrei Markov isn't likely too far behind and Jeff Petry showed that he can put a mean game on, when he dones the bleu, blanc & rouge. Past that, we're getting into the fringe, the guys who will be looked upon to eat up some minutes, either paired with one of the top three or possibly even paired together, trying to help their team make it through, shift-by-shift.
This is going to be Dustin Tokarski's season to show that he is worthy of being a number one goalie, somewhere in the NHL. Tokarski is going to have to make the most of the minutes he is given, behind the league MVP, but after a very solid 2015 season, as the team's back-up, he'll need to put another one on and hope for the best, as a restricted free agent next season. Can he win enough games to force Montreal's hand, when it comes to a new deal and playing time?
Possible Entries Into the Rookie Race
If Jacob de la Rose showed us anything last season, it was that the Canadiens coaching staff were not going to be shy about youth in their lineup. I think that bodes well for a kid like Nikita Scherbak, the team's 1st round pick in 2014. I don't think I'll kid myself and say that he's a lock for a job in 2016, but I think 25 points will be a reasonable result for him, if he was to make the jump, taking the job away from someone else on the roster.
Team To Pick From Late?
Is the fringe of the Canadiens something to gamble on this year? Dale Weise showed that he had a little bit of flair, when the opposition gave him some easy assignments or a whole lot of space on the ice, which happened more often than one may have thought going into the 2015 season. Devante Smith-Pelly is going to grind out there, but has yet to find a regular path to the net. Tom Gilbert certainly has some more offense in him, especially compared to last season, but as the number four or five guy on the chart, he's not going to find the ice-time to be that good fringe player, let alone anything better. There are definitely some gambles in Montreal, take them at your own risk.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
Once Galchenyuk was out of the way on the GM's things to do this Summer, that pretty much cleaned up the whole list. The Canadiens have parted ways with a number of unrestricted free agents and they are now the only ones left on the list.
My early count shows 13 forwards, six defenders and a goaltending tandem signed on, leaving a blueline spot, at the very least, yet to be filled and $4 million left to spend on that spot. Of course, some of their 5-point projected players could take that spot, as they are not quite there yet, which would give this team plenty of flexibility during the year, but that flexibility, you would imagine, would be used at the trade deadline for some big moves.