Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Montreal Canadiens: Looking ahead to 2014-15

Most Montreal Canadiens’ fans are probably feeling pretty content with how last season went. It was a success, and not everybody predicted it would go as well as it did.

Last off-season general manager Marc Bergevin made some interesting and questionable moves that were critiqued throughout the 2013-14 campaign. The signings of a barely NHL calibre defenceman in Douglas Murray, ageing, declining and small forward in Daniel Briere, and the acquisition of fourth-line plug and over-the-hill enforcer George Parros puzzled many.

None of the above players panned out for the Canadiens, and none of them will be back for the 2014-15 season. PHENOMENAL.

Marc Bergevin appears to have learned from his mistakes, and is making smart, analytical moves that have really made the team better, faster, and younger. I want to take a look at Montreal's possible line combinations, should the season start today (assuming Lars Eller and PK Subban resign).

This is what I currently have for Montreal’s depth chart for forwards.
Montreal Canadiens forward line combinations

Now, before people start freaking out saying I am  “disrespecting Plekanec” or I am “overrating Lars Eller”, hear me out!

I want to give P-A Parenteau a shot on the first line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty as I think it will help spark his offensive abilities and rebuild his confidence after a shaky season last year. This line will be used during sheltered minutes, and mostly offensive zone starts. I can see this line being a very quick and lethal line that will threaten the opposition shift after shift.

I decided to reunite the “EGG” line as I believe last season all three players really grew into their own and developed substantially. Eller has proven he is talented at both ends of the ice, while both Galchenyuk and Gallagher have proven to be offensive weapons. I think this line would be used in different scenarios and they have the ability to be momentum changers.  

For the third line I decided to place Tomas Plekanec with Jiri Sekac and Rene Bourque. Both Plekanec and Bourque have the abilities to play in both ends of the ice. Plekanec is one of the best two-way centres in the NHL and it is shocking how little credit he receives. This line will be a solid shut down line with a surprising offensive upside. I do not know what Sekac will bring on the defensive side of the game, but my understanding is that he is able to use his body well, and put the puck in the net. I believe that it would also help Sekac transition by playing with a player from his home country (Czech). Both Plekanec and Bourque are able to put up offensive number as well, and I believe this line could surprise people. Mostly defensive zone starts for this line.

Newly acquired Manny Malholtra is a fiend in the face-off dot. He was second in the league last season in face-off percentage at 59.0%. Brandon Prust and Dale Weise are extremely good at fore checking and maintaining pressure. They can all use their bodies to their advantage and are able to play all over the ice. This line will see most of their zone starts in the defensive or neutral zone.

Michel Therrien likes to roll four lines and this team is built to play that way. All four lines can play both sides of the puck and can be relied upon to put the puck in the net. I view the second and third line specifically as two second lines. They will play very similar minutes in different scenarios. I would be very content to see this type of set-up for Montreal this upcoming season.

On defense there is really only one decision to be made for this roster. Which kid gets the chance to play full time?

Now that Josh Gorges is gone, Alexei Emelin can slot back into his natural left side position. The way I have this set up is so that each pairing has an offensive defenceman and a stay at home type defenceman.

First pairing is one that has obvious chemistry after being relied upon so heavily during power plays. I like this combo because Markov has enough experience and hockey sense to be able to cover Subban when he is dominating offensively.

The second pairing is one I like for even strength usage. I would love to see Emelin have a turnaround season after showing some struggles last season. Gilbert is the new face here, and he has the ability to chip in offensively. If Emelin ends up struggling with his game, I would not hesitate to slot Beaulieu into this top four spot in his place.

The third pairing I like simply because Weaver is a stud defensively and it would allow Beaulieu some leeway to take some risks offensively. It would be nice to have a rock on D beside the rookie to give him some confidence.

Finally, the goalie situation.

I still have Peter Budaj ahead of Dustin Tokarski. I would much prefer to have Budaj shipped out, and have Tokarski as the full time back up. He proved to Habs Nation that he deserves to be in the NHL after his stellar performance during the playoffs in the absence of Carey Price. I would feel more confident with Tokarski getting 15-20 starts next year over Budaj. This would allow Price some much needed rest sometimes, and Tokarski some killer experience moving forward.

Overall, I am happy with the players Montreal has on their roster.  It is now up to Michel Therrien to create some stellar line combinations to enhance each players strengths.

Let me know what you think of my line combinations, or what adjustments you would make!
Follow me @darrinharmy on twitter, or leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Bipolar Habs Fan: PK Subban vs Marc Bergevin

by Eitan Calmy

Source: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America
This first edition of the Bipolar Habs Fan will be about how I feel about how Marc Bergevin got himself into a little bit of a pickle with PK Subban’s new contract negotiations.

On May 5th, 2012 Marc Bergevin replaces Pierre Gauthier as the new General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens. His first order of business is to hire his staff. His first real order of business relating to player personnel will be to re-sign PK Subban. This is where things get a little tricky.

Without getting into too many details, let’s be extremely clear about one thing. When Bergevin signed Subban to that bridge contract he should have known that PK would hit the jackpot with his next one.

Bergevin came in and had to play hard. It was after all his first major negotiation as a general manager. PK Subban’s talent was undeniable, but the organization had question marks about his attitude, they wanted to make sure he can be part of this team, they wanted to make sure that he was a good teammate. Bottom line is they wanted to tame him, on and off the ice. Absolutely ridiculous!

Guess what? That’s a load of dog feces! PK Subban was and is a game-changer, he always will be. He can win you games all by himself. So he makes mistakes. Every single superstar in the league is a high-risk player. The key is to surround these stars properly.

Some fans were outraged when Subban was holding out before he signed his bridge deal. “He’s so arrogant.” “He hasn’t proved anything.” “He has to respect the process like all the other players.”
Oh please, spare me with that old school dinosaur mentality. Signing him to a bridge deal was a huge mistake. It was actually more than a huge mistake, it was foolish and the Montreal Canadiens are going to pay for it now.

Mr. Bergevin, how exactly can you argue with Don Meehan? What can you say to Subban or his agent that will be in the organization’s favor?  

This is some of what Don Meehan has to say;
Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images N.A.
2012-2013 - 42 GP 11 G 27 A = 38 PTS
-Lead all NHL defensemen in the regular season.
-Won the Norris trophy for being the “BEST DEFENSEMAN IN THE NHL

2013-2014 - 81 GP 10 G 43 A – 53 PTS (5th in the NHL)
PK Subban gets picked to be on the Canadian Olympic team that won gold in Sochi. Although Subban wasn’t a big factor on the ice, several of his Canadian teammates have said that he was an incredible team-first type of guy. (If anybody had any doubts that all he cares about is winning, you’re all out of your mind.)

Marc Bergevin, you have nothing to counter with.

Sign Subban and sign him now!

Sign him for the maximum term and make the man happy. If the market says he’s worth $9.5 million, you don’t have a choice. Give Subban his money.

Oh yeah and give him the C. You, me and the entire Montreal Canadiens fan base knows he deserves the captaincy. He’s your best player (other than Carey Price of course), and he has as much heart as anybody in the league. He proved that he can handle the media and that he thrives under pressure.
Subban for president! Until he pisses me off and I write how we should trade him. #notgonnahappen.
You can follow me on twitter @habsaddict

*************** 
I'm a die hard Montréal Canadiens fan, but I can be objective and like all other HABS fans I'm bipolar when it comes to my team, so watch what you say!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Montreal Canadiens: Getting To Know Nikita Scherbak

Credit: La Presse
When the Montreal Canadiens' scouting staff elected to draft Saskatoon Blades import winger Nikita Scherbak with the 26th pick of the 1st round last June in Philadelphia, they also drafted a very colorful young hockey player. The WHL's leading rookie scorer by a wide margin with 28 goals and 50 assists for 78 points in 65 games, made a flawless transition into the North American junior hockey league.

An intelligent hockey player who has shown to be very coachable and liked by his teammates, Scherbak is blessed with strong skating abilities, a creative vision and a willingness to engage physically in puck battles along the boards and at both ends of the rink. A quick learner, the 18-year-old winger already speaks English very well, despite having played only one season in Western Canada, and the personable youngster is already a favorite of the media and fans alike.


The 6'2'', 182-lb forward who is currently in Montreal for the team's development camp, skated on a line with Christian Thomas and Daniel Audette on Monday.

"It's very hard, a lot of pressure, a lot of people watching, but I'm alright right now," Scherbak told reporters after the second day of the Canadiens development camp in Brossard, Quebec. "It's hard work and we'll see," said Scherbak. "I can't say I already know (who will make the roster), it's the coaches' opinion… It's a big pressure for me, but I'm trying to play next season, I'll try everything to make it to the NHL."
While his ultimate goal is to play in the NHL next season, he is realistic that he will probably head back to Saskatoon next year to polish his overall game and mature as a hockey player. While Scherbak is pretty confident about his offensive play, he acknowledges that he needs to work on his defensive game and his body strength to improve his game along the boards and in one-on-one battles.


The right-winger, whose childhood idol is Pavel Datsyuk, has a pretty similar style of play to that of teammate Alex Galchenyuk. Both players have such a similar build and stature that they almost look like clones when you watch them on the ice from afar. They also both wear the same number 27.

A vibrant person who is known to talk aplenty on road trips, Scherbak has been taking English lessons and learning fast. Saskatoon head coach Dave Struch jokes: “On the five or six-hour bus trips he sits four seats behind us (coaches) and that’s all you can hear, him talking the whole way.” Scherbak is already saying a few words in French such as "Bonjour", "Merci" and "Comment ça va?" which is already more than most current Habs players.

You can also watch his first Q&A that he did earlier today for the Montreal Canadiens on YouTube:


For a more in-depth look at Nikita Scherbak, have a look at this excellent player profile by Ryan Pike of The Hockey Writers: Nikita Scherbak – The Next Ones: 2014 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

You can follow the latest Habs on Twitter.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Montreal Canadiens Player Profile: Jiri Sekac

(Photo: HC Lev Praha)
When it was announced on July 1st, 2014 that the Montreal Canadiens had come to terms with unrestricted free agent Jiri Sekac, most people said: "Jiri who? Is he related to Joe Sakic?" Well, not exactly as his name is pronounced "Jirji Skaatch". 

The 22-year-old left-winger signed a two-year contract with the Habs that will pay him $925,000 annually should he play in the NHL next season. Sekac will earn $70,000 if he is demoted to the AHL. The Czech can also earn up to $425,000 in performance bonuses in each season.

So, who is Jiri Sekac? The Kladno native played for HC Lev Praha in the KHL in 2013-14, potting 11 goals and adding 17 assists for 28 points in 47 games to go along with a +12 rating and 18 penalty minutes. Never drafted by a NHL team, Sekac played only eight games with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL back in 2009-10 after being cut by his junior team. The 6' 2'', 190-lb winger performed rather well in the USHL before signing to play in the KHL for three seasons.

Before he decided to sign with the Canadiens, Sekac was coveted by at least a dozen teams despite the fact that most North American hockey fans didn't know him well, if at all.

At the 2014 World Championships, Sekac recorded two points in ten games for Czech Republic, but came close to adding two more goals against Italy and Canada, respectively. An unorthodox-looking skater and not a very physical player despite his size, Sekac will have to improve his body strength this summer to be harder to knock of the puck next season. Hailing from the same hometown as Tomas Plekanec, Jaromir Jagr and Jakub Voracek, Sekac is blessed with great hands and an excellent hockey sense.

While he is not known for his defensive acumen, Sekac is a very adept two-way player who is responsible in his own zone, which will certainly please head coach Michel Therrien. The lanky winger has a good wrist shot and great passing abilities, which project him as a 20 goals and 20 assists player in a near future. Sekac is a fringe second line player right now, but he is talented enough to play on the team's third line next season.

This is one of the main reasons Marc Bergevin let Thomas Vanek and Brian Gionta go via free agency and did not sign any other forward to replace them, save for veteran Manny Malhotra who will be the team's fourth-line center. Since Cakes (Sekac backwards) is already familiar with Tomas Plekanec, I wouldn't be surprised if he begins the season on his line alongside someone like Rene Bourque or Michael Bournival, who can both play against offensive lines.

Potential Habs lines:
Pacioretty-Desharnais-Parenteau
Sekac-Plekanec-Bourque
Galchenyuk-Eller-Gallagher
Prust-Malhotra-Weise

Extras: Bournival and Moen

It will certainly be interesting to see if the young European can make an easy transition to the smaller ice next season and keep producing offensively among men.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Roz's Rant: Cold Hard Bitch

I blog a lot about my family and hockey and I usually overlap the two on this blog because it amuses me to do so and it generally pisses them off or makes them laugh, and I like a laugh and/or revenge, as the situation warrants.
I am who I am and I don't like yams.


But every now and again I go on a rant, and such was the case last night on Twitter. After a Day From Hell, I read my timeline, got tired of the same old BS and went on a 30 point Twitter rant, only 29 of which were unpleasant.

I know I pissed off a lot of people because there was a fantastic amount of subtweeting going on after I ranted and left (in my defence it was midnight), and really I'm okay with that.

Other than spelling mistakes or to clarify I'm not going to edit these tweets except to say this about number 2, which seems to have generated the most subtweets: go ahead and love the sport and love the player all you want.

Sit in your room and bawl your eyes out for days (by your own admission since it leaked the Habs were trying to deal Gorges) and write him love letters and quit on the team. But the second you throw that shit out onto twitter you've chosen to make it public and willingly opened yourself up for a reaction, be it positive or negative.

I never said you didn't have the right to feel the way you do. But I am going to mock you for the four days of teenage crush angst drama and wailing you've spewed onto my timeline over somebody you've never even met and who doesn't know you exist. I'm a cold hard bitch.

I realize that I left a lot of shit out in the ether, so to speak, and I won't be pretending to retract any of it, so if you're here for an apology you might just want to go watch porn or something instead. I don't care. But you're not getting one.

WARNING: COARSE LANGUAGE, READER'S DISCRETION ADVISED.

30 Hockey and Habs Rage Tweets

1. MB (Marc Bergevin) does not need the fans advice. This includes those who think you know better than him due to advanced stats and popular fan blogs. Get over yourself or get an NHL gig.

2. If you "literally cry" when a player leaves how the fuck do you cope with actual reality? You're not his fucking wife or BFF. Get a grip. It is one thing to be upset. I didn't dig dealing Muller. But fucking crying over it and writing epic letters of undying love? LMFAO PLEASE

3. If you need a particular player on a team to support that team, you are a fan of the player and not the team. So just step off. Actually that last was probably still part 2 but what the fuck ever. I'm raging right now.

4. Gionta and Gorges do not suddenly make the Sabres Stanley Cup contenders. Are you FUCKING SERIOUS?

5. Hockey players are in it for the money. Sure it's nice to love a city & the fans & shit but they want their $. Saying otherwise is a lie.

6. The next lockout would be the last if the fans would actually wield their power & boycott the NHL for even 1 week for this shit. I didn't go to MTL for a year after that last one because it was a protest on my part. Went to Panama instead. Otherwise we're accessories.

7. I'd trade anybody & everybody for a 25th MTL Cup. I'd shave Youppi and kick his ass up and down St. Cat's. This includes PK and Price.

8. There are too many fucking hockey blog websites saying the same thing 10,001 different ways. I'm bored by 10,000 of them.

9. Trevor Timmins does a fine job & this is to that asshat Guy Smith on Habsaddict & his anonymous alter ego. Bitch let's see you do better.

10. Also, Guy/Anonymous unless you can replace a 39 goal scorer willy nilly you can just step right off dissing Max. Get thee to rehab idiot.

11. The next person that wants to define a "true hockey fan" or "true Habs fan" for me can save their tweet, unfollow & block. #fuckoff

12. I still can't stand Lars Eller. Probably never will. Ditto for DD, who at least earned my respect. Still waiting for Lars.

13. I think Pierre McGuire is probably the biggest idiot in hockey TV, rivalled only by Don Cherry. It's a close fucking race.

14. Lost in all of this is the fact that MTL has become attractive to UFAs again, which took a long time, and was part of MB's doing. If you recall (and I do) we were once in Toronto's position where paying anything & everything still couldn't get them to sign with MTL... ESPECIALLY the home grown talent. And who could blame them? But by all means hate on MB for dealing Gorges. Because that's all that counts.

15. MT was not my first choice for the coach, but since I'm not fucking MB guess what? IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT I THINK. #perspectivebitches

16. I'd rather be horsewhipped than see another player be signed for his name & language. I realize this may piss off RDS but I risk it. I can't remember the last time something galled me as much as Briere getting signed & handed the torch. He didn't earn it, okay? I'm fucking glad he's gone. Yes I pulled for him because he WAS WEARING THE SWEATER but I never liked the signing. And not because of his name and heritage but because he's overrated, washed up and expensive. So there you go.

17. I've seen it taken for granted that the #Habs will make the playoffs next year & I'd really like to see where that's written. And I don't mean twitter but I mean where it's written in the fucking NHL rule book or something. They are not guaranteed SHIT!

18. Just once, just ONCE, I'd like the TSN panel to say something nice about the Habs and fucking mean it. It's to the point I'd pay $. This goes double for CBC. I'd also sell my entire twitter follower group upriver to never have to suffer HNIC's pro-TO agenda ever again. It's not that I don't love you but with what I've gone through today you're pretty much all I have left any more.

19. Bettman is an affront to the sport & its fans. Is he a great businessman? Sure & the owners love him. But he's a joke that needs to end.

20. The reffing in the NHL is colossally stupid, in need of some accountability & a major overhaul... Yeah and this goes back to HNIC & the CBC & shit I suffer as a hockey fan. What I want to know is why is there no accountability of the reffing in the NHL? Is there a shortage of wannabe zebras that we can't risk offending the blind or biased ones we've got? And don't tell me they aren't either. I've watched Crosby stand on the ice, whining to the refs - meaning 6 men for Pittsburgh - while the Habs wanted a too many men call. He did it for half a minute. No call. But then you get idiots like McLean who think that French refs favour Montreal. I can tell McLean never watches a Habs game from this single fucking remark because it's usually the opposite. They call the Habs for every goddamned thing so as to not appear biased.

21. Why is there no freedom of speech in the NHL? If a coach says the reffing was shit he gets a fine. Canada & the US are free but not if you're an NHL coach with a pair of eyes and a brain. Then you get fines. Also fines are stupid because these people are RICH AS FUCK. WE ARE THE ONES who make them rich as fuck. Yet we can't hear what they really think and feel like they're humans frustrated by their bosses.

22. Why are there no consistent rules for infractions in the NHL? Why are there no lifetime bans for repeat douche offenders? It's all so fucking arbitrary and as a fan I think a lot of it is who is friends with Bettman and whoever is running the discipline. And that is a fucking joke because there is no discipline in the NHL, just confusion. I don't trust TPTB (The Powers that Be) in the NHL. Do you?

23. There should be no more NTC contracts or clauses. They are POINTLESS. What a fucking joke. Why even bother?

24. I don't GAF who is the next Habs captain. There I've said it. IT DOESN'T MATTER. It's for the fans, and this fan doesn't care. Really. Why does it matter who the next Habs captain is? Is there some goddamned criteria required to stand there & spout clichés at the media? "We gave 110%. Credit to the other team. We came out flat. We need to regroup. We did some good things." *insert eye roll here* And that ties back to my earlier point about how the NHL does not allow its coaches and players to speak freely. It's the fucking Kremlin. Perhaps if the team captains were allowed to HAVE A FUCKING PERSONALITY OR UNCENSORED OPINION I'd care but they don't so I don't.

25. This sport leaves a lot to be desired for its fans. They can have fan night all they want & signings & shit but really they take us for granted and as a fan I get to resenting it. I watch UFA and the $$$ they get handed out like they're curing fucking cancer or something while the rest of us save up & budget to afford a single game (if we're lucky to even get tickets & good luck with that at times) and I really think the NHL as a whole really ought to try stopping with the Kremlin shit & be more engaged with its fans. This particularly includes the NHL social media team accounts and especially the players, who use this shit to endorse their products. I followed Mike Cammalleri for a year & all I saw was fucking Biosteel tweets. So I don't follow players any more. The rest barely tweet or are boring and insanely politically correct. When did twitter become so fucking PC for the NHL? It should be fun.

26. Hockey is too expensive and I don't mean just to go and watch a game. Rogers is going to fuck over the Habs fans out West and all I can say is welcome to my world. In the East unless you pay for a premium package your choices are Toronto. That's it. RDS cost me six bucks a month but I flat out fucking refuse to subscribe to TVA. They can just fuck right off. So I'm left with what? NHL Center Ice? That's not cheap. (Then) there's the actual kids playing the sport. Equipment and lessons and gas and hotels and who can afford it? It has gone from pond hockey to an elite sport. I speak just from watching the kids around my hometown this past winter. Some kids couldn't afford it. What is that shit? When I was a kid we put on some cheap ass figure skates and we didn't wear all this shit and we didn't get hurt & we had fun. Now? I need a second income if I want to help my 5 year old nephew play. So do his parents. It's ridiculous.

27. The concussion protocol room is not being adhered to. I really don't believe it. A player should not get to override medical protocols. I once ended up in the hospital after a car accident (it's on my blog) and I wanted to leave and I got vetoed by the medical staff. They were concerned I might have possible internal bleeding (I didn't) or a concussion (I did). They are trained to assess me better than I can myself, and while I get that the players want to get back out there etc. they should be overruled no matter what. And if a player has to miss a month due to a cheap goddamned hit to the head (intentional I mean) then the offender should miss the same # of games. I mean why does the offender get to continue targeting others? But again that goes back to the arbitrary discipline point earlier.

28. Ice girls are an affront to women, and in particular hockey fan women. And then there's the whole fucking puck bunny thing. #bitchplease Here's the difference between a female hockey fan and a puck bunny - because a lot of people don't seem to grasp this: I like hockey. I watch hockey. I watch all hockey, including women's hockey. Puck bunnies watch the men who play hockey. They watch who is single and try to meet them. They fangirl over their hair and shit. They obsess and "literally cry" and shit. Sure I like MB and I think he's attractive (I have eyes that work, thanks) and I like to chime in and have fun but really... #perspective. I don't actually GAF who he's sleeping with. I won't literally cry when he's gone. I don't watch every interview he's ever given. I won't write epic love letters to him. Right now he's in my orbit because he runs the team I love. I'm a hockey woman fan, not a puck bunny. And while I'm on this subject I once got interviewed on a radio show and was asked such enlightening questions as who my fave player was (Larry Robinson) and other "girly" questions. They didn't GAF what I actually thought about the team or the sport. I left feeling offended. I remember once a couple of puck bunnies got national airtime for being all fangirly and not discussing / contributing anything other than "oh he's so cute" and "he has the best hair" and shit like that. Is that really what hockey guys think of us gals who like this sport? I've got no time for that. That shit is offensive to me as a hockey fan and as a woman. I don't follow puck bunnies, ok? Just FYI.

29. These "hockey insiders" with the scoops and the trade spec... this shit is so old. Who the fuck do you think you are? Why do you have a single follower you twitter whoring idiot? Do people actually believe you? I'm going to start selling bridges to these people.

30. OK I'm done. If you're still reading  I thank you. I can't get to all my mentions right now. Welcome new followers. I didn't blog this shit because frankly I didn't know it was going to go to 30 points. I had maybe 5 before I got started and then got warmed up and all hell broke loose and came pouring out of me. This happens at time. You guys are warned. Peace out (or not). Your choice.

Disclaimer: not sure why comments aren't showing up. I disabled the spam verification blocker but the comments are set to post upon entry. I'm not screening / moderating. Apologies folks.

Originally published here.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Habs Free Agency Frenzy : Failure or Success?

by Eitan Calmy

Marc Bergevin on fire? I would say so!

After reaching the conference finals in this year’s NHL playoffs, many expected that besides a few tweaks to the line-up Marc Bergevin wouldn’t do anything drastic. RFAs PK Subban and Lars Eller were a lock for extensions and then the general consensus was that unless you can replace Andrei Markov with anything nearly as good as he is, you had to bring him back. One of the bigger question marks was whether or not captain Brian Gionta would re-sign in Montreal.  
For the Montreal Canadiens the frenzy actually started on June 23rd. After going through the list of available defensemean it became more and more evident that the Montreal Canadiens couldn’t and shouldn’t let Andrei Markov go. He played 81 games, scored 7 goals, had 36 assists, finished with a +12 rating, and was the most used player on the team with an average TOI of 25:14. He was actually the 9th most used player in the NHL during the 2013-2014 regular season.
On June 23rd Andrei Markov and the Montreal Canadiens agreed on a three-year deal worth $17.25 million. The AAV on the deal is exactly what it’s been since 2007. In order to stay with the one and only organization he’s played for in the NHL, Markov accepted to sign with a hometown rebate. When Markov signed his previous contracts, the salary cap was much lower. When the cap goes up so do the salaries, therefore if Andrei Markov would have hit the market he would have easily gotten the same term and at least $7 million AAV.
Verdict on the Markov deal: it’s a no brainer. Marc Bergevin did great!
July 1st of every year is the day that owners of several NHL teams give general managers the keys to their vault. Players become free to offer their services to any team and in exchange teams give them the world. Yesterday was no exception. Next year or any other year won’t be any different!
Within minutes after team were officially allowed to sign players, the Montreal Canadiens make their first move of the day. They announce that they have signed Manny Malhotra.
Malhotra, 34, is 6’2’' and weighs 220 lbs, signed a one-year deal worth $850,000. Without going into too many details, the following stat alone should make Habs fans ecstatic. Manny was 59.8% in the faceoff circle in the 2013-2014, good for 2nd in the NHL. The Montreal Canadiens haven’t had a real faceoff specialist since Guy Carbonneau. Malhotra’s experience and leadership will be an asset to a team that lost their captain Brian Gionta and assistant captain Josh Gorges in the same day.
Verdict on the Malhotra deal: low risk – great at faceoffs and plays on the PK. What more can you ask for from a 4th liner with his salary?
Shortly after shocking the NHL and the whole Montreal Canadiens fan base with the Josh Gorges to Buffalo trade (see article written by Darrin Harmsworth on habsaddict.com), Habs announced that they signed UFA defenseman Tom Gilbert.
Gilbert, 31, is 6’2’' and weighs 206 lbs, signed a two-year deal worth $5.8 million with an AAV of $2.9 million. He is a right-handed offensive defenseman that makes a very good first pass. For all you analytics experts and I'm not one of them, apparently Gilbert’s CORSI rating is fantastic and that’s why Montreal Canadiens fans will appreciate him.
Verdict on the Gilbert deal: He’s pretty much a bigger Josh Gorges. I hope he has the same determination, but realistically this allows for Tinordi and Beaulieu to jump in, and for Emelin to play on his natural side.
Jiri Sekac. Who? Well let’s be honest here, even most insiders had to go look this guy up. Jiri is a 22-year-old right winger who shoots left. Original sources had him at 6’0'', 174-lb, but today reports are showing that he’s actually 6’2’' weighing in at 195 lbs. He is from the Czech Republic and was a rookie in the KHL this past season. As many as 15 other teams were trying to get Sekac under contract. Marc Bergevin caught most of us off guard with this one. According to TSN, Sekac should be able to play on Montreal Canadiens' top nine.
Jeremy Gregoire drafted 176th overall in the 6th round of the 2013 NHL entry draft by the Montreal Canadiens signed his first professional contract. It’s a three-year entry level deal.
Joey Mcdonald was signed by the Habs to a one-year, two-way deal to add some depth after losing Devan Dubnyk to free agency and not submitting a qualifying offer to Peter Delmas.
Also Mike Weaver has agreed to a one-year deal with the Canadiens. After the fantastic job that he did for the team since being acquired at the trade deadline of the last NHL regular season, it was evident that the Montreal Canadiens would bring him back as a 6th/7th defenseman.
Let’s recap the changes that occurred within the last 72 hours
OUT
Brian Gionta - Forward – 5’7’' 173 lbs
Josh Gorges – Defenseman – 6’1’' 200 lbs
Daniel Briere – Forward – 5’10’' 181 lbs
Ryan White – Forward – 6’0’' 200 lbs

IN
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau – forward – 6’0’' 193 lbs
Tom Gilbert – defenseman – 6’2’' 206 lbs
Manny Malhotra – Forward – 6’2’' 220 lbs
Jiri Sekac – forward – 6’2’' 195 lbs
So bottom line, the Montreal Canadiens got bigger, stronger, faster, younger for less money, less term and less risk. They now have three right-handed defenseman. Emelin will be able to play on his natural left side. Beaulieu and Tinordi will both get a fair crack at integrating the line-up every single night. Briere was an extra centre that didn’t fit in the team’s depth chart. The return on Daniel Briere was a right winger that’s younger, makes the same salary and has an extra year on his contract.
I don’t think I could find anything negative to say about Bergevin even if I tried to right now. He’s showing that he’s not afraid to right a wrong. He’s definitely starting to put his team together now.
Was July 1st a failure or a success for the Montreal Canadiens? I strongly believe that Marc Bergevin is doing a phenomenal job and the past few days were a great success!

I have some questions:
Is Marc Bergevin going continue his search for a top-six winger via trade?
Is PK Subban ready to be the next captain?
If Subban isn’t the guy, who is?
I think Alex Galchenyuk should absolutely start playing his natural Centre position. Do you?
In my opinion  Bergevin should trade Plekanec in a package for an established top 6 winger. Do you agree?

You can follow me on Twitter @habsaddict
I am a father of 4, I played, I was an on ice official and I now coach minor hockey. I’m  definitely not an expert but my views and opinions are right. I’m never wrong. Deal with it! Enjoy this beautiful game. The best game!

Josh Gorges Gone, New Era Begins

After news broke that the Toronto Maple Leafs had made an offer to the Montreal Canadiens for Josh Gorges on Monday, June 30th, the Canadiens fan base went crazy. Some were happy, some confused, and many shocked.

Nobody was more shocked than the man himself, Josh Gorges. He was taken aback. He felt as though he was in Montreal for the long haul.

I felt as though it was a bitter-sweet moment. Gorges was a huge piece to the Canadiens success and was well known for his leadership and respect in the Habs dressing room. He wore the CH on his sleeve, and dedicated himself to the success of the team. However, it was time for the Montreal Canadiens to move on, without the assistant captain.

There were many factors that led up to the decision to move such a big leader off of a team who had such success last season. as a general manager of such a big hockey organization, every move made will be followed by scrutiny and mixed reviews. Marc Bergevin weighed his options, and decided that trading Gorges was the best option for the team moving forward. I one hundred percent agree with what Bergevin decided to do.

  • Marc Bergevin made a statement after the Habs game six loss to the New York Rangers that really made me think about how this off-season would go. He said that the leadership in the Canadiens dressing room was shifting. He said younger guys were prepared to take a bigger role on the team. He really stuck to his word by trading Josh Gorges, arguably the most predominant leader for Montreal. 
  • This trade allowed Bergevin to shuffle his defensive dynamic, and allows a chance for a pair of young, NHL ready defencemen to break into the league. 
  • The resigning of Mike Weaver provided a much cheaper option as a penalty kill specialist, and the addition of Tom Gilbert provides an option for Montreal's second power play unit.
  • PK Subban is due for a big raise, and in order to save the cap space that he is going to eat up, somebody had to be moved. Gorges was expendable as there were options in place to take his spot in the line-up. 
  • This was a combination of a business move, and a hockey move. Both, in my opinion, were calculated decisions that will help the club in the immediate, and distant future.
Josh Gorges will be dearly missed in Montreal. Since his arrival in Montreal in 2007, he has been a fan favourite. He played his heart out each and every game, and was a big part of Montreal's core. I would like to wish him luck in Buffalo, and hope he finds success.  

Back in Montreal, this trade has provided Bergevin with a 2nd round pick in 2016. This could potentially be a valuable pick down the line. On top of that, they have the slots available for the kids (Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu, and Greg Pateryn) to make the big club full time. FINALLY.

Overall, I am happy with how this Gorges deal has turned out. Marc Bergevin isn't afraid to make the big moves needed for the better of the Montreal Canadiens.

Thank you for reading! be sure to follow @Darrinharmy
and leave a comment below.