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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Montreal Canadiens Set with Top Six

Habs Top 6 All Accounted For

The Habs offensive situation seems to have their fanbase in a panic. We are well into summer and aside from some free agent pickups — forwards Colby Armstrong, Brandon Prust and defenseman Francis Bouillon — that have made the Habs tougher, nothing has been done to address the team's need to fill the back of the net.

With each passing day, the Habs faithful sit waiting, hoping that Marc Bergevin will come up with that big sniper we've been waiting for, the missing piece of the Stanley Cup puzzle.

The fact of the matter is, it's not going to happen. The Canadiens will head into the 2012-13 season with a top line of David Desharnais centering Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty and a second unit of Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta flanking Tomas Plekanec.

Making Lemonade

When life gives you lemons....

In this case, the Habs lemon appears to be Rene Bourque. After accumulating just six points in 38 games, the city of Montreal is ready to cast Bourque aside.

When following the team from the comfort of your own home, it's easy to just toss Bourque away and replace him with anybody linked to the Habs in the rumor mill.

The reality of the situation, however, isn't so simple.

Bourque has four years left at a $3.33 million cap hit and is coming off of a bad season. GM's aren't exactly lining up to welcome him to their rosters.

Besides, doesn't it make sense that the return of Brian Gionta alone could help Bourque's stats?

A line of Plekanec — a smart, skilled playmaker —  Gionta — a speedy goal scorer —  and Bourque — a big bodied, two time 27 goal scorer —  has potential.

Gionta is coming off a season in which he was limited to just 31 games and is surely itching to prove he can still play. Plekanec is the least of the lines worries and will no doubt produce. Just look at his 52 points last season playing alongside a struggling Andrei Kostitsyn and bottom sixers Ryan White, Travis Moen and Michael Blunden among others.

Maybe new coach Michel Therrien, who has a tough reputation, can even encourage Bourque to incorporate his size into his game. Pacioretty seemed to take a cue from Cole, if Bourque can do the same it shouldn't come as a shock if he returns to his nearly 30 goal scoring form.

Doan Even Think About It

There will no doubt be those who remain skeptical after reading this and so here's a question: Who else is there?

And before you answer Shane Doan, just think about his asking price. Here's a 35 year old grinding style player who is looking for a $7.5 million dollar payday for four years.

I have nothing but respect for Doan. He is a leader, he plays hard and has proven to be loyal by giving the city of Glendale plenty of time to figure their whole mess out with hopes of staying with the Phoenix Coyotes.

But anybody who would be willing to pay so much to a 35 year old player who may not last another four years immediately loses their right to complain about Gomez's contract.

Does the state of the Habs top six require a desperation signing? Is Bourque really that bad that a measley 38 games should be enough to give up on him?

What do you think?


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Sean is a freelance writer currently contributing to HabsAddict.com. He is also a regular blogger and frequent panelist on the Habs post game show at MontrealHockeyTalk.com You can follow Sean on Twitter.


(Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images North America)

12 comments:

@Sean

You know I am going to have a disagree right.

I disagree with two statements above.

First: "nothing has been done to address the team's need to fill the back of the net"

People forget that arguably one of the best PP players in the NHL missed 69 games last year and our leading goal scorer missed more than half the season in Markov and Gionta.

Take last year's line-up and add a 50 point D-man and a near 30 goal scorer and you'll added offense.

Second: "A line of Plekanec — a smart, skilled playmaker — Gionta — a speedy goal scorer — and Bourque — a big bodied, two time 27 goal scorer — has potential."

I think Bourque will rebound perfectly well but people seem to forget that Bourque's best years came when he was playing RW. Similar to Cole, these guys struggle from the left side of the ice.

In my mind we still need to address the 2nd line LW because Bourque is better suited on the right side.

I do't think they should give up on Bourque, however, Bourque twice scored 27 goals at his natural right wing. If Gionta could play on the left side it might be more successful. I would be more inclined to move Bourque to the 3rd line right wing with Eller at centre and Prust on the left side and see if a prospect could fill the 2nd line left wing. Then have Moen, White, Blunden as the 4th line. Maybe Armstrong on the 2nd line left side.

I would like to see the team signs Andrei Kostitsyn to a reasonable contract.

I agree with most Sean.

Doan aint coming to 28th place team and that is fine with me.
Bourque trade was a super one ( but i couldt stand Squid as a player, so a bit biased opinion) and if take a longer view of Bourques play, he has 72 goals over last 3 years, even with a crap year last year. So i have little worry he will manage 20+ and will easily fill Kostitsyn's role.
I doubt Gionta will switch wings, but like Desharnais, he likely could play either well.
And maybe Gallagher/Leblanc could be plan B on top 6.

don

@Bryan
Your disagreement's are why I write my pieces ;-)
You do make a good point about Markov and Gio returning, I was referring to the lack of improvement through free agency. The return of Marky and Gio should help us move up a few spots in the standings but are not the ideal fix for the offensive production.

As for Bourque, I still say time will tell. He may struggle on the left but may not. We may as well give him a shot before assuming that side of the ice will automatically cause his production to slip.

@Stsicard I'm not 100% against Bourque playing to the right of Eller but I feel Pleky deserves some established NHL players to play alongside. He has paid his dues by playing with just about everybody with a CH on their chest last year.

@anon1 what price would you pay for AK? Plekanec has found chemistry with him in the past so it is at least worth consideration. Personally I would love to see what he could do on a line with Malkin and Neal or even Crosby.

I want to see Montreal Canadiens a successful team in upcoming tournaments.Because I am a fan of this team.

Bourque is as we say in french "un copie coller" of Kostitsyn when hes there awesome but needed to keep stoking the fire under his arse or he'd go nappies...lol
Bourque stands to have one advantage going into next year though.... Therrien is a pyro!!! So I think we'll need to see what Bourque has to offer but i think we all stand to be surprised!!!

Sign AK to a 1 year for $2-3 million. It may be wishful thinking but no one has signed him yet so he may be willing to lower his asking price.

I don't see Bergevin going after AK as he is not the type of player he seems to like.
I doubt he would have traded for Bourque or Kaberle either.
If Bourque plays better on the right side then at some point I'm sure they will move him there.
It does not explain his lack of intensity though, which seems to be the main issue with him.
Colby Armstrong played on a line with Malkin and Crosby at different times and had some success.
He may also be an option for the 2nd line as he would be able to create some space for Plekanec and Gionta and probably give us 15-20 goals.

@Sean

Good points.

I agree that our options are limited, outside of a trade, but I don't think we're where we need to be as a team... The thing is, we shouldn't *expect* to be there yet.

The no.2 line you mentioned will probably start the season, and they should. I think we're in a semi-rebuild period with new captains of the ship. I love the idea of trading for a star LW but, rather than risk losing the great pieces we *do* have for a shot in the dark, I say you give the new regime some time with those pieces/the current lineup.

The team members looks like very inspiring.Best of luck for the MONTREAL CANADIENS team.

THE C.H should start thinking about reconstruction since P.Roy left the team nothing has happen we still trying to find a #1 big strong center-man. #1 d-man.
it just a big mess..
they should rebuilt the C.H. the right way by drafting & trading smart just the way good teams in the NHL LIKE
Chicago - Pittsburgh - Philadelphia. Boston

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