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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Time for Marc Bergevin to Put His Imprint on the Montreal Canadiens

Marc Bergevin - 2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One
Although I am usually a pessimistic voice when it come to the Montreal Canadiens, I must admit that when it comes to the work carried out by Marc Bergevin, I find it oddly difficult to complain.

I have been the consummate advocate against the Habs management, or should I say the lack thereof.  For the better part of a decade, the General Manager, whether Bob Gainey or Pierre Gauthier, seemed to live in a world of his own, with a supposed plan which resulted in an apparent lack of direction. Ultimately, this created confusion for the coaching staff and the players.

Draft picks, prospects and rookies alike were mishandled. Players were sometimes rushed to the NHL, others left rotting in the minors while the majority were scratching their heads trying to figure out things on their own.

As hockey fans, we heard stories of players like Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin or Jeff Skinner being nurtured by the organization that drafted them. They were invited to live with key players, taught how to eat, train and live away from the ice. They were given every luxury needed for them to succeed.

In Montreal, however, there was a perception of almost being abandoned. How many stories have we collectively heard of the involvement of the Kostitsyn brothers with the Russian Mob, or Carey Price out late partying up a storm?

Way too many to count.

Insert Marc Bergevin. How can I complain about a man who, despite being hired just a little over two months ago, has completely revamped his coaching, management and player personnel departments.

Bergevin has inserted a team of hard working, character guys throughout all levels of this organization. He has expanded the group of amateur scouts and player development personnel. Now, the team has a complete staff of individuals who, as a collective, will help mold young assets.

And, eventually, these individuals will help turn prospects and picks into character, NHL calibre players. To me, this was a crucial step if the Montreal Canadiens ever wanted to regain their form as an elite NHL franchise.

Despite this, Twitter and Facebook alike are screaming with fans who want more.

To them I say, sure, more could have been done in terms of player movement. The Habs could have traded this player or could have offered $7.5 million per season for Shane Doan. But, in my books, in order to excel on the ice, we need a team that excels off of it.

Having said that, with off ice improvements largely taken care of, it’s now time for Marc Bergevin to make this team his own.

I would have to think that the only thing holding Bergevin back is the uncertainty of not having a season in 2012-13.

Can you imagine the embarrassment of parting ways with a highly touted prospect like Jarred Tinordi in exchange for a player like Ryan Getzlaf only to watch him depart as a UFA at the end of the year because of a lockout?

Maybe I am off my rocker on this one, but you'd have to think that it is the only thing holding Bergevin back right now, because there is simply no chance that the current roster will be the one iced at the start of the season. There are just too many holes.

For me there are five glaring issues: a lack of top end left wingers, a lack of right handed d-man capable of top-four minutes, a lack of physicality on defense, a 24 man roster and, of course, Scott Gomez.

The belief is that the final two issues go together. Scott Gomez will find himself in Hamilton for the start of this season, thereby reducing the roster to the appropriate 23 men, and saving the Habs $7.4 million in cap space.

Personally, I do not see that happening. I firmly believe that Gomez will be part of the opening day roster, thereby making Michael Blunden the odd man out, but that’s a whole other debate, isn’t it?

Instead I want to look at how to address the top three issues: left wingers, right handed D and additional physicality.

Are you an Arm Chair GM?

We all like to play arm chair GM.

It’s the aspect of hockey that I enjoy most. Where most kids dream of one day being an NHL player, for me it was always being an NHL GM.

Personally, I play NHL '12 almost every single day and, at any given time, have about five seasons going on at once.  One season has the actual roster for the year and then four seasons include a complete roster shake up.

I just destroy the team, keeping a handful of players, primarily Subban, Price and Pacioretty. Then, I just completely revamp the team to my liking and include some of my favourite players.

So, as the consummate Arm Chair GM here is my solution to the Canadiens roster for 2012-13:

Trade 1: Montreal trades Brian Gionta to the New jersey Devils in exchange for Anton Volchenkov.

Analysis:  The Devils are looking for a veteran presence with goal scoring ability to fill the void left by Zack Parise's departure. Gionta’s familiarity with the Devils' locker room, on-ice production and leadership qualities would be highly welcome by New Jersey.

Montreal would secure another big physical defensemen with above average shot blocking abilities who, although left handed, has played the majority of his career on the right side. Trading Gionta would also free up a right winger roster spot allowing Rene Bouque to return to his natural position.

Trade 2: Montreal trades Tomas Kaberle and a fourth round draft pick to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Daniel Cleary.

Analysis:. The Detroit Red Wings are in need of a defensemen given the loss of Brad Stuart and Niklas Lidstrom. Although Kaberle is not an elite player, he remains a great puck moving defensemen who will profit from the high octane offense of the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings have a history of rejuvenating the careers of players like Larry Murphy, Chris Chelios, Daniel Cleary, Todd Bertuzzi and others. Tomas Kaberle should be no different.

Montreal would gain the character, grit and leadership that Daniel Cleary brings. He is also an elite penalty killer capable of playing all three forward positions. More importantly, the loss of Kaberle would free up cap space and a roster spot on the blueline.

Trade 3: Montreal trades Rafael Diaz, Danny Kristo and a second round pick obtained from Nashville to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Brendan Morrow.

Analysis:  The cash strapped Dallas Stars would free valuable cap space and add some youth to both the defense and forward units.

Montreal would secure the services of a player they have long coveted and reinforces a position where they desperately need reinforcements.

Overall, Montreal would lose Gionta, Kaberle, Diaz — who make a combined $10.5 million —Kirsto and a couple of draft picks. They would be replaced by Morrow, Volchenkov and Cleary who make a combined $11.35 million.

My team for the start of the 2012-13 season would be:

Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole
Morrow-Plekanec-Bourque
Moen-Eller-Cleary
Prust-White-Armstrong
Nokelainen

Markov-Volchenkov
Gorges-Subban
Bouillon-Emelin
Weber

Price
Budaj

Although the Canadiens would get slightly older, they would add some additional leadership, some grit, and wiggle room by acquiring two contracts expiring at season's end.

Like I said, it's fun to play Arm Chair GM!

---
Bryan is a Marketer by day, writer for HabsAddict.com by night and full time fan of the game. Follow me on twitter @BryanWilley78 but don't bother looking for me on Facebook, I'm just too old for that now!

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

10 comments:

I disagree that there are many holes to be plugged and roster is fine to start season.
Your trades sound OK Bryan, with exception of Kristo, who possibly has the top 6 offense and speed the team is missing.
Especially in a deal for a slightly over the hill player coming to a rebuilding team.

Who no one seriously considers a contender and i would say to squeeze into playoffs would be a surprise to momst.
But do have 8 d-men on roster and that should be addressed.
I would put up for trade any of Markov (whom Detroit might love), Diaz, Weber, Kaberle, Gorges in a deal with a Gionta, Plekanec, or Desharnais for a bigger/younger top 2 centre or top 6 winger.

I also disagree with mismanaging of young prospects, which Habs are likely on par with most teams, but i do love the new ires and the fact it shows MB and Molson are making an extra effort to rebuild.
I love almost every move MB has made and i think he knows he is not dealing with a cup contender and is just trying to improve a bottom dweller and looking a bit more long term.

don

the morrow trade would stink. even kristo straight up for morrow at this point in their respective careers would be insane.

I prefer to add doan if possible...if not, stand pat, hopefully finish low again, draft high again, all while letting our prospects mature. gomez needs to go to hamilton...

Trade 1. Brian Gionta was our leading scorer in our first two season and on pace for a 20+ goal season last year but was injured. When healthy he can pot nearly 30, so why would we take 20-30 goals out of an opposition that already has trouble scoring goals to replace him with a penalty killing, stay at home defencemen who blocks shots when we already have the best shot blocker in the league in Josh Gorges, the best penalty kill and flurry of up and coming defensive prospects, headlined by Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi.

Trade 2. We just added Colby Armstrong and Brandon Prust to our bottom six as well as resigned, Ryan White and Travis Moen. We have Louis Leblanc, who's going to develop into a great defensive third line center. We only need one more and by the time we're ready to compete for a cup cleary will be retired. We need youth on our bottom and top six, not aging journeymen. The elder players we have, like Kaberle should be traded for picks in this upcoming draft because it's going to be the deepest since 2003.

Trade 3. Same as 2. We're trading for a guy who could be useful, but who's help is going to be useless until we truly get our top six sorted out. We need a number one center and another top six winger.

We have enough older players. Plekanec will be 30 soon, cole is 34, gionta 34 in january, gomez is atleast 31, markov, 33, even gorges is coming close to 30. We need to focus on replacing our older core with younger players and then using the vets we already have as depth for the playoffs.

I would like to see us get RJ Umberger from Columbus. Would that require trading Markov? Or maybe Pleakanec and Weber? Umberger is a big forward who can play center or left wing. He has also shown a propensity to score in Montreal (much like Cole had before coming here). Lines would be:
PAC, DD, Cole
Bourque RJU Gionta
Moen Eller Armstrong
White Gomez Prust

I can't understand your moves at all, the habs had the 11th best GAA (Top 10 were in the playoffs) last year with the second best PK. With Markov healthy and Subban, Emelin, Weber and Diaz a year older and more experienced they look to be capable of keeping the puck out of the net.

They also weren't at the bottom of Goals for ranking 19th but a terrible PP ranking 28th. With Gionta back healthy he should be good for 20+ goals and with Bourque playing with Pleks and Gio 2 of the most consistent players it should help him have a bounce back year. A third line of Armstrong-Eller-Leblanc could help chip in offensively and drive up our goals. With Markov is one of the best PP QB in the league and when healthy regular ran a top 5 PP. With a more stable 4th line that`s tough to play against the habs offense can definitely be in the top 15.

The team had a bunch of major injuries last year that really hurt them and all the confusion with Management didn`t make things easier. With a better staff these players definitely have what it takes to make the playoffs. Their 3rd to last finish was more bad luck than the team really being that poor. That`s why MB hasn`t made a trade because he sees the potential in the players he has and isn`t going to mortgage the future to get just a bit better!

Think about this for just a min.
Patches DD Cole
Subban Pleks bourque
Gomer Eller Gio
Prust White Armstrong
Leaving us with all draft picks and 7 roster for men

Hey guys, thanks for the feedback. In regards to the parting of Kristo let me say that I think this kid is going to have a good career in the NHL but it won't be with Montreal.

This kid has had many chances to come here or Hamilton and year in and year out has declined.

Essentially he is set to become a UFA in less than a year and like Justin Schultz ahead of him is free to go wherever he wants.

I want to get whatever I want for him right now because he will never be a Hab.

@Jay88

Throughtout the entire season our PK was dynamite last season no doubt clicking at 88.6 % which was second best and our overall GAA was 11th overall. These are absolutely stellar numbers.

This does however include Hal Gill for the majority of it.

Remove him from the equation and over the last 24 games of the season and we were clicking at about an 82.5% pace which would have ranked us middle of the pack again.

Consequently over that time as well our GAA was 2.833 which over an 82 game season would have ranked us 23rd.

So yes over the span of an entire season we did well defensively but a huge part of that was Hal Gill who is no longer in the line-up. Hal Gill excelled on the PK, and was a beyond average shut down D-man who prevented players from getting to the front of the net.

Not to mention that Gill was 16th overall in the NHL last season in blocked shots despite missing 6 games. Gill averaged more than 2 blocked shots per game, Bouillon by the way under 1

@jamie

Thanks for the feedback. To be honest I would prefer not to part with Gionta because he is arguably our 2nd or 3rd best goal scorer and our leader. It would have been easier for instance to say part with Bourque but I would personally prefer a player with the same scoring abilities, the same defensive awareness just on a larger frame.

In regards to Leblanc I do think he'll be a good defensive player but it won't be a center. In Hamilton he played RW, in Montreal he played RW and RW is where they want him to develop. Problem we have is that right now Gio for 2 years, Cole and Bourque for 3 more years, Gallagher in the pipeline and eventually Kristo will all be ahead of him. We need to part with RWers if Leblanc is ever going to be given a shot.

Finally replacing our core players is exactly why I make these moves.

Gionta and Kaberle each have 2 years remaining on their contracts whereas Cleary and Morrow are going into their final season. This basically allows Bergevin to make he decision at season end on whether to opffer a new contract to these guys or simply let them walk away thereby giving the opportunity to the plethora of youth the Habs have coming.

Secondly at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season there are many projected UFA players who can potentially test the market. Names like Getzlaf, Perry, Horton, Reghere, Iginla, Weiss, Zajac, Clarkson, Timmonen, Clowe, Doug Murray, Burrows, Edler, Ribeiro just to name a few.

So yes we could keep Kaberle and Gionta and allow their contracts to expire or Bergevin can be proactive and forecast this now and potentially have an extra $9.5 million towards signing a player like a PErry or a Clowe who personally I would much prefer.

Just give this team a chance. Last year was a wash out. You can't expect a team to perform with that many injuries and awful management. Gomez will be playing for the habs next year. Like it or not. He has talent, we all know it. If he can get some confidence look for him to have a good year. We also need that "puck luck". Last year we had none. Lost too many one goal games.

Don't get me wrong,I would like to see a couple trades happen too, but take it easy. Let these guys get a little chemistry.

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