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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Analysing Habs’ Depth Chart

BY: SHAWN LAVOIE (@SLavoie54)

With training camp now just around the corner, let’s take a look at the Montreal Canadiens’ depth chart.







FORWARDS

LEFT WING
CENTER
RIGHT WING
Max Pacioretty     (6’2” 219)
Tomas Plekanec    (5’11” 196)
Brian Gionta            (5’7” 173)
Alex Galchenyuk  (6’1” 196)
Lars Eller                 (6’2” 209)
Brendan Gallagher (5’9” 178)
Rene Bourque      (6’2” 213)
David Desharnais  (5’7” 177)
Daniel Briere           (5’10” 179)
Brandon Prust      (6’2” 195)
Ryan White            (6’0” 193)
George Parros         (6’5” 228)
Travis Moen          (6’2” 218)
Gabriel Dumont    (5’10” 186)
Mike Blunden         (6’4” 214)
Christian Thomas (5’9” 170)
Louis Leblanc         (6’0” 190)
Patrick Holland       (6’0” 175)
Nick Tarnasky       (6’2” 230)
Martin St-Pierre    (5’9” 188)
Steve Quailer          (6’4” 209

Joonas Nattinen    (6’2” 187)
Stefan Fournier      (6’3” 210)

Michael Bournival (5’11” 191)
Sven Andrighetto   (5’10” 180)

DEFENSEMEN

Josh Gorges          (6’1” 203)
P.K. Subban        (6’0” 216)
Andrei Markov    (6’0” 204)
Alexei Emelin     (6’2” 219)
Francis Bouillon   (5’8” 197)
Raphael Diaz      (5’11 197)
Douglas Murray  (6’3” 245)
Davis Drewiske  (6’2” 220)
Nathan Beaulieu (6’2” 194)
Greg Pateryn      (6’2” 219)
Jarred Tinordi      (6’6” 218)
Morgan Ellis       (6’1” 202)

Magnus Nygren (6’1” 192)

Darren Dietz       (6’1” 205)

GOALIES

Carey Price         (6’3” 209)
Peter Budaj        (6’1” 195)
Dustin Tokarski (5’11” 198)
Robert Mayer    (6’1” 199)
Peter Delmas     (6’3” 188)

*All players’ heights and weights taken from where they played last season.

I have placed the top five forward lines and the top four defensive pairings in the order I believe they should look once the season starts. Michel Therrien may very well have different lines in mind, but I think these lines maximises the Habs’ assets. As for the bottom of the depth chart, I placed the players in the order of the ones I think are the closest to the NHL to the ones we might not see for a while. I won’t write about much about the goaltending position, as there is not much to say. Now let’s look at the team’s strength and weaknesses.

Strengths

The Habs have a talented top-nine forward group and a good physical bottom line. The top-six features a group of players who are effective at both ends of the ice. The second line can potentially be a lethal scoring threat, with both Gallys and Eller. The Habs’ third line could be a very effective exploitation line that can take advantage of the opposition’s weaker players. As for the fourth line, it will get under the opponent’s skin and shift the momentum of the game.

The Canadiens’ biggest strength among their forward group is its speed. The team features a bunch of very fast skaters and they will have to use this to win games, since they don’t have the most physical team. We can also see that the team is extremely strong on the left wing as Bourque, Galchenyuk, and Pacioretty are all big players who are very strong skaters who can score goals in bunches. The team also has the luxury of having skilled as well as physical players in the AHL, with guys like St-Pierre and Thomas bringing skill, while Blunden and Leblanc are more physical and defensive minded. Dumont is eligible for waivers so he will probably stick with the big club.

Even though I’m still not too thrilled about Briere’s addition, he still brings some solid offensive support to the team. He and fellow French Canadian David Desharnais have the talent to create havoc against the enemy’s third pairing defensemen. With Bourque creating space for the diminutive forwards, the Montreal Canadiens have one of the most talented third lines we’ve seen in a while.

As for the defensive corps, Les Glorieux have a good mix of offensive and defensive defensemen, with the top six featuring an even split. Diaz, Markov, and Subban will bring some strong offensive support and puck moving skills while Bouillon, Emelin (when he returns from his injury), Gorges, and Murray will take care of the physical defensive play.

Having the reigning Norris trophy winner is obviously a luxury every team would like to have, and the Habs are fortunate enough to have him with P.K. Subban. The superstar defender will hope to repeat last season’s success and be a dominant force on the Habs’ back end and help in every aspect of the game.

Andrei Markov is another player who will hope to have a great season. Even though he seemed to run out of gas at the end of last season, he showed that he can still be a force on the power play. He and Subban should continue terrorizing the opponent’s penalty killing team.

The Canadiens also have the luxury of having a good selection of rearguards in Hamilton with different skill sets. Drewiske, Pateryn, and Tinordi are good defensive-minded defenders while Beaulieu and Nygren are both offensive-minded defensemen who can help on the power play. Ellis and Dietz are good all-round players, but they still need some seasoning before earning a call-up.

Weaknesses
Like I mentioned a bit earlier, Les Habitants are not a physical team. With Dumont as their 14th forward, six of the team’s 14 forwards are below six feet tall (I would actually say seven, as Prust once said he is 5’11”, but for some reason he is listed at a generous 6’2”), and eight of them weigh less than 200 pounds as of now, with five of them playing on the first three lines. I would like to see Marc Bergevin trade maybe a small body or two and replace them with bigger bodies.

Another weakness is the lack of true power forwards. As of right now, only Bourque seems like the closest to match that definition. Some say that Pacioretty is a true power forward, but I think he’s more of a big bodied sniper rather than a power forward, as he causes more damage from the face-off circles and high slot with his lethal wrist-shot in my opinion. Power forwards, for me, are players who are strong in the corners and thrive in front of the net with their big bodies. The Habs don’t really have a player like this and I think they need one.

The last weakness I will point out about the team’s forward group is the lack of a top-line right winger. I have nothing against Brian Gionta, as he is a fantastic leader and has the heart of a lion, but he’s not a first line player anymore. He’s more of a 2nd/3rd line forward now. Gallagher looks to be his successor, but he’s not ready to see first line minutes yet. Gionta has been slowed down by injuries and isn’t the scoring threat he used to be.

As much as the Habs’ defence is well balanced, it still lacks nastiness and isn’t as strong as it should be. Yes, Montreal has the latest Norris trophy winner, but after him there is a significant drop in talent. Markov has obviously lost more than a step in his game, Gorges is a second pairing defenseman playing top pairing minutes, and Emelin is injured and still hasn’t established himself as a top-four defender. Bergevin signed Douglas Murray, a huge physical rearguard, but he is a depth defenseman with cement feet.

Montreal would have needed a mobile two-way defender to play along Markov. As much as Markov still has elite on-ice vision and puck skills, he is now a below-average skater and can’t play over 22 minutes a game anymore.

As for the lack of nastiness I mentioned, except the Douglas Murray (still having trouble believing this guy is Swedish with that name), none of the Habs’ defensemen are 6’2” or more and below 220 lbs. Only Emelin and Murray are real physical threats, and one of them is injured till Christmas. Tinordi will come in next year to help in that department, but that will likely come with Murray’s departure. Bergevin will need to bring in at least another physical presence on his blue line.


The Montreal Canadiens are obviously a team that will make the playoffs, but they lack the physicality and defensive corpse I believe is required to aspire for the Stanley Cup. They will get better as the team’s top young players improve, and with a few tweaks, will be big contenders for Lord Stanley’s hardware. As of right now however, I don’t think they have what it takes to win it all, but they are getting there. 

14 comments:

Just a couple of questions with the above depth chart.

Bourque and Thomas are Right wingers. Tarnasky is center. Leblanc is a right winger. But I guess who cares really since few of thse players outside of Bourque likely look in the Habs plans.

As for the lack of physicality, I disagree. Yes the Habs have some small forwards but what they klack in size they make up for in grit and determination.

Guys like Gallagher, Prust, Gionta, White, Bouillon are not big guys but they have no problem throwing around their bodies and using their speed to create turnovers on the forecheck or in the defensive zone.

The Red Wings recipe for success was never to over power you with physicality but to have a group of players who could play at both ends of the ice, as a team with key big gritty guys where it mattered.

Same can be said for the Blackhawks who won last season with skilled players with grit in key positions.

I am usually a pessimist but must say that the Habs impress me on paper this season with the ability to throw out 3 good lines and a really strong, tough fourth.

This comment has been removed by the author.

@ Bryan Willey

I know that Bourque is listed as a right winger, but I thought that he was useful on the left wing of Plekanec and Gionta, and with Briere's addition, I can't see how he can stay on the right side, unless Therrien moves Desharnais to the LW and puts Briere at center. That way, Bourque moves back to the RW. As for Leblanc, Tarnasky, and Thomas, the AHL website has them listed at C, LW, LW respectively.

As much as I agree that the Habs' smaller forwards all have great determination, I believe having a bigger forward is more useful in front of the net rather than a sub 5'10" 180lbs forward. However, Gallagher, Prust, and White are players I would hang on to.

@ Normand Harvey

I think I will do as you said next time. I will analyse the depth chart on one post, and create my lines on another. That way I can explain things in more details. Thanks for the heads up.

By Leafs do you mean the Habs? The Habs do have the potential to have a great defensive corpse, but I feel their are too much uncertainty since the team lacks another true top pairing defenseman to play with Subban. I also think both Emelin and Diaz are not true top-4 defensemen yet. As for Emelin and Drewiske, Emelin played on the right of Markov last season, so that's why I put him there. Drewiske on the other hand, will probably fill out on the right side if their is an injury, considering Murray will fill out the left side and you don't want to see him on his off wing with his lack of speed.

Lines that maximize Habs assets? You have Galchenyuk (a center) playing wing, and you have Prust on the 4th line for some reason.

Prust-Galchenyuk-Gallagher was our best line last year. Gallagher needs someone on the ice with him who is physical and can fight because he plays an in-your-face brand of hockey and other teams don't like him crashing the net. Taking Prust off his line doesn't make any sense.

Our second line should look something like Pacioretty-Eller-Gionta, and our third line Plekanec-DD-Briere. I really would like to see MB trade a few of our forwards (DD and Bourque come to mind) and sign Morrow.

This is the way the lines will look come OCT.
Bourque-Pleks-Gio Max-DD-Briere Galch-Eller-Gallag
Prust-White-Moen(Parros). The kid line will start as the 3rd line and not the second. Briere wasnt brought in to play on the 3rd line. He will start on the 2nd and hopefully stay there

I do agree on paper this team looks decent but I still feel MB will make a trade of some sort with a couple smaller forwards to get bigger forwards. Gionta and DD should be traded. However MB is one not to rush into things which I respect him for. The team evolves and changes each month and as the season passes needs change for the Habs and potential trade partners.

I totally agree with Anonymous, as a moderator at HIO site, I, Habsfab an Shocked Anyone thinks the top two centers Plekanec and Desharnais are any good, let alone leaders. More like punks once the playoffs came.
What have we won with Pleks as a top line center..Zip. Also, if Timmins is so good, after 12 years being in Montreal, how come we have to sign a player like Parros?? You mean to tell me in 12 years of drafts, he hasnt been able to find a Fourth line Enforcer.

Someone mentioned above a top group of Bourque, Plekanec, Gionta. LMAO, The other team's first line will be laughing seeing those soft midgets skating around. I personally would Trade that line to get more prospects/Picks. And we have Desharmus and Briere too.
This team looks like it want to enter the Midget Tag Team tournament.

What the Habs seem to Not understand is the Goon era went out decades ago, That's why you Habs fans have a loser now, you live in the past. You really dont need a Parros if you have a couple of fowards that Combine toughness with skill. Milan Lucic comes to mind, Corey Perry is another. Funny thing is Mr Timmins selected Ben Maxwell over Lucic, and Really screwed up the year he picked A Kostitsyn when Both Getzlaf and Perry were available. But as we all know, Montreal fans live in the Past, and keep thinking their organization knows what it is doing. Dream on.

Don't worry about any nonsense from those losers at HIO, It is the biggest Joke on the web. You know those idiots All were Pro Bob Gainey not too long ago, it took the team being a Disgrace and finishing Worst in the East before they finally woke up. Same with all the Trevor Timmins blunders. Lucily, and I shouldnt be ch saying this, but I keep in touch with a couple of theose guys that are Really Leafs fans just posing as Habs fans giving alot of Misinformation out. Example, the dude 24 Cups is a regular on both Leafs Nation and their blog at TSN G. Poisson

Biggest weakness on the team is goaltending. Price has still not earned his pricey contract. He'll never be a top-flight goalie. They need to trade for a better backup goalie than the other ones in their system and rely less on Price. Bring back Halak! Fast-track Fucale! Defensive corps will struggle this year. Markov too slow and fragile, Gorges not the same since that injury, Diaz and Drewiske no good. Murray will be better than Bergeron and others warn. Bouillon still very effective. Emelin will be a force once he returns. Bring up Tinordi and Beaulieu sooner rather than later. Give Prust a chance to play on top 3 lines and he will be an offensive force. Briere a good addition who will improve on his past couple of seasons. 2 gallys and eller will score combined 70 goals. Powerplay will be among best in the league. Blockbuster trade coming sometime in 2014 but no sooner and will include outbound defensive and offensive prospects, one of the short forwards, inbound large forward and inbound goalie capable of sharing #1 duties. This team will give up more goals than last year's team, score more goals than last year's team, finish a little lower in the standings, and at most make it to second round of playoffs--but probably not.

I see the trolls are alive and well!

Isee the HIO Delusitants are are dead and Pathetic..
PS.. Disagreeing with something makes you Not a Troll..

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