BY: SHAWN LAVOIE (@SLavoie54)
First off, I was as surprised as anyone when I learned that Leblanc was cut by the Montreal Canadiens. I thought that he was having a decent camp, but as Therrien mentioned, Leblanc was going down early no matter what. Could he have been able to force the team’s hand by having an amazing camp? Maybe, but the team’s idea was already made. Some people are starting to write off Leblanc, but I still believe in the Pointe-Claire native to eventually develop in a decent third liner. To give himself better chances, the forward will need to develop some kind of specialty, like a PK specialist for example.
As for the other cuts, I was at first to see the likes of Reway and Hudon among the cuts, since they were impressive with their talent level. However, it’s logical that they were cut early since they would have never made the team.
Now, about the players that are still here, I had the chance to see the inter-squad scrimmage, see Monday’s game against Buffalo, and Wednesday’s practice. I can tell you that I would make room for Jarred Tinordi on the team. The kid has improved tremendously since last season. He is a much better skater, enough to keep up with most forwards, and is obviously stronger. So far, in my opinion, he looks much better than Murray and Drewiske, who are slated ahead of him in the depth chart.
Speaking of Murray, he is slow, reeeeeeally slow. I don’t know if he really has a lower body injury – which could explain his turtle like pace – but I get the feeling that this is just a cover up because he is in the middle of trade talks since Tinordi has been outperforming him.
That or it’s Drewiske leaving, once he comes back from that injury he suffered in a weird accident with Bouillon.
Watch out for Galchenyuk. The 19 year old phenom is obviously bigger, stronger, and faster. His talent level is completely insane and he looks confident. Forget the sophomore jinx for him; he will have a great season.
Gallagher also won’t suffer from the sophomore jinx. He’s too much of a hard worker to see a decrease in his production. Gallagher, Eller, and Galchenyuk could become the team’s top offensive line.
Andrei Markov looks much more comfortable on the ice now compared to last season. Having a full summer to work-out without rehabbing an injury has obviously helped him. He looks quicker and more agile, which can only be good news for the Habs. He still shouldn’t see more than 23 minutes of ice time per game, nor heavy penalty killing minutes, but he should still be the team’s best point producing defenseman after Subban.
Speaking of which, P.K. is a bull! During Wednesday’s practice, Subban and Galchenyuk would battler along the boards, and it was quite the thing to see. You could see their talent level on display, and I can tell you that both of these young franchise players won’t disappoint this season. Subban looks as quick as last year and stronger.
Michaël Bournival is very impressive this year so far. Scoring two goals against the Sabres is good way to impress, but it’s his work ethic and awareness that impresses. He always seems to know where to position himself and he isn’t shy to play the physical game. He may very well have taken Louis Leblanc’s spot on the depth chart and earn himself the right of being the first injury call-up this season.
Even though lots of people compliment McCarron’s game, and with good reason, he still has ways to go before being an NHL player. Yes he skates well for his massive frame, but he still kind of looks awkward on his skates. He doesn’t seem to have a fluid stride like Tinordi has, or his agility. He still has lots of work to do on his skating and his puck skills. However, he does seem to have good instincts on the ice and he uses his large body effectively. I’m looking forward to see how he fares when he goes back in the CHL.
Now let’s hope the Habs start winning some games.
(Photo by Clause Anderson/Getty Images North America)
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