Friday, July 12, 2013

Montreal Canadiens: Depth Chart and Player Movements

One week after the opening of free agency, the Canadiens' roster is most likely settled for the beginning of the 2013-14 season, unless GM Marc Bergevin manages to trade a big salary. There won't be many surprises in training camp like last season when both Galchenyuk and Gallagher managed to stick with the team following the lock-out.

The only spot that could open at forward barring a trade, is if captain Brian Gionta begins the season on the injury reserve recovering from a torn biceps. Including Gionta, the Habs currently have 13 forwards slated to begin with the season in the NHL following the acquisition of enforcer Georges Parros last week. Should Gionta's become available, look for the Canadiens to call up Gabriel Dumont or Christian Thomas to fill the 13th forward role.

On defense, the team seriously lacks grit and physicality with Alexei Emelin due to begin the campaign on the injury reserve and miss at least two months recovering from a serious knee injury. Unless the Canadiens decide to sign a veteran free agent to compensate Emelin's loss, rookie Jarred Tinordi is the likeliest candidate to begin the season in the top-6, relegating Davis Drewiske to a reserve role.

Finally, the rumors are swirling that UFA Brenden Morrow is currently talking to the Canadiens about the possibility of signing with the team. In 44 games last season, Morrow, 34, notched 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points with a -3 plus/minus ratio. Morrow recorded 4 points in 14 playoffs games with the Penguins after he was acquired from the Stars at the trade deadline. Morrow, who is married to Guy Carbonneau's daughter, Anne-Marie, has a personal interest in signing with the Habs, but the gritty forward has more than one offer on the table at the moment.

Habs Depth chart:

Left Wing              Centre                      Right Wing
Max Pacioretty      David Desharnais      Daniel Brière
Rene Bourque       Tomas Plekanec        Brian Gionta
Alex Galchenyuk   Lars Eller                  Brendan Gallagher
Travis Moen         Ryan White (RFA)    Brandon Prust
Extra: George Parros

Andrei Markov    Francis Bouillon
Josh Gorges         P.K. Subban
Jarred Tinordi      Raphael Diaz
Extra: Davis Drewiske

Injury Reserve: Alexi Emelin (knee)

Carey Price
Peter Budaj

The Canadiens really improved their AHL depth during the off-season, signing career AHLers Nick Tarnasky and Martin St. Pierre, and adding a few more players from the QMJHL, namely Stefan Fournier, Stephen MacAuley and Ben Duffy.

With the arrival of new prospects, transitioning from Europe and the CHL, Hamilton will be much more competitive than last season. The team still needs to add depth on defense, especially a left-handed defenseman able to mentor the younger defensemen, something that was lacking last season. With the departure of Frederic St. Denis and Jason DeSantis, Bergevin really needs to address that weakness now.

Bulldogs Depth chart:

Left Wing              Centre                     Right Wing
Nick Tarnasky      Martin St. Pierre       Christian Thomas
Patrick Holland        Gabriel Dumont        Louis Leblanc
Mike Blunden       Michael Bournival     Sven Andrighetto
Steve Quailer        Joonas Nattinen        Stefan Fournier
Extra: Stephen MacAuley, Ben Duffy

Nathan Beaulieu   Morgan Ellis
Greg Pateryn        Magnus Nygren
Darren Dietz         ?
Extra: ?

Dustin Tokarski (RFA)
Mike Condon
Robert Mayer

I hope the above gives you a bigger picture of the organization's depth chart and shows you that the team is making every effort to rebuild its pool of quality prospects through the draft and the free agency.

Follow me on Twitter @FredPoulin98 if you want to talk puck and Habs.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Habs sign Daniel Brière to a two-year deal, working the phones to get bigger up front

On Thursday, the Montreal Canadiens have signed play-making forward Daniel Brière to a two-year contract worth $8 million. Briere, 35, will join the Canadiens after he had the final two years of his contract bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this month.

Brière, who had 6 goals and 10 assists for 16 points in 34 games last season, has recorded 286 goals and 373 assists for 659 points in 847 career games in the NHL.

The 5'10'', 180-lb, forward signed a $52 million, eight-year deal with Philadelphia before the 2007-08 season as an unrestricted free agent, choosing the Flyers over the Canadiens at the time. The Gatineau native played a very important role in helping them reach the Stanley Cup finals in 2010 before they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.

A renowned playoff performer, Brière is producing at a 1 PPG clip in the playoffs, scoring 50 goals and 59 assists for 109 points in 108 games.

After learning that Vincent Lecavalier had signed with the Flyers earlier this week as an unrestricted free agent, some Habs fans are certainly happy about the signature of another Quebecer. Brière, a natural center who can also play on the wing, is a seven-time 25-goal scorer in the NHL. He had his best campaign with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006-07 when he notched 32 goals and 63 helpers for 95 points in 81 games.

Slowed down by multiples injuries in recent years, Brière will basically replace Michael Ryder's offensive production after the team decided to part ways with Ryder, who was acquired mid-season for disgruntled forward Erik Cole.

While most Canadiens fans are ripping GM Marc Bergevin for this move because Brière is another small forward joining another bunch of undersized forwards such as David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Brendan Gallagher,  this signature is likely the precursor of other player movements to get bigger up front.

With the Free Agency period slated to open at noon on Friday, the Canadiens will be looking to get meaner and tougher up front whether they manager to sign a big UFA or acquire a tough and gritty forward via trade.

Bergevin is currently working the phones to address the Habs' glaring size problem and the names currently mentioned as trade baits are Gionta, Desharnais and Plekanec. A team that is rumored to be talking with the Canadiens are the St. Louis Blues who are looking to add quality center after pivot Andy McDonald announced his retirement earlier this summer.

Playmaker David Perron and power forward Chris Stewart are currently on the market and would interest the Canadiens. Perron, 25, recorded 25 points in 48 contests last season after missing parts of the previous two seasons with concussion symptoms. Stewart, a 25-yeard-old RFA, had a solid season in 2012-13, notching 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points in 48 games.

Would you be happy if the Canadiens decided to unload one of their small forwards in exchange for the two above players?

Do you agree with Brière's two-year deal?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Day at the 2013 NHL Draft

BY:Tony Healey Jr. - @T_Loc11

On Sunday June 30th,  I crossed the NHL Draft off my bucket list. After attending the event, I can honestly say that I would love to attended every NHL Draft from here on out. I know that it was an unusually deep draft and it was all in one day, but your access to everything is unparalleled. I have attended many sporting events in my lifetime, but nothing where I was able to get so close to the action.

After winning general admission tickets, my buddy Brian and I drove down on Sunday and got there early enough to have a few brews outside before the festivities started. We walked around the concourse and saw the Conn Smythe and other trophies, as well as the Stanley Cup. We then grabbed a couple of more beers and took a bathroom break, where we ran into Sean Monahan.

The future NHL stars were all over the place, and happy to talk and sign anything you had. We also decided to upgrade our seats after the 10th pick by sneaking into the bottom bowl of seats. We got two rows from the draft floor right by the Habs' draft table. They could hear me very well and I even was able to meet and say hello to a few people you might know. Marc Bergevin, Michel Therrien, and Trevor Timmons all said hello and I even got them to smile a few times when I cracked a few jokes. 

Brian (thanks to my interference with the security guard) was even able to sneak his way into the media area, and, being a Buffalo Sabres fan, was able to spend almost 20 minutes speaking with the Buffalo T.V. media. He was also able to make it to where the draft picks give their press conferences and snappedsnap a picture using his iPhone of Montreal's first round pick Michael McCarron talking with the media. Brian even said that guys with the professional cameras and microphones even got out of his way without asking so he could snap the picture.

We ran into Paul "The Fat Walrus" MacLean while we were sneaking into the VIP lounge. While I walked by, I turned to Brian and said "there goes the Fat Walrus". I said it loud enough for mClean to hear and as he turned around my buddy congratulated him on his coach of the year honours. 

Later that day, Pierre LeBrun walked by and I asked for a picture. He was more than happy to take a picture with me, but Brian couldn't get the camera to work and faked the picture because he didn't want to keep him any longer. Thanks Brian. 

We were able to watch Hall of Famer Joe Sakic get asked to see his badge by the same security guard that I ran interference on. The guard would not let him pass until Sakic found his badge which allowed all the Devils fans to continue the "Marty's better" chants for an extra two minutes. Bill Guerin, Brendan Shanahan, Dan Bylsma, and many of the more famous media members walked by. Most of them even stopped to talk or at least exchange hellos.

When Devils' General Manager Lou Lamoriello walked by, I was able to stop him and congratulate him on the Schneider deal. He shook my hand and took the time to speak with me for about three minutes. I know the Devils' assistant equipment manager because he worked in Albany for the former River Rats. I worked at their practice facility at the time. I was able to parley that into Lamoriello speaking with me for a bit longer.

With all the scouts, former and future players, team management, and media personalities walking around your access to information is really an anomaly for any fan. There is no other sport or event that allows you this much access as an average fan to the backstage of sports. 

"Bon travail" NHL and the New Jersey Devils for putting on a great event that I look forward to attending again.  

NHL Free Agent Frenzy: Willey's Wish List

Hello ARM Chair GM's.

The 2013 NHL Draft is now behind us, Compliance buyouts have pretty much all been made and the window for Unrestricted Free Agency is upon us.

Are you as excited as I am?

I love Free Agent Frenzy more than anyone.  

It's the time of year where my NHL13 game sees and endless amount of trades.  I mean , I must have changed my roster 20 or more times this week alone.

Before I tell you what my current wish list entails, let just give you a quick recap of what our current roster looks like for the star of the 2013-14 season.



Are you thinking what I am thinking about the above?

Blarg !!!!!!

I see the above roster and can't help but think that this club is going to have some major issues.

Our defense is aging and slow, and there is a serious lack of depth up front with the departure of Ryder, Armstrong, Halpern and Nokalienen. And I am not even going to start with the omnipresent lacks size in the top 6 and on D alike.

I know that we are just a couple years away from seeing the likes of Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulioeu, Dalton Thrower, Charles Hudon, Sebastien Collberg, etc.... but the fact is that these guys are not quite ready and we are in need of some help.

So with that said, here is my wishlist.


The way I see it, we have room for at least two players up front but for arguments sake I will name three.

First: Ryane Clowe.

I know that there is this perception that he is over the hill and injury prone. I do however find it odd to have this negative connotation towards the guy and then see these very same nay sayers praise and applaud the suggested signing of Nathan Horton.

Yes Clowe may have lost a step when it comes from getting from the corners to the front of the net but he is still extremely effective along the boards, is more than willing to stand in front of the net and will without a doubt stick up for any and all teammates.
For a team like the Habs that will see the departure of character locker room guys like Armstrong, and Halpern, his arrival will be very well received.

Contract: I would love to see him sign for a Three year $12 million contract however to ensure his services, the Habs would have to offer that 4th year.

Second: Eric Nystrom

If you do not absolutely love this guy, then you cannot possibly be a fan of hockey.

Although listed as a LWer, Nystrom is more than accustomed to playing center. He is a gritty, hard nosed, effective penalty killer who excels in the faceoff circle, and like Clowe will defend teammates whenever called upon.

Contract: Look for Nystrom to sign a three year $4.5 million contract.

Third: Daniel Cleary

There is no denying that Daniel Cleary is on the down swing of his career. He is only 34 years old, but as the adage says, he is an old 34. Cleary’s production has declined over the past few years but he remains a very reliable third line left winger capable of playing on the PK and providing leadership in the locker room.

And if the 2013 NHL playoffs proved anything, he is still an effective offensive player willing to go to the dirty areas of the ice.

With a surplus of talent on the horizon and with a lack of LW depth, Cleary may just be the perfect stop gap on a short 2 year contract until the reinforcements arrive.

Contract: A two year deal worth $1.8 million per season


With seven players already under contract for the coming season on one way contracts and arguably two to three players no more than a year away, the Habs should be looking for a real stop gap on a short term solution.

There are definitely a list of appealing names out there like Rob Scuderi, Douglas Murray, etc.. however the big name players will be looking at three + year contracts which is not something Montreal should be looking at.

The Habs need a cheap contract on the verge of expiring.

As such look for them to offer a one year deal to one of the following:

First: Steve Montador.

The oft-injured defensemen formerly from the Chicago Blackhawks is a dependable #5-6 Dman. There have been rumours of Bergevin’s interest in him ever since his arrival as GM of the Montreal Canadiens. Adding him now only seems like a 

Contract: One year at $1.9 million 

Second: Mike Komisarek

Ok. Let me pause here for a second. Get the laughs out. Commence the ridicule and get back on you chair because I am sure you fell off laughing.

I am sure I am going to be called every name under the sun but call it a hunch, a guess or straight out blind faith, but I really believe that Komisarek can play a regular shift with this team assuming that he is expected to play limited minutes on a bottom pairing.

I am a firm believer that certain players can only perform in certain situations and there is no way of denying the fact that Komisarek was horrible while in Toronto.

It’s happened to guys like Dnaiel Cleary, Bates Battaglia, Erik Cole and so many many more. To be honest this entire situation reminds me a lot of when Stephane Quintal decided to jump ship after some good years in Montreal and headed to the NYR. It didn’t work at all and Quintal was soon shipped back to the 514.

In Toronto he was expected to be a physical and dominant force. He was expected to drop the gloves, hit like a truck and be opposing out there on the ice. Problem is that Komisarek although good with the body is not a fighter or opposing figure. Let him play behind the likes of Moen, White, Prust, Nystrom, Clowe, et al… and we’ll see another effective Komisarek.

Contract: One year at $1.5 million.

I know that you are going to disagree with me.  Let me have it.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Habs Needs & Their Odds of Landing a UFA

Greetings Habs Addicts!

Now that the NHL draft is complete, its time to move our focus towards free agency.  This time of year is always big for creating our own fantasy lineups and wish lists.  While most of those off-season trade wishes -- I'd love to see David Desharnais dealt straight up for Sidney Crosby -- will never come to fruition, its nevertheless fun to imagine.  This is not one of those wish list posts.

There are some glaring needs for the Habs entering the off-season.  Size up the middle at center is always a desire, as is adding size and grit to the wings.  A large, skilled forward is free-agency priority #1 for Marc Bergevin.  While we are set in goal at the NHL level (Carey Price and Peter Budaj), we do not have much NHL-ready depth at the position.  While the Habs drafted Zachary Fucale, he is at least 3 years away from breaking camp at the NHL level and is better served to apprentice in Hamilton for the next 4-5 years. Depth on defence is always desirable but with the promising AHL players we have (Tinordi, Beaulieu, Pateryn), signing a defender is not necessarily a priority.

I really enjoy the Hot-Stove discussions of the off-season.  Discussing players and their fits with the Habs is one of the best ways to spend the time during the slow-news summer months.  The following list is compiled of some of the NHL free-agents who fit the mold of what the Habs need, along with my personal opinion about signing them and my odds of the Habs' chances of landing said player.

Vincent Lecavalier

Intangibles:  Brings a 6'4" frame, considerable offensive skill, a Stanley Cup winning pedigree and French Canadian status to the table.  Is also 33 years old, showing signs of decline and is arguably the top name available on the Free Agent (FA) market.  Market demand will be high, as will potential salary demands.
Opinion:  I would love to see Lecavalier in a Habs jersey. But not at a steep price. Starting to decline offensively and showing signs of the injury bug creeping into his game. With the demand for his services high, he will probably land a 5 year/25 million dollar contract.  While I would pay him that yearly salary, I do not like him at this contract length.
Habs Odds: 50%

Nathan Horton

Intangibles:  A true power-forward who tends to step up his game in the post-season.  When healthy, will provide 25-30 goals, 55-60 points and solid physical play and is sound defensively. Stanley Cup winner/finalist in Boston. However, rarely healthy and coming off a disappointing 2013 regular season.
Opinion: I've always been a fan of Horton's and his well-rounded game. He is only 28 years of age and will command a large salary. I always felt Horton was overpaid at $4-million per season and he wants more. He wants to be a $5 million per year player. Sorry but no. He would look good on a second line with Desharnais, but his propensity for injuries is worrisome as is the price to land him.
Habs Odds: 20%

David Clarkson

Intangibles:  29 year-old grinder turned sniper potted a career-high 30 goals in 2012 and came back with 15 goals in the strike-shortened 2013 season.  Extremely physical player will drive to the net, throw his weight around and drop the gloves. Similar skill-set to Brandon Prust, with better hands.  However, rather one-dimensional and benefited from top-line ice time on a bad New Jersey Devils team. Will command a rather inflated salary in free-agency.
Opinion:  I would love to see Clarkson in Montreal.  He would fit in extremely well with Galchenyuk and Gallagher while crowding the crease on the power-play. The size and physical aspect of his game is something lacking in the lineup. A contract along the lines of 4 years/$14 million ($3.5 million per year) is the max I would hand out, but knowing how inflated the FA market gets, highly unlikely that would be enough to land Clarkson.
Habs Odds: 35%

Ryan Clowe

Intangibles:  A tough physical player with size (6'2", 225 lbs), the 30-year old Clowe was rumored to Montreal at the deadline and has been a darling of fellow bloggers here at the Addict. His willingness to throw his weight around and the drop the gloves will compliment Prust in the lineup and has a more rounded game than fellow scoring-grinder Clarkson.  However, his offensive numbers decreased for the second year in a row as he battled some nagging injuries.
Opinion:  I did not want the Habs to trade for Clowe at the deadline, as I felt the price to land him was too high.  As a free agent, I would be willing to give him a 3 year deal at around the same $3.5 million cap hit he played under in San Jose.  Whether this is enough to land him is unknown.
Habs Odds: 40%

Dustin Penner

Intangibles:  Large (6'5", 245 lbs) winger has scored goals at an NHL level (1-time 30 goal scorer, 3-time 20 goal scorer). Two-time Stanley Cup winner. However, has not contributed any consistent offense since being dealt to the Los Angeles Kings in 2010/11.  Has a tendency to float and lacks a consistent drive. Often times has been a healthy scratch with the Kings.
Opinion: Penner played well entering his free-agent year of 2006/07, landing an offer-sheet from the Edmonton Oilers. Was a consistent producer for the Oilers, but never developed as anticipated. At his current $3.25 million rate, or for multiple years, I would stay away. If we can sign him for a one-year, show me the money deal at a discounted rate ($2 million maximum), I'd take a flyer on him. Nothing more.
Habs Odds: 20%

Brendan Morrow

Intangibles:  Gritty, physical player has good leadership skills.  Has scored goals (5 time 20-goal scorer, 2 time 30 goal scorer) and throws his weight around.  A Stanley Cup winner with the Dallas Stars and an Olympic gold medal in 2010, Morrow has played well at the highest level.  However, at 34 years-old he is feeling the effects of his style of play.  Offensive skills  have been declining and he was bitten by the injury bug the past couple of seasons.
Opinion:  Washed up veteran will be overpaid based on his name and resume, or will sign a team-friendly deal with one of the top Stanley Cup contenders (Pittsburgh could re-sign him, Chicago or Boston could be in the mix depending on the moves made by Bickell and Horton, respectively).  I would not pursue this option.
Habs Odds: 5%

Dan Ellis
Jose Theodore
Chris Mason
Mathieu Garon
Michael Leighton
Yann Danis
Jason Labarbera
Brian Boucher

Intangibles:  Experienced NHL goaltenders, with starting experience on the downside of their careers who may be willing to sign minor-league deals and provide organizational depth.  However, they are all experienced NHL goaltenders on the downside of their careers who will provide nothing more than organizational depth.
Opinion:  Dan Ellis was coveted by the Habs prior to signing Peter Budaj before he chose to sign with Carolina.  Theodore, Garon, Mason and Leighton would be decent options in Hamilton who can be called up in case of injuries to Price or Budaj.  All should be cheap. Any one would suffice.
Habs Odds: 30% chance of landing one of them.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Habs' 2013 Draft Shows Size & Character Trump Skill

Going into yesterday's draft, opinions varied on what direction Canadiens' GM Marc Bergevin and the team's braintrust would take with their selections.

To the surprise of many, Trevor Timmons went to the podium and select Michael McCarron of the United States Development League with the Canadiens' first-round pick.

At six foor, five inches and 235 lbs., McCarron is not your typical top six forward, but can very well play in that role, should his team need him there.

The right winger has been compared by many as a Milan Lucic type players, who isn't afraid to get physical and drop the mits, yet has better than average skill and finish in the offensive zone.

His selection immediately told Habs' fans and the media alike that the culture surrounding the Canadiens' had changed. No more will the NHL's most storied franchise select the "best player available". Instead they would address organizational needs, a strategy which is esential to be competitive in a salary cap world.

With their 34th pick, the Habs made even more fans happy with their selection of Jacob De La Rose from the Swedish Elite League.

At six feet, two inches and 176 lbs, the gritty, versatile two-way forward still had some growing out to do. While he is listed as a left winger, De La Rose can play at center.

While he has an awkward skating style, he has a innate ability to win forecheck races and isn't afraid to take contact to win them.

Again, with this pick as well, the Habs addressed their needs to get bigger and more physical.

The biggest surprise was the selection of goaltender Zachary Fucale of the Memorial Cup champion Halifax Mosseheads.

Fucale was the consensus number one rated goalie in this year's entry draft. Although many attribute the Mooseheads' championship to their two stud forwards in Nathan McKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, the coach, Dominique Ducharme, said that Fucale is the type of goaltender who will give you a big save when the team needs it, and his talent allows his team to concentrate on scoring rather than worrying about the defensive zone.

With only Dustin Tokarski in the Habs' farm system, Fucale addresses a definite need to strengthen goaltending within the organization. While many may see this selection as the team losing confidence in Carey Price, Fucale will need at leat three years to fully develope, posing no threat to the Habs' number one netminder.

The Canadiens rounded out the second round by taking Finnish left winger Artturi Lehkonen. The 5 foot, 11 inch forward is considered an elite playmaker, with incredible vision on the ice.

While not overly physical, he is a tenacious player, like many now being developed in Finland. He has an aptitude for delivering solid open-ice hits, and displays above average puck control at top speed.

The Habs finished the draft by selecting left winger Connor Crisp of the Erie Otters at #71, right winger Sven Andrighetto of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies at #86,  left winger Martin Reway from the Gatineau Olympiques at #116, and finally centre Jeremy Gregoire of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar at #176. The Canadiens traded their seventh round pick to the Florida Panthers for their seventh round pick in 2014.

All in all, the Canadiens did an excellent job restocking their farm system with quality players, that they didn't necessary think would be available to them. Of course, only time will tell if this draft class is worth its weight in gold, but it certainly has HabsNation anxious for the future.

Canadiens very interested in Vincent Lecavalier

Earlier this week, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they had bought out the contract of their captain Vincent Lecavalier using one of their two compliance buyouts. As a result, the four-time All-Star who spent 14 seasons with the Lightning will become an unrestricted free agent

Under the buyout rules, the 2004 Stanley Cup winner will receive two-thirds the value of his existing deal spread over twice the term of the contract.

The buyout will cost more than $32 million over 14 years to the Lightning, Lecavalier receiving $4,671,905 for the next two seasons and then a lower amount every year until 2026-27. The 33-year-old  Montreal native 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points in 39 games during the lockout-shortened season. In 1,037 games with the Bolt, Lecavalier scored 383 goals and 491 assists for 874 points with a -117 +/- ratio. 

Lecavalier, who led the NHL with 52 goals during the 2006-07 season, will be once of the most sought-after free agents on July 5th along with the likes of Nathan Horton, Daniel Briere and Jarome Iginla, to name a few.

More than 12 teams have contacted Lecavalier's agent to show their interest, and among them are the Montreal Canadiens according to a source close to the team. Habs general manager Marc Bergevin already made his offer to Lecavalier's clan and now the ball is in Vinny's court. Bergevin really likes the 6'4'', 220-lb, pivot and he made sure the offer was very enticing.

While I don't have the exact numbers, it is believed that Lecavalier is looking for a multi-year deal (4 or 5 years) worth close to $5 million annually. If the Canadiens manages to sign him, expect the organization to trade one of the team's centermen to make room in the line-up and on the payroll. As I wrote in my previous article, Bergevin is dangling David Desharnais who is easier to move at $3.5M/year than Tomas Plekanec at $5M with a no-trade clause.

Expect the Canadiens to be very active today at the draft and the rest of the week leading to free agency next Friday.