Before the puck was dropped on this season, everyone knew who the Montreal Canadiens were missing and who they brought in to replace the departed players. What no one knew is how those pieces would fair in comparison to those gone. So we’ve purposely waited to the 10-game mark before making any educated analysis on the impact this passed off-season has had on the team and the results, as you can expect, are not favourable.
It seems so far that as good of an off-season GM Marc Bergevin has had last year, this year’s results are not paying dividend. At least not yet and with a 2-8 record in October and a minus -15 goals differential, it sure looks like the team’s playoffs’ hopes are already very, very distant.
So let’s break down the impact and results of the changes that happened this past off-season. Let’s see, one by one, replacement by replacement, why the results are so different than what we saw in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And we won’t even go into who from last year is not performing up to par as there are many players in that boat.
|Shea Weber||David Savard||🔴|
|Phillip Danault||Christian Dvorak||🟡|
|Tomas Tatar||Mike Hoffman||🟡|
|Jesperi Kotkaniemi||Adam Brooks||🔴|
|Corey Perry||Mathieu Perreault||🔴|
|Eric Staal||Cedric Paquette||🔴|
|Jon Merrill||Sami Niku/Chris Wideman||🟢|
|* Carey Price||Samuel Montembeault||🔴|
- Paul Byron (out until December at least)
- Joel Edmundson (missing at least 10 games, maybe more?)
- Jake Evans (5 GP so far due to injuries)
As we alluded to in many occasions in this early season, the loss of Weber not being replaced adequately has every defenseman in their wrong chair. Jeff Petry is struggling as he is now the team’s number one defenseman and has to face the opposition’s toughest opponents game in, game out. He also misses his defense partner Joel Edmundson, with whom he played very well last year. But even with Edmundson in, he and Petry formed the Canadiens’ second pair last season and they will be counted on as the first pair. You’re losing quality depth right there.
The loss of Price goes well beyond stopping pucks. His leadership and presence in the dressing room (along with Weber not being there), and the way he handles the puck making it easier on the defensemen, are two more keys missing. Jake Allen is more efficient as a backup than he is as a starter and he’s proven that his whole career. He simply can’t fill Price’s void, nor can Montembeault being asked to replace… Allen.
The loss of Kotkaniemi goes so far beyond his production last year. It’s quality depth at center that’s been lost. Between he and Staal, the Habs have lost a lot at the center position and unfortunately, Ryan Poehling has not been able to seize his opportunity at training camp. He has shown that he needs more time in Laval.
So people can blame Dominique Ducharme all they want, the biggest issue is not as much coaching as it is player-personnel, on the ice. It’s execution and decision-making on the spot. It’s players’ ability to play in situations where they’re not at their best. It’s hard for the forwards to generate offense when they spend 75% of their time chasing the opponents in their own zone and the defense flips the puck into the glass instead of a quality tape-to-tape pass.
And that all falls on the GM’s shoulders. Marc Bergevin has done some good things for this organisation and he has proven to be a very good GM. As good of an off-season he had last year, this year’s has been quite bad overall. He managed to replace adequately three of the players he had lost. All others have been downgrades, and none bigger than Weber for Savard. Now Geoff Molson has to decide if Bergevin is his man to fix the issue, or does he move forward with a new man in charge. Either way, a decision has to ba make sooner rather than later.