Some Habs’ Harsh Realities

By Bob Trask – As the Montreal Canadiens approach the on-third mark of the season, there are some harsh realities that we have to accept. The team is currently earning more than 50% of the points available to them but many of the underlying stats indicate that this version of the Habs could regress to something below that. Part of the reason those underlying stats are less than impressive in many cases is because of the over-optimism we held for many of the players. We can look at a few of them.

Jonathan Drouin

I was guilty of being overly optimistic with regard to Drouin’s performance this year. I really thought an opportunity to play freely under Martin St Louis would allow him to finally blossom. The reality is that if Drouin played 50 more games this year, he would be on a pace to put up 20 points. At this point it is really hard to say if Drouin can contribute significantly at the NHL level on a consistent basis.

Brendan Gallagher

Many on social media opined that Gallagher would rebound to 25 or 30 goals after a long summer of rest and rehab. I was less optimistic and thought an 18 goal season would be in the cards. Unfortunately even I was overly optimistic as he is on a pace for something closer to 10 or 11 goals. From what I have seen, the effort is still there but the results aren’t. On a contending team, Gallagher is closer to being a 4th line player than a 3rd line player and his power play time should come to an end.

Joel Armia

For years Armia has teased us with his talent as we waited for the results and years later we are still waiting. While he has proven effective as a forechecker and on the PK, after 12 games he has yet to put up a point. The harsh reality is that Armia has been a passenger with a big suitcase (contract).

Jake Evans

There is a lot to like about Jake Evans, a seventh round pick who beat the odds to make the Canadiens. He is likeable, a hard worker and has improved facets of his game, like faceoffs, in an effort to make himself a better player. Unfortunately he has only one more point than the other Jake on the team, the one who happens to be a goaltender. For the Canadiens to be successful, they need a 4th line center who can put up points at a pace far above the 7 points that Evans projects to score this year.

Evgenii Dadonov

My rose coloured glasses had Dadonov scoring over 20 goals and contributing to the power play. Those kinds of numbers would make him an attractive trade chip at the deadline. The fact is that he is scoring at a pace closer to 4 goals per year. He might get hot, but in watching him play nothing tells me he is a 20 goal scorer. Dadonov seems likely to slip quietly back to Europe with the Canadiens getting nothing in return. His only significant contribution to date has been helping the Canadiens deal with some of their salary cap challenges.

Michael Pezzetta and Rem Pitlick

While neither were expected to be major contributors, it now seems that both will have trouble holding down a spot on the NHL roster. Pitlick, for all his speed, never seemed to grasp the defensive side of the game that made another speedster, Paul Byron, such a valuable asset. Pezzetta plays with a lot of bravado and a few players could take a lesson from him on that front. But he is not quite tough enough to be considered an enforcer and not quite skilled enough to contribute offensively or defensively. In a combined 17 games, albeit with limited ice time, the duo has failed to put up a point.

Power Play Quarterback

None of the Montreal defensemen, including the newly activated Mike Matheson, have shown themselves to be particularly adept as a PP quarterback. Arber Xhekaj has the big shot but that doesn’t make him a good QB. Jordan Harris and Kaiden Guhle are great skaters but don’t have the high end puck skills that elite PP quarterbacks possess. Guhle seems to have a good shot, Harris does not. Wideman might be the best of the bunch, it’s certainly not Savard or Edmundson, but that says more about the shortcomings of the rest of the group than it does about Wideman’s abilities.

The harsh reality is that the Canadiens still don’t have the personnel on the roster that strikes fear into the hearts of their opponents’ penalty killers.


There should be very few complaints about how the Montreal goaltenders have performed this season. Yes, they have been hot and cold, particularly Jake Allen but the expectations of many were for something even worse. The reality is, however, that for the Canadiens to become a true contender the goaltending situation will need to improve.


While there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Montreal Canadiens, there are some harsh realities we have to accept. There are beloved players like Gallagher who are on the downside of their careers, there are others who will never reach the potential envisioned for them and there are a few areas of weakness that need to be addressed.

The good news is that Jeff Gorton, Kent Hughes along with the rest of the management, development and scouting staffs seem to be very capable and are working hard on the tasks at hand.

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