By JD Lagrange – Remember Marc Bergevin’s famous reset? It seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? After trying to win with the team he inherited, Bergevin realized that it lacked character and the leadership group simply wasn’t strong enough to bring the team to glory. So in the summer of 2018, he talked President Geoff Molson into his new plan: a Reset, which consisted on trying to stay competitive while piling up draft picks. It almost worked as the team’s new leadership group, led by captain Shea Weber, brought the Canadiens all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.
Unfortunately for Bergevin, this playoffs’ run, following two COVID-filled seasons, took an irreversible toll on too many of his key players. And we know the rest. The team spiralled down to the bottom of the NHL standings, Bergevin and a few others lost their jobs and in came the new management group, led by Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes.
Draft since 2018
As drafting and developing players is a marathon and not a sprint, we are just now starting to reap the benefits of Bergevin and right-hand man Trevor Timmins’ work with the Reset. Since 2018, the Canadiens have drafted 49 young hopefuls, an average of almost 10 per year!
Jesperi Kotkaniemi left when signing a ridiculous offer-sheet and Alexander Romanov was traded by current management to acquire Kirby Dach. Both where NHL players (and still are). Cam Hillis, Allan McShane, Cole Fonstad, Samuel Houde, Jacob Leguerrier and Arden Khisamtdinov aren’t in the organization anymore. The 41 other picks are all still working their way through the Canadiens’ system.
The current management group has inherited the team that was at the bottom of the standings last season and most of the 2022 picks were already in place from previous management. Even the picks that they have acquired at trade deadline last season were due to the team not performing and becoming sellers, unloading pending free agents. This is not to downplay what Kent Hughes has done, but rather to put things into perspective, as previous management would have done the same in that situation, in accumulating picks based on the team’s position.
As we should all know by now, drafting and developing players is not a pure science as many outside factors can affect a young players’ development. But so far, things are really looking up when it comes to not only the quantity, but the quality of many of those young prospects. Elite Prospects is a great site to see the daily progress and production of the team’s prospects.
At the All-Star break, the Canadiens currently are in good position to get another high draft pick. Only the Columbus Blue Jackets have a worse record than Montreal in the Eastern Conference. The Habs are currently 27th overall in the NHL in points percentage.
Further, they have the Florida Panthers’ unprotected first round pick at the upcoming NHL Draft. The Panthers are currently outside the playoffs looking in, in 22nd place overall in points percentage, three points out of a Wild Card spot.
While there are never any guarantees, looking at how young the current core of players is at the NHL level, and the quality and quantity of prospects coming up, it is fair to be very optimistic about the future if you’re a Habs’ fan. Rest assured, the Reset of 2018 is paying off and what most now call a rebuild under the Gorton and Hughes era, it will be done after the upcoming Draft. They will be trying to start progressing towards making the playoffs starting next season, adding the necessary pieces.