HabsTracks – May 10th, 2022

HabsTracks is a review, retracing the recent hot topics. This week, we’re looking at the Draft Lottery, the immediate goaltending future of the Canadiens, the options with Jeff Petry and the new Habs’ captain, amongst other things. Please feel free to comment and share with your friends.

Well folks, the NHL Draft Lottery is tonight and that’s when we’ll find out where the Canadiens will be selecting in the first round, or with their first pick anyway as they also have the Calgary Flames’ first round pick. Will they get to decide if they want Shane Wright? Here are the odds.

Now if the Canadiens happen to win the lottery, and if they select Shane Wright, what will they do with him next season? For sure, he would be at rookie camp and likely receive an invitation to the main camp. But if he performs okay, but he’s not outstanding, what will the Canadiens do? Is returning him to junior an option? It’s either junior or Montreal and Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton both want to put the emphasis on player development.

The last time that a high pick made an immediate impact on the Habs was Carey Price. Since then, Alex Galchenyuk and Jesperi Kotkaniemi both started in the NHL and while Galchenyuk managed a 30-goals season soon after, he never developed according to expectations at the NHL level. For Kotkaniemi, we’re still waiting. Remember that Wright is not considered a generational talent.

Much as been said about Carey Price’s future and it seems like he has received a second opinion, suggesting that he gets another surgery. His future is filled with question marks as he was still getting some swelling in his surgically repaired knee after games. His future is as much in limbo as it was a year ago and the Canadiens have 10.5 million reasons to be worried.

“I think that Price pushed too hard in the playoffs and it could cost him his career.” ~ Stéphane Waite

With the uncertainty surrounding Price, what will Hughes do about the goaltending situation? He could wait and see how Price is at training camp, meaning status quo. But from his recent comments, it is doubtful that he stays put this off-season. In late February, there were rumours to the effect that the Canadiens had some interest in Washington Capitals’ Ilya Samsonov. Don’t be surprised if the Habs circle back on him or look for an insurance policy this summer.

Another player whose future is uncertain is defenseman Jeff Petry’s. We all know that he had requested a trade and that Hughes came close to completing a deal for him at trade deadline, but the teams ran out of time to finalize the details. Since then, Petry has been red hot. Under Dominique Ducharme, Petry averaged 0.16 points per game. Since Martin St-Louis took over, his points per game average was 0.70. In fact, he ended the season on a 5-games points streak and had 7 points in his last seven games.

The Canadiens could use the good Petry but there are no indications that he or Hughes have changed their mind. The Canadiens’ GM said, in his post-season media conference, that if he trades Petry, he will look at replacing him with a veteran right-handed defenseman.

So who are the potential replacements if Petry gets traded? It could come through trade or via free agency. Here are some of the right-handed defensemen scheduled to be pending UFAs:

  • Kris Letang
  • John Klingberg
  • Anton Stralman
  • Justin Schultz
  • Colin Miller
  • P.K. Subban

Kent Hughes is on record saying that the team will name a captain for next season. A few names are circulating, including veterans Brendan Gallagher and Joel Edmundson. But don’t neglect Nick Suzuki, who is mature beyond his young age. He’s already the face of the franchise, along with Cole Caufield, and faces the media regularly with a calm rarely seen for a 22 year-old.

Joel Armia will be suiting up for Finland at the World Championships and it didn’t take more for the news to raise ire of some fans. I know, surprising, right? They are saying that he went back home for a family emergency and, according to those fans, he should not represent his country because of it. Of course, they don’t know that Armia was given permission by the Canadiens to go back as his wife was expecting a baby. Well folks, it doesn’t take months to give birth… It’s not the first time that fans overreact.

The Canadiens also confirmed that Josh Anderson will be suiting up for Team Canada. Meanwhile, Suzuki has declined the invitation due to a sore back, and Caufield said no to Team USA as he has played a lot of hockey in the past year and a half. Those two deserve the rest.

Speaking of Suzuki, he was announced as the Molson Cup winner this season. Defenseman Alexander Romanov was awarded the Jacques Beauchamps Trophy, given to the team’s unsung hero. No one will complain about those two nominations as they were the most consistent players all season long, aside from Ben Chiarot and Tyler Toffoli prior to being traded.

Everything has been said about the passing and funerals of Canadiens’ legend Guy Lafleur… If you would like to read our tribute, our staff wrote one recently. Here is Ginette Reno and her rendition of “L’essentiel”, at Guy’s National funeral.

Don’t forget, folks, that Cheering The Logo has a podcast. We are planning on being more consistent with it starting in the Fall, but we do have three episodes under our belt with more to come this summer, for special events.

Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page, subscribe to our Youtube channel as well as Habs Rumour Mill on Twitter and Facebook.

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Times When Fans’ Outrage Was Not Justified

By JD Lagrange – At times, fans and media members’ anger can be somewhat understood and even justified. Like anything else in life, when making tough decisions, you will be proven right on some and wrong on others. Show me someone who always makes the right decisions and I’ll show you a liar. However, what’s often troubling is that fans (and some media) are acting like only their opinion is right and everyone thinking differently is wrong.

Right now, many fans have this pre-conceived idea that player X should be drafted in a specific spot. If someone dares challenging their beliefs, those people become very defensive, even aggressive. Just recently, Canadiens’ GM Kent Hughes stated that he wants his team to get bigger up at the forward position. Based on those comments, Marc-Olivier Beaudoin hinted that perhaps, Hughes would be tempted to select 6-foot 4-inches and 218 lbs Juraj Slafkovsky instead of Logan Cooley if the Canadiens don’t win the Draft lottery. Oh boy, the reactions… or overreactions I should say!

7 proven overreactions

Everyone is an expert. Everyone knows better than the pros with tons of experience who work at the NHL level. Everyone is better than scouts, GMs, coaches and they even know better than players. Social media, combined with this troubling need to be right and disturbing pride to not be proven wrong, have created monsters.

And when something happens, a decision is made by the team, that goes against their beliefs, it turns into an outrage. It becomes an all out public attack on the decision-maker(s). There is just no grey area, no room for give and take. Too few can say that they don’t like a decision acknowledge that they could be wrong in the long run. Worse now, there’s a lot of revisionary attitudes and we have an example of that with the Phillip Danault situation.

Here is a list of events where there has been a fans’ outrage on social media. Loud, angry mobs of fans speaking out against a decision made by the Montreal Canadiens’ brass… only to prove to be the right decision at the end.

7- Noah Juulsen on waivers

According to fans back then, the Canadiens were incompetent losing such a promising young prospect for nothing by placing him on waivers. They were convinced that he would become a very good player in the NHL and that the Habs’ brass made a monumental mistake.

Fact: After a good start, Juulsen had suffer countless injuries that set him back in his development. Claimed by the Florida Panthers off waivers, he played four games for them with no points and a minus -3 differential. He was later traded to the Vancouver Canucks, along with Juho Lammikko for another under-performing prospect, Olli Juolevi. Juulsen has played eight games with the Canucks this season. Was it worth the outrage? Answer: no.

6- Nathan Beaulieu trade

Many, myself included, felt like Nate the Great would be the perfect guy to step up and be Shea Weber’s partner when the Canadiens acquired the veteran defenseman. The failed experiment lasted a year and the following summer, he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a third round pick. From many fans’ reactions, it seems like many felt like the team was trading away a future Norris Trophy winner.

Fact: It turned out that Nate was not so great. While he has had a good career in the NHL, he has always been a third pairing defenseman. In fact, it didn’t take long for fans to forget about him and leave the GM alone. Instead, they focussed on other things to swear about. Was it worth the outrage? Answer: no.

5- Alexander Romanov selection

Alexander Romanov

It wasn’t so much the fact that the Canadiens drafted Romanov that was the issue with fans (and some media) back then. People felt like they could have gotten him in the fifth round or so, and they felt like Trevor Timmins wasted a pick to get him in the second round, #38 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft.

Fact: After that, the young Russian’s career took off and proved his worth at the World Junior Championships. People only looked at the young man’s offensive statistics, playing in the KHL (at a very young age), to base their judgments. That and he was ranked much, much lower on the NHL Central Scouting lists. If the Draft was to be redone, he would be a first round pick. Was it worth the outrage? Answer: no.

4- Victor Mete on waivers

The fans’ reaction to the Canadiens losing Mete to waivers was worse than when Juulsen suffered the same fate. Listening to the media and reading fans’ comments on social media, it was like losing the second coming of Bobby Orr! It really got ugly out there. “They should have traded him and got something in return”, they were saying. Yes, like they didn’t try to do that! They preferred risking losing him for nothing! *sigh*

Fact: Mete played 14 games with the Senators, who claimed him, during the 2020-21 season. This past season, he managed 37 games. In total with Ottawa, he accumulated one goal, eight assists and finished with a differential of minus -14. The Senators recently announced that they would not qualify the pending RFA and he will be free to go where he wants. Was it worth the outrage? Answer: no.

3- Alexander Radulov

Radulov had a horrible reputation as a coach killer and a selfish player. He wanted to prove that he had matured and back then, no one was willing to take a flyer on him in his quest to return to the NHL. The Canadiens took that risk and it paid off for both parties. He then became a pending UFA. Fans were outraged when Radulov signed in Dallas. Some are still blaming Bergevin to this date for it. Yet, the Canadiens’ GM had reportedly offered the same deal to Radulov.

Fact: Radulov had two good seasons in Dallas, his first two. But the wheels fell off rather rapidly for the Russian player. In his final three seasons, he has played a total of 142 games in which he managed only 23 goals in total. This past season, he had four goals and 23 points in 71 games with the Stars, with a differential of minus -20. He is a healthy scratch in the playoffs right now. Was it worth the outrage? Answer: no.

2- Alex Galchenyuk trade for Max Domi

Who can forget the fans and media reactions to this trade? It was surpassed only by one other trade and we’ll get to that one next. How dare they trade the former third overall pick for a player who had scored nine goals the season before?

Fact: Galchenyuk managed 19 goals and 41 points (-19) the following season while Domi had 72 points, including 28 goals (+20) in his first season in Montreal. Galchenyuk as since bounced around from team to team ever since, with his best production being six goals, while the Canadiens traded Domi for… Josh Anderson. Was it worth the outrage? Answer: definitely not.

1- Shea Weber for P.K. Subban trade

We cannot talk about fans and media overreaction without talking about this famous trade. Some rich doctor even bought a full page ad in a local newspaper and fans jumped ship on that one. Never have I seen so much hater, so many over the top comments, and such aggression on the part of fans on social media, but also from media outlets. It was shameful. Worse, they all had to eat crow soon after…

Fact: The Canadiens won that deal and aside from year one, it wasn’t even close. Weber kept with his steady play while Subban’s game continuously regressed. Further – and that’s something too few people recognize – Weber brought in a new culture in work ethics and conduct for the young players like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Alexander Romanov to follow. Was it worth the outrage? Answer: Absolutely and categorically not.

So fans, can we just take a chill pill and a deep breath before flying off the handle? Can we learn from this and understand that it’s not all black or white, that there are many shades of grey? It’s okay to have an immediate reaction. But it’s also okay to acknowledge that you don’t like something right now and hope to be wrong down the line. It’s okay to recognize that there are pros and cons to every decision, even if we disagree with them. And last but not least, it’s okay to say that we were proven wrong. Humility is a good thing.

Will people cool off and change? Allow me to doubt it. I mean, we’re talking about some media and a fan base that talked about Shea Weber not being at Guy Lafleur’s ceremony at the Bell Centre for… five days! Here’s even a prediction: the next outrage will happen at the NHL Draft in Montreal, particularly if the Canadiens don’t win the Draft Lottery. Any takers?

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