Depth Chart – Before and After Bergevin

By JD Lagrange – Along with a few others, I was recently involved in an interesting discussion on Twitter. The topic? If Marc Bergevin has left the Montreal Canadiens’ organization in worse or better shape than the one he inherited.

Some people feel like he had more pieces to work with, while others counter with the lack of depth in the organization back then. Both sides have valid points but in an attempt to put this one to bed, I’ve decided to do a little bit of research. It is possible that a prospect or two could be off as the information is not readily available at specific dates, but this should give you a very good idea of the big picture.

Before

First and foremost, Bergevin was hired in May of 2012. The Canadiens had missed the playoffs and finished dead last in the Eastern Conference. Only two teams in the entire NHL (Edmonton and Columbus) had a worse record than the once glorious Canadiens.

Bergevin inherited a core of three pretty elite talents: Carey Price, P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty were all amongst the NHL’s top tier. They also had a couple of still solid veterans – although starting their decline – in Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec. If you’re generous, you can add Brendan Gallagher, although to be fair, he was just a 5th round pick back then and had yet to develop in the player that we know now.

Here is the depth chart that the new Canadiens’ GM had to work with when he got to Montreal in the summer of 2012.

Max PaciorettyDavid DesharnaisErik Cole
Travis MoenTomas PlekanecRene Bourque
Mathieu DarcheScott GomezLouis Leblanc
Petteri NokelainenLars EllerRyan White
Aaron PalushajGabriel DumontMichael Blunden
Mark MacMillanJoonas NattinenBrendan Gallagher
Olivier ArchambaultAndreas EnqvistAlexander Avtsin
Andrew ConboyDanny KristoMaxim Trunev
John WestinDustin WalshRyan Russell
Dany MasséMichael BournivalSteve Quailer
Ben Maxwell
Andrei MarkovP.K. SubbanCarey Price
Josh GorgesRafaël DiazPeter Budaj
Hal GillChris CampoliRobert Mayer
Alexei EmelinFrédéric St-DenisPeter Delmas
Nathan BeaulieuJarred TinordiPetteri Simila
Morgan EllisDarren Dietz
Mac BennettGreg Pateryn
Josiah DidierMagnus Nygren
Mathieu CarleBrendan Nash
Yannick Weber

After

Jumping ahead a little bit, seeing that he could not win with the core group that he inherited, Bergevin made some major changes to the leadership group and brought in new blood. Then in the summer of 2018, he started his famous Reset. He fired Sylvain Lefebvre and hired Joël Bouchard, he pilled up draft picks and tried continuing winning while developing his own young players.

Let’s now jump in our time-traveling machine and set the date to November 2021, just over nine years after Bergevin was hired. Seeing his team having had to compose with two years of COVID, injuries, tight schedules and long travels (in the Canadian division), a Stanley Cup finals appearance and then having to compose with long term losses of key players, Geoff Molson decided that it was time for a change.

Now that Bergevin is gone, here is the Canadiens’ depth chart that he had left for the duo of Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes to work with.

Jonathan DrouinNick SuzukiTyler Toffoli
Mike HoffmanChristian DvorakJosh Anderson
Artturi LehkonenJake EvansBrendan Gallagher
Paul ByronRyan PoehlingCole Caufield
Mathieu PerreaultJan MysakJoel Armia
Michael PezzettaJ-S DeaJesse Ylönen
Laurent DauphinRiley KidneyAlex Belzile
Rafaël Harvey-PinardSean FarrellJoshua Roy
Joël TeasdaleCameron HillisAlexander Gordin
Lucas CondottaOliver KapanenRhett Pitlick
Luke TuchBlake BiondiBrett Stapley
Jack GorniakXavier Simoneau
Joel EdmundsonJeff PetryCarey Price
Ben ChiarotDavid SavardJake Allen
Alexander RomanovBrett KulakSam Montembeault
Brett KulakChris WidemanCayden Primeau
Corey SchuenemanSami NikuJakub Dobes
Jordan HarrisKaiden GuhleFrederik Dichow
Otto LeskinenGianni FairbrotherJoe Vrbetic
Xavier OuelletArber Xhekaj
Mattias NorlinderLogan Mailloux
Jayden StrubleWilliam Trudeau
Dmitri KostenkoDaniil Sobolev
Arvid Henrikson

I’m not going to dissect the two groups one by one but in my personal opinion, there is absolutely no comparison possible between the group that Bergevin inherited and the one Gorton had in front of him when he took over in late November. I will, instead, let you debate amongst yourselves as you wish. But now, at least, you have some way to measure and support your claim.

More reading…

Kent Hughes – Drinking from a Fire Hose

By Bob Trask – From the first day he was hired, Kent Hughes has been building out the Montreal Canadiens organization on several fronts. Every department of the team has been impacted as the Habs move from what many perceived to be an “Old Boys Club” to a modern and diverse operation. The latest hire is Marie-Philip Poulin who brings her skill and experience to the player development department. But a lot more has been happening.

An article in The Athletic alluded to the fact that Hughes was working non-stop to modernize the organization and fill gaps that he perceived to exist. He has made changes to the on-ice personnel via deadline trades and the coaching staff with an off-the-board hiring of Martin St-Louis. Those are the most publicly noticeable changes but the team of Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes have made many more.

Here’s an incomplete list:

  • Marie-Philip Poulin – Player Development Consultant
  • Nick Bobrov – Co-director of Amateur Scouting
  • Vincent Lecavalier – Special Advisor to Hockey Operations
  • Adam Nicholas – Director of Hockey Development
  • Christopher Boucher – Director, Hockey Analytics
  • Chantal Machabee – Vice President, Hockey Communications

There have also been internal changes and promotions. John Sedgwick, for example, was named as the Assistant General Manager after serving the team in a variety of roles over the years. He brings his skills as a salary cap specialist to the position.

All of this has been done in a few short months while continuing to evaluate talent at the pro level, in the various amateur leagues, at the World U18s and at the World Championships.

According to the same article in The Athletic, Hughes also wants to broaden the Canadiens medical staff and, for example, include a mental health professional to the team. It’s also not a stretch to believe that Hughes could be considering building out or revamping the scouting operations at all levels including pro, North American amateur and European leagues.

Kent Hughes

We can only speculate on what additional moves could be made. Will Hughes name a General Manager for the Laval Rocket or will those duties be shared by the existing executive.

While this has been happening (and with more changes and additions likely on the to do list) Hughes has had to get a handle on his salary cap situation, the upcoming NHL Draft and the upcoming free-agency period. He is likely taking and making a significant number of calls to rival GMs to discuss trade possibilities. And he has to be contemplating his options regarding the status of Carey Price – which could result in two very different paths for the team going forward.

Hughes is literally drinking from a fire hose as he deals with all of these situations while learning the nuances of being GM in the NHL. The honesty and transparency in which he deals with the fans and media is refreshing. We can only assume that he deals with his players in the same way.

Credit has to be given to Geoff Molson as well. He has delegated responsibility without interfering (at least publicly) and approached the task in front of him with an open mind and an open wallet.

More reading…