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.
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 Pacioretty||David Desharnais||Erik Cole|
|Travis Moen||Tomas Plekanec||Rene Bourque|
|Mathieu Darche||Scott Gomez||Louis Leblanc|
|Petteri Nokelainen||Lars Eller||Ryan White|
|Aaron Palushaj||Gabriel Dumont||Michael Blunden|
|Mark MacMillan||Joonas Nattinen||Brendan Gallagher|
|Olivier Archambault||Andreas Enqvist||Alexander Avtsin|
|Andrew Conboy||Danny Kristo||Maxim Trunev|
|John Westin||Dustin Walsh||Ryan Russell|
|Dany Massé||Michael Bournival||Steve Quailer|
|Andrei Markov||P.K. Subban||Carey Price|
|Josh Gorges||Rafaël Diaz||Peter Budaj|
|Hal Gill||Chris Campoli||Robert Mayer|
|Alexei Emelin||Frédéric St-Denis||Peter Delmas|
|Nathan Beaulieu||Jarred Tinordi||Petteri Simila|
|Morgan Ellis||Darren Dietz|
|Mac Bennett||Greg Pateryn|
|Josiah Didier||Magnus Nygren|
|Mathieu Carle||Brendan Nash|
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 Drouin||Nick Suzuki||Tyler Toffoli|
|Mike Hoffman||Christian Dvorak||Josh Anderson|
|Artturi Lehkonen||Jake Evans||Brendan Gallagher|
|Paul Byron||Ryan Poehling||Cole Caufield|
|Mathieu Perreault||Jan Mysak||Joel Armia|
|Michael Pezzetta||J-S Dea||Jesse Ylönen|
|Laurent Dauphin||Riley Kidney||Alex Belzile|
|Rafaël Harvey-Pinard||Sean Farrell||Joshua Roy|
|Joël Teasdale||Cameron Hillis||Alexander Gordin|
|Lucas Condotta||Oliver Kapanen||Rhett Pitlick|
|Luke Tuch||Blake Biondi||Brett Stapley|
|Jack Gorniak||Xavier Simoneau|
|Joel Edmundson||Jeff Petry||Carey Price|
|Ben Chiarot||David Savard||Jake Allen|
|Alexander Romanov||Brett Kulak||Sam Montembeault|
|Brett Kulak||Chris Wideman||Cayden Primeau|
|Corey Schueneman||Sami Niku||Jakub Dobes|
|Jordan Harris||Kaiden Guhle||Frederik Dichow|
|Otto Leskinen||Gianni Fairbrother||Joe Vrbetic|
|Xavier Ouellet||Arber Xhekaj|
|Mattias Norlinder||Logan Mailloux|
|Jayden Struble||William Trudeau|
|Dmitri Kostenko||Daniil Sobolev|
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.