Potential for Improvement

Posts advocating that the Canadiens “tank” the upcoming season still appear on Twitter from time to time. Frankly, I have no time for this mindset. It builds a losing culture and it provides zero guarantee on a top 3 draft pick.

I prefer to view the Habs with cautious optimism and expect modest improvement over last season. While it may be unlikely that it will result in a playoff berth, the path of improvement slowly but surely creates a winning culture puts the Canadiens on a trajectory of sustained success over the long term.

The potential for this improvement comes from a number of areas.

Peak Years

It has been said that NHL forwards often peak at around 28 years of age and defensemen peak at 30 years of age before seeing their performance plateau and eventually decline. A quick glance at the Canadiens roster shows that many of their key players are still well below this threshold and have the potential to grow their individual games next year and well into the future. In total, there are about 16 or 17 players on the Canadiens roster who fall into this category.


The Canadiens set all kinds of records last year when it comes to man games missed due to injuries and with the Canadiens, you could often see key players on the sidelines. Top defenseman Mike Matheson, leading goal scorer Cole Caufield, the highly effective Sean Monahan, heart and soul player Brendan Gallagher all missed significant games and/or played through injuries. The list is much longer than that but these examples give us an idea of the challenges faced when trying to ice a competitive roster.

And as players battled through injuries that should have kept them on the bench, they not only aggravated those injuries, but contributed less than their full potential on the ice while taking a spot away from a healthy player.

It was likely a wakeup call for players who weren’t completely honest about their injuries as well as for management and the coaching staff who didn’t push hard enough to determine the status of players’ health. Everyone involved now realizes that playing it cautious and being patient with recovery times will paradoxically speed up the process for a healthy and productive return to the lineup.

Armed with that experience and a revamped training staff, odds are that the Canadiens will not suffer through an injury situation as bad as last season.

Roster Changes

So far the number of roster changes have been minimal but they too have the ability to make the team better.

Joel Edmundson brought a physical presence on the ice and, according to most, a positive influence in the dressing room. Unfortunately his on-ice performance was relatively ineffective and his presence in the lineup took ice time away from others.

Jonathan Drouin has gone from Montreal to Colorado; Alex Newhook has gone from Colorado to Montreal. Based on Drouin’s struggles with the Canadiens and his injury history, this move looks like a clear upgrade for the Canadiens.

There is also the potential for more roster changes that include players who fall into Edmundson’s category – veterans who underperformed and could block the path to the NHL for younger players who are on an upward trajectory. While that hasn’t happened yet, it could and a name that often pops up is Mike Hoffman. He’s still a capable NHL player but at this stage of his career, he’s probably a better fit for a team that is closer to being a Cup contender.

Coaching Staff

At the beginning of last season, Marty St. Louis and the rest of the coaching staff had only limited time working together. After the trials and tribulations of a full season, they will undoubtedly have a better idea of what challenges they could face and how to deal with them. It seems to be an open-minded team of coaches that is a far cry from the authoritarian regime of Michel Therrien.

Still Lacking

The Canadiens still have holes to fill before they become a playoff contender. Another sniper, preferably a right winger, is needed. So is a dominant defenseman to play on the right side and there is always the question of goaltending. But a lot of other holes have already been plugged.

The development of players in Laval and in the pro leagues this upcoming season will provide Canadiens’ management with a good idea whether there are any internal solutions to shortcomings on the NHL roster, or whether they will have to look farther afield.

Kent Hughes will want to build a positive culture and a team that is competitive enough this year to be attractive next year for free agents and trade candidates to consider. Another dismal season would make that difficult. With and improving team and more contracts coming off the books after this season, he will have an abundance of cap space to add talent to the lineup when it is far closer to being ready to compete.


Since Jeff Gorton took over the reins as executive vice president with the Canadiens, he has been preaching patience. With the potential improvements for the NHL squad, the influx of quality talent in Laval, a handful of potential gems playing in the European pro leagues, more draft choices coming and plenty of future cap space to be a player in the UFA and trade market we should see the Canadiens return to a position of prominence in the NHL.

Rushing the process is counterproductive; so is willfully undermining the current roster and creating a culture of losing. I am confident that the approach the Canadiens have taken to date will bear fruit sooner than many imagine.

Galchenyuk: Out of The Habs’ Control

By JD Lagrange – Merely 12 days after signing with the Arizona Coyotes as a free agent, Alex Galchenyuk was placed on waivers by the team for the purpose of mutual contract termination, the team announced.

Scottsdale Police Department has confirmed that Galchenyuk was arrested on July 9th on a number of charges including private property hit and run, disorderly conduct, failure to obey, resisting arrest, threatening or intimidating. On the hit and run incident, police said that “it was only property damage and no injuries.” Jail official said he was booked into city jail on Sunday evening and released the following day on his own recognizance. According to court records, Galchenyuk was arraigned on Monday and will have to appear in Court.

2012 NHL Draft

If we circle back to the summer of 2012, we will remember that the Montreal Canadiens were picking third overall. Marc Bergevin was hired in May as the new Canadiens General Manager and a month later, he was set to announce the Canadiens’ pick with his right-hand man Trevor Timmins. Nail Yakupov was the consensus number one pick but after him, lists were all over the place.

It’s too easy, in hindsight, to redo a Draft. Thankfully, the site Coppernblue.com had done a consolidated rankings’ list from some of the most prominent draft experts for the 2012 NHL Draft.

Revisionists will claim that the Canadiens should have picked Morgan Rielly or Filip Forsberg but at the time, picking Galchenyuk was not a reach. The only question mark about him was that he had missed a big part of the season due to a knee injury, which turned out not to be an issue in his career.

Habs’ debuts

Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk

Galchenuyk surprised many by making the Canadiens at 18 years of age, straight from junior. Wanting to develop the kid slowly, head coach Michel Therrien, recognizing that the position of center in the NHL brings a lot of responsibilities, decided to play him on the wing most times. While that decision didn’t sit well with some fans, it was the right decision for the kid.

Similarly, the Canadiens also decided to keep their last two high draft picks in Montreal immediately after being drafted: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (3rd overall in 2018) and Juraj Slafkovsky (1st overall in 2022) were management decisions to slowly develop them at the NHL level instead of sending them down for one more season. But I regress… back to the topic.

The young Galchenyuk had a steady, but positive progress in his first four seasons in the NHL, reaching the 30 goals plateau for the first (and only) time in the 2015-2016 season. At that point, he was vastly out-producing all draft picks in his class of 2012. And that’s when things started unraveling for him, and started his downwards spiral.

NHL Standard career statistics
ScorScorScor GoalGoalGoal Shot
Career11 yrs654146208354-852571044221127414:4446.8
Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/14/2023.

Fatherly advice

Galchenyuk and the coaching staff started having differences of opinions. Yet, it seemed like the Canadiens’ decisions were working for the young man, but it was reported later that Alexander Galchenyuk senior, the father, had a lot of influence on his son.

RDS reporter François Gagnon reported that journalists often witnessed Galchenyuk Sr. berating his son after games, going as far as telling him not to listen to his coach. As you can imagine, that would not sit well with any NHL coach, even less on guys like Michel Therrien and his boss, Marc Bergevin!

This led to Galchenyuk’s production dwindling down to less than 20 goals each of the next two seasons, forcing Bergevin’s hand to trade the then 23 year-old to Arizona for Max Domi. Galchenyuk scored 19 goals in his first year in the desert, but never managed more than eight goals the rest of his career, bouncing from team to team.

After the trade, teammates went off-the-record confirming that Galchenyuk was constantly communicating his his father via text message in between periods, not a normal practice by NHL players who must focus on the game.


As you can see, contrarily to what some claim, the Canadiens didn’t select the wrong player at the 2012 NHL Draft. They did everything right with his development, at least in my humble opinion.

In spite of lackluster seasons since leaving the Canadiens, Galchenyuk is still one of the most productive players of the 2012 Draft Class. He is, to this day:

  • 7th in GP
  • 3rd in Goals
  • 8th in Assists
  • 5th in Points

When Bergevin said, in the past, that development is not only on the team, but on the player himself, he was right. There are factors that teams don’t control and in this case, an overzealous father giving horrible advice to his son has been a major contributor to Alex Galchenyuk’s downwards spiralling career… getting him to where he’s at today. Get well Alex and cut that umbilical cord with your father… for your own good. It would be great to see you have a good end to your career.