NHL 15: Montreal Canadiens Guide
Written By: TotallyToto
Year in Review:
After a pretty short playoff run that resulted in the Habs being eliminated by Ottawa in 5 games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, GM Marc Bergevin and company had 8 picks in the 2013 Entry Draft.
The first selection, #25 overall, was right wing Michael McCarron, from Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Formerly of the USNTDP and now with the London Knights, this selection was considered to be a bit of a reach, as McCarron had been projected to go somewhere in the 2nd Round. His size (6’ 5’’, 229 lbs) certainly played a big role in his selection. He loves to play a physical game, he is very good at protecting the puck, and for someone as big as he is, he’s a good skater. He does however need to work on his speed and acceleration, but if he manages to improve in that area, he could prove to be a solid player on the roster. Bleacher Report states that comparisons of him to current and former NHLers vary, as some scouts think he is the next John LeClair, whereas others believe he is more destined to be a player in the vein of someone like Mike Rupp. Projected NHL future: 3rd line power forward
The second selection, #34 overall, was left wing Jacob De La Rose, from Arvika, Sweden. Currently playing for Leksands IF of the Swedish Hockey League. De La Rose is described as a good, strong skater who makes the most of his talents, even if his strengths may not compare to some of the other players on the ice. He is a physical player who will make sacrifices on the penalty kill, and if he keeps his intensity at a consistent level, he will prove to be a nuisance to opposing teams. Having played the past two seasons in the two highest men’s leagues in Sweden, he’s already proven his ability to score against tough competition, which bodes well for his potential impact in the NHL. He’s not a very noteworthy shooter, but if he was given the right guys to play with, he could consistently score points. He has been compared to players like Mikael Backlund, Patrik Berglund and Markus Kruger. Projected NHL future: He stands a very good chance of becoming a 3rd line forward in the NHL, and if he works hard enough, he could certainly become a 2nd line forward.
The third selection, #36 overall, was goaltender Zachary Fucale, from Rosemere, Quebec. Currently with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL, Fucale was considered to be the top goalie of the 2013 Entry Draft, which made him a welcome addition to an already crowded crease of goalies in Montreal. Fucale is a very athletic goalie, and he also has great speed and flexibility, which is important for a butterfly style goaltender such as himself. Still, his reflexes could use some work, and he seems to have a habit of letting in a goal after play being in the opposing end for a lengthy period of time. In other words, he needs to be kept in the action to stay sharp. The biggest question of all still remains to be answered, however. When Fucale is done with junior hockey, will he still be able to play at an elite level without being surrounded with players like Nathan McKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Nikolaj Ehlers? Only time will tell, and time is what is needed before we have a clearer idea of his ability. Who knows, he could become Montreal’s next all-star goaltender, or he could become the next Ron Tugnutt. Even before he was picked by the Habs, Fucale was drawing comparisons to Carey Price. Here’s hoping that turns out to be true.
The fourth selection, #55 overall, was right wing Artturi Lehkonen, from Piikio, Finland. He is currently slated to play for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League this upcoming season, having spent the last three seasons in Liiga (Finland’s top level), playing for TPS Turku and KalPa Kuopio. Lehkonen is seen as a speedy skater who is light on his feet, with a good shot. He needs to be more balanced, and at 163 lbs, he also needs to bulk up on his 5’ 11’’ frame. It is also worth noting that he has had a couple of concussions, but he hasn’t had any lasting complications from them. Lehkonen has been compared to players such as Mike Cammalleri. Projected NHL future: At his best, Lehkonen could become a 2nd Line forward. He likely won’t end up any worse than a depth forward, maybe a top minor league forward, but that’s the worst case scenario.
The fifth selection, #71 overall, was forward Connor Crisp, from Alliston, Ontario. He spent last season with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL, before finishing the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, where he more than likely will spend the upcoming season with. This pick was quite the reach, even more so than the Koberstein selection made this year. His stats, while not terrible, don’t exactly scream future NHL scorer, but rather big tough guy, as evidenced by the amount of penalty minutes he accumulated. Crisp is described as a slow-footed player who isn’t very good in the speed department. He’s good at reading the play in front of him, but his only real upside is his size. (Crisp is 6’ 2’’, 220 lbs) Reading his scouting report, Crisp kind of sounds like Douglas Murray. Enough said. Now, it is possible he could crack the Habs’ roster one day, but only as a depth player. He likely will best be known as that player who had to fill in as an emergency goalie one time in an OHL game. Projected NHL future: As I said earlier, if Crisp has a future in the NHL, it will be as a depth forward. He could become a fixture on the Bulldogs, too.
The sixth selection, #86 overall, was right wing Sven Andrighetto, from Zurich, Switzerland. He spent last season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, and will get lots of playing time there again this upcoming season, unless he cracks the Habs’ roster, which is quite possible, although the competition will be tough against the likes of Jacob De La Rose and Jiri Sekac for that spot. Andrighetto has great speed, acceleration, agility, you name it. The guy is fast, and combined with his powerful shooting ability, he is a threat offensively. On the defensive side of things, he’s a consistent back-checker and will always fight for the puck. However, at 5’ 9’’, he’s a little bit on the short side, but give him a few seasons in the AHL, and he could possibly become a useful scoring forward for the Habs. He also has been compared to players such as Mike Cammalleri and Brad Marchand (in the scoring aspects only), as well as Jussi Jokinen. Projected NHL future: He has the potential to be a second line player, but it is likely he becomes more of a depth forward who produces frequently.
The seventh selection, #116 overall, was forward Martin Reway, from Slovakia. He has spent the past two seasons with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL. He is currently slated to play for HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga this upcoming season. Reway is described by Jerome Berube from Hockey Prospect as “a quick skater with above-average acceleration”. He’s a good playmaker with a good sense of who’s around him, and he is a valuable asset on the power-play. Physically however, he is nothing special and will often try to avoid contact. His size (5’8’’, 173 lbs) doesn’t help his case either. Now, if he manages to hulk out and get some more muscles on him, he could become a pretty good forward at the NHL level. He has drawn some comparisons to Dmitrij Jaskin. Projected NHL future: Realistically, Reway likely will be a depth forward or a farm team mainstay.
The eighth and final selection, #176 overall, was centre Jeremy Gregoire, from Sherbrooke, Quebec. He has spent the past three seasons in the QMJHL, with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, serving as an assistant captain for both teams. He will more than likely play his remaining two seasons of junior eligibility before joining a Habs minor league affiliate. Gregoire is generally considered to not be a very good skater, but he still manages to make a good defensive forward. When you get into this part of the draft, it usually is a crapshoot in terms of the quality of player you get. Gregoire has the ability to make the Habs’ roster in the future, but that would take a lot of work. Projected NHL future: At best, depth forward. It’s more likely Gregoire will end up being a career minor-leaguer.
Off-season signings and trades:
In terms of trades, the Habs didn’t do too much in the offseason. They swapped 7th round picks with Florida, and later got George Parros from Florida in exchange for the 7th round pick they got days earlier and minor leaguer Phillippe Lefebvre, and they also swapped minor leaguers with the Rangers. (Danny Kristo to the Rangers, Christian Thomas to the Habs.) Montreal’s only noteworthy free agency signing was centre Danny Briere, who only managed 25 points in 69 games before being shipped off to Colorado on June 30, 2014 for PA Parenteau and a 5th round draft pick in 2015. The rest of Montreal’s signings were a bunch of minor leaguers.
Then there was Douglas “Crankshaft” Murray.
To say he sucked was an incredibly huge understatement.
The only notable loss Montreal suffered in free agency was Michael Ryder’s move to New Jersey, but other than that not too much changed roster wise for the Habs.
Montreal had some expectations to live up to after their disappointing playoff run in the previous season. In what seems to be the norm nowadays they started their season off against their bitter rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens put forth a strong effort but ultimately lost in their 2013-2014 season debut 4-3. Although the Montreal faithful did not have to wait long for their first taste of victory which came in the form of a 4-1 victory the very next game against Philadelphia. Montreal had an overall successful run leading up to the Olympic break at one point leading the eastern conference but they could not maintain their position due to a strong showing by many of the top eastern teams. The team continued to have a strong showing before the break collecting 70 points and resting at third in the Atlantic Division. They played well in the last games before the break thanks in part to a hot streak by goalie Carey Price. His good play would be crucial for the Canadiens to succeed.
With two of our biggest stars coming off of gold medal wins the team was hoping to make a solid return to the ice…. Unfortunately, this was not exactly the case. The Habs went 3-4-1 following the break although this could have been in part because of the fact that their starter was out with an injury from the Olympics for those eight games. It was also in this part of the season that Montreal was getting into a slump. What broke that slump was perhaps the biggest victory of our season, coming back from a three goal deficit with 3:22 left in the third period against the Ottawa Senators and came back to win in overtime. After this we started to get into a groove of picking up a few wins in a row and the dropping one or two games. Overall our play was pretty solid and we managed to pick up he wins when necessary giving us a very productive mid-season.
As the season came to a close our fate in the playoffs was all but set. We would be playing the Tampa Bay Lightning. What was not set was who would have home ice advantage in that series. Our final few games were in a race for second in the Atlantic and we almost succeeded in capturing home ice but ultimately we fell just a point short so it was set we would be playing Tampa Bay in the first round and our first two games would be in their arena. Overall our season was a solid one, capping the year off with 100 points and a record of 46-28-8. The first round of the playoffs went extremely well for us as we picked up four straight wins to sweep the Lightning. Some may say we got lucky that starter Ben Bishop was injured but anything can happen in the NHL and that unpredictability makes it exciting. Anyways that would be a scenario we would have to deal with later in the playoffs. Then in what seemed all too fitting we would play one of if not our biggest rivals… the Boston Bruins. In a series where wins were traded every night it took 5 games for a team to gain an advantage and that team was Boston. But Montreal came out strong and won game 6 4-0 at home. This set the stage for an incredible game 7 that in the end the Habs would emerge victorious from. So after a gruelling conference semi-finals, we would find ourselves in the conference finals against the New York Rangers. This was set to be a chess match between two of the best goalies in the league in what was sure to go to at least a game six. That was of course until Chris Krieder happened. In game one a freak accident led Kreider to fall skate first into Price and in turn taking him out for the remainder of the playoffs. We would never recover. Though replacement goalie Dustin Tokarski would perform admirably we could not get our momentum back even though we were able to push the series to game 6 against the eventual runners up.
The Habs have had a relatively active off-season. Before the draft, the Habs traded former first round pick Louis Leblanc to Anaheim for a conditional 5th round pick in 2015. Just before free agency, Danny Briere was shipped off to Colorado for PA Parenteau and a 5th round draft pick in 2015. In free agency, the Habs let go of good old Crankshaft and George Parros, who as of August 17, have not yet signed with another team. Thomas Vanek went back home to Minnesota as predicted. Captain Brian Gionta signed with the Buffalo Sabres after a 5 year stint with the Habs, joining Josh Gorges, who had been traded to the Sabres by Montreal the same day. The Habs made a few signings on July 1st, getting forwards Manny Malhotra and Jiri Sekac and defenseman Tom Gilbert, as well as journeyman goaltender Joey MacDonald. The Habs resigned defensemen Mike Weaver and PK Subban, as well as forward Lars Eller. Contract talks between Subban and Habs management were extensive and exhaustive, but in the end, a deal got done, and Subban got paid! He now has the 3rd largest cap hit of any player in the league, trailing only Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. With moves like these, it seems as though the Habs will be in good hands for years to come.
Highlights of the 2013-2014 Season:
Why the Montreal Canadiens Will Win The Cup This Year:
Young guys like Nathan Beaulieu and Jared Tinordi show that they can play at an NHL level, Subban erases all fears about a so-called lack of discipline and has a Norris-calibre season. Patches leads the Habs in scoring and breaks the 40 goal plateau. Price stays healthy and not only has a Vezina-calibre season, but a Hart-calibre season too.
Why the Montreal Canadiens Won’t Win The Cup This Year:
Michel Therrien doesn’t shake his obsession with Douglas Murray and Francis Bouillon, convincing Marc Bergevin to bring them back. He then has them play the majority of the season. Their ineptitude causes Montreal to crash out of the playoffs in spectacular fashion, and Milan Lucic fucking kills Dale Weise. Boston and Pittsburgh still manage to maintain their dominance over the Eastern Conference, and the West…. well it’s still the West… they manage to crush whoever represents the East.