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2012-13 State Of The Habs


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What I'm guessing is it may be more of an evaluation year than an outright development year. What I mean is it's not so much that our defense is bad as much as it has a large number of question marks, primarily:

- can Markov stay healthy and is he still a top-pairing, or at least top-four defenseman?

- was last season just an off-year for Kaberle? Is that player we remember from Toronto still in there somewhere?

- can Subban continue improving and become a consistent player we can count on in all situations?

- can Emelin be a legitimate top-four dman?

Bergevin may have preferred seeing how things go this season to getting into free-agent bidding wars where we'd have to drastically overpay someone and likely be saddled with a long-term contract. If everything goes horribly wrong, next year we look at buying out Markov and Kaberle and making a big splash in free agency. If things go well, we can maybe be a bit more patient and let guys like Tinordi develop.

I would have liked to have seen a reasonably big signing, but given the amount of uncertainty with this team, I can kind of see maybe holding off for a year when hopefully we'll have a clearer picture of where this team truly lies.

The problem is, we have no idea whether or not Bergevin put in bids to get a reasonably big signing. Either way, I'm not too sure I'd be comfortable with Bergevin just 'seeing how things go this season' when he was brought in to improve the team. However, it is still early in the off-season. Help may still be on the way in the next 3 months. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

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Just out of curiosity weep, is there any d-man signed so far you'd want for the amount of money they have signed for? ;)

I'd have gone for Carle TBH. Against a $70 million cap, his salary really isn't thad bad. Failing that, I would have tried to get someone who could at least approximate a top-four d-man. Not Bouillon.

What I'm guessing is it may be more of an evaluation year than an outright development year. What I mean is it's not so much that our defense is bad as much as it has a large number of question marks, primarily:

- can Markov stay healthy and is he still a top-pairing, or at least top-four defenseman?

- was last season just an off-year for Kaberle? Is that player we remember from Toronto still in there somewhere?

- can Subban continue improving and become a consistent player we can count on in all situations?

- can Emelin be a legitimate top-four dman?

I don't know that any of these issues are really questions.

Regardless of whether Markov stays healthy or not, our defense needs to improve.

He's not top pairing anymore, rather a second-pairing d-man who's lost a step.

Kaberle is now a third-pairing PP specialist.

Subban is our no. 1 d-man.

Emelin may be a top-four man, but he's not right now, and won't be this coming year.

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I hope the thinking is that it's a development year. It's the only way to justify Bergevin's otherwise abject failure to do anything to improve our blue line.

This worries me too, and the decision to avoid upgrading the D is eerily similar to last season when we decided to bank on markov coming back to form and signed a couple of rookies rather than going after free agents of trades. The problem is that PG then flipped philosophies and acquired Campoli and kaberle while the team sat Diaz and Weber and Emelin in the press box. If we're going to make this a re-building year, then Bouillon shouldn't have been signed and moen and Armstrong shouldn't have been signed. We should have made the decision to go ahead with the likes of Diaz, Emelin, and St-Denis on the blue line, and give Palushaj, Geoffrion, Dumont and/or Leblanc the chance up front. Instead, we've signed a host of depth players, who are really most useful to a team planning on making a playoff run. To me, Bergevin's plan actually does not gel with a re-building intention, which worries me slightly.

Just out of curiosity weep, is there any d-man signed so far you'd want for the amount of money they have signed for? ;)

Maybe Allen then. Anyway, I wouldn't rule out eventual trades.

It still seems like a lot, but I actually like the deal TB got on Carle. They're getting a D man through his prime and the cap hit is quite reasonable given what other teams have doled out. I'd also still have considered the Suter signing. Yes, the 13 years is quite ridiculous, but there's a very good chance he retires well before then. If he plays until he's say, 36, then the deal is actually an 8-9-year deal at a cap hit of 7.5m. It's high, but the truth is that it's very unlikely we'll get a good shot at a D man of his caliber, and the Wild should still get 6-7 good years out of him. A guy like Chris Pronger plays a similar game and he was still going strong into his late 30's until recently. Chara's still a top-tier guy despite his age too, and Chelios played well even in his late 30's as well. So to me, the Suter contract (in isolation from the Parise deal) is not as crazy as it first sounds and you get a cornerstone guy who really complements Subban/Beaulieu/Gorges/Emelin/Tinordi nicely and who fills a niche that is really not easy to find elsewhere.

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This worries me too, and the decision to avoid upgrading the D is eerily similar to last season when we decided to bank on markov coming back to form and signed a couple of rookies rather than going after free agents of trades. The problem is that PG then flipped philosophies and acquired Campoli and kaberle while the team sat Diaz and Weber and Emelin in the press box. If we're going to make this a re-building year, then Bouillon shouldn't have been signed and moen and Armstrong shouldn't have been signed. We should have made the decision to go ahead with the likes of Diaz, Emelin, and St-Denis on the blue line, and give Palushaj, Geoffrion, Dumont and/or Leblanc the chance up front. Instead, we've signed a host of depth players, who are really most useful to a team planning on making a playoff run. To me, Bergevin's plan actually does not gel with a re-building intention, which worries me slightly.

Maybe Bouillon is the designated 7th d-man... but any case I agree and am not too impressed so far (though I do like the Prust aquisition). When you look at the Habs depth chart at Capgeek.com it looks like a real mess IMO.

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I'd have gone for Carle TBH. Against a $70 million cap, his salary really isn't thad bad. Failing that, I would have tried to get someone who could at least approximate a top-four d-man. Not Bouillon.

That is who I wanted MB to go after, he would have been ideal for us, someone who can log big minutes and can be a top-two d-man.

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I can't see us going anywhere. Subban, Eller, and Pacioretty all being another year older with a little more development will help, and Armstrong/Prust are far better bottom six guys than Blunden/Staubitz. Markov hopefully being back the whole season should help, but it's not enough to make us even a legitimate playoff team.

The problem is our D is just paper thin. Analyzing it, we have 3 true top-4 talents: Subban, Markov, and Gorges. Of these three, only Subban is a true top-pairing defenseman. Markov is a #3, and Gorges a #4. After that we have Emelin, Kaberle, Boullion, and Diaz, all of whom fit at the #5 hole (save for Diaz, who I'd slot in at #6). We're missing a top pairing guy and the domino effect is crippling. Gorges does not belong on a top pairing, and Markov has to play with Emelin, Boullion, or Diaz, instead of Gorges which would be ideal. I really wish we could have grabbed Carle, that would instantly give us a proper D corps, with Carle and Subban, followed by Markov and Gorges. Maybe the organization is hoping for a breakout from Emelin, but even if so, he won't be a top pairing guy. Best case scenario, he becomes a #4 and he and Markov play adequately on the second pairing.

I'm not really optimistic about our team this year. It'd take a miraculous trade or an incredible resurgence from Markov to right the ship here.

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This worries me too, and the decision to avoid upgrading the D is eerily similar to last season when we decided to bank on markov coming back to form and signed a couple of rookies rather than going after free agents of trades. The problem is that PG then flipped philosophies and acquired Campoli and kaberle while the team sat Diaz and Weber and Emelin in the press box. If we're going to make this a re-building year, then Bouillon shouldn't have been signed and moen and Armstrong shouldn't have been signed. We should have made the decision to go ahead with the likes of Diaz, Emelin, and St-Denis on the blue line, and give Palushaj, Geoffrion, Dumont and/or Leblanc the chance up front. Instead, we've signed a host of depth players, who are really most useful to a team planning on making a playoff run. To me, Bergevin's plan actually does not gel with a re-building intention, which worries me slightly.

It's not necessarily better to just fill the lineup with a host of young players, whether rebuilding or not. Leblanc has 30 career AHL games, I'd probably ideally give him at least half a season 1 way or another, Armstrong won't be a roadblock to playing kids, it's a 1-year low risk deal. If he plays well and we still struggle, he'll have strong value at the deadline to a contender, if he struggles we just sit him out and call up a kid. As for Bouillon while I'm not really on board with the signing, St. Denis is a nonfactor, Weber maybe as well and Diaz is depth. We're not exactly roadblocking our future there. Also, sometimes giving a good well liked depth guy a 1 year contract could lead to a nice deadline return for a rebuilding team. Teams are always looking for DMen at the deadline, if Bouillon and Armstrong bring back any kind of picks at the deadline in a rebuilding year, they were absolutely worth it.

Bergevin's plan seems more like a 1-year wait and see + assess to me. This team was very unlucky last year, a lot of tight losses, injuries and a surprisingly decent goal differential for a last place team so I can understand going in half pregnant, see if this team can compete this year and be good and if not, start selling off a couple of the depth guys that were signed.

It still seems like a lot, but I actually like the deal TB got on Carle. They're getting a D man through his prime and the cap hit is quite reasonable given what other teams have doled out. I'd also still have considered the Suter signing. Yes, the 13 years is quite ridiculous, but there's a very good chance he retires well before then. If he plays until he's say, 36, then the deal is actually an 8-9-year deal at a cap hit of 7.5m. It's high, but the truth is that it's very unlikely we'll get a good shot at a D man of his caliber, and the Wild should still get 6-7 good years out of him. A guy like Chris Pronger plays a similar game and he was still going strong into his late 30's until recently. Chara's still a top-tier guy despite his age too, and Chelios played well even in his late 30's as well. So to me, the Suter contract (in isolation from the Parise deal) is not as crazy as it first sounds and you get a cornerstone guy who really complements Subban/Beaulieu/Gorges/Emelin/Tinordi nicely and who fills a niche that is really not easy to find elsewhere.

I'd have done it too, but a lot of teams would have probably done it and they orchestrated going where they want to go. Bergevin comes from an organization not shy about getting cap creative but at this point it would have probably been a hard sell. I'm not as opposed to the wait and see mode we're in right now, coming off the season we had with the uncertainty of the new CBA. It's hard to know what to expect from this team. It wouldn't stun me if we were as competitive as we were in 10-11 when we had 96 points or as bad as we were last year.

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Let's be honest, MB and the Habs know they have a free pass this year. Simply, by the law of averages this team will be better than last year. I actually don't mind MB's approach because I truly feel he understood the Blackhawks model. Get some blue-chips and core players, let them develop and when they are ready to "take the step" spend like a drunken sailor for a season and go all out for a cup. (See Hossa, Marian)

I actually totally agree with that in the cap world, I feel nowadays its a quick 3 year build, followed by a one year drop-off followed by another 3 year cycle.

I see this as aiming for an identity this season, re-instilling pride and establishing our new core of players while weeding dead contracts and waiting for some to expire. Next season incorporate more young players, sign a couple of quality additional players and by year 3 go all out before our next wave of entry level/RFA contracts run out.

Taking this season's D corps as an example: We're establishing what roles we see on our pairings in theory:

Gorges (Stay-at home shot blocker) - Subban (Number 1/All-around guy/big hitter)

Markov (Secondary All around guy) - Emelin (hard hitting/stay at home)

Kaberle (Tertiary puck mover) - Bouillon (secondary hard hitter/grizzly veteran)

It's a model to build upon and improve with the likes of Beaulieu, Tinordi and Ellis hopefully replacing or stealing roles.

Our Forward corps is similar:

1 scoring line

1 all-around line

1 2 way line

1 energy/shift disturber line

The model is built and hopefully the parts will come together in front of our Vezina calibre goalie. I think the State of the Habs is on the rise (nowhere to go but up) and believe me if any of you have ever read my posts I am far from the eternal optimist. I just feel that a blueprint is being developed and I like it.

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I don't know that any of these issues are really questions.

Regardless of whether Markov stays healthy or not, our defense needs to improve.

He's not top pairing anymore, rather a second-pairing d-man who's lost a step.

Kaberle is now a third-pairing PP specialist.

Subban is our no. 1 d-man.

Emelin may be a top-four man, but he's not right now, and won't be this coming year.

We've seen Markov play in all of 13 games after missing the entire season, I'm not sure how you can be so confident evaluating him. After a healthy summer to get back in game shape and full training camp, I'll be interested to see where he is. He's no youngster, but at 33 could still have a few good years left in him.

Kaberle definitely was that last season, but this is a guy who 2/3 of the way through the season before last was traded as a rental for 2 first round picks and seen as a top four dman. The trade looks really bad so far, but I'd give it one more year before writing him off.

Never said Emelin was a top-four dman this year, which was my point, I think it will be easier to assess his potential next summer after he has another NHL season under his belt.

Overall, I think it will just be easier to retool this defense next summer. We'll know if buying out Markov and Kaberle makes sense, we'll have a better idea where Emelin fits into our long term plans, we'll have an idea how Tinordi and Beaulieu are doing, etc. And maybe most importantly, we'll know what the next CBA looks like. By no means would I have hated it if we'd signed Carle or someone, but given all the uncertainty after last season I can understand Bergevin wanting to mostly stay the course for one more season.

On top of that, we don't have the cap space for both Carle and Subban. There are no guarantees the new CBA will allow dumping salary in the AHL and if they don't give an additional buyout period, we could have no way to get rid of Gomez/Kaberle until next summer. I believe we'd have the tagging room to sign both Subban and Carle, but we may have to get rid of players we'd rather not get rid of to start the season (aka those who have enough trade value that we could trade them without having to take salary back: probably Cole or Gorges would be the most likely candidates)

* in terms of evaluating Bergevin though, I suppose you could argue that had he bought out Kaberle and Gomez (I'm not sure if Gomez even could be bought out due to the injury), we would have the cap space for both

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Even if we dont change anyone on the roster, I cant believe our PP will be as bad as it was last season. Scoring just a few more goals on the PP could have changed those OT/SO losses into wins. Gionta and Markov back full time can do nothing but improve our situation in that regard.

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We've seen Markov play in all of 13 games after missing the entire season, I'm not sure how you can be so confident evaluating him. After a healthy summer to get back in game shape and full training camp, I'll be interested to see where he is. He's no youngster, but at 33 could still have a few good years left in him.

It's not about whether he has a few good years left. I'm fairly sure he does. It's that he isn't the player he was pre-injury. His decision-making was subpar frequently last season, he had no speed, he couldn't pivot effectively, and he was extremely shy about engaging in any sort of battle along the boards. There was no sign that he could be anything other than a second-pairing d-man who sees big minutes on the power play. Laying back because we're gambling on him being better is really ill-advised IMO. If I'm right, we wasted yet another year on a d-man who isn't the player he once was. If I'm wrong, what is wrong with strengthening our blue line further? It's not like we're this teflon group on D and we can afford to see if Markov can regain his old form. We are paper-thin as it is, pretty weak TBH, and even if Markov returns to being a top-two d-man, we STILL need quality help on the backend.

Kaberle definitely was that last season, but this is a guy who 2/3 of the way through the season before last was traded as a rental for 2 first round picks and seen as a top four dman. The trade looks really bad so far, but I'd give it one more year before writing him off.

His play has been in steady decline since 2005-06. I'd say Toronto fleeced Boston on that trade, in hindsight. Players don't usually rebound from this sort of decline, particularly d-men.

Never said Emelin was a top-four dman this year, which was my point, I think it will be easier to assess his potential next summer after he has another NHL season under his belt.

Again, why does this preclude us signing a top-four d-man? It might actually be harder to assess his potential if we rush him into a role he can't handle just because we're starved for top-four options.

On top of that, we don't have the cap space for both Carle and Subban.

* in terms of evaluating Bergevin though, I suppose you could argue that had he bought out Kaberle and Gomez (I'm not sure if Gomez even could be bought out due to the injury), we would have the cap space for both

Demote Gomez to the minors, buy out Kaberle, don't sign Bouillon or Prust, and I'm pretty sure we have the cap for Carle and Subban.

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I'm fine with this coming season being a building year. There were not many available players on the UFA market that would have turned our team into a post-season contender. Would we really have been pleased to give Zach Parise or Ryan Suter the kind of long-term deals they got from Minnesota? It's always nice to land a top six forward or a top four defenceman at this time of year, but there isn't a lot out there. Bergevin added depth in the bottom six for the next several years. I'm fine with that. It gives the team some more consistency going forward as Bergevin attempts to shape the team into what he wishes it to be. We have several interesting young prospects who are maybe only a few years away from making the team and making a difference. Alex Galchenyuk, Danny Kristo, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Morgan Ellis, Louis Leblanc, Brendan Gallagher, Blake Geoffrion, etc. Assuming some of these players can make an impact at the NHL level we look decent in goal and on the blueline in the not to distant future. That's not a bad position to be in. It's just going to take us a year or two to start seeing the picture become less hazy, IMO.

I wonder how PK and Emelin would make out together, on a pairing.

Badly, IMO. I'm not sure if Emelin is prepared to log the type of minutes that P.K. logs. It could be a disaster to have them together if Alexei is not ready for that role.

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I still think you are judging Markov unfairly based on a 13-game stint down a meaningless stretch, weep. His vision was intact, he made great passes. His positioning and skating wasn't great but he admitted as much himself and would work on it.

Must remember that he's been away from hockey for a long time, it will take more than a handful of games to re-adjust.

A full pre-season of hockey preparation instead of knee rehab will do him well.

If he still looks the same after 15-20 games of the new season, then we can re-assess the situation but as for now, it is simply too early to tell.

I think judging any player by such a small sample size is unfair, by that we could've written off Subban in his sophomore slump. I am generalizing a bit but I hope my point comes across.

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I see this team finishing in the 12-14th range. Winipeg, Carolina, Islanders, Buffalo, and Tampa Bay have all improved. I could see Ottawa and Florida falling back down but that's not enough to help us. Toronto will stay flat.

I have been hoping that this season would be a development year for a while, and one of my arguments was that the 2012 UFA crop is weak. Now that UFA season has come and gone, I'm glad to see more people agreeing. It makes me hopeful that I knew what I was talking about, that it make sense, and that Bergevin sees it this way too.

The 2013 draft is supposed to be one of the deepest ever. I hope we accumulate alot of draft picks at the deadline this year. If we can flip Colby Armstrong, Francis Bouillon and Tomas Kaberle for picks we're really solidifying the already-laid groundwork of a 2015-2020 dynasty, which should be the priority.

If Gomez and Bourque bounce back we can flip them for draft picks as well. We can then cash in on the 2013 UFA crop, which may be one of the best ever, and thus further solidifying the 2015-2020 dynasty.

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While anything is possible, to me the team as it currently stands is a 10th place team at best, and a lottery team at worst. We are not going to make the playoffs with our current D corps, or our pop-gun offense.

I agree with JBaker, it only takes a bit of luck and a couple of guys to get hot to propel a basement team into the playoffs. We're going to have Gionta and markov, whom we didn't have last season, and I'd have to believe the PP will be better. We didn't do enough in the off-season to make ourselves a division contender, but we're not a long ways away from being able to get into the playoffs. If we have a good start to the year, we can always trade up during the season and then you just never know. I fully agree the odds are on us missing the post-season with our current line-up, but with Price in there and some better luck, I'd say our ceiling is more around 5th place in the East.

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I agree with JBaker, it only takes a bit of luck and a couple of guys to get hot to propel a basement team into the playoffs. We're going to have Gionta and markov, whom we didn't have last season, and I'd have to believe the PP will be better. We didn't do enough in the off-season to make ourselves a division contender, but we're not a long ways away from being able to get into the playoffs. If we have a good start to the year, we can always trade up during the season and then you just never know. I fully agree the odds are on us missing the post-season with our current line-up, but with Price in there and some better luck, I'd say our ceiling is more around 5th place in the East.

I disagree completely.

There's a huge difference between us and the playoffs last year. We're just not on the same level as Washington and Philadelphia. Even if we were, the point is not to lose in the second round, the point is to compete for the championship.

Also, we had "a bit of luck". It's not as though this was a team where everything went wrong. We had:

- A career season from Erik Cole.

- Desharnais exceeding all expectations.

- Progression from Alexei Emelin and Max Pacioretty above median expectations.

- Health and consistency from Carey Price, PK Subban, and Tomas Plekanec, our three most important players.

- The second best penalty kill in the 30-team NHL.

The 2011-2012 Canadiens are not a team that finished last because everything went wrong. That is revisionist history. The 2011-2012 Canadiens are a team that finished last in spite of several things going really well, because overall they were a genuinely weak team.

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With the parity(sp.?) in the league nowadays it is almost impossible to determine where a team will end up even after 42 games. I think we're taking the right steps none the less.

Imo we didn't finish last in the east cos we had the worst team. I believe it was an accumulation of things. A few bad apples in the dressing room, coaches being fired before games... All that turmoil throughout the organization showed on the ice.

The fact that there's stability for this coming season, I feel the habs will do much better.

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While anything is possible, to me the team as it currently stands is a 10th place team at best, and a lottery team at worst. We are not going to make the playoffs with our current D corps, or our pop-gun offense.

Have I entered the Twilight Zone??

Someday there'll be an off season where we don't have to say this.

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Imo we didn't finish last in the east cos we had the worst team. I believe it was an accumulation of things. A few bad apples in the dressing room, coaches being fired before games... All that turmoil throughout the organization showed on the ice.

The fact that there's stability for this coming season, I feel the habs will do much better.

Yes, I know they will be better than last season and will be at the big dance. New attitude makes for improvement and being excited to go to the rink will help create positive results.

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