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2021-22 State of the Habs


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Carey Price took another important step in his return to game action by skating with full goalie equipment Wednesday for the first time since he re-joined the Montreal Canadiens last month.

Price had been skating without equipment since the end of November. The 34-year-old is recovering from off-season knee surgery, and missed a month of training after he voluntarily entered the NHL’s player assistance program in early October.

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53 minutes ago, Regis22 said:

Mattias Norlinder expresses his desire to return to Frölunda

Fredrik Janelid of Göteborgs Posten spoke with Mattias Norlinder yesterday after the Montreal Canadiens defenceman was sent to the Laval Rocket. The Swedish paper was released at 5am local time this morning and has stirred some heated arguments online.

The Swedish defender stated clearly in the article that he had wanted to go back to Frölunda and the for a while.

“In all honesty, I have been wanting go home for a while,” he said. Norlinder also explained that after he had recovered from the injury he suffered against Toronto Maple Leafs on September 27, the plans changed.

“After my injury I thought I was going home, that was the way it sounded. Instead I got sent down to get a few games. At the same time it has been special for Montreal as it hasn’t gone the way the club expected. Then, last week, I wanted to know the plan, but then they fired the GM and almost the whole staff.”

The club stated on Tuesday that they would listen to Norlinder’s opinion when deciding what to do with the rest of the season following three games in Laval. In the interview with Janelind, it is clear that Norlinder wants to go back.

Norlinder does express positive thoughts about the experience gained in the NHL, especially the debut in front of the Bell Centre crowd: “Incredible and special, even if we lost. Especially as we played at home in front of all the fans.”

Frölunda is currently at the top of the SHL, Norlinder would go into one of the top two pairings, and would probably get his role on the first power play unit back as Frölunda has rotated defenders on that position since Norlinder left. Frölunda won the first leg of the Champions Hockey League quarterfinal with 5-2, and is reigning champions of the tournament.

Not surprising. The Habs are horrible at player development,  and should have sent him back, as soon as he was injured,  and they picked up Sami Niku. They totally wasted a year of his development,  which follows the time lost to covid game reductions.

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Apparently two other teams can participate in salary retention. You could see Habs trade Price (who has the NTC hammer on final destination),  in a three way deal where Habs retain 50% salary, an intermediate team takes him retains 25% and his end result team picks him up for 25%. Of course the percentages could be played with on cap retention. One just wonders what type of compensation the Habs would receive and what the intermediate team like Buffalo, Anaheim, Ottawa with cap room) would need 

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16 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

Oh, I fully agree that Gainey didn't manage the cap situation that well. But I think at the time, very few GMs had a good understanding of the cap and teams weren't willing to give up anything for cap space. So I don't think it was like NY was going to give us another prospect just because Gomez made a lot of money. I just don't think it was a negotiating point back in that timeframe.

As I said, I generally hate trading blue chip prospects for aging players. It's not the way I would build the team and especially in the cap era where you need homegrown cost-controlled players on your roster. That said, the team has also had success trading prospects for veterans. Gainey dealt Jozef Balej for Alex Kovalev and that worked out brilliantly. We also swapped Sebastian Collberg for Tomas Vanek, and that was a win too. If McDonagh hadn't panned out all that well (which wasn't a given at the time), then we likely write this trade under the table as a risky gamble but one that didn't cost us anything. Furthermore, with McDonagh being an American playing in US college, it also wasn't a given that he would ever have signed here (akin to what we went through with Poehling, Evans, Caufield, and now Harris - there's always a risk they just walk with no compensation). So it's possible Gainey didn't feel strongly that McDonagh would come to Montreal in the first place.

All that to say that I never would have made that trade either, but to play devil's advocate, not all trades for 30 year-olds end up badly and I simply wanted to point out that the in Gainey's head, it might have been more a thought of I can keep McDonagh and risk losing him for nothing or I can take a gamble on Gomez and add Gionta and Cammalleri if I do that. So my thought here is that there were probably more layers to Gainey's decision than just what went onto the paperwork for that one transaction. We can apply the same thing now - Harris seems to have all the tools to be a quality NHL D man, but if Gorton knows he won't sign here, trading him for an NHL player could be defensible. The Canes clearly lost trading Adam Fox to the Rangers, but there alternative was ending up with nothing.

It's a good point that GMs hadn't fully figured out the value of cap space in 2009, and to be clear I'm not suggesting we could have gotten a good pick/prospect coming back the other way. With that said, given the dates involved, it's fairly clear that Sather wanted to dump Gomez to clear up room for Gaborik, and unless there was some other team willing to pay up to take on Gomez's contract, I suspect they would have taken just Higgins back to dump the salary. The fact that they managed to get a top prospect out of us is why I felt at the time and still feel we got fleeced (even without benefit of hindsight).

I suppose McDonagh's value at the time is debatable, but if Gainey was that worried about college players walking, not sure why he'd have used a first round pick on one in the first place. 

And totally agree that the idea of trading for Gomez at the time wasn't terrible, and even giving up a good prospect to do it wasn't terrible if you ignore the cap implications. It was just the fact that NYR needed to get rid of the guy and still managed to get a top prospect out of us that makes me think Gainey badly got outplayed.  Maybe that deal doesn't get done without McDonagh - no way to know for sure and for all I know there was some other team also offering a top prospect - I just have my doubts.

 

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10 hours ago, claremont said:

Apparently two other teams can participate in salary retention. You could see Habs trade Price (who has the NTC hammer on final destination),  in a three way deal where Habs retain 50% salary, an intermediate team takes him retains 25% and his end result team picks him up for 25%. Of course the percentages could be played with on cap retention. One just wonders what type of compensation the Habs would receive and what the intermediate team like Buffalo, Anaheim, Ottawa with cap room) would need 

I don't know you even need to go that far, get Price's contract down to say 6 million or so and I think he's not just tradable, but could bring back a pretty good haul.

Price would have to agree to it, but Oilers seem like almost a perfect match. If I'm the Oilers management watching the best player in the world waste away in the playoffs and have the chance to bring in a clutch-playoff goalie at a reasonable price, I'd be willing to give up some good future pieces for that.

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11 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

I don't know you even need to go that far, get Price's contract down to say 6 million or so and I think he's not just tradable, but could bring back a pretty good haul.

Price would have to agree to it, but Oilers seem like almost a perfect match. If I'm the Oilers management watching the best player in the world waste away in the playoffs and have the chance to bring in a clutch-playoff goalie at a reasonable price, I'd be willing to give up some good future pieces for that.

Thats for sure.   At $10.5m he's an asset, but a risky one. You're going to get back dead cap and probably a risky player (ie prospect) or pick (always risk involved).

At $6m (if we retain $4.5 or whatever) he's definitely an asset.  "Playoff Price" is a very very sellable commodity.  I think you could get a package similar to what we got for Pacioretty if you retained that salary.  Is it worth it? Maybe.  I also think that if there's an opportunity to get Price a cup elsewhere its worth exploring. Im all about team-first but if we can get a good return AND get him a good chance at Lord Stanley, im ok with that, even though i dont really want to see him go. 

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12 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

I don't know you even need to go that far, get Price's contract down to say 6 million or so and I think he's not just tradable, but could bring back a pretty good haul.

Price would have to agree to it, but Oilers seem like almost a perfect match. If I'm the Oilers management watching the best player in the world waste away in the playoffs and have the chance to bring in a clutch-playoff goalie at a reasonable price, I'd be willing to give up some good future pieces for that.

Agreed. Look at other goalies out there... Matt Murray is making 6M+, Markstom is at 6M, so is Binnington. Grubauer and Quick are a hair under 6M. Lehner, Ullmark, Varlamov, and Demko are all at 5M.

So if a team had their pick of the litter and could trade for anyone, I think they likely take Price at 6 or even 6.5M over pretty much all of those other guys in the 5-6M range. I think some teams would even consider Price at 7-8M.

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14 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

Price would have to agree to it, but Oilers seem like almost a perfect match. If I'm the Oilers management watching the best player in the world waste away in the playoffs and have the chance to bring in a clutch-playoff goalie at a reasonable price, I'd be willing to give up some good future pieces for that.

As for Edmonton, Bouchard is the guy id be targeting but I think there's some other very interesting pieces in Bourgault, Holloway, Niemelainen etc.  They have some very appealing young players thats for sure... and i think for the opportunity to grab Price? they may move one of them. 

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7 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

Agreed. Look at other goalies out there... Matt Murray is making 6M+, Markstom is at 6M, so is Binnington. Grubauer and Quick are a hair under 6M. Lehner, Ullmark, Varlamov, and Demko are all at 5M.

So if a team had their pick of the litter and could trade for anyone, I think they likely take Price at 6 or even 6.5M over pretty much all of those other guys in the 5-6M range. I think some teams would even consider Price at 7-8M.

Ya I think teams would consider him at 7-8, although I think it you can get down to 6 that should really open up the options and hopefully get a better return.

Eating that much salary would be a tough call, although I suppose you could argue it's unlikely he's going to be anywhere near a 10.5 million player as a 38 year old so we're going to be wasting 5 million or so either way. On the other hand, there's a decent chance he ends up on LTIR at some point, and while I don't know the rules, I'd be surprised if that grants relief for retained salary.

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We are still losing but the team is playing a bit better, we are not getting blown out as much as we were early on. I like some of the new players we have brought up they look ok. they are poorly led but there is some hope for the future. I still don't like the system or lack of one we are using and I am not sure keeping Ducharme is good for the kids trying to develop in the NHL he still relies on players like Savard Perrault and some others when we need to let the kids play some of those minutes. If we are going to be serious about developing them we need a coach that is not trying to win more than develop the players! it is going to suck but that is kind of the point.

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1 hour ago, BigTed3 said:

Next 10 games: @Stl, @Pit, vs. Phi, vs. Bos, and then a 6-game road trip through New York and Florida. How many of those games are we going to win? I'll set an over-under at 3.5.

I'll take the under. Given so far we've only won slightly over 1 in 5 games, winning 4 or more against some pretty good teams would count as a big step forward ...

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12 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

I'll take the under. Given so far we've only won slightly over 1 in 5 games, winning 4 or more against some pretty good teams would count as a big step forward ...

Well we've won a tad under 30% of our games thus far and I'd have to venture that just about everything has gone wrong... poor play, poor coaching, injuries, bad luck, awful special teams, etc. Are we really going to have special teams this bad the rest of the way? Is Gorton really just going to let the same coaching mistakes go unchecked? Not sure, but by natural regression to the means, there could be a little bit of an improvement. So going 4 out of 10 instead of the predicted 3 out of 10 is not a huge huge difference. But I agree, on paper, it seems like a tall order to get 8 points out of 20 for this squad.

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15 minutes ago, BigTed3 said:

Well we've won a tad under 30% of our games thus far and I'd have to venture that just about everything has gone wrong... poor play, poor coaching, injuries, bad luck, awful special teams, etc. Are we really going to have special teams this bad the rest of the way? Is Gorton really just going to let the same coaching mistakes go unchecked? Not sure, but by natural regression to the means, there could be a little bit of an improvement. So going 4 out of 10 instead of the predicted 3 out of 10 is not a huge huge difference. But I agree, on paper, it seems like a tall order to get 8 points out of 20 for this squad.

We've won 6 of 28, so only 21.4%, so 40% would be a decent jump, with that said I generally agreed with the "mean reversion"/ "we can't keep playing this bad" thinking, except I've been saying this all season, and am now starting to shift to "maybe the team really is this bad".

Hope I'm wrong!

Oh and the coaching point is interesting: given Gorton basically said Ducharme has until the end of the season I'm assuming he's safe, but it really is hard to fathom how he's still around, seems like you'd at least give the "new coach bounce" a shot.

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The Montreal Canadiens are 31st overall in the NHL standings with a very good chance of winning the NHL Draft Lottery if the regular season ended now.  And the potential of playing just a couple of hours down the road from his junior town of Kingston is enticing for projected No. 1 pick Shane Wright.    "I wouldn't mind that, yeah," the Frontenacs centre told reporters upon his arrival at Hockey Canada's world junior selection camp. "That'd be an unbelievable place to play. It's obviously such a storied franchise, unbelievable city and the fans are some of the best in the league."  

It would be awesome,  if this played out in our favour.

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5 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

We've won 6 of 28, so only 21.4%, so 40% would be a decent jump, with that said I generally agreed with the "mean reversion"/ "we can't keep playing this bad" thinking, except I've been saying this all season, and am now starting to shift to "maybe the team really is this bad".

Hope I'm wrong!

Oh and the coaching point is interesting: given Gorton basically said Ducharme has until the end of the season I'm assuming he's safe, but it really is hard to fathom how he's still around, seems like you'd at least give the "new coach bounce" a shot.

You're using strict wins out of games played, and I was referring more to point percentage won (ie to me two OT losses equating to a win), so by that stat we're at 27% point share. The point remains similar, being that it's well below what's acceptable and hard to see miraculous improvements. I think everyone sees this won't be a .600 team. That said, I'm surprised they're not a .450 or .500 team. It's pretty hard to be at .270, and you look at this roster and it just doesn't make a lot of sense. I have 100% been saying that this team was not an elite team or true contender and that being gifted "playoff" appearances the past two years (one from COVID allowing 24 teams in and the other from playing in the weak Canadian division) does not mean we should be thinking this team was better than it is. The Cup finals run was great last year, but it was never going to be reproducible and as I've said, we came one goal away from being knocked out in 5 games in the first round. So this has frankly been a poorly-constructed roster for years: the best roster Bergevin had was what he started with, when he had Price, Subban, and Pacioretty entering their prime, a young Gallagher and Galchenyuk, and a still-useful Plekanec and Markov. He had a real window to try and win with that core that Gainey and Gauthier handed him and he blew it. As much as we can say he won the trades that he tinkered with, the roster wa shurt by poor organizational development and by a failure to address the key positions on a hockey team. I've said this before too, but you look at most Cup winners and contenders and they have elite centers and a true #1 D man. Bergevin has built this team around wingers and depth scoring and hoping for elite goaltending at the right time. That's never been a winning strategy for sustained success in the NHL. The Habs' best bet for building a true contender would be to be downright awful for this year and next, draft high this year and hope to grab Bedard next year.

As for Ducharme, I think Molson and Gorton recognize the season is lost. They're paying Julien this year and then his 5M is off the books. They're paying Ducharme for a couple of years. So they figured no need to pay a third guy to burn with the tire fire. I think they're going to fire Ducharme the moment the season is done and then Gorton is going to bring in a guy he likes and he's going to talk about how it's a fresh start. He doesn't want to associate his new guy with this awful season and Molson doesn't want to pay a third guy.

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1 hour ago, electron58 said:

The Montreal Canadiens are 31st overall in the NHL standings with a very good chance of winning the NHL Draft Lottery if the regular season ended now.  And the potential of playing just a couple of hours down the road from his junior town of Kingston is enticing for projected No. 1 pick Shane Wright.    "I wouldn't mind that, yeah," the Frontenacs centre told reporters upon his arrival at Hockey Canada's world junior selection camp. "That'd be an unbelievable place to play. It's obviously such a storied franchise, unbelievable city and the fans are some of the best in the league."  

It would be awesome,  if this played out in our favour.

We're headed towards a bottom 10 and maybe bottom 5 finish, but I think fans overestimate the likelihood of the #1 pick. It does help us that teams can only move up ten spots this year, meaning teams in the 12-16-ranked spots wouldn't supplant the last-place team even if they won the lottery. And there are only two teams that win this year, not three. So those things help. But even with that, if the Habs were to finish 2nd-last, the odds of their drafting in various spots would be

1st overall: 12.1%

2nd overall: 13.6%

3rd overall: 32.2%

4th overall: 42.2%

So the odds are still way higher that we'd pick 3rd or 4th overall than anything else. The Coyotes in last place right now have a 25.7% chance of first overall, so that's more than double the odds, but still a 55% chance of drafting 3rd. So finishing low guarantees you a good pick, but still not a Shane Wright, and this year's draft isn't as good/deep as nex year's.

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5 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

Oh and the coaching point is interesting: given Gorton basically said Ducharme has until the end of the season I'm assuming he's safe, but it really is hard to fathom how he's still around, seems like you'd at least give the "new coach bounce" a shot.

unless Gorton really doesnt want to win games this year.   Its one thing to throw games (which obviously no team does and no players would ever be asked to do) but if you put your team in such a horrendous position (BT and I were actually questioning whether the team we could ice with our injured players is actually better than those who are dressed!!) then the losses will come.

I think right now the players are being told:  feeling a bit under the weather? dont risk it.     I really dont think the team wants the potential surge that comes with a new coach!

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3 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

We're headed towards a bottom 10 and maybe bottom 5 finish, but I think fans overestimate the likelihood of the #1 pick. It does help us that teams can only move up ten spots this year, meaning teams in the 12-16-ranked spots wouldn't supplant the last-place team even if they won the lottery. And there are only two teams that win this year, not three. So those things help. But even with that, if the Habs were to finish 2nd-last, the odds of their drafting in various spots would be

1st overall: 12.1%

2nd overall: 13.6%

3rd overall: 32.2%

4th overall: 42.2%

So the odds are still way higher that we'd pick 3rd or 4th overall than anything else. The Coyotes in last place right now have a 25.7% chance of first overall, so that's more than double the odds, but still a 55% chance of drafting 3rd. So finishing low guarantees you a good pick, but still not a Shane Wright, and this year's draft isn't as good/deep as nex year's.

I don’t believe Gorton is in any drastic hurry to make some roster moves unless an unbeatable offer is presented. He should take his time gathering various inputs and doing full player interviews on commitments especially Gallagher, Toffoli and determining who is in for a roster rebuild 

As far as the draft is concerned, while finishing last is ideal for odds, I hope we finish in the bottom 3 to have at worst a top 5 pick. While the draft may not be that deep, there are some excellent players in the top 5 especially Kemell. While Wright is consensus #1 , we should wait to see how both of them and any others perform in the cdn junior tournament showcase before being despondent that we lost out on Wright 

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I can't get into the games this year, I hate watching the team lose then to go and only dress half a team or less like it is the preseason just is not worth my time. I don't want to watch the Habs deliberately lose. I don't want to go through the 4th rebuild in 10 years. I want to watch my favorite team actually go out and play hockey. It would be great if management built a contending team but they do not have to tank for that to happen. We already have a solid lineup and with a few tweaks here and there could be a contender. For instance we could sign Bergeron at the end of the season to relieve some of the burden on Suzuki next season. And trading for Girard or Dunn significantly changes the D make up as well. Even if we barely make th playoffs and go on another magical run it would be far more worth it than suffering through another 3-5 years of tanking and rebuilding.

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