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2021-22 State of the Habs


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The Canadiens provided the following medical updates after their 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. 

Christian Dvorak, Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin, and Jake Allen will join the team in Vancouver and will practice with the team (no-contact jerseys), but haven't been given the green light. 

Jake Evans is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. 

Carey Price resumed skating on Friday and skated again on Saturday. He is continuing his rehabilitation. 

Joel Edmundson continues to practice with the team, but still has not received the green light to return. 

The Habs traveled to Vancouver following the Oilers game. They take on the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Wednesday night. 

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Eric Engels with an article for Sportsnet today where he makes the case for re-signing Kulak if the money is right. He's 28, earning 1.875M this year, and if we can re-sign him to a 2-year deal for 2M, I think that'd be a strong move. He fits MSL's system well, as a strong skater with excellent possession stats. As I've posted before, he and Petry are one of the top D pairings in the league over the past few years in terms of advanced stats. Engels states that with Chiarot and Petry and possibly Wideman on their way out and Edmundson possibly headed towards surgery in the next few months for his chronic back injury, the Habs may do well to keep one of their veteran D men, and Kulak could be an option who is cheaper and fits the system.

As an aside, Engels also believes Lehkonen will be dealt before the deadline.

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If management has decided they are not going to tear it down and go 100 percent youth, then it makes a whole lot of sense to keep Anderson, Lehkonen, Petry, Kulak, and Chiarot.

Try and get out from under Gallagher, Drouin, Hoffman, Savard, and a few of the other marginal players that should not have been brought on board in the first place.  And consider trading Allen. 

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57 minutes ago, KRH said:

If management has decided they are not going to tear it down and go 100 percent youth, then it makes a whole lot of sense to keep Anderson, Lehkonen, Petry, Kulak, and Chiarot.

Try and get out from under Gallagher, Drouin, Hoffman, Savard, and a few of the other marginal players that should not have been brought on board in the first place.  And consider trading Allen. 

I agree with most of this but I reserve judgment on Drouin one last time, I want to se how he plays under MSL.

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1 hour ago, BigTed3 said:

Eric Engels with an article for Sportsnet today where he makes the case for re-signing Kulak if the money is right. He's 28, earning 1.875M this year, and if we can re-sign him to a 2-year deal for 2M, I think that'd be a strong move. He fits MSL's system well, as a strong skater with excellent possession stats. As I've posted before, he and Petry are one of the top D pairings in the league over the past few years in terms of advanced stats. Engels states that with Chiarot and Petry and possibly Wideman on their way out and Edmundson possibly headed towards surgery in the next few months for his chronic back injury, the Habs may do well to keep one of their veteran D men, and Kulak could be an option who is cheaper and fits the system.

As an aside, Engels also believes Lehkonen will be dealt before the deadline.

Kulak is playing his best hockey right now but I think he is fairly easy to replace our new management seems to have a much better eye at judging talent than the last group. If we keep him cheap I have no issue with it but I am also not against the idea of moving him if we get someone a bit younger who has his skating and vision but is perhaps a bit more solid on the defence side. It will be interesting to see who does or does not get moved on the D the team is playing much better so I think we are seeing players at their true potential right now so really it will come down to #'s and who the other teams want most. What do we do if other teams decide to take Petry but no one takes Chiarot? or the offer is not strong enough do we resign Chiarot? until the players start moving it is going to be tough to know what the plan really is.

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1 hour ago, BigTed3 said:

Eric Engels with an article for Sportsnet today where he makes the case for re-signing Kulak if the money is right. He's 28, earning 1.875M this year, and if we can re-sign him to a 2-year deal for 2M, I think that'd be a strong move. He fits MSL's system well, as a strong skater with excellent possession stats. As I've posted before, he and Petry are one of the top D pairings in the league over the past few years in terms of advanced stats. Engels states that with Chiarot and Petry and possibly Wideman on their way out and Edmundson possibly headed towards surgery in the next few months for his chronic back injury, the Habs may do well to keep one of their veteran D men, and Kulak could be an option who is cheaper and fits the system.

As an aside, Engels also believes Lehkonen will be dealt before the deadline.

yeah I definitely want to re-sign Kulak. Having said that, trading him doesn't stop us from re-signing him in the off-season. But if all we're getting for him is a 3rd round pick or less, and he's willing sign at 2x2, I would just sign him now. 

as long as they get at least a first or equivalent, I'd love to see Lehkonenen moved so I hope he's right

3 minutes ago, ramcharger440 said:

Kulak is playing his best hockey right now but I think he is fairly easy to replace our new management seems to have a much better eye at judging talent than the last group. If we keep him cheap I have no issue with it but I am also not against the idea of moving him if we get someone a bit younger who has his skating and vision but is perhaps a bit more solid on the defence side. It will be interesting to see who does or does not get moved on the D the team is playing much better so I think we are seeing players at their true potential right now so really it will come down to #'s and who the other teams want most. What do we do if other teams decide to take Petry but no one takes Chiarot? or the offer is not strong enough do we resign Chiarot? until the players start moving it is going to be tough to know what the plan really is.

In Chiarot's case I think you have to trade him. Chiarots a good player though, if you're not going full rebuild which some people are now saying, then there's nothing wrong with keeping him at a reasonable price and term. The thing is I suspect he wants to test free-agency and if that's the case you might as well trade him for whatever you can get and make an offer on july 1 (nothing stopping them from making an offer known to the player before he's traded either)

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7 minutes ago, ramcharger440 said:

Kulak is playing his best hockey right now but I think he is fairly easy to replace our new management seems to have a much better eye at judging talent than the last group. If we keep him cheap I have no issue with it but I am also not against the idea of moving him if we get someone a bit younger who has his skating and vision but is perhaps a bit more solid on the defence side. It will be interesting to see who does or does not get moved on the D the team is playing much better so I think we are seeing players at their true potential right now so really it will come down to #'s and who the other teams want most. What do we do if other teams decide to take Petry but no one takes Chiarot? or the offer is not strong enough do we resign Chiarot? until the players start moving it is going to be tough to know what the plan really is.

I would have no problem resigning Chariot if the return isn't what we want. Even with rebuilding we still need to be able to win. It seems the team has a positive attitude now. Getting rid of all the experience on defense to soon could come back to hurt the overall development. If we started losing by big numbers again even MSL would have to tighten things up. We still need experience also to help teach the youth coming in. Usually all contenders have a mixture.

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Defensemen like Chiarot don't grow on trees.  Why do you think, according to reports, he is garnering interest from several teams?  What are we getting back for him, how do we know any return piece(s) will ever play in the league?  He is getting older, but he should have 3 - 4 good years left in him.  I'd say negotiate and re-sign him.  He is likely more valuable than what he will bring back in a trade.

I like Kulak, especially under the present coach.  Big body, good skater.  Keep him.

I like Petry, especially under the present coach, and he is happy again and playing much better.  He has 3 - 4 good years left in him.  We need good defensemen, and Petry, Chiarot, and Kulak are keepers, along with some of the youth.

Anderson, a keeper for sure.

Gallagher is approaching his best before date.  Trade him, if any worthwhile return.

Hoffman, a good shot, and nothing else.  We may be stuck with him.

Savard ..... Mr. Turtle .... we may be stuck with him.

Allen, a good time to trade him .... maybe the Oilers or Leafs will be foolish enough to give us something worthwhile for him.

Drouin - Yuk.

Byron .... trade him, if we can.

Armia ... I'm on the fence about him.

And the youth .... keep most of them. 

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1 hour ago, KRH said:

Defensemen like Chiarot don't grow on trees.  Why do you think, according to reports, he is garnering interest from several teams?  What are we getting back for him, how do we know any return piece(s) will ever play in the league?  He is getting older, but he should have 3 - 4 good years left in him.  I'd say negotiate and re-sign him.  He is likely more valuable than what he will bring back in a trade.

I like Kulak, especially under the present coach.  Big body, good skater.  Keep him.

I like Petry, especially under the present coach, and he is happy again and playing much better.  He has 3 - 4 good years left in him.  We need good defensemen, and Petry, Chiarot, and Kulak are keepers, along with some of the youth.

Anderson, a keeper for sure.

Gallagher is approaching his best before date.  Trade him, if any worthwhile return.

Hoffman, a good shot, and nothing else.  We may be stuck with him.

Savard ..... Mr. Turtle .... we may be stuck with him.

Allen, a good time to trade him .... maybe the Oilers or Leafs will be foolish enough to give us something worthwhile for him.

Drouin - Yuk.

Byron .... trade him, if we can.

Armia ... I'm on the fence about him.

And the youth .... keep most of them. 

I agree with most of this. I think Petry/Edmonson, Chariot/Romanov is a good base to work with and work youth into. Usually defenseman can play effectively into their 30's. "If" Price is healthy (he should be rested) I think we could at battle for a playoff spot. Drouin it would be nice to see him again this season then decide either deadline or off season. 

Kulak if cheap 2 year keep, but listen to offers. Savard also, Allen if Price is 100%. (but they make a good dou. and keeps Price rested) 

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4 hours ago, KRH said:

If management has decided they are not going to tear it down and go 100 percent youth, then it makes a whole lot of sense to keep Anderson, Lehkonen, Petry, Kulak, and Chiarot.

Try and get out from under Gallagher, Drouin, Hoffman, Savard, and a few of the other marginal players that should not have been brought on board in the first place.  And consider trading Allen. 

The thing is, even if you decide you're not doing a full re-build, you're probably 2-3 years away from being a true contender. I don't think this team is a top 5 challenger for the Cup next year, and I really don't believe it's a winning strategy to just try to compete for the playoffs and hope you sneak in. Be dominant or figure out when you can can be dominant down the line. In that regard, I think we need to have in mind which players are going to be helpful in 2-3 years, this is what I have to say about some of them:

1. Savard: not useful now, won't become more useful over time. Buy him out or dump him as soon as you can.

2. Petry: not likely to be a useful piece for his salary in 2-3 years. That said, he's clearly still a strong player. Even when he was playing badly and the team sucked, I mentioned over and over that he still had some of the better possession metrics on the team and that it could be that a new coach would rejuvenate him, and that's indeed what happened. He's still a valuable piece and he might actually become more valuable as a trade asset in a year or two, when there is less term on his deal. So I think we trade him eventually, but I'm not sold on it having to be now. Given how weak our right D is, I'd actually consider holding onto him to start next season and consider moving him at the deadline next year if we're not competitive or in the summer of 2023. I think we can still use him as we transition to a younger roster.

3. Lehkonen: invariably will still be useful over the next 3-4 years. But I've outlined this before: the problem is not keeping Lehkonen and having him be useful, it's whether he'll be useful signed to a deal for 3.75M for 5 years. I'm not convinced that's good use of cap space. So I'd trade him despite his utility. I think we'd be spending too much cap on a role player when we're not a challenger, and I think we can find a guy to replace him by the time we are a contender.

4 Chiarot: trade, trade, and trade. There is zero doubt in my mind here. His advanced stats are bad, and many in the media and many scouts/GMs who have been interviewed anonymously have shown hesitation about how overrated he is. He's a valuable depth piece for a playoff run, which is why he'll garner attention among select teams as a deadline acquisition. But he's not a guy you build your D around. Hughes says buy low, sell high, and after last post-season, Chiarot's value will never be higher than it is now. Sign him to a 4-year deal for 4.5M AAV and he has zero trade value.

5. Drouin: I'm curious to know how he can perform under MSL. That said, I don't see him as likely to stay here past next season, so at some point we need to deal him. He's not part of the core in 3 years time.

6. Gallagher: he's being paid going forward based on what he's done, not what he will do. His value will likely sink over the span of his next contract. I'd deal him now if there's any hope before we run into another Weber/Price situation.

 

3 hours ago, ramcharger440 said:

Kulak is playing his best hockey right now but I think he is fairly easy to replace our new management seems to have a much better eye at judging talent than the last group. If we keep him cheap I have no issue with it but I am also not against the idea of moving him if we get someone a bit younger who has his skating and vision but is perhaps a bit more solid on the defence side. It will be interesting to see who does or does not get moved on the D the team is playing much better so I think we are seeing players at their true potential right now so really it will come down to #'s and who the other teams want most. What do we do if other teams decide to take Petry but no one takes Chiarot? or the offer is not strong enough do we resign Chiarot? until the players start moving it is going to be tough to know what the plan really is.

 

and 7. Kulak: agreed that he's a replaceable depth piece. But he fits into the system we have under MSL and he's only 28. He's petty underrated as far as D men go, and I think he could still be valuable as a 3rd-pairing LHD. You look at the rest of the D corps going forward and it's Romanov, Edmundson, Savard, Petry if he's not traded, and then a bunch of rookies or journeymen. So yes, you could go out and find another Kulak, but if the Kulak you have has said he likes the city and wants to stay here and he knows the system and the coach is comfortable using him and he's willing to stay on a short, reasonable deal, why not just keep the one you have?

 

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56 minutes ago, BigTed3 said:

The thing is, even if you decide you're not doing a full re-build, you're probably 2-3 years away from being a true contender. I don't think this team is a top 5 challenger for the Cup next year, and I really don't believe it's a winning strategy to just try to compete for the playoffs and hope you sneak in. Be dominant or figure out when you can can be dominant down the line. In that regard, I think we need to have in mind which players are going to be helpful in 2-3 years, this is what I have to say about some of them:

1. Savard: not useful now, won't become more useful over time. Buy him out or dump him as soon as you can.

2. Petry: not likely to be a useful piece for his salary in 2-3 years. That said, he's clearly still a strong player. Even when he was playing badly and the team sucked, I mentioned over and over that he still had some of the better possession metrics on the team and that it could be that a new coach would rejuvenate him, and that's indeed what happened. He's still a valuable piece and he might actually become more valuable as a trade asset in a year or two, when there is less term on his deal. So I think we trade him eventually, but I'm not sold on it having to be now. Given how weak our right D is, I'd actually consider holding onto him to start next season and consider moving him at the deadline next year if we're not competitive or in the summer of 2023. I think we can still use him as we transition to a younger roster.

3. Lehkonen: invariably will still be useful over the next 3-4 years. But I've outlined this before: the problem is not keeping Lehkonen and having him be useful, it's whether he'll be useful signed to a deal for 3.75M for 5 years. I'm not convinced that's good use of cap space. So I'd trade him despite his utility. I think we'd be spending too much cap on a role player when we're not a challenger, and I think we can find a guy to replace him by the time we are a contender.

4 Chiarot: trade, trade, and trade. There is zero doubt in my mind here. His advanced stats are bad, and many in the media and many scouts/GMs who have been interviewed anonymously have shown hesitation about how overrated he is. He's a valuable depth piece for a playoff run, which is why he'll garner attention among select teams as a deadline acquisition. But he's not a guy you build your D around. Hughes says buy low, sell high, and after last post-season, Chiarot's value will never be higher than it is now. Sign him to a 4-year deal for 4.5M AAV and he has zero trade value.

5. Drouin: I'm curious to know how he can perform under MSL. That said, I don't see him as likely to stay here past next season, so at some point we need to deal him. He's not part of the core in 3 years time.

6. Gallagher: he's being paid going forward based on what he's done, not what he will do. His value will likely sink over the span of his next contract. I'd deal him now if there's any hope before we run into another Weber/Price situation.

 

 

and 7. Kulak: agreed that he's a replaceable depth piece. But he fits into the system we have under MSL and he's only 28. He's petty underrated as far as D men go, and I think he could still be valuable as a 3rd-pairing LHD. You look at the rest of the D corps going forward and it's Romanov, Edmundson, Savard, Petry if he's not traded, and then a bunch of rookies or journeymen. So yes, you could go out and find another Kulak, but if the Kulak you have has said he likes the city and wants to stay here and he knows the system and the coach is comfortable using him and he's willing to stay on a short, reasonable deal, why not just keep the one you have?

 

I would much rather keep Chariot over Kulak. Advanced stats I don't think are very useful with defenseman IMO. Though it would cost more to keep Chariot. There's nothing to say we'll be able to replace him when needed. I don' t think he's overrated. It seems as if a lot of teams may be interested in him. It would depend of the offer made. But even a high first rounder which any contending team won't have is no for sure replacement. He's a top 4 defenseman wherever he goes. 

I also agree Kulak is a depth piece and replaceable. I don't think Lehks is as easily replaceable. 

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My preferred course of action is to go full rebuild - 100 percent youth.  Dump most of the current, older players, and stockpile draft picks for this year and next.

Imagine a team in 3 - 4 years stocked with mostly youth of the ilk of Suzuki, Caufield, Romanov, Guhle.

I would consider possibly keeping Anderson, Lehkonen, and maybe one or two other younger players to go along with the youth.

 

But if we are not going almost entirely with youth, I am keeping Anderson, Lehkonen, Kulak, and likely Petry and Chiarot (unless the offers for them are substantial).

 

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32 minutes ago, CaptWelly said:

I would much rather keep Chariot over Kulak. Advanced stats I don't think are very useful with defenseman IMO. Though it would cost more to keep Chariot. There's nothing to say we'll be able to replace him when needed. I don' t think he's overrated. It seems as if a lot of teams may be interested in him. It would depend of the offer made. But even a high first rounder which any contending team won't have is no for sure replacement. He's a top 4 defenseman wherever he goes. 

I also agree Kulak is a depth piece and replaceable. I don't think Lehks is as easily replaceable. 

Yeah Lehky is kind of special if he is not to crazy with his contract wants He is still pretty young he is fast and he can produce sometimes. I think we are really peeling the onion with some of our players I don't think they have ever had a coach in the NHL  that lets them show everything they have! CJ was a good coach but he was stuck in the past and was a very defensive minded coach MSL lets them go for it and so far I really have been surprised at what some of the guys have been able to bring.

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2 hours ago, CaptWelly said:

I would much rather keep Chariot over Kulak. Advanced stats I don't think are very useful with defenseman IMO. Though it would cost more to keep Chariot. There's nothing to say we'll be able to replace him when needed. I don' t think he's overrated. It seems as if a lot of teams may be interested in him. It would depend of the offer made. But even a high first rounder which any contending team won't have is no for sure replacement. He's a top 4 defenseman wherever he goes. 

I also agree Kulak is a depth piece and replaceable. I don't think Lehks is as easily replaceable. 

I know we have differing views on what's valuable in a defenceman. But if you want to look at how Chiarot is valued based on what his contributions to team wins, he's in the 1st percentile (as in the lowest percentile in the league) at 5v5:

Image

 

In particular, he's extremely weak defensively and he takes a lot of bad penalties. He's also not very good on the PK. I know there's a narrative about how he's tough and gritty and that people attribute these as being associated with being good defensively, but he's not really. His offence has been decent this year, but that's about it.

Conversely, here's Kulak's profile:

Image

He's in the the 75th percentile for D-men, meaning he's better than 75% of D men in terms of what he contributes to team success. His defence is actually pretty elite. Again, I know people historically consider toughness and shot blocking to be defensive attributes, but where Kulak is very strong are areas like loose puck recovery, moving the puck out of his own zone, and preventing shot attempts at his own net.

Yes, Chiarot faces tougher competition, but he also plays with higher-quality teammates, and I've already put up data before that shows Kulak has done better than Chiarot when you compare how they've done playing with the same partners.

IMO Chiarot is significantly overrated by standard stats and old-school measures and we should absolutely take advantage of that in trading him while he's a hot commodity. Kulak, conversely, is underrated by standard measures because his contributions don't get thought of as being traditional strengths of defending. But he's a guy we can get on a bargain to keep. The Habs need to upgrade their top 4 anyways, so Kulak's the type of guy I would consider keeping on the 3rd pairing, whereas I wouldn't pay Chiarot 4-4.5M a year to play there.

As for Lehkonen, 100% agreed that he'd be hard to replace today. He's very valuable as he is to a playoff team. But Lehkonen in 3 years at 3.5-4M a year is a guy we can replace. And by that, what I mean is that can develop a player like Ylonen or RHP or  so on to be a good bottom 6 winger for much cheaper. And I'd rather have a 7M top 6 player or top 3 defenceman and a 1M bottom 6 winger than I would a 4M bottom 6 winger and 4M player at the top of my line-up. The money needs to be spent to make the top end better, not to plug the depth. And if you're a true contender in 3-4 years, you can go out and find a player like Lehkonen then, a 26-27 year-old who is making 2.5M that year and whereby you acquire them at the deadline and pay 1/3 of that salary to be an elite 3rd-4th liner. I just don't see a need to pay him now. I'd rather take two solid picks/prospects and have that player be ready in the right window, and then trade a future asset to acquire a replacement when the time is right.

 

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7 hours ago, KRH said:

Defensemen like Chiarot don't grow on trees.  Why do you think, according to reports, he is garnering interest from several teams?  What are we getting back for him, how do we know any return piece(s) will ever play in the league?  He is getting older, but he should have 3 - 4 good years left in him.  I'd say negotiate and re-sign him.  He is likely more valuable than what he will bring back in a trade. I like Kulak, especially under the present coach.  Big body, good skater.  Keep him.. 

 

3 hours ago, CaptWelly said:

I would much rather keep Chariot over Kulak. Advanced stats I don't think are very useful with defenseman IMO. Though it would cost more to keep Chariot. There's nothing to say we'll be able to replace him when needed. I don' t think he's overrated. It seems as if a lot of teams may be interested in him. It would depend of the offer made. 

I also agree Kulak is a depth piece and replaceable. I don't think Lehks is as easily replaceable. 

3 hours ago, ramcharger440 said:

Yeah Lehky is kind of special if he is not to crazy with his contract wants 

 

4 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

The thing is, even if you decide you're not doing a full re-build, you're probably 2-3 years away from being a true contender. I don't think this team is a top 5 challenger for the Cup next year, and I don't believe it's a winning strategy to just try to compete for the playoffs and hope you sneak in. Be dominant or figure out when you can can be dominant down the line. In that regard, I think we need to have in mind which players are going to be helpful in 2-3 years, this is what I have to say about some of them:

We all have to be very careful about falling in love with players who have served us well but there's no guarantee they will continue to perform at that high level vs there's no guarantee that we can find an equally capable performer at a younger age and cheaper contract.

1) The critical point most of you raised is the timing of our compete window and the ability to get a sustainable core for the longer term. I define a competing team as one that is at minimum a top 8 team (gets thru 1 round of playoffs if not 2). Realistically we are very very unlikely to be a top 8 team next year, could be a top 8 team possibly in 2023-24 but even that is pushing the envelope. In our division, Florida, Toronto, Tampa are likely ahead of us for the next 2 years and even Detroit is an up and comer.

2) Re-signing Chiarot - No way for me. At best he is a 3/4 pairing d-man. IMO Chiarot is the type of player that gets you thru the playoffs but not into the playoffs, Chiarot just takes up development space for Romanov, Guhle, possibly Harris / Struble  / Norlinder. Sure Ben is currently playing the right side but we should be able to find equally capable replacements. How valuable is Chiarot over the next 2 rising trajectory years? He's not going to elevate us into top 8 so why bother - Get developmental prospects for him now while he has value for playoff teams. Resigning him ONLY makes sense if Edmundson is having surgery next summer and out for a long term

3) Lehkonen - I whole heartedly agree with Ted's analysis. He's going to want term, and some reasonable $. We are better served trying to pay that money to players in the closer to top level elite categories. He's a great defensive forward but so was Byron when he was healthy. He takes up developmental space for me, and he's no Guy Carbonneau but a good defensive forward. Pitlick, Poehling, Pezzetta, Byron (if kept) and upcomer RHPinard provide enough LW depth for me to step in for Lehks role at least for next year and who knows if Joshua Roy makes an impact year after next (even though he is a Left shot seems to be playing RW). This assumes Caufield, Drouin have the 1, 2 LW spots.

4) Kulak - I could handle resigning Kulak - he can provide some leadership and defensive LHD stability. Kind of depends on Edmundson's health. 

5) Jake Allen - Jake could be a demand piece but we would have to get some sort of goaltender piece back

6) We have so much dead weight with Hoffman, Armia, Savard, and questionable retained contracts for Petry, Gallagher (both who may not want to be here), and Drouin / Dvorak - Selling off Chiarot and Lehkonen should be the least of our concerns. 

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34 minutes ago, claremont said:

 

 

We all have to be very careful about falling in love with players who have served us well but there's no guarantee they will continue to perform at that high level vs there's no guarantee that we can find an equally capable performer at a younger age and cheaper contract.

1) The critical point most of you raised is the timing of our compete window and the ability to get a sustainable core for the longer term. I define a competing team as one that is at minimum a top 8 team (gets thru 1 round of playoffs if not 2). Realistically we are very very unlikely to be a top 8 team next year, could be a top 8 team possibly in 2023-24 but even that is pushing the envelope. In our division, Florida, Toronto, Tampa are likely ahead of us for the next 2 years and even Detroit is an up and comer.

2) Re-signing Chiarot - No way for me. At best he is a 3/4 pairing d-man. IMO Chiarot is the type of player that gets you thru the playoffs but not into the playoffs, Chiarot just takes up development space for Romanov, Guhle, possibly Harris / Struble  / Norlinder. Sure Ben is currently playing the right side but we should be able to find equally capable replacements. How valuable is Chiarot over the next 2 rising trajectory years? He's not going to elevate us into top 8 so why bother - Get developmental prospects for him now while he has value for playoff teams. Resigning him ONLY makes sense if Edmundson is having surgery next summer and out for a long term

3) Lehkonen - I whole heartedly agree with Ted's analysis. He's going to want term, and some reasonable $. We are better served trying to pay that money to players in the closer to top level elite categories. He's a great defensive forward but so was Byron when he was healthy. He takes up developmental space for me, and he's no Guy Carbonneau but a good defensive forward. Pitlick, Poehling, Pezzetta, Byron (if kept) and upcomer RHPinard provide enough LW depth for me to step in for Lehks role at least for next year and who knows if Joshua Roy makes an impact year after next (even though he is a Left shot seems to be playing RW)/. This assumes Caufield, Drouin have the 1, 2 LW spots.

4) Kulak - I could handle resigning Kulak - he can provide some leadership and defensive LHD stability

5) Jake Allen - Jake could be a demand piece but we would have to get some sort of goaltender piece back

6) We have so much dead weight with Hoffman, Armia, Savard, and questionable retained contracts for Petry, Gallagher (both who may not want to be here), and Drouin / Dvorak - Selling off Chiarot and Lehkonen should be the least of our concerns. 

Agreed with almost all of this, and the dead weight has to be a consideration. This is not the case where Hughes has no cap and can do what he pleases and it's not the case that he's going into next year with a blank slate to spend 81M. Most pundits believe after the financial hardships of COVID and lost revenue that it will be a few years that the cap stays flat. So let's project into 2023-24, if we say that's the first year the Habs could realistically compete to be top 3 in their division and have a chance at moving not just into the playoffs but through the playoffs. Here's what we're facing in terms of cap commitment:

- Price is owed 10.5M unless he is essentially retired from injury like Weber. We can't count on that, and it'll be hard to move his contract unless he proves he can play again. Even then, we may have to retain salary to get it done. So as it stands, Hughes has to work with the belief that Carey is counting 10.5M against us. We'd need one more goalie after Carey and given his questionable health, that's probably not a league-minimum 1M player, so let's guess 2M for the back-up (cheaper than Allen).

- Suzuki will be 7.875M and is here to stay. Gallagher's contract may be unmovable as well, so that's another 6.5M. Ditto for Armia's 3.4M and Hoffman's 4.5M (I think we'd have to give up assets to pass them on to someone). Anderson is a hard piece to replace, so I think he's here at 5.5M. Evans is at 1.7M. If Caufield continues to progress under MSL and plays next season as a 1st line winger, even if we bridge him for 2023-24, I can't see him counting less than 3M against the cap. He'd have to really falter next year to not score 20+ goals and be paid that much. It could well be more if we go long term. Dvorak is still here too at 4.45M, although he could likely be moved. For now, we'll keep him in the mix. So looking at who we likely have here in two years, even with a few guys coming off the books (Drouin, Byron, etc.), we're at 37M for 8 forwards, with 3 (Evans, Armia, Hoffman) being bottom 6 players and Dvorak and maybe even Gallagher being 3rd liners by then in an ideal world. So you still need 5 more forwards to round out your group, including really, an entire 2nd line. Now I'll throw the Habs a bone here and say that Poehling and Ylonen account for two of those roster spots and each re-sign for 1M. So now we're at 10 forwards and 39M for that group. So far, that's 51.5M between forwards and goalies.

- Now defence. It's much harder to predict because there will likely be a lot of turnover, but Savard is signed at 3.5M, as is Edmundson. We'll again give the Habs the benefit of the doubt and say they get Romanov re-signed for Kulak-like money, even though he's now a top 4 guy by all accounts and could be more. So let's say 1.75M for Romanov on a bridge deal. The Habs are also still paying Alzner 833k on his buyout in that year. Let's again be generous and allow that Guhle and Harris both work out well and are on the squad in 2023-24, each making a tad under 1M, and let's say the Habs are successful at trading Petry without retaining salary. So we're at 11.25M for 5 D men here, with a need to add two more.

So here's our possible projected line-up as it sits right now with signed players and best-case-scenario re-signings of RFAs:

 

Caufield-Suzuki-Anderson

XXX-XXX-Gallagher

Hoffman-Dvorak-Ylonen

Poehling-Evans-Armia

XXX

 

Romanov-XXX

Edmundson-XXX

Harris-Savard

Guhle

 

Price

(2M back-up)

 

So here we are at 62.75M in total, with a pretty shoddy-looking line-up and a need to add two top-6 forwards and two or three top 4 defencemen and an extra attacker, and we'll have about 18M to do it with. So now imagine that you fill two of those roster spots with Chiarot at 4.25M and Lehkonen at 3.75M. Those players don't really address the projected holes in the line-up. Chiarot is not complementing Romanov or Edmundson in the top 4 and he's not adding any offensive potential to a lacklustre corps of stay-at-home types. Lehkonen is another bottom 6 forward who isn't addressing the need for scorers in the top 6. So what good does it do to spend 8M on these two players? Yes, fine if we dump Savard and Edmundson and sign Chiarot for 3.5M for 2-3 years, great. Yes, if we dump Byron and Armia and Hoffman, then there's room to sign Lehkonen to a 4-5 year deal. But Hughes has to consider the hand he was dealt by Bergevin, and he needs to save room to upgrade the top of the line-up. This is why Chiarot and Lehkonen don't make sense in the current context. It's also why Kulak for 2 years as a bridge to getting some of these younger guys in can make sense if he's on a reasonable AAV. There's room to accommodate that and still make a run at improving the top 6/4.

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3 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

Agreed with almost all of this, and the dead weight has to be a consideration. This is not the case where Hughes has no cap and can do what he pleases and it's not the case that he's going into next year with a blank slate to spend 81M. Most pundits believe after the financial hardships of COVID and lost revenue that it will be a few years that the cap stays flat. So let's project into 2023-24, if we say that's the first year the Habs could realistically compete to be top 3 in their division and have a chance at moving not just into the playoffs but through the playoffs. Here's what we're facing in terms of cap commitment:

- Price is owed 10.5M unless he is essentially retired from injury like Weber. We can't count on that, and it'll be hard to move his contract unless he proves he can play again. Even then, we may have to retain salary to get it done. So as it stands, Hughes has to work with the belief that Carey is counting 10.5M against us. We'd need one more goalie after Carey and given his questionable health, that's probably not a league-minimum 1M player, so let's guess 2M for the back-up (cheaper than Allen).

- Suzuki will be 7.875M and is here to stay. Gallagher's contract may be unmovable as well, so that's another 6.5M. Ditto for Armia's 3.4M and Hoffman's 4.5M (I think we'd have to give up assets to pass them on to someone). Anderson is a hard piece to replace, so I think he's here at 5.5M. Evans is at 1.7M. If Caufield continues to progress under MSL and plays next season as a 1st line winger, even if we bridge him for 2023-24, I can't see him counting less than 3M against the cap. He'd have to really falter next year to not score 20+ goals and be paid that much. It could well be more if we go long term. Dvorak is still here too at 4.45M, although he could likely be moved. For now, we'll keep him in the mix. So looking at who we likely have here in two years, even with a few guys coming off the books (Drouin, Byron, etc.), we're at 37M for 8 forwards, with 3 (Evans, Armia, Hoffman) being bottom 6 players and Dvorak and maybe even Gallagher being 3rd liners by then in an ideal world. So you still need 5 more forwards to round out your group, including really, an entire 2nd line. Now I'll throw the Habs a bone here and say that Poehling and Ylonen account for two of those roster spots and each re-sign for 1M. So now we're at 10 forwards and 39M for that group. So far, that's 51.5M between forwards and goalies.

- Now defence. It's much harder to predict because there will likely be a lot of turnover, but Savard is signed at 3.5M, as is Edmundson. We'll again give the Habs the benefit of the doubt and say they get Romanov re-signed for Kulak-like money, even though he's now a top 4 guy by all accounts and could be more. So let's say 1.75M for Romanov on a bridge deal. The Habs are also still paying Alzner 833k on his buyout in that year. Let's again be generous and allow that Guhle and Harris both work out well and are on the squad in 2023-24, each making a tad under 1M, and let's say the Habs are successful at trading Petry without retaining salary. So we're at 11.25M for 5 D men here, with a need to add two more.

So here's our possible projected line-up as it sits right now with signed players and best-case-scenario re-signings of RFAs:

 

Caufield-Suzuki-Anderson

XXX-XXX-Gallagher

Hoffman-Dvorak-Ylonen

Poehling-Evans-Armia

XXX

 

Romanov-XXX

Edmundson-XXX

Harris-Savard

Guhle

 

Price

(2M back-up)

 

So here we are at 62.75M in total, with a pretty shoddy-looking line-up and a need to add two top-6 forwards and two or three top 4 defencemen and an extra attacker, and we'll have about 18M to do it with. So now imagine that you fill two of those roster spots with Chiarot at 4.25M and Lehkonen at 3.75M. Those players don't really address the projected holes in the line-up. Chiarot is not complementing Romanov or Edmundson in the top 4 and he's not adding any offensive potential to a lacklustre corps of stay-at-home types. Lehkonen is another bottom 6 forward who isn't addressing the need for scorers in the top 6. So what good does it do to spend 8M on these two players? Yes, fine if we dump Savard and Edmundson and sign Chiarot for 3.5M for 2-3 years, great. Yes, if we dump Byron and Armia and Hoffman, then there's room to sign Lehkonen to a 4-5 year deal. But Hughes has to consider the hand he was dealt by Bergevin, and he needs to save room to upgrade the top of the line-up. This is why Chiarot and Lehkonen don't make sense in the current context. It's also why Kulak for 2 years as a bridge to getting some of these younger guys in can make sense if he's on a reasonable AAV. There's room to accommodate that and still make a run at improving the top 6/4.

Once again let's see what happens with the contracts we have and who gets moved. We really have no idea what the team is going to look like yet New talk about moving Webber's contract is in the air and letting go of some of the dead weight will help too but at the end of the day we will need some players with experience here to play for the next couple of years and we just don't know who that will be yet. I have seen this team go from one extreme to another a few times when it comes to players in the end you need a blend of players to win it all and last season proved that any team can make a run in the playoffs, not saying I want to have the team we had last year but we did knock off some teams that were better than us on paper! talent is the name of the game but having heart has a lot to do with it as well and that is not something stats can measure.

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13 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

I know we have differing views on what's valuable in a defenceman. But if you want to look at how Chiarot is valued based on what his contributions to team wins, he's in the 1st percentile (as in the lowest percentile in the league) at 5v5:

Image

 

In particular, he's extremely weak defensively and he takes a lot of bad penalties. He's also not very good on the PK. I know there's a narrative about how he's tough and gritty and that people attribute these as being associated with being good defensively, but he's not really. His offence has been decent this year, but that's about it.

Conversely, here's Kulak's profile:

Image

He's in the the 75th percentile for D-men, meaning he's better than 75% of D men in terms of what he contributes to team success. His defence is actually pretty elite. Again, I know people historically consider toughness and shot blocking to be defensive attributes, but where Kulak is very strong are areas like loose puck recovery, moving the puck out of his own zone, and preventing shot attempts at his own net.

Yes, Chiarot faces tougher competition, but he also plays with higher-quality teammates, and I've already put up data before that shows Kulak has done better than Chiarot when you compare how they've done playing with the same partners.

IMO Chiarot is significantly overrated by standard stats and old-school measures and we should absolutely take advantage of that in trading him while he's a hot commodity. Kulak, conversely, is underrated by standard measures because his contributions don't get thought of as being traditional strengths of defending. But he's a guy we can get on a bargain to keep. The Habs need to upgrade their top 4 anyways, so Kulak's the type of guy I would consider keeping on the 3rd pairing, whereas I wouldn't pay Chiarot 4-4.5M a year to play there.

As for Lehkonen, 100% agreed that he'd be hard to replace today. He's very valuable as he is to a playoff team. But Lehkonen in 3 years at 3.5-4M a year is a guy we can replace. And by that, what I mean is that can develop a player like Ylonen or RHP or  so on to be a good bottom 6 winger for much cheaper. And I'd rather have a 7M top 6 player or top 3 defenceman and a 1M bottom 6 winger than I would a 4M bottom 6 winger and 4M player at the top of my line-up. The money needs to be spent to make the top end better, not to plug the depth. And if you're a true contender in 3-4 years, you can go out and find a player like Lehkonen then, a 26-27 year-old who is making 2.5M that year and whereby you acquire them at the deadline and pay 1/3 of that salary to be an elite 3rd-4th liner. I just don't see a need to pay him now. I'd rather take two solid picks/prospects and have that player be ready in the right window, and then trade a future asset to acquire a replacement when the time is right.

 

Kulak on the comparison is weak because he hasn't been counted on to ever be a top pairing player night after night as Chariot has been. Also the season is great but the playoffs are where you actually win cups. Chariot gets you through the season and his game steps up not diminishes when the playoffs arrive. Much easier to make a 5-6 defenseman look better than a defenseman that is 3-4 but has had to play 1-2 minutes against top lines night in night out. He was mostly paired with Weber. Which was our #1 pair and did mostly play PK and against the top lines of the other teams and late in games when the scores were tight. defending. I'm sure all the teams have the same information available to them..........but more are asking about Chariot? Again advanced stats don't really show what a defensemans game is. 

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9 hours ago, ramcharger440 said:

Once again let's see what happens with the contracts we have and who gets moved. We really have no idea what the team is going to look like yet New talk about moving Webber's contract is in the air and letting go of some of the dead weight will help too but at the end of the day we will need some players with experience here to play for the next couple of years and we just don't know who that will be yet. I have seen this team go from one extreme to another a few times when it comes to players in the end you need a blend of players to win it all and last season proved that any team can make a run in the playoffs, not saying I want to have the team we had last year but we did knock off some teams that were better than us on paper! talent is the name of the game but having heart has a lot to do with it as well and that is not something stats can measure.

Agreed with you that the line-up could change drastically. My point would be that it almost has to if you want to upgrade the top end of the line-up, which is where we need help. We have 3 true top 6 forwards in Caufield-Suzuki-Anderson. Drouin is conceivably a 2nd-line player and Gallagher could be if he gets back to form, but none of 5 these guys is top 10 in the league at their positions, so there needs to be better strength there. On D, it's even worse. Petry is still a top 3 D man and past that, we're thin. Personally I don't feel like it's a winning recipe for success. Can we make a run the way we did last year or get hot for streaks the way we are now? Absolutely. But last year's run was on the back of Price more than anything, even if other guys stepped up at times. Any team in the NHL can have success, but I want (and I think Gorton and Hughes want) to be a team that has sustained success for a few years in a row and becomes a legit threat to win. Let's be a team like Tampa, not a team that squeaks in and tries to make a run once then fades again.

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1 hour ago, CaptWelly said:

Kulak on the comparison is weak because he hasn't been counted on to ever be a top pairing player night after night as Chariot has been. Also the season is great but the playoffs are where you actually win cups. Chariot gets you through the season and his game steps up not diminishes when the playoffs arrive. Much easier to make a 5-6 defenseman look better than a defenseman that is 3-4 but has had to play 1-2 minutes against top lines night in night out. He was mostly paired with Weber. Which was our #1 pair and did mostly play PK and against the top lines of the other teams and late in games when the scores were tight. defending. I'm sure all the teams have the same information available to them..........but more are asking about Chariot? Again advanced stats don't really show what a defensemans game is. 

I mostly agree with you about Kulak not being a top-pairing guy. I say mostly because he actually did play a decent chunk with Petry over the past few years where their quality of competition was as tough as what Weber-Chiarot were facing. That said, Kulak is not a top 3 D man and he's best-served by playing the third pairing.

On the other hand, Chiarot IMO is also a 3rd-pairing guy. He got a lot of praise in the playoffs last year but a lot of this came from things that no one has been able to show contribute to success. I've heard a lot of "he played big minutes" or "he played against the opposition's top line" or "he is physically punishing" or "he blocks shots." But as we've discussed, players who throw a lot of body checks or who block a lot of shots are usually doing so because the other team has the puck.

I know you're saying you don't believe in advanced stats, but here are the numbers from last year's post-season:

- Chiarot had a Corsi of 44.5%, 2nd worst on the team among D men. That means that when he was on the ice at 5v5, 44.5% of the shot attempts were by the Habs and 55.5% were by the opposition. Conversely, his "partner" Weber was at 48.8% and Petry was at 51.2%. Chiarot was better than only Romanov, who only played in 4 games.

- Corsi largely correlates to who has the puck and in particular who has it in the offensive zone, with a chance to throw pucks at the net. But what if someone were to argue that those pucks being shot at net don't mean much because they could all be from low-danger areas. Well we can also measure scoring chances. In this case, when Chiarot was on, it's even a bit worse. 42.3% of scoring chances with him on the ice were for the Habs and 57.7% were against us, again worst on the D corps outside of Romanov. We can talk about how advanced stats don't tell the story, but the bottom line with this is that the opposition was getting far more opportunity to score when Chiarot was on the ice, so that doesn't really support that he was driving play in our favor.

- On the PK last post-season? As I've mentioned, what I like to look at is how many scoring chances are being given up per ice time. With Chiarot on, the Habs were giving up 42.9 scoring chances per 60 minutes at 4v5. That's better than Weber (45.7) and Merrill (59.0) but not as good as Edmundson (39.4), Romanov (37.8), or Petry (36.7).

So yes, I appreciate that Chiarot had a tough role to play last post-season. The top 4 D men were all over-played by a bad coach. And yes, I agree with you that Chiarot had tough match-ups and that he brings a physical element to the game. But Chiarot also takes a lot of penalties and doesn't draw that many. And despite the fact that there's a narrative about his being a great playoff performer, the team got outshot and outchanced when he was on the ice, and he frankly wasn't that effective on the PK either. Does this mean he couldn't have been more effective in a lesser role? No, of course not. If Chiarot had been played like a #4 or #5 defenceman, maybe his stats would be stronger. Maybe he'd have better numbers than the guys we did use as #5 D men. But that's pretty much my point: he wasn't that great when he was asked to play a top 3 role. So yeah, maybe if we found some true top 3 guys and filled out the line-up and slid him back into a #4 or #5 role, he'd be terrific at that job, but then why pay him to do that? Why pay a guy 4M to do that when you can pay a Kulak 2M or a Romanov 1.5M to do fill that role and save yourself money to get a better guy to be one of your top 3? My problem with the guys Bergevin went out to get on D has never been that they can't play in the NHL, it's that he gave 5M to Alzner and 3.5M to Chiarot and 3.5M to Edmundson and 3.5M to Savard and money to Murray and Benn and Schlemko and Bouillon and Merrill and down the line, and none of them really make our top 3-4 any better. You have one of those guys on your 3rd pairing and place them next to a guy who can skate and move the puck like a Kulak or a Wideman then absolutely, do it. Chiarot-Wideman as a 3rd pairing or Edmundson-Kulak as a 3rd pairing, great. They get 10-12 minutes a night at ES and they get some special teams time, and they'd probably excel in that role. But that's a 2-2.5M roster spot. What you can't be doing is paying those players 3-5M a year and you certainly can't be stockpiling your roster with 3-4 of these guys at a time and expect them to play in the top 3 and do it well.

So I'm not trying to argue that Kulak should be a top 3 guy. He shouldn't. And I'm not saying Chiarot doesn't have value. He does. But the narrative that he brings grit and intangibles and that he's a playoff performer and so on, I just don't see anything to base that on. Chiarot has not been good when asked to be a top 3 guy. That says nothing about what he can or cannot do in a more appropriate role, and if we can dump Savard and dump Edmundson and Chiarot were willing to take 2.5M to play on the 3rd pairing, then fine. Otherwise, I'd rather we trade him, capitalize on people believing the narrative about his playoff performance last year, and use the return to make our team better.

 

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34 minutes ago, BigTed3 said:

I'm not saying Chiarot doesn't have value. He does. But the narrative that he brings grit and intangibles and that he's a playoff performer and so on, I just don't see anything to base that on. Chiarot has not been good when asked to be a top 3 guy. .

 

Guys like BC and Weber have value in the playoffs only because there's a different rule book in the playoffs. 

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3 minutes ago, H_T_L said:

Guys like BC and Weber have value in the playoffs only because there's a different rule book in the playoffs. 

To some degree yes. But even with that rulebook last year, Chiarot and Weber took 7 and 8 penalties at even strength in the post-season and only drew 3 each. And even with those rules, Chiarot had the brutal stats I posted above.

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Just now, BigTed3 said:

To some degree yes. But even with that rulebook last year, Chiarot and Weber took 7 and 8 penalties at even strength in the post-season and only drew 3 each. And even with those rules, Chiarot had the brutal stats I posted above.

Yeah,,,,, i was pretty much agreeing with you on BC's value. If refs enforced the rules, guys like him would be in the box on just about every shift. It's because those infractions are ignored in the playoffs that guys like him are such a hot commodity.

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