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Ladies and gentlemen, your Montreal Canadiens...
#1
https://www.rds.ca/hockey/canadiens/statistiques

I took the web page for team stats from RDS because I figured numbers were pretty much an international language and that hockey fans were accustomed to how stats are depicted in hockey, so context should help even the most limited in Molière's tongue when interpreting which column the numbers fall into.

Interesting tidbit after a 16-game sample, roughly 20% of the season behind us:

MAX DOMI!

WOW!

Tied with the team lead for goals at 9 and leading his brethren with over a PPG pace at 19 points over 16 games! Who woulda thunk it!?

The positive light to stamp out the dark negativity of the most ardent naysayers is that Max Domi seems to be the type of player that thrives in the high profile, high pressure environment of a market like Montreal. That's great news for the future. Even better news for the future is how Domi has quickly concluded that letting his talent play out (both offensively and defensively as a genuine 200-foot player so far this season) rather than his feistiness and his potential for overzealousness (à la Shaw) is the best way to prove himself before the demanding fans in Montreal.

Some will scoff at his performance so far this season and point to his size as an omen of bad things to come, claiming that it is impossible for this player to maintain the same level of involvement over the entire season! As an answer to these brooders of bad news, I bring you to the next revelation (although some will claim he has been nothing but a metronome so far in his career):

BRENDAN GALLAGHER!

Nobody will deny that Brendan is the epitome of consistent effort and all-out implication out on the ice. He has been at every level and throughout his NHL career so far, often providing the much needed spark to jump start slumping line mates. Last year's thirty goals, after two subsequent injuries to his hands that lead many to believe he would never regain full use of them and that his offensive performance would indubitably be affected, seemed like a likely one-off, but his scoring pace so far this season fuels the hope that he could have become the next Todd Marchand, minus the brain farts. 

The next pleasant surprise this season is:

TOMAS TATAR!

With an .875 PPG pace so far this season, Tatar has easily justified his 5.3M Cap hit and helped us forget the other LW he was traded for. His involvement level is the pleasant surprise associated with the new arrival, after rumours emanated last season that he wasn't all that devoted a player. Again, perhaps it is the proximity to Brendan Gallagher's tenacity and Danault's lunch pail approach to playing hockey that have inspired the team's remaining Tomas now that Plekanec's contract will be mutually terminated?

The key to these three players will be the level of consistency that they can display in both effort and performance over the entire season. Most expect that Gallagher will be loyal to his habits, but the jury might still be out when it comes to Domi and Tatar. Either way, so far so good for all involved. It might not be surprising that they are the team's offensive motor in the absence of the freshly departed Galchenyuk and Pacioretty, but the level of their performance early on may well be an eye-opener.

Which leads me to the question of:

JONATHAN DROUIN?

As much as he has quickly become the team's new whipping boy for some, Drouin is still quietly on pace for 25 Goals and over 60 points while returning to the wing...

IMO, the team's C-line will continue to get stronger over the next couple of years; Kotkaniemi will fill in to help him become more dominant as he gains more NHL experience, Poehling and (perhaps) Suzuki will potentially join the team as productive Cs, Evans might become an interesting two-way, 4th C option down the line...

At that point, Drouin's place (and defensive lackings) on the team will be better sheltered by the Habs' relative talent depth up front, with Suzuki likely playing as a scoring RW rather than at C:

C depth, in no specific order:

Domi, Kotkaniemi, Poehling, Danault, Evans, Olofsson

RW depth, in no specific order:

Gallagher, Lehkonen, Suzuki, Byron, Armia, Shaw, Ylonen

LW depth in no specific order;

Tatar, Drouin, Domi, Byron, Lehkonen, Hudon, Deslauriers

The most pessimistic fans may not see a McDavid, a Matthews or a Crosby amongst the forward depth listed above, but I honestly think that the offense for the Habs is the least to worry about in the upcoming seasons.

The D question is a larger can of worms, IMO, and I have to find it ironic, talent-wise, if nothing else, after losing players like McDonagh, Subban and Sergachev, already in our ranks, over the years. Losing an ageing Markov is more natural to me as Father Time usually gets his way, in the end...

I really wish that MON had restocked the defensive cupboard beyond acquiring Romanov as a surprise pick at the last draft. There were plenty of interesting D candidates left after MON picked Kotkaniemi at #3 overall, even though I was a big fan of Noah Dobson as an early pick and a potential high level 1st pairing RD to eventually replace Weber.

With an ageing Weber (who could still be relatively productive while being a valuable mentor to younger, talented Ds) and Petry, the RD, while not boasting elite talent, seems okay with Brook, Juulsen and Fleury in the wings or just beginning their NHL careers.

The left side is a much larger question mark with Reilly as an unconfirmed talent, Mete as a swift-skating, undersized D whose place on the depth chart, IMO, remains to be established and the nebulous Tzar, Romanov to boast in the pipeline or early days at the NHL level in a full-time role of any importance.

Montreal could certainly have used a Quinn Hughes or a K'Andre Miller in the pipeline (a larger, puck-moving D with offensive flair to develop). I might have picked (considering there was a bit of a run on Ds at the time) McIsaac instead of Ylonen at #35 (he was picked at #36) and hoped to be able to pick Ylonen at #38 where Romanov was picked.

Romanov may end up being a strong, stable D at the NHL level (he is holding his own as a youngster in the KHL, although mainly as a defensive D so far, but that might have more to do with the conservative nature of both the coach and the system and of a youngster looking to avoid mistakes to make his mark in the lineup). However, there is, IMO, a lot of pressure and expectations placed on the kid with the out of left field pick at #38.

If management can pull a rabbit out of a hat via the trade front or at the next draft, perhaps the overall D picture can change more quickly for the long run than I currently expect. Still, this needs to be the pressing concern and needs on the back end need to be addressed as a priority.
Ancient Chinese Proverb: A mosquito landing on your testicle should help you realize that violence doesn't solve every problem
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#2
It definitely looks like MB has gone for quantity over quality on the left side of the D. 

Mike Reilly has defaulted his way to the top pairing with Weber. It is a pairing I'm looking forward to. Weber could make a ton of money for Reilly if they work out together.

Alzner looks like a mistake at this point, but I'm not sure there isn't a role for a shot-blocking, shutdown D when the schedule toughens up. With Weber back, Petry and Juulsen drop to 2nd and 3rd pairings; and Juulsen and Alzner looked very solid together, and might make a good pairing if we are heading into the playoffs.

Lernout also appears as an anachronism in the 'new NHL', but counting on any consistency from the refs and rulebooks seems naive after decades of BOS, LA, ANA mugging their way to the cup.

The second (and third, if Alzner is as done as many feel) LD must come from the huge pool of Benn, RDS, Mete, Ouellet, plus the AHL guys (specifically the Czechs, who looked good to me). My guess is Ouellet will take the spot, at least for this year, until Romanov and Mete(?) develop.

The wild card here is Jarret Tyszka, a fifth round pick, who has missed the entire year this year since a rookie camp concussion. He fell in the draft because of an inability to play defense; but reports from late last season indicated that this problem had diminished to the point of disappearance. Of course, that was against juniors, but he will be someone to watch, if his health recovers.

So, my 'heading in to the playoffs' D is:

Weber Reilly
Petry Ouellet
Juulsen Alzner

Benn/Mete/RDS/Moravcik/Sklenicka/Fleury/Lernout
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#3
(2018-11-10, 11:36 AM)on2ndthought Wrote: It definitely looks like MB has gone for quantity over quality on the left side of the D. 

Mike Reilly has defaulted his way to the top pairing with Weber. It is a pairing I'm looking forward to. Weber could make a ton of money for Reilly if they work out together.

Alzner looks like a mistake at this point, but I'm not sure there isn't a role for a shot-blocking, shutdown D when the schedule toughens up. With Weber back, Petry and Juulsen drop to 2nd and 3rd pairings; and Juulsen and Alzner looked very solid together, and might make a good pairing if we are heading into the playoffs.

Lernout also appears as an anachronism in the 'new NHL', but counting on any consistency from the refs and rulebooks seems naive after decades of BOS, LA, ANA mugging their way to the cup.

The second (and third, if Alzner is as done as many feel) LD must come from the huge pool of Benn, RDS, Mete, Ouellet, plus the AHL guys (specifically the Czechs, who looked good to me). My guess is Ouellet will take the spot, at least for this year, until Romanov and Mete(?) develop.

The wild card here is Jarret Tyszka, a fifth round pick, who has missed the entire year this year since a rookie camp concussion. He fell in the draft because of an inability to play defense; but reports from late last season indicated that this problem had diminished to the point of disappearance. Of course, that was against juniors, but he will be someone to watch, if his health recovers.

So, my 'heading in to the playoffs' D is:

Weber Reilly
Petry Ouellet
Juulsen Alzner


Benn/Mete/RDS/Moravcik/Sklenicka/Fleury/Lernout

I'm more concerned about the D long term when the forward core has gotten even better and expectations are developing. But, for the short term, if you're going to put Ouellet with Petry, I'd rather see Mete with Juulsen on a 3RD pairing than an immobile Alzner getting burnt left and right...
Ancient Chinese Proverb: A mosquito landing on your testicle should help you realize that violence doesn't solve every problem
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#4
Defensemen take longer to develop, except for some of them. That’s why instead of counting on the draft to have promising Ds in the mid-term (2 to 3 years) to go with some interesting talent up front, we might have to wait for a good opportunity for trade or (hopefully not) a UFA signing.
"Only one thing matters in life, and it's the cup"  
                                            - Caresse Crosby


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#5
Maybe the trade front or UFA route will be the answer to upgrading the left side of our D, as it had been with a cheap trade cost to land Petry and a UFA signing to extend him afterwards. Hard to say, but if Weber returns to form, I would contemplate trading Petry + for help on the left side to even out our strength across the ice -- Left and Right side.

Weber will eat up tons of minutes and so can Juulsen. Brook looks ready to step up sooner rather than later as, perhaps, an exception to the rule about linger development that you mentioned for Ds.

I'd rather have a Petry-type D on the left side to anchor that side of the D (like a T.J. Brodie in his prime at 28, let's say), along with a Mete, Reilly and, eventually, a Romanov, than nothing secure out there as we experiment with borderline players that still have untapped upside..
Ancient Chinese Proverb: A mosquito landing on your testicle should help you realize that violence doesn't solve every problem
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#6
I had a wishfull thinking moment and went to see what if we didn’t drafted McCarron, DLR and Fucale in 2013. Beside Shea Theodore drafted right after McC, there was nothing much after that as far as defensemen go. That was a weak draft it seems.
"Only one thing matters in life, and it's the cup"  
                                            - Caresse Crosby


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#7
(2018-11-10, 01:02 PM)Leb7 Wrote: I had a wishfull thinking moment and went to see what if we didn’t drafted McCarron, DLR and Fucale in 2013. Beside Shea Theodore drafted right after McC, there was nothing much after that as far as defensemen go. That was a weak draft it seems.

Well, Theodore would look spectacular right now. McCarron was a reaction to try and change the team's smurfiness, which may yet provide some benefit, although that is looking less and less likely.

FWIW Brett Pesce went in the third round, and Will Butcher waited out his entry level eligibility in college and became a UFA
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#8
(2018-11-10, 01:02 PM)Leb7 Wrote: I had a wishfull thinking moment and went to see what if we didn’t drafted McCarron, DLR and Fucale in 2013. Beside Shea Theodore drafted right after McC, there was nothing much after that as far as defensemen go. That was a weak draft it seems.

As was the year we drafted Galchenyuk, for example. It's always a coin toss...
Ancient Chinese Proverb: A mosquito landing on your testicle should help you realize that violence doesn't solve every problem
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#9
Entertainment like we have not seen in.... Decades? Just feels like it's been that long. Domi is a 200' player that has yet to slow down... He's hot so everything looks easy right now but he's impressed me enough to order his Jersey! The irony is that it replaces my Galchenyuk jersey lol...
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#10
(2018-11-11, 10:38 AM)BigBullet3 Wrote: Entertainment like we have not seen in.... Decades? Just feels like it's been that long. Domi is a 200' player that has yet to slow down... He's hot so everything looks easy right now but he's impressed me enough to order his Jersey! The irony is that it replaces my Galchenyuk jersey lol...
Hey BigBullet! You forgot your old password?  Wink
"Only one thing matters in life, and it's the cup"  
                                            - Caresse Crosby


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