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    Five Reasons to be Pumped for the 2017-18 Habs

    The Canadiens’ annual golf tournament serves as the unofficial start to the hockey season. The players have returned from their summer vacations, ready and enthusiastic to put their off-season regiments to the test on the ice, eager to begin the pursuit of a 25th Stanley Cup Championship for the franchise. While the summer of 2017 wasn’t quite as mind-blowing for Habs fans as the last summer, in addition to being longer than many would have liked it still had a lot of upheaval and wasn’t without controversy. Half the blueline has been revamped—gone are Markov, Beaulieu, and Emelin, replaced by Alzner, Schlemko, Streit (welcome back!); a major trade took place in June, sending shockwaves throughout the NHL; and, a popular player left for greener pastures as Radulov chose the Dallas Stars over the bleu-blanc-rouge. On the other hand, the team’s goaltending has been secured for the next nine years and the new defence corps should help an already strong defensive team get even stronger in its own end.

    Without any further ado, let’s turn to five top reasons for fans to get excited and ready for the 2017-18 edition of the Montreal Canadiens...

    1. The arrival of Jonathan Drouin – When it was announced on June 15th that the Canadiens had acquired Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for top blue line prospect Mikhail Sergachev, it was instant reason to be enthusiastic. The Habs have struggled to score goals for years, and their lack of a true #1 centre was a known issue throughout the NHL. Drouin is a dynamo—he has speed to burn and electric hands. Don’t think for a moment, either, that his place of birth doesn’t matter. A French-Canadian superstar that is eagerly embracing the challenge of playing in Montreal is a fan’s dream. Should he end up being paired with Max Pacioretty on the top line, it’s not at all unreasonable to expect a 70-point campaign in year one for Drouin. This is a game-changer for the Canadiens, who have had to elevate players on the depth chart beyond their means for a long time; with all due respect to Philip Danault and the departed Desharnais, Drouin addresses a 20-plus year need for this organization. Management has already shown that they believe strongly in him, awarding him a six-year contract right off his entry level deal with the Lightning. The uptick in offence he will provide will make a big difference for the team this season, and for years to come. Card company Upper Deck has realized his hobby potential, and will be putting his first licensed trading card in a Canadiens uniform at a card show happening in Montreal before the season starts, which is a pretty big deal:





    2. Max Pacioretty wants to get the Habs through the playoffs - Speaking of The Captain, Max Pacioretty enters this campaign with something to prove. It has been the mantra of GM Marc Bergevin that there are players that get you to the playoffs, and there are players who get you through the playoffs. Pacioretty is a perennial 30-plus goal-scorer and has shown great leadership growth in his tenure as captain, but he fizzled in the playoffs last season, registering just a single assist in the Habs’ first round elimination against the Rangers. He took some heat for that. Instead of hiding behind clichés, he spent his summer working to improve in all aspects of his game. Pacioretty has worked out for large parts of the summer with Drouin—they’ve formed a connection that will hopefully translate well on the ice. If they gel together, Pacioretty will almost surely break the 40-goal plateau and put his team in a prime position to silence the critics out there who doubt he has what it takes to go deep in the playoffs.




    3. Julien in charge for a full campaign – Speaking of the critics, many of whom still have an axe to grind with Habs management over the Subban trade, they don’t have Michel Therrien or the foxhole to kick dirt at anymore. Rightly or wrongly, the relationship between the previous coach and several players became a focal point, a distraction. Already we are seeing firm decisions and statements being made by Bergevin and Julien about personnel deployment, eliminating question marks and opportunities for some to sow the seeds of dissent among the fans. Fans want to cheer the team and the players, not be distracted with internecine locker room machinations or rumour-mongering that the coach has an agenda against a particular player. So that’s part one; the other is the proper implementation of Julien’s systems with the team right from the get-go. There was a re-assignment of duties when he took over in February, and it caused an adjustment period for some players. Now, people will know where they stand, and Julien will expect accountability from his players. He’s won a Stanley Cup, he knows what it takes, he will have the respect of the room and the confidence of his general manager.

    4. Healthy, recovered and improved Galchenyuk and Gallagher – One of the first pronouncements to come from management at the golf tournament was the role of Alex Galchenyuk this year. He will not be a centre. That question seems answered. They tried it, and it simply didn’t pan out, as Galchenyuk struggled with the defensive responsibilities of the role and ultimately fell to the 4th line when the playoffs began. A player with his skills cannot be left to twist in the wind, and the best place for him on the wing. Which opens up a tantalizing prospect of a top line of Pacioretty-Drouin-Galchenyuk. Imagine that! How can you not get excited? People forget that Galchenyuk was 11th in the NHL in scoring when he got hurt last year; he’s been training like an animal all summer long to build up his core and lower body strength—he wants to bounce back stronger than ever. And so does Brendan Gallagher, who wants nothing more than to put the season from Hell behind him. He was already struggling when he suffered a second devastating broken hand injury in as many seasons, and he never could truly find his form in the 16-17 campaign. His 10 goals were a career low, and he endured many prolonged droughts of offence. He sees a young talent like Arturri Lehkonen potentially moving up the depth chart, but a man with the character and heart of Gallagher is going to take that as inspiration to regain form and push himself to remain in the Habs’ top six.

    5. Price is once again on top of his game – Any doubts people had about the long-term health prospects of Carey Price were erased last year, as the cornerstone of the franchise had another stellar season that saw him earn another Vezina Trophy nomination. He had one minor slump mid-season but beyond that was his customary excellence. He will look to build on that this year and he enters the season as the leading favourite to win the Vezina once again. Armed with a new long-term contract that makes him the highest-paid goalie in the NHL and will almost certainly guarantee he spends his entire career in a Canadiens uniform, Price continues his ascent in the team’s record books. He will certainly surpass Patrick Roy for 2nd all-time on the team’s wins list by a goalie, and while that’s a nice stat, what motivates him is the pursuit of a championship. He feels that this incarnation of the team can bring the Stanley Cup to Montreal, ending a 25-year drought since the team’s last taste of glory.





    The motto put forward by the Canadiens this year is “Be the Spark.” With these five critical factors in play, the team should once again compete for a top playoff spot and may repeat as Atlantic Division champions. If Bergevin likes what he sees, he may also deploy his ace in the hole: the team enters the season with over $8M available in cap space, which as he notes, translates into almost $40M worth of salary at the trade deadline. This team, already a contender, may be able to vault itself into a legitimate aspirant to the Stanley Cup this year. And if that doesn’t get you excited for this year’s Canadiens, I don’t know what will.

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    Carey Price fan and collector!
    Hidden Content Hidden Content ! 241 Unique Cards + 14 1/1's!!!

    2018-19 Habs Collections: Carey Price, Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher, and Jonathan Drouin

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  5. #4
    Well since we’ve got about a week to go, let’s evaluate haha...

    1. 70 points for Drouin—I overshot big time here, based on a premise that he and Pacioretty would gel. It was oil and water. Didn’t work. Drouin has found a higher gear in recent games but will be lucky to reach 45pts. He played well often. Had some bad games. Was often matched up with guys that couldn’t cash opportunities. But there’s reason to hope for a better next year. If Habs can get a real 1C that makes his life much easier.

    2. This one was painfully wrong. Painfully. Max had the worst season you could envision for him. Under-performing, invisible, and ultimately injured. He’s now 50/50 in terms of likelihood to be traded in advance of the last year of his contract. For a captain, you want to see a guy lead by example and set the tone. It just hasn’t happened this year for Pacioretty. I like him, but I fear his time in Montreal has run its course.

    3. OK I’m claiming half-point here with Julien. This team has often been bad this year. But the coach doesn’t get to pick his personnel. He has to work with what his GM gives him. Simply put, it was not enough. And that forced a lot of “low event hockey” (™️ @BWildeRecrutes) Despite boring losing hockey, Julien has done right by his players and their development. Petry and Galchenyuk have played great hockey this season. He’s given kids like Mete a chance. And his velvet glove is superior to Therrien’s iron fist.

    4. Gally and Chucky are 1-2 in team scoring. Nuff said. On a team that can’t score goals, Gallagher has 30. He’s an amazing comeback story. Galchenyuk has blossomed this year. Thank goodness they didn’t trade him. These two are part of the solution going forward. They can shine when all around them is falling apart. They’re guys that can do so when the ship is righted.

    5. Yikes. Nope. This season has been a real struggle for Carey Price. New equipment or whatever at the start of the season saw him allowing a lot of goals...goals that an average NHL goalie should not allow, let alone one as celebrated as Carey. Yes he’s had a real bad D corps in front of him. But that’s not an excuse for some of the goals allowed or a 3.07 / .903. You can’t win with those numbers when you rank 29th in goals scored. Impossible. Carey needs to be Carey next year or none of it matters.

    PS. They never did a damn thing with all that cap space. They’re going to have even more of it going into 18-19 and they had bloody well better use it.


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  6. #5
    Number 5 scares me a lot right now. Price has become increasingly injury prone and I worry if his days of logging big minutes may soon come to an end. If Price is only playing 50-55 games a year, that might be the difference between getting in the playoffs and just missing them.

    Good call on point 4, I've always been a big fan of Gally's tenacity and his grit. Happy to see him hit 30 goals in what amounts to be an otherwise horrible year from the Habs. Chucky needed to be given time to develop and find himself on the ice which the Habs finally seem to understand.

    I hated the Drouin trade. I said it from the start that this was a political move from the Habs, namely picking up a French born player. Drouin may very well become a point a game player but I think the Habs will rue the day they allowed Sergachev to walk, especially given their extremely weak D-corp.

    Next year, I hope that the Habs start with a new GM, (and the best available GM, not the one who speaks the best French).

    I also hope that they start the year with a game plan. The current roster in my opinion is not capable of making a run for the playoffs. The Habs need to seriously upgrade their D, and finally grab that elusive power forward.

    If they cannot do this, then they need to start the rebuild and let the young guns play.

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  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by RGM81 View Post
    Well since we’ve got about a week to go, let’s evaluate haha...

    1. 70 points for Drouin—I overshot big time here, based on a premise that he and Pacioretty would gel. It was oil and water. Didn’t work. Drouin has found a higher gear in recent games but will be lucky to reach 45pts. He played well often. Had some bad games. Was often matched up with guys that couldn’t cash opportunities. But there’s reason to hope for a better next year. If Habs can get a real 1C that makes his life much easier.

    2. This one was painfully wrong. Painfully. Max had the worst season you could envision for him. Under-performing, invisible, and ultimately injured. He’s now 50/50 in terms of likelihood to be traded in advance of the last year of his contract. For a captain, you want to see a guy lead by example and set the tone. It just hasn’t happened this year for Pacioretty. I like him, but I fear his time in Montreal has run its course.

    3. OK I’m claiming half-point here with Julien. This team has often been bad this year. But the coach doesn’t get to pick his personnel. He has to work with what his GM gives him. Simply put, it was not enough. And that forced a lot of “low event hockey” (™️ @BWildeRecrutes) Despite boring losing hockey, Julien has done right by his players and their development. Petry and Galchenyuk have played great hockey this season. He’s given kids like Mete a chance. And his velvet glove is superior to Therrien’s iron fist.

    4. Gally and Chucky are 1-2 in team scoring. Nuff said. On a team that can’t score goals, Gallagher has 30. He’s an amazing comeback story. Galchenyuk has blossomed this year. Thank goodness they didn’t trade him. These two are part of the solution going forward. They can shine when all around them is falling apart. They’re guys that can do so when the ship is righted.

    5. Yikes. Nope. This season has been a real struggle for Carey Price. New equipment or whatever at the start of the season saw him allowing a lot of goals...goals that an average NHL goalie should not allow, let alone one as celebrated as Carey. Yes he’s had a real bad D corps in front of him. But that’s not an excuse for some of the goals allowed or a 3.07 / .903. You can’t win with those numbers when you rank 29th in goals scored. Impossible. Carey needs to be Carey next year or none of it matters.

    PS. They never did a damn thing with all that cap space. They’re going to have even more of it going into 18-19 and they had bloody well better use it.


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    They will likely blow everyone else out of the water with their Tavares offer.

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    Traders:Hidden Content

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    The want list at this link features what I need of Giroux, Couturier, Ottawa Senators, and Miscellaneous set. If you have nothing from it I will consider CFL cards, current Senators, Carey Price, Guy Lafleur, Patrick Roy (Habs), vintage hockey (pre 1970) and trade bait.

    Thanks and Happy Trading.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by piper1 View Post
    They will likely blow everyone else out of the water with their Tavares offer.
    Out of necessity


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  9. #8
    Tavares is 27 I believe? Hopefully they sign him for 10 yrs at 12-14 mil...with the last 7 handcuffing them even more. Along with aging Weber and Price, this is Not the way to go, but if you can't get any impact from the draft, what else can they do? ( Hire new scouts?) The saving grace is Tavares won't want to sign for a non contender, no matter how much money is offered.

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  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by pwskelly View Post
    Number 5 scares me a lot right now. Price has become increasingly injury prone and I worry if his days of logging big minutes may soon come to an end. If Price is only playing 50-55 games a year, that might be the difference between getting in the playoffs and just missing them.

    Good call on point 4, I've always been a big fan of Gally's tenacity and his grit. Happy to see him hit 30 goals in what amounts to be an otherwise horrible year from the Habs. Chucky needed to be given time to develop and find himself on the ice which the Habs finally seem to understand.

    I hated the Drouin trade. I said it from the start that this was a political move from the Habs, namely picking up a French born player. Drouin may very well become a point a game player but I think the Habs will rue the day they allowed Sergachev to walk, especially given their extremely weak D-corp.

    Next year, I hope that the Habs start with a new GM, (and the best available GM, not the one who speaks the best French).

    I also hope that they start the year with a game plan. The current roster in my opinion is not capable of making a run for the playoffs. The Habs need to seriously upgrade their D, and finally grab that elusive power forward.

    If they cannot do this, then they need to start the rebuild and let the young guns play.
    I agree with everything said here. For some reason, and I'm not sure why, it sounds like Bergie was given a vote of confidence from ownership heading into next season at least. I'll be honest, when he came on board, I was a fan of his moves, even just the smaller surgical ones. I thought he was making the right decisions, but the last few years, he hasn't at all. He seems to be falling into the bad Montreal habit of old where he trades players for the sake of trading them without worrying about return on investment. I realize that expectations are different in Montreal and they're hesitant for a rebuild, but the majority of NHL contenders don't become contenders without going through some tough times. Trying to be a patchwork contender while ignoring the obvious holes in your roster just doesn't pay the bills. Now, they've traded a potential future cornerstone in Sergachev and didn't get even one viable long-term asset back when trading one of their most marketable players in Subban. Even if the ping pong balls fall their way in the draft lottery, I'm not sure I have faith in them to make the most of the situation. I never thought I'd see the day where I would be envious of the Maple Leafs, but at least they had a (Shana)plan and have stuck with it.

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  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by mooneyes View Post
    Tavares is 27 I believe? Hopefully they sign him for 10 yrs at 12-14 mil...with the last 7 handcuffing them even more. Along with aging Weber and Price, this is Not the way to go, but if you can't get any impact from the draft, what else can they do? ( Hire new scouts?) The saving grace is Tavares won't want to sign for a non contender, no matter how much money is offered.
    I don’t think the NHL will allow the Habs to circumvent the restriction on UFA signings.


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