I would like to take a moment to thank former Canadiens forward Guy Carbonneau for taking the time to answer questions for All Habs yesterday on Twitter. It was great reading his responses and I hope another Twitter interview can be arranged soon!
OAKVILLE, ON. — With the season coming to a close, there really isn’t much to talk about in Habsland. Usually, we would be speculating on who the Canadiens would face in round one of the playoffs. Well, that isn’t an option this season.
After 73 games this season, the Canadiens compiled a 28-32-13 record. Only one team, the Carolina Hurricanes, had more overtime losses than the shootout masters in Montreal. Heck, the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team who hasn’t played a playoff game since 2004, is currently three points ahead of the Habs.
Change is needed. You, the fans, make it very clear. Today I have a few questions about the future of the club, and what needs to be done.
1. Who should Montreal let go during free agency? Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche, Brad Staubitz and Chris Campoli are all pending unrestricted free agents (UFA), and Moen is likely the only player to return. Carey Price, P.K. Subban and Lars Eller are restricted free agents (RFA) that could receive offer sheets, so signing them is a must. The good thing is that they won’t be going anywhere, so keep your pants on.
2. Who should Montreal bring in this summer? The top free agents include Alex Semin, Shane Doan (related to Carey Price), Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Saku Koivu (bring back number 11!), Nick Lidstrom and Brad Boyes. As much as I admire Semin’s skill, he has struggled immensely this year while playing with none other than Alexander Ovechkin, and wouldn’t do any better with, lets say, Tomas Plekanec or Erik Cole. I know every single Habs fan will welcome back Koivu with open arms, and while it’s unlikely that Lidstrom, Doan or Parise will be moved, Boyes could be a decent second line option. This free agent class doesn’t look too strong, though. Heck, I’ve suggested that the Habs sign Richard Zednik, as he has nothing better to do (UFA).
There is also the possibility of trades, but don’t expect rumors to surface until closer to the draft. Paul Stastny, Dustin Brown, Roman Josi and Derick Brassard were some names being thrown around at the trade deadline, but none came to fruition. Stastny has a monster salary ($6M for 49 points), Brassard underachieves (47 points=best season) and Brown likely isn’t moving. Josi would be a great addition to a defensive core that already features Subban and Alexi Emelin, but he isn’t going to make the team a playoff contender.
3. What happens with Scott Gomez? I know most of you would like to see Gomez wearing something other than a Canadiens jersey next season, but the reality is nobody wants him. Former Canadien Patrice Brisebois claimed that Gomez will likely be bought out next summer, and maybe search for a second chance elsewhere. A buy-out would still hurt the Habs, costing $3,523,810 in 2012-2013, over $4M the next, and $1.6M the last two seasons of his contract, but this is certianly better than the $7.3M it will cost Montreal to keep him on the team the next two seasons.
4. Who should Montreal draft in the first round? (By the way, follow Robert Rice on Twitter for all prospect news. Great guy, great opinions, very informative.) The top names this year include Nail Yakupov, Mathew Dumba, Mikhail Grigorenko, Filip Forsberg and Alex Galchenyuk. Check out czechtacular’s overview of the prospects here and here.
In my opinion, Montreal needs a scoring forward much more than they need a defenseman, so I think Grigorenko will be Montreal’s choice. Columbus will likely get the first overall pick next season, so Yakupov to Montreal is very unlikely. The pick could be used to bring in a high quality player, but that is also very unlikely. I like this year’s draft class, and expect Pierre Gauthier, or whoever the GM is at the time of the draft, to make a smart decision (yet, with PG, there is a good chance he doesn’t make a smart move). Hopefully, picking this high won’t be a yearly tradition for the next few years, so draft smart.
5. Who will be the new coach/GM of the Canadiens next season? It’s almost certain that GM Pierre Gauthier and coach Randy Cunneyworth will be gone next season. Gauthier did not have a good tenure as the GM, and Cunneyworth was unable to turn the team’s fortunes around. The big names that have been circling around the internet recently are Bob Hartley and Patrick Roy (Roy would be GM, Hartley would be coach). Personally, I like the way Roy coaches, as he pushes his players to play their hardest, while Hartley is known as a defense first coach. That didn’t exactly work with Jacques Martin, did it? Roy already knows what it’s like to play in Montreal, so the pressure shouldn’t phase him.
I welcome your answers to these questions. Post them in the comment section below.
(Feature photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)