With only 24 games remaining in the regular season and the Habs sitting thirteen points back of a playoff spot, the writing is on the wall for the Canadiens. The 2017-2018 season has been an absolute disaster, and not one most fans saw coming after finishing first in the Atlantic division last season. Many fans have been calling for the heads of GM Marc Bergevin and coach Claude Julien, which is understandable.
Bergevin has made some questionable moves, and Julien has made some questionable line-up decisions. All this while siting fourth-to last in the league has Habs fans infuriated. Montreal is a city that bleeds hockey, and the fans cannot bare to see their team sitting outside the playoffs. That being said, with four picks in the first two rounds of this years NHL entry draft (and more to come as the Habs will be sellers at the trade deadline, check out rumors here!) and a young established core to build around, its not as bad as it seems Habs fans.
Keep Calm and Carey On
Carey Price has not been enjoying his best season. Statistically, its actually his worst, posting a goals against average of 2.98 and a .902 save percentage while only posting one shutout. He suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome at the beginning of the season, as well as a lower body injury that kept him out of the line up for most of November. This has been a major factor as to why his numbers are as low as they are. The bright side of this is, he’s Carey Price. The man is arguably the best player in the world at his position, which has been proven over his career while winning every professional trophy a goalie could dream of winning, outside of the Stanley Cup.
The former Hart, Vezina, Ted Lindsey and William Jennings trophy winner, has carried the Canadiens for years, and will bounce back next year to try to do the same. Price will have some help next year, as the Canadiens signed young, promising net-minder Charlie Lindgren to a 3 year extension earlier this week. Lindgren showed he was ready for the big show earlier this season, when he was called up to play 8 games and posted a goals against average of 2.43 and a save percentage of .924. He also posted a shutout over those 8 games. This is music to Price’s ears as Lindgren should be able to play anywhere between 25-30 games, taking some of the load off Price.
Youth Gone Wild
The Habs have one of the youngest groups of forwards in the NHL with 8 of their 14 forwards being 25 or under. The emergence of rookies Charles Hudon and Nikita Scherbak breathes a sigh of relief for Habs fans, especially when it comes to Scherbak as most Habs fans had given up on him. Scherbak had instant chemistry with young guns Jonathan Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk, and although he only has 3 points in 9 games, hes shown tremendous vision, as well as slick hands and superior puck skills. He’s a great compliment to trigger man Galchenyuk, who has 6 points in 7 games while playing with Scherbak.
Add the feisty Brendan Gallagher and the highly dependable Arturri Lehkonen, as well as Michael McCarron who could possibly crack the line up next year, top prospect Ryan Poehling and a top 5 pick in this years entry draft, the Habs have a very promising young group of forwards.
The Kids are Alright
After the Habs traded their top prospect Mikhail Sergachev last season before the NHL entry draft, the Habs were criticized for not having anyone to play with top defenceman Shea Weber. Then came Victor Mete. Mete was a 4th round pick in 2016(the same year as Sergachev) and he hasn’t disappointed. Mete has 7 points and is a +3 while averaging 15:25 minutes of ice time in 43 games. The +3 is an interesting stat, as he is one of only 5 Habs to have a positive rating while playing over 20 games.
He’s a extremely fast skater, and a exceptional puck mover and will be a important part of the Canadiens defence core for a long time. The Habs also have Noah Juulsen and Brett Lernout on the verge of breaking into the league, as well as prospects Cale Fleury and Josh Brook in the pipe line. Add all of these pieces to a group lead by future hall of fame rear guard Shea Weber, the Canadiens defence is set for years to come.
One Mans Trash is Another Mans Treasure
With the trade deadline less than a week away, a lot of teams are looking to acquire that final piece to make a serious run at Lord Stanley’s Cup. The problem a lot of teams face is that they don’t have the cap space available to acquire such a player. That’s where the Canadiens can help. The Habs currently have $7 million in cap space, which gives them the ability to take on some bad contracts that teams want to unload, and acquire draft picks or prospects to do so, which will help stock the cupboards for the future. The more draft picks the Habs can acquire the better for a quick retool, as they can elect to draft the players themselves, or use those picks at the draft to trade for other valuable players.
The trade deadline is almost here, and the Habs are clearly going to be sellers. The team is going to have a major overhaul over the next 6 months and with the amount of picks they already have,the possibility of acquiring more and the amount of young prospects on the verge of making the big club, the Canadiens could easily go from worst to first in the Atlantic in the span of a year. Relax Habs fans, its not as bad as it seems.