September 25, 2013 by andymisek
After receiving the 3rd overall pick in the 2012 draft, the Montreal Canadiens shocked many by finishing 2nd overall in the Eastern Conference in 2013. Norris Trophy winning defenseman P.K Subban and sophomores Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher. With some minor changes to the roster, expectations are high for the Montreal Canadiens. They finish 7th overall in our NHL Season Countdown.
With the 25th overall pick in 2013, the Canadiens drafted right wing Michael McCarron. He played for the US Development Team last year, but opted out of the NCAA route to play with the London nights starting 2013-2014. McCarron posses great puck protection skills, offensive instincts and has the intangibles of a great leader. McCarron will have to work on his skating and acceleration to become NHL ready.
After the Philadelphia Flyers bought out Danny Briere, the Montreal Canadiens were eager to sign the chippy but skilled left winger. The last two seasons, Briere’s production did not meet the Flyers expectations, but a change of scenery might be beneficial.
NHL.com slots him with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk on the top line, but I would prefer Max Pacioretty, a young and more skilled forward coming off 33 goal 2011-2012 season (and on pace for the same in 2013), to play on the top line over Briere.
Young stars Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher will lead the Canadian’s offense into the playoffs. Gallagher was third in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy as top rookie in the league, and is poised to earn a top six role.
Tomas Plekanec, entering his prime, is set to center the top line. David Desharnais and Lars Eller will fight in camp for the second line center slot. All signs point to Desharnais, but Eller’s point totals have increased in each of his first three seasons in the league.
While it is safe to say that Rene Bourque would be a top six winger on many teams, the addition of Danny Briere pushes Bourque down into the bottom six. A line of Bourque, Brian Gionta and either Lars Eller or David Desharnais will be an extremely skilled third line. The fourth line with Brandon Prust, Ryan White and Travis Moen will be extremely rough to play against.
Norris winner P.K Subban and offensive threat Andrei Markov will be playing against other teams top line game in and game out. This pairing should feel comfortable lining up against other team’s super stars. They are also both offensively gifted and able to pot 15 goals each per year.
Josh Gorges will be lining up with either Jarred Tinordi or possibly Nathan Beaulieu. Both have only played single digit number of games in the NHL, but both of these promising prospects are capable of filling the top four pairing with Gorges. Alexei Emelin, who is coming off of a major knee injury, and Raphael Diaz will be rounding out the defense for Montreal. With the exception of Markov, the entire defense is under the age of 30.
Welcome back Carey Price and Peter Budaj goaltending tandem. Price will have to play more consistently if he plans on going deep into the playoffs. He is an NHL all star capable of making the jump to the next level into elite goaltender status. Some might argue that Price already has made that jump, but he would have to make it out of the first round of the playoffs to prove it to this writer. Peter Budaj is a proficient back-up goalie, but giving him too many games in a row is a recipe for disaster.
Montreal’s young guns have all the promise of going deep into the playoffs, and the experience last year will help with maturity. Consistency is still a question mark, but if they stay healthy, the Canadiens will make the playoffs rather easily. Price will have to improve his performance over 2013 in order for Montreal to get deeper into the playoffs.