The Canadiens look like on the upswing. However, as was the case in current seasons, whether or not or not they may advance to the playoffs will rely upon the play of their prized goalie Carey Worth.
He nearly dragged the Habs into the post-season final spring. Nonetheless, Montreal’s 96 factors — a complete that matched the report for a non-playoff staff set by the 2017-18 Florida Panthers — fell two factors in need of the eighth and remaining playoff spot within the East, held by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Canadiens pushed themselves into late competition with a 7-2-1 end however misplaced a crucial outing 6-2 in Columbus in Recreation No. 78. It was the third time in 4 years the Canadiens discovered themselves on the sideline because the chase for the Stanley Cup commenced.
Like each staff, there was a bunch of what-ifs for Montreal. What if it had a succesful backup for Worth? Antti Niemi was a bust. What if Shea Weber (24 video games), Paul Byron (23) and Andrew Shaw (19) did not miss prolonged time due to accidents?
What if the Canadiens carried out higher on the facility play? They have been 30th in man-advantage conditions. They continued to flounder when Weber and his massive shot returned to the lineup as he scored solely two power-play objectives after the all-star break.
Common supervisor Marc Bergevin, whose Habs have made the playoffs in 4 of his eight seasons whereas he is been on the helm, had a middling low season. However his scouting workers has compiled a formidable pack of prospects.
The massive three who will push for a place on the Habs roster in coaching camp will probably be forwards Nick Suzuki, Ryan Poehling and defenceman Noah Juulsen.
In the meantime, the front-loaded five-year $42.27-million US provide sheet to 22-year-old Carolina Hurricanes restricted free agent Sebastien Aho was a failure. It was value a shot, however after the Hurricanes matched the provide, it left the Canadiens demanding fan base wanting one other huge summertime transfer that by no means arrived.
As a substitute, Bergevin traded Shaw again to the Blackhawks with a seventh-round choose in 2021 in alternate for a 2020 second-round choice, a 2020 seventh-round selection and a 2021 third-round choose.
He signed unrestricted free brokers Ben Chiarot, Nick Cousins and Keith Kinkaid. Kinkaid will present head coach Claude Julien’s aspect with a much-needed backup goalie. Chiarot provides dimension, a bodily dimension with mobility and penalty-killing minutes.
The Habs stunned loads of hockey folks final season. They seem to be a small group, however what they lack in dimension they made up for in a aggressive, ultra-quick staff with a steadiness of ability, velocity and flexibility amongst their top-nine forwards.
They’ve a component of inner competitors for ice time on a nightly foundation. However whether or not there may be additional maturation from gamers equivalent to Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jonathan Drouin, Max Domi, Charles Hudon, Artturi Lehkonen and defenceman Victor Mete will probably be a major issue on this staff taking the following step.
One other intriguing a part of the Habs story this season will probably be whether or not Bergevin dips into his deep prospect pool to land a top-six ahead or top-four defenceman to take a step towards being a contender.
Moreover the aforementioned Suzuki, Poehling and Juulsen, different prime prospects throughout the group embrace forwards Jesse Ylonen, Joni Ikonen, defenceman Josh Brook, goalie Cayden Primeau in addition to 2019 first-round choose Cole Caufield, who will probably be a freshman on the College of Wisconsin.
Sure, the Habs will probably be a compelling story this season.