Overshadowing back to back wins vs. the Devils and the Rangers that put the team back into the playoff picture was a bunch of roster moves made by the Canadiens over the past week. First they fired Georges Laraque, Mathieu Darche has been called up, Max Pacioretty and Matt D’Agostini were sent back to Hamilton and prospect Ben Maxwell will get his second shot at the NHL level (he played 7 games for the team last year).
Mathieu Darche is 32 years old and has been around pro hockey for a long time. He has just over 100 games of NHL experience, spread out over brief stints in Columbus, Nashville, San Jose, Tampa and now Montreal. It is great seeing guys like that rewarded, and it also sheds light as to how difficult it is to make it to “the show”. There are so many players like Mathieu Darche who have the ability to be an effective role player in the NHL, but they just never got a chance because they were stuck in an organization with tremendous depth at that position.
On the subject of Pacioretty and D’Agostini; you have to give major props to Bob Gainey for making this move. Clearly he has learned from his mistakes of rushing players into the NHL, and I give him credit for not wanting to make that same mistake again. It will be good for those 2 to get their games going again at the AHL level. I would imagine that at some point both will be back with the Habs by the end of the year.
The most intriguing move in my opinion was calling up Ben Maxwell. I have always been a fan of his and for those who don’t know the story, he was supposed to go considerably higher in the 2006 draft but a bad injury led to his draft stock dropping. The intriguing part is that the Canadiens will be in an interesting situation in the upcoming off-season. At the center position; they have Scott Gomez locked up, Maxim Lapierre is signed but his game has been a disappointment this year and Glen Metropolit & Tomas Plekanec are UFAs. I think this is Maxwell’s chance to make his mark and prove that he belongs in the NHL. If he does, that would be one less move Montreal’s management will need to make in the offseason.
This is pure speculation but the Habs are not done shaking up their roster. The East is so bad this year that any team that makes the playoffs can conceivably represent the Eastern Conference in the Cup finals. Even the “good” teams have major holes. They do have some young/cap friendly assets (D’Agostini, Lapierre, one of their goalies, O’Byrne, Gorges) that they can trade off to acquire a top 6 forward or a top 4 d-man. Not saying any of those guys are on the block, but provided that they do make a trade, I would expect that some of those names would be involved.
The Habs have 3 road games this week – in Florida on Tuesday, in Tampa on Wednesday and in Ottawa on Saturday. Bold predictions include; Habs come away with a minimum of 4 out of 6 points, Scott Gomez will score 2 goals over the 3 games and Ben Maxwell will get a point in his first game this year.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.