The Montreal Canadiens 2009-2010 season ended later then anyone expected as the Habs lost in the Eastern Conference Final against the Philadelphia Flyers. The organization should be happy that the team made it so far by beating the President Trophy winning Capitals and the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins in 7 games in the first 2 rounds of the playoffs. This season’s results will set the barrier high with the fans of the team for next season. Canadiens GM, Pierre Gauthier, has some major business decisions to make before the start of the 2010-2011 season:
Halak vs Price: Jaroslav Halak has become a fan favourite with the great season that he had in goal during the regular season and the playoffs. Halak finished first among goalies with a .923 save percentage in the playoffs. During the regular season, Halak played in 45 games, he finished in the top 10 in the league for save percentage and goals against average.
Carey Price’s statistics were not as impressive as Halak’s. While Halak’s record was 8 games over .500, Price’s record was 12 games under .500. Price was a victim of Montreal’s boo birds during a couple of home games this season.
Rumours heard from Montreal media early this week confirmed that Pierre Gauthier is shopping around both goalies to the other GMs to see what kind of return, the Habs should be expecting in return. Earlier in the season, TSN’s Bob Mckenzie said during a telecast that he had called a couple of GMs around the league for an informal poll asking them which of the 2 goaltenders would they want on their roster, and most of the GMs answered that Price would be the goalie that they would go after. It seems that many people in the hockey world still believe that Carey Price has the potential of being a good NHL goaltender.
I would say that Pierre Gauthier will see what kind of interest he receives from the rest of the league and will trade one of the 2 young goaltenders only if the offer is an interesting one for the team.
Free Agency: The Canadiens have 11 Unrestricted Free Agents in the organization. The biggest name on that list is Tomas Plekanec. Plekanec had a career high 70 points during the regular season and did a good job playing against Ovechkin and Crosby during the team’s 19 game playoff run. After Patrick Marleau, Plekanec would be the best UFA center available during this off-season. This situation will likely lead to another team overpaying for Plekanec and we won’t see him in a Canadiens jersey next season. The Habs will most likely part ways with Metropolit, Darche, Mara, Bergeron, and Sanford.
The Canadiens will be looking to pick up a big center during the off-season (surprised?) and a winger that can be part of the top 6 forwards.
Matthew Lombardi, a local Montrealer, would be a good pick-up for the Canadiens but he is not the solution in terms of size for the Habs. Lombardi picked up 53 points in 78 games last season for the Phoenix Coyotes. He also collected 6 points in 7 games during the 2009-2010 playoffs. If the Habs want to find a big center and a top 6 forward, it will be via a trade.
Restricted Free Agents: The Canadiens have 12 RFAs on their roster. They include Lapierre, Halak, Pouliot, Price and Tom Pyatt. I am expecting that Pierre Gauthier will sign all of them except for Sergei Kostitsyn.
Coaching staff: Now that Guy Boucher has left the organization to coach the Tampa Bay Lightning, it is believed that Kirk Muller will replace Boucher in Hamilton to get his first head coaching opportunity. Earlier this week, Perry Pearn took himself out of the race to coach the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL. If the Canadiens lose 1 or both assistant coaches, Gauthier and Martin will need to find their replacements.
Draft: It will be interesting to see the direction that the Canadiens will go on June 25th-26th during the draft. Pierre Gauthier fired 6 scouts on May 31st. What is the cause? Too many missed Quebec prospects?
The Habs will be drafting #27 on June 25th. If the draft goes as predicted by the International Scouting Service, the Canadiens will be drafting left-handed LW Ludwig Rensfeltd from Sweden. Rensfeltd is 6’2, 192 lbs, and averages over 1 point per game in the Swedish League.
No matter what happens during the off-season, it will be quiet compared to the overhaul that Bob Gainey gave to the team last season.
About the Author
Written by Chris G
Host of Habs360 every Saturday @ 3PM ET Montreal sports fan. Favorite teams are: NHL: Montreal Canadiens CFL: Montreal Alouettes NFL: Chicago Bears NASL: Montreal Impact MLB: Montreal Expos...so you know that there won't be much baseball talk