Things are getting ugly in Montreal. This has been a nightmare of the season for the Canadiens, and frankly, it seems that just when you think it can’t get any worse, it always does. The problems with the team are well documented, so I don’t want to waste your time giving my opinion on why this team is not performing. In fact, rather than harp on negatives, I prefer to look at how they can make the best out of this bad situation.
In a nutshell, the organization needs to start thinking about the future, and not about how they can maybe squeak into the playoffs and get run over by New York, Boston, Philly or Pittsburgh. It’s not going to happen. Even if it only took 92 points to make it in, that would mean the Habs would have to go 21-7-3 the rest of the way. This team is simply not good enough to pull that off.
Now that we got that out of the way, here is my 10-point plan for the remainder of the season, which would hopefully act as the starting point for a successful 2012-13 season.
1 – Trade Andrei Kostitsyn
Do we need to look at TSN’s list again of teams looking for a top 6 forward? Kostitsyn has his critics, but he has a great skill set, he has good size and he can put the puck in the net. Would be an attractive rental for a playoff team, and the Habs could potentially acquire a decent prospect in return.
2 – Trade Hal Gill
Gill notoriously elevates his game come playoff time, and there would be no shortage of interest should he be made available. With the demand for defensemen high and the supply low, perhaps the Habs could squeeze out a second round pick for Gill.
3 – Trade Travis Moen
Moen has a Stanley Cup ring, plays with jam and is a very capable third line shutdown winger that can chip in with some offense. He is yet another player that would be in high demand should he be made available. Like Gill, the possibility of acquiring a second round pick in return for Moen is not unreasonable.
4 – Don’t trade Tomas Plekanec
Not that this is rumored or anything, but with the number of teams looking to acquire help at the center ice position, I have to think teams will be calling Montreal to check on his availability. This is the kind of move that should be made in the offseason (I believe they should explore it in the offseason), not right now.
5 – Keep Louis Leblanc in the NHL for the remainder of the season
The priority now should be development for next year, and I feel it is important that the Canadiens start defining a role for Leblanc going forward, so that they know where they can pencil hm into the lineup at the start of next season.
6 – Call up Aaron Palushaj from the AHL
Palushaj, the player Montreal got in return for Matt D’Agostini, has never really gotten a real chance to showcase his skill at the NHL level. He is a point per game player on a bad Hamilton team, has tons of speed and has good vision. Use the rest of the season to play Palushaj in the top 9 and see if he figures into Montreal’s plans for next year.
7 – Announce that Andrei Markov will miss the rest of the year
I doubt this will happen, which is more a testament to the stubbornness of Pierre Gauthier than anything. His famous words: “ca progresse bien”, which translated means “he is progressing well”. There is no point in risking further injury to Markov; the goal should be to have him healthy and ready to go for the 2012-13 season.
8 – Re-sign Carey Price
Want a way to make your fans happy? Re-sign your franchise player to a long-term (4-6 years) deal. What better time to do it than when the team is struggling.
9 – #FailForNail or #FailForMikhail
Ok, I don’t actually mean trying to lose so that they can draft Nail Yakupov or Mikhail Grigorenko. What I mean is if you get rid of your expiring contracts and you turn your attention towards the development of your young players (i.e. getting them more ice time), naturally the team will continue to fall in the standings. This will result in the franchise getting their highest draft pick since Carey Price at #5 overall in 2005.
10 – Ownership should make a decision NOW if they plan on firing Pierre Gauthier, and if that’s the case, do it NOW and put an interim GM in place.
The Canadiens should absolutely turn their attention to next season, and that means if ownership does not envision Mr. Gauthier retaining his role as General Manager for the 2012 offseason, he should not be the one calling the shots as the February 27 trade deadline approaches.
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.