In-depth Look at the Habs

How did Montreal get to where they are? How does the future look? This article is an in-depth look at how Montreal became the team they are today.

In recent history at least, Montreal has been a team that has built mainly through drafts and trades. They have left the unrestricted free agent market to the bigger spenders such as Detroit, New York, and Toronto. Montreal has drafted well in recent years, and so has a good crop of young talent waiting to get a crack at the big team. First though, I will have a look at the few players Montreal has acquired through free agency.

Free Agency

Mathieu Dandenault – Signed a 4 year $7M deal over the summer with the Habs. Dandenault gives Montreal more speed on the back end, and versatility as he will sometimes play at the forward position. In terms of point production, he currently has 8 points, which is likely what was expected of him. He is on pace to smash his career high for penalty minutes.

Alex Kovalev – Signed a 4 year $18M deal over the summer with the Habs. Originally acquired in a trade with the Rangers in exchange for prospect Josef Balej and a second round pick, Kovalev lit it up in the playoffs. Currently on a point per game pace, Kovalev isn’t putting up as many points as Montreal fans would like, but he isn’t grossly underachieving either.

Yann Danis – Attended Brown, signed out of college. Has played well in his limited time in Montreal, posting a 2.69 GAA, .909 sv%, and one shutout in six appearances.

Trades

Radek Bonk – Acquired from LA along with Cristobal Huet in exchange for Mathieu Garon and a 3rd round pick (Paul Baier). Bonk has been considered a disappointment by nearly everyone. Although he wasn’t brought in for his offensive capabilities, his 1 goal is far less than what we thought we would get. At -6 his defense is somewhat lacking as well.

Jan Bulis – Acquired from Washington along with Richard Zednik and a 1st round pick (Alexander Perezhogin) in exchange for Trevor Linden, Dainus Zubrus, and a 2nd round pick (Andreas Holmqvist). This turned out to be an excellent trade for Montreal. Bulis has given Montreal almost exactly what they expected from him this year. Decent secondary scoring and is solid in his own end.

Garth Murray – Acquired from New York Rangers in exchange for Marcel Hossa. Murray gives Montreal some much needed size and grit at forward. Works very hard in his limited ice time.

Sheldon Souray – Acquired from New Jersey along with Josh Dewolf and a 2nd round pick (traded to Washington) for Vladimir Malakhov. After an extremely slow start to the season, Souray is starting to pick his game up. He is still not at the level that recently gave him a spot on Team Canada.

Niklas Sundstrom – Acquired from San Jose along with a 3rd round pick for Jeff Hackett. This trade gave Theo the number one job outright, and brought in the player Wayne Gretzky called the smartest player he has ever played with. Sundstrom is a defensive specialist; however, his -5 rating might imply that he is losing his touch. To be fair, Theo has let in a number of weak goals.

Richard Zednik – Acquired in same deal as Jan Bulis. Zednik has been one of Montreal’s

top offensive threats since he arrived, however, this year he has been struggling. He missed some significant time due to an injury, but is still not on his normal point per game pace.

Cristobal Huet – Acquired in same deal as Radek Bonk. Missed some time due to injury, but has been excellent in the limited action he has seen. Looks like a solid back up for the Habs.

Waivers/waiver draft

Steve Begin – Acquired through the waiver draft from Buffalo. He has been a fan favorite due to his style of play. He is small but throws some big hits. He has already tied his career high in points, and is 10 games shy of his career high in games played.

Francis Bouillon – Acquired off waivers from Nashville. Bouillon was originally signed as an undrafted player by the Habs, but was lost to Nashville from waivers, only to be reacquired later. Very small defenseman, but he plays big. He is hard to knock off the puck. He is -7 this year though.

Draft

Saku Koivu – Drafted in the 1st round, 21st overall. Has battled injuries throughout his career and is perhaps best known for winning his fight against cancer. He is the current captain of the Canadiens, and is having one of his best seasons on record, playing currently near a point per game pace, and is +5.

Jose Theodore – Drafted in the 2nd round, 44th overall. Has had an up and down season, with more downs than ups. He seems to be on a roll now *knock on wood* as he has been excellent in his last two starts against San Jose and Dallas. It’s funny how the trade rumors fade away when he is playing well.

Andrei Markov – Drafted in the 6th round, 162nd overall. An excellent find by the Montreal scouting staff in the 6th round. He is only 7 points off of his career high, and was on pace to push for 60 points before his recent injury. He is slowly becoming an elite defender in this league.

Michael Ryder – Drafted in the 8th round, 216th overall. Another late round find by Montreal’s scouting staff. His assists are down this year; however he should easily break 30 goals, and possibly push for 40.

Mike Ribeiro – Drafted in the 2nd round, 45th overall. He is only slightly off his pace from two years ago when he put up 65 points, however his team worst -10 is 25 points lower than it was the last time we had NHL hockey.

Craig Rivet – Drafted in the 3rd round, 68th overall. He is already pushing his career high in points, and has been about average in terms of plus/minus in relation to the rest of the team.

Chris Higgins – Drafted in the 1st round, 14th overall. Playing excellent two-way hockey considering he is a rookie. He has shown flashes of top level scoring skill.

Tomas Plekanec – Drafted in the 3rd round, 71st overall. Playing smart as a rookie, has a good future ahead of him.

Mike Komisarek – Drafted in the 1st round, 7th overall. His numbers are rather disappointing this year, only 1 assist and -8. He may be running out of time to make his mark. With his size, he can be an excellent addition to Montreal’s blue line, but he needs to put everything together.

Mark Streit – Drafted in the 9th round, 262nd overall. He was 26 when he was drafted, and is now 28 so it is difficult to consider him a rookie, even though it is his first NHL season. His numbers aren’t overly impressive, but considering not many of us knew what to expect from him, we can’t be too disappointed.

Alexander Perezhogin – Drafted in the 1st round, 25th overall. He has shown flashes of brilliance. He has a ton of skill, but is not good enough defensively to play on the third or fourth line, which is where Montreal would have him right now. In a year or two, when he is developed enough into a first or second line scorer, or when he learns to play better defense, he will stick in the NHL.

Andrei Kostitsyn – Drafted in the 1st round, 10th overall. He has played fairly well in his time with Montreal. I have renewed confidence in him to become the elite scorer us Habs fans thought he could be. He isn’t playing a major role, or getting a lot of ice time, but has managed to get two goals. He’s still only 20, so he still has a ton of time to develop. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in the AHL getting more ice time before the season ends.

Prospects

Carey Price (G) – Drafted in the 1st round, 5th overall. This draft choice has been questioned thoroughly. Price’s poor numbers this season have caused many people to give up on him. The thing you have to remember is, he’s only 18. Sure he didn’t make the World Juniors, but he was beat out by two 19 year olds. In fact, he was the only 18 year old goalie to get an invite, and an argument can be made that he should have made the team instead of Dubnyk. His poor numbers have to do with the fact that he has been playing on an absolutely pitiful team. He’ll be the starter at next year’s World Juniors, don’t worry.

Guillaume Latendresse (RW) – Drafted in the 2nd round, 45th overall. Many felt he should have stayed in the NHL this year, however his unimpressive performance in the Q and him not showing up at the Juniors lead me to believe that maybe he wasn’t such a steal after all. He doesn’t seem to have a very good work ethic, and seems to get down on himself easily. Hopefully I’m wrong and he ends up being a major power forward for the Habs for years to come.

Kyle Chipchura (C) – Drafted in the 1st round, 18th overall. Not much needs to be said about Chipchura. Everyone got a good look at him during the World Juniors. Excellent two-way centre, and an excellent leader. I can’t wait to see him with the Habs.

Alexei Emelin (D) – Drafted 3rd round, 84th overall. Canada got a good look at him in the gold medal game where he was the top defenseman for the rival Russians. He has been compared to a Darius Kasparaitus, and if the comparison holds up, he could be a solid addition to Montreal’s defense core in the future.

Sergei Kostitsyn (LW) – Drafted in the 7th round, 200th overall. I’m not sure what to make of this young player. Drafted so late, but has shown incredible talent playing for the London Knights in the OHL. He has 52 points in 36 games to lead all rookie scorers, and is tied for 23rd in the league in overall scoring despite missing time to play for Belarus at the World Juniors. He is the younger brother of Andrei Kostitsyn.

The Habs are looking good for the future, but could use some help for the present. They need help on defense especially now with Markov out for three weeks. Look for Montreal to draft a defenseman in the first round of the next draft, as they are low on top level defensive prospects, possibly Bobby Sanguinetti of Owen Sound or Ben Shutron of Kingston of the OHL.

I don’t expect Montreal to seriously contend this year, although they have shown that when they play at the top of their game they can be among the elite in this league. If they get on a roll heading into the playoffs, they could go deep. Conversely, if they play at the level they were playing at for Julien’s final 25 games or so, they could miss the playoffs altogether. They could easily finish anywhere from 4th or 5th to 10th. It’s going to be an interesting second half of the season.

GO HABS!


Statistics and information from www.tsn.ca, www.canadiens.com, and www.hockeysfuture.com


30 Responses to In-depth Look at the Habs

  1. skidragoon says:

    What does everyone think of the habs season so far?

  2. Viller02 says:

    Very good read.

    “Guillaume Latendresse (RW) – Drafted in the 2nd round, 45th overall. Many felt he should have stayed in the NHL this year, however his unimpressive performance in the Q and him not showing up at the Juniors lead me to believe that maybe he wasn’t such a steal after all. He doesn’t seem to have a very good work ethic, and seems to get down on himself easily. Hopefully I’m wrong and he ends up being a major power forward for the Habs for years to come.”

    Hes way to high on himself for what he can actually bring to the ice I think. It shows even in the arcticles he writes on RDS website. Sure he performed in the pre-season, but the it still is just the pre-season. He should have been playing alot more at the WJC, but Sutter hated his work ethic and defensive habilities. I think hes hugely over rated by the Quebec media, thats all there is to it. I’m not saying he wont be with the Habs next year and that he wont be a good player eventually, but he has alot of work to do. To me, he hasn’t proved anything yet.

  3. Hollywood666 says:

    I think they’ve been playing either above or below how good they actually are for most of the season.

    They’ve got a pretty tough road trip coming up starting in Calgary tonight though.

  4. habsoverserver says:

    When was the last time the Habs had a top 20 goal scorer or a top 50 point getter in the NHL? When was the last time they were relevent?

    Does anyone find this team entertaining or is it just year after year of mediocrity, inconsistency and lackluster effort under the microscope of a politically motivated myopic media?

    In short – how is anyone not fed up with them, the horse they road in on and the entire circus train that follows them around?

    Hey Bob thanks for Youppi – he’s uses the body better than Bonk and has only one less goal and a better plus/minus.

  5. Neely4Life says:

    He’s also a mulitple sport athlete!

  6. Neely4Life says:

    Imagine how awesome Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal rivalry would be if the Habs even mattered at this point in time?

    As an Ottawa fan, playin montreal, exspecially now with a 8 game series, is about an meaningful as playin buffalo. And the truth is, Ottawa has dominated Montreal since they were back in the league.

    Montreal is in a sorry state right now. They have a few yougn players that can contribute, but this team needs a new face, and needs to be gutted again. Like it or not, trading Roy is where the Habs went from Kings to Pesents. Biggest mistake any club in the NHL has ever made. There have been bad trades, but Roy won 2 cups for the Habs, and was a French Canadian in MTL which is a big deal. I guess blame the Red Wings!

  7. mtlman2005 says:

    First of all, the last time montreal had a top 50 pts getter, easy, last season!! Ribeiro finished 30th and Ryder 32th (without counting the fact that he was runner up for rookie of the year!)! Koivu would have been there but only playing 68 games didn’t help! He still got 55pts good for 52th! Yes they are inconsistent, but thats mostly because they are a VERY young team! Wait till the playoffs, we’ll see!

    Secondly, how can you that Ottawa has dominated Montreal lately? Let’s see the last 2 games? Montreal wins 4-3 after trailling 3-0! Yes Alfredsson and Spezza weren’t there, but for the best defensive team thats a pretty big colapse! And then the other day, 4-1 Montreal! Same story!!

    Thats the problem with leaf/senator fans, you guys automaticly give up on your teams! Montreal fans are real fans, we stick with our team, even after a pretty bad losing streak!

  8. Neely4Life says:

    Emry has a brual first period, and after that, Nuet stole the game. 4-3, ya, ottawa stopped playing. But again, if you beat a team 8 times in a season, your team is in trouble.

    Woudlnt get too excited about a 4-1 fluke, and a once in a million 3-0 comeback against the sens.

    And when i say latly, i mean the last 10 years. And even if u wanna look at the stupid 8 game season series, Ottawa is still up. and will win either 6-2 or 5-3 (season series)

  9. habsoverserver says:

    And he dives better than Ribiero.

  10. Turnbull says:

    “year after year of mediocrity”-Welcome to the world of a leafs fan!!….lol.

    ps.go leafs!

  11. Tim_Silver says:

    WELL SAID …

  12. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    Kovey was a trade!

  13. SoBaZzZz says:

    If Montreal faces the Sens first round in the series, don’t expect Ottawa to come out with the win. Montreal are a clutch team when they play at home. Don’t get me wrong, Ottawa has tons of talent, much more than Montreal, at least on the first line.

  14. Neely4Life says:

    Ottawa has the best home record in the league. If Ottawa plays montreal in the playoffs, it will be a very short series, dont kid yourself. Like, its ok to be confident in your team, but Montreal doesnt have a shot against the Sens in the playoffs. they arnt the Bruins.

  15. habs79 says:

    If there is one thing we learned about the Sens after this year. It’s that if they get ONE KEY injury and they struggle. Alfredsson, Spezza, or Hasek go down and the mighty Sens become as flat as a pizza. In case you hadn’t noticed after Ottawa was so strong at the start and look to be the Cup favorite they no longer hold top spot in the East. They are also only 4 points up on Buffalo in the division.

    You are right they are not the Bruins, they are more like the Canucks and the Colts, great regular season year after year only to be playoff flops.

  16. Neely4Life says:

    how is it Ottawa;s fault that Buffalo has gone on an insane tear? And Carolina has a game in hand as well. Ottawa has still lost the least amount of games in the league. When Ottawa’s whole team went down, ya, they had problems. They were without Redden for 12 games, spezza for 10, Havlat for how long now? And yet, still, the least amout of loses in the league. check your facts.

  17. nordiques100 says:

    Hey Punk you stole my template. darn habs copy cat!!!

    haha just foolin man, nice read.

  18. habs79 says:

    Montreal is just having their usual hot and cold season.

    Let the young guys develope, and don’t worry about Price and Latendresse. You should never truely give up on a player until they are at least into their 20’s. Then everyone will have a better idea of what to expect from them.

    Yes they need to improve their defense, in a big way. However they have talented forwards and Gainey seems to be letting them play. Montreal does not have the players to be the defensive minded team of Claude Julien, his style made their play suffer. Now if Gainey keeps letting the forwards play their offensive game and makes a move or two to improve the defense, they will move up the standings. However the key is still Theodore they have the offense to keep them in games, but not if he goes back to letting in all those soft goals.

    As for any potential moves we will now have to wait to see how they respond to the new system. So far they have showed improvment, but it has only been two games. Gainey will probably wait untill close to the deadline to make any moves.

    Players that should be untradable:

    Carey Price

    Andrei Markov

    Kyle Chipchura

    Saku Koivu

    Alex Kovalev

    Andrei Kostitsyn

    Players that should only be considered tradeable as part of a package to bring back a top defenseman

    Micheal Ryder

    Alexander Perezhogin

    Best tradeable assets.

    Mike Komisarek- Could be part of a package to bring in a solid defenseman.

    Richard Zednik- Could be traded to a team looking for some secondary scoring, in exchange for a defenseman.

    Mike Ribiero- He has responded well to the new system, however is still pretty useless in his own end. If he continues to improve offensively his trade value will rise.

    Tomas Plekanec and Chris Higgins- One of them is tradeable only as part of a package for a top 4 defenseman. If not they will be two thirds of Montreal’s defensive line when Sundstrom and Bulis leave in the off season.

    Jan Bulis- Will be looked at by teams who want a defensive forward.

  19. habs_punk says:

    Read the article maybe. I mentioned that they picked him up in a trade, but he was an unrestricted free agent over the summer.

  20. habs_punk says:

    I enjoyed your article so much, I had to make one of my own.

  21. habs_forever says:

    Excellent comment…you just expressed my exact feelings and thoughts about the Habs.

  22. Komic-J says:

    I agree with pretty much everything you said in that article…but the Habs do need a new face…a new identity. They should keep Koivu, Kovalev and Markov along with the younger players like Perezhogin, Kostitsyn, Higgins, Plekanec and Komisarek, and start building for a solid future.

    I really hope the Canadiens will go for a good defenseman in the upcoming draft cause…they need one badly ! Rivet isn’t getting any younger, Souray’s number will never be as high as they were before the lockout, and as much as I respect Francis Bouillon, he’s no more than a 4th-6th defenseman.

    The big question again is; Theodore for the future or not ? I guess it all depends on this year’s performance. If he shows Gainey he can win games by himself again, then he’ll be there for awhile. If he can’t, look for Gainey to trade him in the offseason.

    Just like you…I can’t wait to see Chipchura joining the club. Let’s be honest, he probably won’t score more than 20-goals per season, but I can see him being the next captain…or maybe Chris Higgins, and Chipchura as his assistant.

    Anyway…great read overall. Really enjoyed it…

  23. BunchOfLies says:

    Agree with most, except for :

    Ryder : might score 40 this year. Considering he didnt have another stable winger and was stuck with an underachieving Ribeiro so far this year, it’s VERY good. We keep. (Hell! when’s the last time we got a 40 goal scorer ?)

    Jan Bulis : as we saw in the last few games, he isnt that bad offensively (good setup guy, lots of speed) when he is given the opportunity. Great defensively with an offensive upside, I’d say we keep him.

    Mike Komisarek : He might not be a Dion Phaneuf or anything, but considering he’s the only decent D prospect we have right now, no trade…

    For the non-tradable, I would add Guillaume Latendresse, he showed in camp he got the skills. If he wakes up and work hard, the Habs will have themselves a much needed powerforward. Anyway, at 18, we can wait and see what he’ll do. In this case, it’s all about work ethics.

  24. habfan1160 says:

    I am a Habfan but watching that series would be like watching a car wreck. Montreal would be sewpt. They have a whole lotta of rebuilding to do.

  25. habfan1160 says:

    At this point as a Habfan I have ventured into a psychological state known as apathy. I no longer care deeply about them because of the team’s consistant mediocrity over the past 10 years. Generally, every game has been the same with the Habs being outshot and outschanced and hoping for their goalie to win them the games. We saw that on Monday against Dallas.

    I would like this team to finish near the bottom of the league for the next couple of years in order to obtain the necessary talent to succeed in the future. Moreover, as of right now I would like them to take a strategy out of the handbook of an expansion team. In short, start from scratch. The only players that I would keep are Markov, Koivu, Ryder, Kovalev, and all of their younger players (players under 24 years). The rest of the team should be gutted.

    In short, I have entered the realm of an apathetic and greatly disgruntled sports fan. The only thing that will take me out of this stupor is a hockey team that will win 50 games a year and have a chance at a Stanley Cup and not perenially first-overall picks such as Erik Johnson.

  26. Realistic says:

    Leafy, he was picked up in a trade, then resigned as UFA

  27. Realistic says:

    How about this trade;

    To MTL: O’Neill, Belfour, Domi, Berg & a pag of pucks

    To TOR: Kovalev, Theodore, Ryder, Markov & Ribeiro (we need someone to harass now that Berg is gone)

    Just having fun with you Habs fans – I know how sensitive you are to Leafs fans pipe dreams 😉

  28. CdnBacon says:

    Never Never Never! I would have to contemplate burning my Mtl. jerseys!!

  29. Macoul says:

    Look how the Leafs fans desire the Montreal Canadiens players!!! We won’t take your old crap. No ones nead Domi anymore. Belfour is good i game out of 4… he’s always down and it’s hard to get up at his age. Everybody said that O’Neil was finish before when the rumors that he was coming to leafs were out. Well, they take him whit is salary and he is obviously… finish… well, well, well… Your only hope are Rask and Pogge!

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