Montreal Canadiens 2005-2006

By Marco Normandin

PAYROLL: 25,5M$ (09/02)

GM: Bob Gainey, 2nd Season with the team.

COACH: Claude Julien, 3rd Season with the team.



– Mathieu Garon (L.A. Kings)

– Joe Juneau (Retired)

– Stephane Quintal (Retired)

– Jason Ward (N.Y. Rangers)

– Darren Langdon (N.J. Devils)

– Andreas Dackell

– Karl Dykhuis

– Jim Dowd (Chicago BlackHawks)

– Patrice Brisebois (Colorado Avalanche)

– Yanic Perreault (Nashville Predators)

– Gavin Morgan


– Radek Bonk (Ottawa Senators)

– Christobal Huet (L.A. Kings)

– Mathieu Dandenault (Detroit Red Wings)

– Alex Kovalev (UFA / Resigned)

– Mark Streit (Swiss League)

– Peter Vandermeer (Detroit Red Wings)

– Jonathan Aitken (Vancouver Canucks)

TEAM MODE: The Habs are entering their 4th year (out of 5) of their rebuilding phase. They aren’t going to compete for the cup just yet, but they proved last season that they are to be taken seriously. The longer off-season gave the Habs’ young group of prospects (ranked top-5 in the league by most experts) extra time to develop, which might help them cause even more surprises this year. The new rules should be favourable to the young and speedy Habs, let’s hope for them the officiating stays constant all year long, or else their small size up front will be exposed just like every year before.

TO TAKE CHARGE!: Even though Saku Koivu is the captain and leads by example, one player will be the main factor this year and it is goaltender Jose Theodore. Forget about the new rules taking away liberty of the goalies, he is still the main actor for this team that doesn’t have a good enough defense yet, to contend with the forces of the league. He proved once and he’ll need to prove it again, that he can steal games and series by himself if the Habs want to make it into the playoffs and even past the first round.

ON THE RUSH: The re-signing of Alex Kovalev will take a lot of pressure of off a guy like Richard Zednik or even sophomore Michael Ryder. Given that the new rules are respected and called all year long, he should retrieve his chemistry of the past along with Koivu & Zednik and have a great offensive year. He is the flashy superstar that the fans wanted for so long in Montreal. Mike Ribeiro should continue to get better and look forward for him to have a career season, playing for his next contract after signing a one-year deal this summer. He’ll probably get some ice-time along with Kovalev from time to time and even though both didn’t have much time to adapt to each other last year, they could make some highlight-reel plays this season. Saku Koivu should have the same kind of season he usually have, given that he does not go down again due to injuries. Playing a full year with Kovalev & Zednik could even give him a career year in terms of points. Also, one forgotten player that will help Claude Julien try some things offensively is ex-Senator Radek Bonk. He is more than likely to center the 3rd line, but could be switched around to kickstart some players in a slump for example, he has enough offensive talent to be considered as a valid option. He should get some PP time as well. It should also be noted that the Habs will have one of the most efficient third line in the league with three great two-way players in Nicklas Sundstrom, Radek Bonk and Jan Bulis.

COVERING THE D-ZONE: Now moving on to the weakest link of this team, the defense. Even though thay have some very talented defensemen in Sheldon Souray, Andrei Markov, Craig Rivet and Mathieu Dandenault, the problem is: None of them is a #1 defensemen. Rounding up the defense squad are Francis Bouillon, prospects Mike Komisarek & Ron Hainsey. Newly acquired Jonathan Aitken and Mark Streit could also have an outside shot at earning a regular spot. The first thing that you see when you analyse Montreal’s defense is the size of their d-men. Luckily for them, Komisarek should earn a regular spot this year and Aitken might also be helpful on a spare time basis. Realistically, this is still not enough, though. Given the size of their forwards, the Habs just can’t have a small defensive squad and that is why they’ll have to acquire a big strong top-3 defensemen before the end of the season. Even though not many expect Sheldon Souray to repeat his last season’s performances, he has a lot of pressure carrying this defense squad on his back. Markov and Rivet should help him out, but he’ll be expected to be the team quarterback this year with the departure of Patrice Brisebois.

GUARDING THE NET: Not much to debate here, it is all about Theo. However, with an injury this offseason, Christobal Huet might have lost his chance to play in Habtown this year as Yann Danis seems to be ready to make the jump in the NHL. Jaroslav Halak or Olivier Michaud might both have an outside chance of making the cut, but if you’d have to bet I’d suggest you to take Danis as this year’s helper for Theodore. Talking about Theodore, he shouldn’t have much difficulties adapting to his new equipment / new rules because of the facts that a) he wasn’t much of a puck mover around his net to begin with and b) he was already playing with ”small’’ (in the old NHL) pads. The little parts removed from his pads will give him extra speed if anything so I wouldn’t worry one bit about that.

PROSPECTS: This year should be exciting for Habs fans in terms of prospects. We all know that the Montreal organization has always been slow moving prospects up to the big team and when there, giving them quality ice time along with players from the first or second line. But this year might be different as a lot of the team’s best prospects have matured quite a bit in this lengthy lockout and are now ready to make the cut, which might force the hand of Claude Julien and Bob Gainey. Some of the organization’s best most exciting prospects includes:

Christopher Higgins – This 22 year-old gritty, although rather small, forward is not afraid to take a hit and playing a hard-nosed style. Can play just about anywhere from second to fourth line and have a decent offensive upside.

Andrei Kostsitsyn – This 20 year-old right winger selected tenth overall by the Habs was right away tagged as ”the steal of that year’s draft”. However, along with this tag came in small letter the following warning: ”*If he isn’t affected too much by his sickness and his back stays healthy”. This Belarussian has amazing puck-handling skills along with a great shot and above-average speed. Could be a great asset for the Habs and become a fan-favorite… If he manages to stay healthy.

Alex Perezhogin – When not busy slashing other players in the face, this 22 year-old right winger can play great hockey. Considered a natural scorer by some, he is also considered a solid playmaker by others. Perezhogin is another fast and spectacular player that should be loved by the Montreal fans and he might have great odds at earning a spot with the Habs as soon as this season.


1. Zednik – Koivu – Kovalev

2. Perezhogin/Dagenais – Ribeiro – Ryder

3. Sundstrom – Bonk – Bulis

4. Dagenais/Perezhogin – Begin – Higgins

Regular Defensemen








1. Theodore

2. Danis


This article was written 3 weeks ago so that explains why there’s nothing on Guillaume Latendresse or Marcel Hossa.

However if I had to decide this year’s line combos I’d go with those:

1. Zednik – Koivu – Ryder

2. Plekanec/Dagenais – Ribeiro – Kovalev

3. Hossa – Bonk – Bulis

4. Sundstrom – Begin – Higgins


Kovalev & Zednik can’t seem to pass the puck to each other and I don’t see this line staying together all year long. Ribeiro being the best playmaker of the team and Kovalev being the best sniper, it’d make a great combo.

Also, after being Marian Hossa’s linemate in Ottawa, Radek Bonk found instant chemistry with his Hossa’s young brother Marcel.

Latendresse won’t make the cut and that will be the smartest move for the Habs as there are plenty of good prospects ready to make the big jump. Hossa & Plekanec have to be waived to be sent to the minors so don’t expect the Habs to give ’em for free to another team.


EXPECTATIONS: The Habs are expected by most to finish between 7th and 9th in the Eastern Conference, however most agrees on the fact that they have a solid enough team to make the playoffs and not worry about missing the big dance. This will mostly depends on the performances of Jose Theodore, though.

PROJECTED: I, for myself, project them to finish between 6th and 8th in the Eastern Conference this season. I have almost no worries about them missing the playoffs as I am quite confident that Theodore should have a very good season and that the new rules will help their speedy forwards take advantage of the big defensemen of their rival teams. I do not see them past the 6th position this season, but I’d say if they are managed wisely, they are 2 to 3 years away from being cup contenders.

I am looking forward to see the NEW NHL, and I hope you enjoyed reading this preview of the Montreal Canadiens. I wish you all a great season!

Thank you for reading.

Marco Normandin

HTR Vice-Admin

85 Responses to Montreal Canadiens 2005-2006

  1. Habfanforever says:

    Koivu is an excellent hockey player but has been injured or out of the lineup too often in the past to be considered a legitimate top line center. He can work his way back to that status provided he stays healthy for a couple years in a row. Right now he’s at the peak of his form and it will show on the ice.

    Zednik is a strong winger, hard to knock off the puck and he will draw a lot of penalties but confidence issues arise sometimes during the season which makes his production drop. If he could be at the top of his game for an entire year, he could become a solid 30-35 goal scorer and 70+ points but so far he just hasn’t shown it yet.

    Kovalev is the one that stops this line from being considered a 2nd line just because of his raw talent and stickhandling skills. His overall strength, speed and underated wrist shot will benefit him in the new NHL as well as linemates Saku and Zeddy.

    If all three pick up where they left off in the playoffs, they can easily be considered a strong 1st line but until then, I have a few small doubts.

    We’ll see.

  2. daman316 says:

    I’m not sure how many of you have watched the two preseason games on RDS, but Plekanec has really been impressing me, not matter where he is on the ice, he manages to find an open man with a view of the net. Not to mention he’s decent two way play. But apparently he’s not a lock to make the roster just yet. The announcers indicated that Higgins is a lock, and Perezhogin is almost assured a spot. But then what do you do with Hossa, if he doesn’t crack the roster this year, he’ll be put on waivers, and will almost definetely be taken by someone. So although I believe depths is great, it can end up hurting the habs this year.

  3. habs_punk says:

    Brodeur yes

    Nabokov no – Very similar stats, but NO Hart or Vesina

    Kipper no – 38 games, enough said

    Raycroft no – Beat him in the playoffs didn’t he? besides, it’s still only been one year

    Khabiboulin maybe – Sure he won the Cup, but do you honestly think that they wouldn’t have still won it if they had Jose in net instead? Tampa just had an incredible team. He’s marginally better at best.

    Belfour no – Are you out of your mind? Too old, bad back, horrible starts every season. In his prime, yes Belfour was better than Theo is now, but he is definately not in his prime any more.

    Hasek maybe – Hasn’t played in a long time, we’ll see how he bounces back.

    Luongo yes

  4. habs_punk says:

    I was lucky enough to get out to see the Habs and Leafs in Montreal last Saturday, and even though it’s only one game, I have to say that I was incredibly impressed with Plekanec and Higgins, but a little disappointed with Perezhogin. He didn’t seem to do much at all with his ice time.

    I don’t know if I could see Washington being very interested in Dagenais. He’s only produced when playing on a line with Ribeiro.

  5. habs_punk says:

    Ya, I never heard anyone mention Latendresse winning the Calder or the Con Smythe. He’s going back to junior because of the new CBA’s rule on UFA’s. If he was to play this year, he could potentially challenge for the Calder, but with the huge number of rookies coming, he probably wouldn’t win it. In another year or two, when he does make the big club, it’ll be another story. If he continues to progress, this kid is going to be a star. Wait till the World Juniors and then try to say otherwise.

  6. habs_punk says:

    As long as you don’t think the Leafs have a better chance at winning, its ok. Ottawa is going to win it. Montreal and Boston fighting for 2nd, with Boston likely taking that spot, then Montreal, then Toronto, then Buffalo.

  7. LeMAD says:

    Btw people, Perezhogin probably won’t make the team….

  8. CanDude says:

    Perezhogin and Plekanec are sure-fire keeps.

    As well as Higgins.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s essentially between Hossa and Latendresse. My Money’s on Hossa.

    The Habs have been able to keep a close eye on their Bulldogs, so Perezhogin, Plekanec, Higgins and Hossa have had their attention and perhaps even a bias for a while. Latendresse… they don’t know how consistent he can be.

    How many times have we been burned with rookies that SHOULD have been good, and ended up as duds. Hell, Hossa himself started strong a few years back, and then fizzled.

  9. Hanzo says:

    As for who’s going to get cut, it’s not only a talent thing. Higgins is doing the team almost certainly. Then you have Tomas Plekanec and Marcel Hossa, if you’re going to send them back to the AHL, they need pass through the waivers, and those two guys had terrific preseason games (Hossa impressed me in duo with Radek Bonk). And if they put them in the waivers, sorry, but those two are gone and i’m not sure the Habs would like to give them for free.

    I love Perezhogin but he has a terrible disavantage…. they could send him back to the Bulldogs without passing through the waivers, so i think he’ll be the one to get cut. He need to get a little bit more refining in his game. But he’s a very talented players.

  10. saku_rulz says:

    it’s a perfect article…or almost!the only mistake is their payroll!! how did you get to 25M????

    its around 33-34 M…





    offense costs : around 17.5M without whoever is going to play with begin…

    than :




    def is 8.5+ komi’s which is unknown…u already have 26M + 3 undisclosed…

    goalies :


    huet (0.456.)

    give 5M(4.956M…)

    which is 31M + 3 salaries undiscloseed and komi and hossa arent at league minimum …so its around the 33-34M mark!

    all come from

  11. Lint07 says:

    took it from TSN too… 1 month ago, check the date! 😉

  12. mush124 says:

    Your crazy if you think perezhogin will clear waivers and end up in hamilton. All teams will jump at him no doubt. This guy is a top NHL prospect. No way teams would not pick him up on waivers.

  13. mush124 says:

    This is what montreals lineup will look like most likely

    Zednik – Koivu – Kovalev

    Dagensais – Ribiero – Ryder

    Hossa – Bonk – Bulis

    Higgins – Begin – Sundstrom




    Souray – Dandenault

    Markov – Rivet

    Bouillon – Komisarek




  14. simplyhabby says:

    To throw in Dagenais to me is the equivalent of a 3rd rounder of less.

    Outside Montreal, I think ribs is very underrated. His passign ability is amazing. if he can round out is game and put on 20 lbs, then we got a terrific playmaker in Montreal. If he can make a guy like Dagenias score 20 goals (close too), then you know he is good.

  15. Hanzo says:

    No he’s not going to get claimed, since he got a two-way contract and he doesn’t fall under the same categories as Hossa. But maybe i’m wrong, but it’s what i heard.

    But i totally agree with you, if i’m wrong about his contract status, he assured to be picked up and faster than Hossa and PLekanec

  16. samtherecordman says:

    Well if Habs finished that far…leafs certainly will be worst, do really think Baby Lindros will bring you to playoffs. At least Leafs still have a good defense, but goaltending is stille an issue. I’m not sure how good will Belfour be. Age is a factor now. Same thing with Hasek in Ottawa. If he is in good shape, Sens will be the team to watch in the east. Pittsburg will have a good shot for the playoffs. Even without drafting Crosby, Pens did a good job of assembling a good team. Too many did improve either by past drafts (like Habs), by trades or by signing. Leafs instead, signed cheap vets and by the same time, gambled. It can work out well but I have serious doubt…just consider injury hisotry of Lindros and Allison. Not quite sur how good they’ll be this year. O’neil addition might turn in favor of leafs he is a good player. Maybe habs are still small, but they are fast and they have talent, if rules are applied the way it should, it might give Habs an advantage vs bigger team. No matter what happen we will have a good sesaon! Finally!

  17. robinson19 says:

    It’s already a tough choice for Julien and Gainey given the 5 great performances of camp: Plekanec, Perezhogin, Latendresse, Hossa, and Higgins. Now you have to also factor in that all three vets who may have been considered for losing their jobs, Sundstrom, Bulis, and Dagenais (Begin was never in this group) are all having great camps as well…

    Perezhogin will be sent down, he’s the only one that doesn’t have to clear waivers. Hossa will fill the spot with Bonk and Bulis on the third line, and Plekanec can center Higgins and Sundstrom or Vandermeer on the 4th. That leaves Latendresse, and he certainly could unseat a veteran, unless that veteran goes in a trade for a defenseman (hello, Zednik!) Barring this, because I think Komisarek is developing into the defensive-minded bruiser they need back there, there is no particular reason not to let Latendresse tear it up for a year in the AHL, win some trophies, confidence and experience, and come back next year.

    Here are those lines;






    If a guy like Zed goes, maybe for Witt in Washington, it looks like this;






    considering that in this case on D it would be potetially






    instead of





    Hainsey the lazy bastard

    I think I’ve made my point.

  18. garyroberts7 says:

    I actually think it will be:


    Ottawa and Toronto for 2nd



    We could sit and fight about this all day but it’s really a toss up to win the division.

  19. intelligentscorpio says:

    They have a better chance of making into the post season because Toronto will play them 8 times a year, and potentially Montreal can win most of those games. Against Boston, Ottawa they may not be so lucky, but Buffalo, they can take care of. With Kovalev, Zednik Bulis, Koivu and Theodore they should make the play off. If they miss, it will be very close.

  20. Mullet says:

    Here is your daily Leaf Report! Today Bryan Marchment has been let go from the club. Also, according to Eklund, the Buffalo Sabres who have a big Goaltending dilemma want to send Mika Noronen to the AHL. The only problem is that Noronen must first pass through waivers. And According to Eklund if he were put on waivers Toronto would immediately pick up the goalie as their back up as they have been unimpressed with JS Aubin and Tellqvist so far. Also the Leafs have sent JF Racine down to the AHL in what I would call a stupid move. If anyone deserved the Backup job this year it was Racine who should the Leafs what he could really do!

  21. Tweek says:

    Am I out of my mind for Belfour? Could the leafs have beaten Ottawa the last time a season was played with Theo in net instead of Belfour????

  22. LeafsLegacy says:

    I agree sending Racine was a very stupid move. This guy clearly shows how to be backup and in future be a great goalie. I could see it know, Racine the next Roy (that was a joke don’t take it seriously, just my comment)

  23. Mullet says:

    I just received my recent Sports Illustrated issue today and it is the NHL Preview edition and it’s pretty ridiculous. Here’s how SI rates the teams in the NHL from #1 to #30.






    6. Canucks

    7.Red Wings







    14 Blue Jackets

    15. Thrashers







    22.Ducks,23.Blues,24.Kings,25.Sabres,26.Wild,27. Coyotes,28.Canes,29.Caps,30.Rangers.

    How the hell is Toronto rated #20. In no way are teams like Preds, Tampa, Wings, Panthers, Devils, Jackets, Thrashers, Canadiens, Avs and Isle better then Toronto. Toronto is one hell of a lot stronger and deeper than those teams. Also, the issue is pretty crappy! Doesn’t look like they spent much time on it! College sport previews are better then SI’s review on hockey.

  24. habs79 says:

    Montreal just sent Marcel Hossa to the rangers for Garth Murray. This trade reminds me of Eric Weinrich being traded for Patrick Traverse. Although in Savard’s defense at least he had to trade Weinrich he was going to be a free agent. What is Gainey thinking? Just because Laterndresse is having a good pre-season it means something? He is 18 he would have had no problem going back to junior. Why are they going to rush him? What have we heard out of Montreal how much they want to keep Bonk and Hossa together and how happy they were playing together. How exactly does Garth Murray who is nothing more than a career AHLer with maybe some time on the fourth line when a player is injured help Montreal? If you had to trade Hossa couldn’t you have gotten a Defenseman? Why is it when someone becomes the GM of Montreal they have to become stupid? Montreal has by far the worst history of GM’s. Rejean Houle by far the worst GM of all time and he kept his job for what 6 years.

  25. habs79 says:

    Toronto has depth at one position center. When Darcy Tuker is a top six forward your team has no depth at all.

  26. LeafsLegacy says:

    Lightning, Oilers, Chicago, Lightning, and probably Devils will not make those standings.

  27. habs79 says:

    I have to agree with you, people for some reason refuse to look at the fact that Tampa’s starting goalie is a career backup. I honestly can see Kolzig in a Tampa uniform by the trade deadline salary cap permitting.

  28. habs_punk says:

    Absolutely, you know why? Patrick Lalime. Lalime is the only reason the Leafs made it past the Sens, not Belfour.

  29. habs79 says:






    With the trade of Hossa for a the career AHLer there is talk that Gainey is going to keep Laterndresse with the club. I hope not cause if he does there is a good chance he will turn into the next Zuburus or Daigle. He should be sent back to junior to develope properly they are not lacking depth there is no need to rush him. Send him back to junior then one year in the AHL and then he will be ready. As for Dagenais he should be traded for some defensive help which is what Gainey should have got for Hossa.




    (Hainsey, Streit)

    This is Komi’s year to put up or shut up. Hainsey has proven himself a bust, but there is still hope for Komi he will be with the club all year as he is compitent in his own end and plays physical. He should be given a chance to play with Souray as he shares his qualites. Souray should be a good influence on Komi. If that plan should fail they could flip Komi and Dandenault around.


    Huet (injured)

    Danis will fill in for Huet during the duration of the injury. Even though Danis has not been all that impressive in pre-season he should be a decent back-up since Theodore will carry the workload. I would like them to maybe sign Potvin instead for insurance puposes, as I am not to thrilled right now at having Danis or Huet at the back-up position.

  30. gohabs73 says:

    I’d rather keep Dagenais than Sundstrom. Let’s trade Rivet+Sundstrom+Hainsey for another defenseman+late draftpick.


    We don’t have full lines in montreal… we have pairs. We had 2 good pairs last season: Zednik-Koivu and Dagenais-Ribeiro. Those guys can’t be seperated or they won’t play. A third good pair i think would be matching Bonk and Kovalev. Full lines would go this way:

    1. Zednik – Koivu – Ryder

    2. Plekanec – Bonk – Kovalev

    3. Dagenais – Ribeiro – Bulis

    4. Begin – Higgins – Perezhogin/Ivanans

    1. First line was what we had before Kovalev joined and worked fine. However I’d like to see Zednik back on RW instead of left.

    2. Plekanec has been by far the best rookie in preseason. He deserves playing with good guys more than Perezhogin.

    3. Bulis is the most underrated player on the team. He’s never been given a chance too play on the top lines for more than a few games. He played in czech republic during lockout with Pardubice HC with other NHLers and had good stats:

    Player Name……………………………… GP G A Pts PIM


    Michal Mikeska………………………….. 50 21 34 55 99

    Milan Hejduk…………………………….. 48 25 26 51 14

    Jan Bulis……………………………….. 45 24 25 49 113 DEFENSE

    What habs79 said. 🙂

    Komi and Souray is a heavy pair… above 460lbs.

    PS: just heard Latendresse was officialy cut from team. I agree with you that was the best thing to do for him and for the team.

  31. habs79 says:

    Bonk was brought in to be the third line center to shut down other team top centers. Sundstrom Bonk and Bulis are our best two way players and will be on the third line to shut down other team top lines.

  32. gohabs73 says:

    that’s probably what Julien’s thinking. I just don’t think trying to match defensive lines against other teams top lines is the best way to win games. I think we should match 1st line vs 1st line… like most teams do. Let’s stop being a defensive team! we used to have no other choice because we didn’t have enough skilled players. But now we have quite a few. Bonk can probably get close to 30 goals and 75pts if he’s given an offensive task centering Kovalev… don’t we need this offensive production?

    Anyways… season starts in 2 days! we’ll see what happens on opening day! 🙂

  33. robinson19 says:

    Either a center or two will have to play wing, as Higgins and Bulis alredy have been, or a trade is coming up for a D (hopefully Witt):

    Kovalev Koivu Zednik

    Dagenais Ribeiro Ryder

    Bulis Plekanec Perezhogin

    Higgins Bonk Ivanans

    Sundstrom could be used as a PK specialist, one of the best.

    Still, something’s mysterious here.

    I hope they trade either Zed or Dage for a D, giving more ice time for Perry and Plekanec.

  34. habs79 says:

    You need to put Ribiero on the second line or else he is useless. Bonk can play a solid two way game, Ribiero has no clue what to do in his own end.

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