What the Habs need for a successful 2007-2008 campaign

We’ve a lot of youth on this team. What do we need to become a contender for next year?
I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the Habs desperately needing help at the center position, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I think we need help on defense and finding a scoring winger.

On the top line, we have Koivu. He had an excellent first half. It’s possible that he’s getting a bit old, and that the cancer treatement has taken a bit of energy from him, but unless we intend to dump him, I don’t see anybody else taking his place.

One the second line, we have Plekanec. He’s a great faceoff man, showing a lot of potential as a two-way player. He may be great, but in a bit he could be a big piece of future Habs success. There’s also Higgins, who’s a center, that could play there.

On the third line, we have Bonk. His first season in Montreal was a disaster (there were times I thought he was playing to lose), but he’s really turned it around this year, and I’m hoping he’ll be back next year.

Fourtch line, there’s Max Lapierre, who I really enjoy watching. He’s grit and determination. He’s got a lot to learn, but he’s doing really well and can only get better.

As for the wingers, most of them appear to be struggling.

Ryder is having an OK year in regards to production (projected to end the season with about 50 points) and is second on the team with 16 goals, but is a -21.

Higgins started the season on fire but has not been the same since his injury and has been missing a lot of scoring opportunities of late.

Kovalev is projected to get about 55 points at the end of the season (though he’ll miss the next three weeks, so it’ll be lower), which is not much for 4.5M per year.

Latendresse is a rookie; he’s playing a very physical game right now, and in the next couple of years will pick up his offensive contributions.

Johnson has been a bit inconsistent on offence, and is projected to get about 34-40 points at the end of the season, but has a team leading +15, and has been a dynamic part of the third line, the only line that seems to be getting things down this season.

Samsonov has been a bit of a disapointment this season, definitively under-achieving this seaons (or over-achieving in years past). He’s missed numerous scoring opportunities, and rumours have him playing next in Hamilton to avoid having his salary on the cap.

Streit’s been doing a good job for a player that has never played forward. He’s a multi-faceted player, although with limited talent. He does however seem to be giving his all every shift, either on powerplay, penalty kill or 5 on 5.

Perezhogin appears to be another player with talent that is having a hard time scoring. Hopefully he’ll be more productive next season.

Begin: Heart and soul and grit. Limited talent, but gives it his all every time he’s on the ice. Excellent third / fourth liner.

We’re definitely short a big strong gritty scoring type player. Ryan Smith might be available in the offseason. If not, Vanek is RFA, might be a nice scoring winger.

As for D, we have:

UFA
– Markov
– Souray who might be traded,
– Rivet
– Niinima (thank god)

Others
– Komisarek (love this guy)
– Streit (when he’s not playing on the fourth line)
– Bouillon (not quite what he used to be, but doing ok)

Now, assuming that we sign Markov, we’d still need to solid D… Any suggestions?

Next year, we could have, unless there are major changes

Line 1

Samsonov – Koivu – Kovalev
Now, it’s possible that Samsonov might be demoted to Hamilton next year, and it’s possible, then we might have Higgins playing left wing, or possibly someone brought in (would LOVE to see Smith playing lest on that line; player that loves to crash the next would be great with Koivu and Kovalev, and Smith bring a bit more grit)

Line 2

Higgins – Plekanec – Ryder
This is a young line, and Higgins and Ryder are ice cold at the moment, but I believe they have a big upside. Ryder is interchangeable with Latendresse.

Line 3

Perezhogin – Bonk – Latendresse
Assuming we resign Bonk, this gives us a good line with a bit of speed, a bit of grit, and some decent physical play. Begin could be interchangeable with Perezhogin if they want a bit more physical play on the third line. If we don’t sign Bonk, we might want to put Plekanec on the third line, and go after a top or second line center. Briere anybody? Though if we get a top line center, does that mean Koivu is bounced down to the second line?

Line 4

Begin – Lapierre – Streit

Not much to be said about this line. Begin and Lapierre give good energy and Streit is a decent defensive player, nice to have on the fourth line.

DEFENSE

Markov – Bouillon

Komisarek – Dandenault


I don’t know if we have any young players at the farm. I’ve heard good things about Cote, but don’t know if he’s ready yet. I think we need to bring in a top 4 D.

GOALIES

Huet – Halak

Halak is interchangeable with Danis, depending on who plays. Aebischer is UFA, and might be good insurance for a playoff bound team that is missing depth at the Goalie position. People give Abby a hard time, but he’s done well (great save percentage), and would be great as a back up for a cup bound team looking for a decent backup. In the next 3-4 years, Price might be our starting goalie.

All in all, I’m seeing the need to sign a big winger, and if we let Bonk go, a first or second line center. We also need a top D man.


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