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Mike8 01-16-2004 07:10 AM

Center Depth
 
There seems to be a collective feeling among Hab fans that the team needs to find a big name third line center. Someone who can shadow the opposition, and play the checking role. In order to obtain this center, Montreal would need to cough up some future assets.

I'm curious about this need. Where does it leave our center depth in the future? Juneau is close to done. I wouldn't expect him to be here in two years, and likely not even next season. Plekanec looks very close to being NHL-ready. Begin is good on the draw and I'd think his game is best suited to center. Koivu and Ribeiro are of course remaining down the middle.

This means that there are 5 centers in the system that are NHL-ready (forgetting Perreault, as it's clear he will not be with the team next season). Let's also assume Juneau will not play any role with the team long-term. That leaves 4 centers: Koivu, Ribeiro, Plekanec, Begin.

Higgins is close to NHL-ready and he has experience down the middle, so he could fill in if injuries hit. As could Bulis, if needbe.

If the Habs made a move for a third line shut-down center, who would bite the bullet and be moved to wing? Or do you see Plekanec or Ribeiro as being the centerpiece moved for that center?

As I see it the Habs have three options:

1) leave the center depth as is. Play team-defense as the Senators have done without a real shadowing third line center.

2) move Plekanec to wing, bring in third line center.

3) move Plekanec+ in a deal for a third line center.


I think Plekanec's best suited for center, and I'm sold on his being NHL-calibre in the very near future. I'm not sure if Gainey would be up for three offensive-minded centers that are short, though. Plekanec is stocky enough and has enough willingness to improve in his own end to be a strong two-way center, so it's conceivable that the team would go with these three.

How do you see this playing out?

LPHabsFan 01-16-2004 07:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike8
There seems to be a collective feeling among Hab fans that the team needs to find a big name third line center. Someone who can shadow the opposition, and play the checking role. In order to obtain this center, Montreal would need to cough up some future assets.

I'm curious about this need. Where does it leave our center depth in the future? Juneau is close to done. I wouldn't expect him to be here in two years, and likely not even next season. Plekanec looks very close to being NHL-ready. Begin is good on the draw and I'd think his game is best suited to center. Koivu and Ribeiro are of course remaining down the middle.

This means that there are 5 centers in the system that are NHL-ready (forgetting Perreault, as it's clear he will not be with the team next season). Let's also assume Juneau will not play any role with the team long-term. That leaves 4 centers: Koivu, Ribeiro, Plekanec, Begin.

Higgins is close to NHL-ready and he has experience down the middle, so he could fill in if injuries hit. As could Bulis, if needbe.

If the Habs made a move for a third line shut-down center, who would bite the bullet and be moved to wing? Or do you see Plekanec or Ribeiro as being the centerpiece moved for that center?

As I see it the Habs have three options:

1) leave the center depth as is. Play team-defense as the Senators have done without a real shadowing third line center.

2) move Plekanec to wing, bring in third line center.

3) move Plekanec+ in a deal for a third line center.


I think Plekanec's best suited for center, and I'm sold on his being NHL-calibre in the very near future. I'm not sure if Gainey would be up for three offensive-minded centers that are short, though. Plekanec is stocky enough and has enough willingness to improve in his own end to be a strong two-way center, so it's conceivable that the team would go with these three.

How do you see this playing out?

Just because we have all of these players doesnt mean that we still dont need others. The common theme between all these players is that they are all relatively small, left handed centerman. IMO, Higgins won't be ready to be a real impact player till atleast 05. He might make the team next year and have a decent role but he wont secure the job till atleast 05. The depth at center we have is ok but we still need more. We can't have a line that just shadows the other team, we need a line that has the ability to shadow the other lines but doesnt do that on its own.

As far as the other centers we have. Im not too sold on Begin yet. While he performed amicably at the 3rd line center position, he hasn't shown (I know hes injured) the ability to do it on a consistent basis. Pleks/Gratton are still unknown how they can perform at the NHL level.

Cloudigger 01-16-2004 07:22 AM

It might sound a bit stupid but I think to solve this problem one of Ribeiro or Koivu will be traded for a big two-way centre... I just cant see the team going with Ribeiro, Plekanec and Koivu as their 3 first centre.. and I think begin will be a fourth or a third ( if injuries)centre... I much prefer Koivu , but I think that at the ends he will be the one to be let go, age, salary and injuries being the reasons why.. and it would be a sad day, for me anyway :)...

As of right now, well I believe we are seeing the last season of Juneau in Montreal, maybe in the nhl but I doubt it, and I think that Plekanec will be moved to the wing so next year it would look like this (without any trades)
Koivu
Ribeiro
Begin (with plekanec on the wing, he might play centre if one of the three is injured)
Someone else

Le depisteur 01-16-2004 07:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike8
There seems to be a collective feeling among Hab fans that the team needs to find a big name third line center. Someone who can shadow the opposition, and play the checking role. In order to obtain this center, Montreal would need to cough up some future assets.

I'm curious about this need. Where does it leave our center depth in the future? Juneau is close to done. I wouldn't expect him to be here in two years, and likely not even next season. Plekanec looks very close to being NHL-ready. Begin is good on the draw and I'd think his game is best suited to center. Koivu and Ribeiro are of course remaining down the middle.

This means that there are 5 centers in the system that are NHL-ready (forgetting Perreault, as it's clear he will not be with the team next season). Let's also assume Juneau will not play any role with the team long-term. That leaves 4 centers: Koivu, Ribeiro, Plekanec, Begin.

Higgins is close to NHL-ready and he has experience down the middle, so he could fill in if injuries hit. As could Bulis, if needbe.

If the Habs made a move for a third line shut-down center, who would bite the bullet and be moved to wing? Or do you see Plekanec or Ribeiro as being the centerpiece moved for that center?

As I see it the Habs have three options:

1) leave the center depth as is. Play team-defense as the Senators have done without a real shadowing third line center.

2) move Plekanec to wing, bring in third line center.

3) move Plekanec+ in a deal for a third line center.


I think Plekanec's best suited for center, and I'm sold on his being NHL-calibre in the very near future. I'm not sure if Gainey would be up for three offensive-minded centers that are short, though. Plekanec is stocky enough and has enough willingness to improve in his own end to be a strong two-way center, so it's conceivable that the team would go with these three.

How do you see this playing out?

I think that Bégin can move at left wing... and Plecanek should play at center on a 4th line... And by the way, Koivu and Ribeiro are both locked at center...

I like the idea to move Bulis at the 3r line center, but the organisation want a right-handed for this position...

For your question, i would like to see 3 offensive lines like the Senators (your first choice), but I believe that it is not what the Habs wish... Then, Bégin should move at left wing if we want to make room for Plecanek...

Habber 01-16-2004 07:29 AM

I think that BG is thinking of a rent-a-player or a guy with only a year left on his contract. It’s looking more and more like we’re going to make the playoffs and we could use a big, veteran guy centering the third line. No slight intended towards Juneau, but I feel we could benefit from an upgrade in that spot while also giving us some insurance in case of injury.

I don’t think, however, that BG will be willing to give a lot up. Any player that we get will probably be from a team willing to give him away for next to nothing, either because of a salary dump or a team just trying to get something for an impending UFA. There’s always a few guys like this available at the deadline that can be had for a late draft pick or mid level prospect, and probably more so this year because of the CBA uncertainties and abnormally large number of UFA’s.


zurg999 01-16-2004 07:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike8
There seems to be a collective feeling among Hab fans that the team needs to find a big name third line center. Someone who can shadow the opposition, and play the checking role. In order to obtain this center, Montreal would need to cough up some future assets.

I'm curious about this need. Where does it leave our center depth in the future? Juneau is close to done. I wouldn't expect him to be here in two years, and likely not even next season. Plekanec looks very close to being NHL-ready. Begin is good on the draw and I'd think his game is best suited to center. Koivu and Ribeiro are of course remaining down the middle.

This means that there are 5 centers in the system that are NHL-ready (forgetting Perreault, as it's clear he will not be with the team next season). Let's also assume Juneau will not play any role with the team long-term. That leaves 4 centers: Koivu, Ribeiro, Plekanec, Begin.

Higgins is close to NHL-ready and he has experience down the middle, so he could fill in if injuries hit. As could Bulis, if needbe.

If the Habs made a move for a third line shut-down center, who would bite the bullet and be moved to wing? Or do you see Plekanec or Ribeiro as being the centerpiece moved for that center?

As I see it the Habs have three options:

1) leave the center depth as is. Play team-defense as the Senators have done without a real shadowing third line center.

2) move Plekanec to wing, bring in third line center.

3) move Plekanec+ in a deal for a third line center.


I think Plekanec's best suited for center, and I'm sold on his being NHL-calibre in the very near future. I'm not sure if Gainey would be up for three offensive-minded centers that are short, though. Plekanec is stocky enough and has enough willingness to improve in his own end to be a strong two-way center, so it's conceivable that the team would go with these three.

How do you see this playing out?


Mike8 01-16-2004 07:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LPHabsFan
Just because we have all of these players doesnt mean that we still dont need others. The common theme between all these players is that they are all relatively small, left handed centerman. IMO, Higgins won't be ready to be a real impact player till atleast 05. He might make the team next year and have a decent role but he wont secure the job till atleast 05. The depth at center we have is ok but we still need more. We can't have a line that just shadows the other team, we need a line that has the ability to shadow the other lines but doesnt do that on its own.

As far as the other centers we have. Im not too sold on Begin yet. While he performed amicably at the 3rd line center position, he hasn't shown (I know hes injured) the ability to do it on a consistent basis. Pleks/Gratton are still unknown how they can perform at the NHL level.

I didn't mention Gratton, and I didn't mention Higgins as being part of the center depth.

Begin isn't proven as a fourth line center, sure. But fourth line centers are a dime a dozen and others can be picked up down the line.

The fact of the matter is Plekanec's about ready to continue his development on the NHL stage, and if Montreal picked up a third line center he wouldn't have the opportunity to do so. There is a limit to the amount of center depth a team can hold.

And the obsession with a right handed shot down the middle is fairly silly, I think. Care to guess how many centers on the NJ Devils shoot right? None. The Avalanche have never won a Cup with a right handed center playing among their top three centers.

Habber 01-16-2004 07:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike8
And the obsession with a right handed shot down the middle is fairly silly, I think. Care to guess how many centers on the NJ Devils shoot right? None. The Avalanche have never won a Cup with a right handed center playing among their top three centers.

Definately agree with you on this one. Which way a centre shoots means squat. Someone will probably reply with some nitpicky arguement about how teams can key on us because of it, but believe it or not centreman can take and give passes on their backhands.

Like yuo say, the Devils and Avs did fine without. And remember the Russians? Every single Russian hockey used to shoot right if I remember correctly, and they seemed to do fine with it.

zurg999 01-16-2004 07:58 AM

I'm going the break with the onsensus and say we need improvement on wing before we need it at centre. I think Mike8's first instinct was right.

As for wing...
We have Bulis/Ryder, although Bulis IMO would be better suited to more of a 3rd line checking role while adding a little offense deeper into the roster.

Dagenais/Zednik. I'm happy Dags got his chance, if only to show his value. I'm still not convinced he will be in Gainey's long term plans if his 2 way game doesn't show improvement, although he shows signs. If we were loaded with more talent and grit up front, then Dags would be a definite keeper, instead of where he is, which could be on the NHL/AHL bubble.

Langdon/Ward. Ward has a spot as long as he keeps working and stays healthy (big question). I think Langdon needs to be on the roster, but that he shouldn't be in the lineup for much more than half the games. He doesn't have the skill to occupy a full-time spot.

Sundstrom/Dackell/Kilger: Of these 3 I would keep only Dackell. Not enough balance in any of their games, but Dackell is easily the most consistent grinder.

So I consider that we really only have have Ryder/Zed/Bulis/Ward and Dackell as go-to guys on every given night. Probably add at least one of Balej or Dags into the mix for next year.

Still not enough grit along the boards, considering who our centres are likely to be. IMO I see using some combination of Sundstrom/Kilger/Hossa, maybe a defenseman and some 2nd tier farm club talent to improve at wing.

Guy Caballero 01-16-2004 08:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zurg999
....

I agree with everything you've said. We need an upgrade at wing. We shouldn't worry about bringing in another C right now. I'd like to see them get a gritty winger who can score and a puck-moving defenseman. These have been our needs since the beginning of the season, and they still are.

Garnet 01-16-2004 08:27 AM

The line up
 
I think Riberio and Koivu are both going to stay. If you have noticed Dags has been taking most of the face offs on the second line. So if a a second line center comes in Riberio moves to left wing, Bulis to the third line and Zednik to the first. Another thing is, everyone says Gainey doesn't like Dags defensive game! Where do you get that?? The media?? Where, Ive never seen it maybe I missed it. Plus 2-1 lead in Atlanta and the second line was on the ice for the second last shift of the game. Look at the plus/minus on the team and you notice that Ribs line has the best collective plus/minus. Dags D-fence is on par with Zednik and Ryder in my opinion. I think some of you have blinders on when you watch the games. See whats really there not what you want to see.

I think Gainey will bring in a a third line center with leadership to this team in the off season.

All-Star 01-16-2004 08:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Le depisteur
I like the idea to move Bulis at the 3r line center, but the organisation want a right-handed for this position...

At the start of the season it was mentioned on RDS (I think it was RDS :dunno: ) that Bulis said he prefers playing on the wing anyway...

mcphee 01-16-2004 09:06 AM

Looking at the FA market is a better option now then it was a year ago. I believe one of Gainey's mandates was to make Mtl. a place players would want to play again and he has made strides in that direction. You mention the Ottawa model of team defense and 3 balanced scoring lines. That makes the most sense when evaluating our personnel on the wing knocking on the door.Having said that, I'd rather a physical 3rd line center to replace Juneau next year. I think that lines having shutdown/scoring roles is the way to go. it maximizes players like Bullis, Ward and Dagenais who have talent but don't excel in all facets of the game. so, if it was me, I'd look for a Primeau or someone like him in the off season.

Munchausen 01-16-2004 10:19 AM

I don't think an other center is such an obvious need as everyone seems to be saying. If we're talking long term depth, I'd sure like to see Plekanec center that 3rd line while Begin is on the 4th and Higgins is moved to LW. Plekanec has enough speed, strength, grit, fiestiness and hockey sense to center an effective shutdown 3rd line, while Higgins has more of a goalscorer's mentality and would work really well in that role, as a good 2 way winger, to complement either the Koivu or the Ribeiro line. I know everyone (or almost) sees it the other way around, but not me.

Size would be great, but it's not everything. Having Koivu, Plekanec and Begin as 3 out of 4 centers sure gives enough strength and grit to overcome the size deficiency. It's my opinion at least.

Higgins - Koivu - ryder
Zednik - Ribeiro - Dagenais/Balej
Bulis - Plekanec - Ward
Langdon - Begin - whoever

That works for me long term (and some of these guys will likely get traded when or if Perezhogin and Kastsitsyn prove worthy of a regular spot up front as well).

Habsaku 01-16-2004 10:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Munchausen
I

Higgins - Koivu - ryder
Zednik - Ribeiro - Dagenais/Balej
Bulis - Plekanec - Ward
Langdon - Begin - whoever

That works for me long term (and some of these guys will likely get traded when or if Perezhogin and Kastsitsyn prove worthy of a regular spot up front as well).


Thats a pretty decent lineup. THere are a lot of positives talent wise but I'm just gonna tell you what I think is wrong with it(don't take it personnal :D ).

First off, we have no size down the middle. Begin is likely to play about 10 min or less a game and its not like he's 6'4". Koivu, Ribeiro and Plekanec are all similar players. IMO, the odd man out is Plekanec, Koivu and Ribeiro are too talented to get rid off. You don't mention Hossa anywhere, I assume you think of him as trade bait maybe? Perezhogin and Kastitsyn will probably be great players, so who will go? You've got six spots for the top 2 lines and here are the candidates: Koivu, Ribeiro, Higgins, Hossa, Plekanec, Kastitsyn, Perezhogin, Balej, Dagenais, Ryder and Zednik. Thats 11 players, thats means you'll need to put others on the bottom lines, which would add players like Bulis and Ward. So 13 players for 9 spots. not much grit and toughness too. I'd rather have a mix of players then having a full copy of the same. They are too similar, I see us like the Sens we're before Muckler, too soft, too european. Only time will tell what'll happen. But the best candidates(for the future) for top 6 are Higgins, Ryder, Kastitsyn, Perezhogin, Koivu and Ribeiro. Figure out what to do with the rest.

Munchausen 01-16-2004 11:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Habsaku
Thats a pretty decent lineup. THere are a lot of positives talent wise but I'm just gonna tell you what I think is wrong with it(don't take it personnal :D ).

First off, we have no size down the middle. Begin is likely to play about 10 min or less a game and its not like he's 6'4". Koivu, Ribeiro and Plekanec are all similar players. IMO, the odd man out is Plekanec, Koivu and Ribeiro are too talented to get rid off. You don't mention Hossa anywhere, I assume you think of him as trade bait maybe? Perezhogin and Kastitsyn will probably be great players, so who will go? You've got six spots for the top 2 lines and here are the candidates: Koivu, Ribeiro, Higgins, Hossa, Plekanec, Kastitsyn, Perezhogin, Balej, Dagenais, Ryder and Zednik. Thats 11 players, thats means you'll need to put others on the bottom lines, which would add players like Bulis and Ward. So 13 players for 9 spots. not much grit and toughness too. I'd rather have a mix of players then having a full copy of the same. They are too similar, I see us like the Sens we're before Muckler, too soft, too european. Only time will tell what'll happen. But the best candidates(for the future) for top 6 are Higgins, Ryder, Kastitsyn, Perezhogin, Koivu and Ribeiro. Figure out what to do with the rest.

Strength and grit is way more important than size. We have one of the softest and weakest center position in the NHL right now with Ribeiro, Juneau and Perreault, and we're still getting by pretty decently. Now with that being said, Begin and Plekanec might not be big, but they are built like tanks and are very strong on their skates, probably more than anyone we have right now. Plekanec is closer to Koivu than Ribeiro in style (which is good IMO) but faster and stronger. I really don't see it as a problem down the road.

But I'm also not completely sold on Ribeiro. Nor am I with Dagenais for that matter. IMO Ribeiro will need to bulk up to be competitive against ALL the teams in the East, not just the smaller or weaker ones. And of course it looks more and more like we'll have too much quality players in a few years which leads to trades. So I'm sure some of our forwards (vets or prospects) will get traded to bring in a bit more toughness. Just not before we've all seen them play in the NHL and figure out who fits where.

goalchenyuk 01-16-2004 02:44 PM

i was thinking that Higgins was a very good 3 th line projet ?

Habsaku 01-16-2004 02:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mark0v
i was thinking that Higgins was a very good 3 th line projet ?


After seeing a few games from Hamilton, I know what Savard meant by lack of creativity. He's much better on the wing where he can use his wrist shot more often and score some goals. He has a good offensive upside so I'd see him more as a 1st or 2nd line winger.


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