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04-29-2013, 08:19 AM
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To be honest, I think that Montreal is going to make minor moves that will either contribute as a piece of the future or as a stopgap until our prospects are ready for the NHL. Based off of this year's deadline, I don't think there's much reason to believe that Bergevin will be moving big pieces to compete now. The team is still very much in transition, slowly moving from Markov/Gionta/Plekanec/Bourque/Bouillon to the middle core of players, Pacioretty/Desharnais/Eller/Subban/Emelin/Diaz/Gorges. We have a new set of players coming into their prime years and an old group being moved out.

When we look at acquiring pieces, we should be looking at where and how they will contribute in our top-9/top-4 alongside our future group of forwards/defenseman. For this roster I'll include Galchenyuk/Gallagher/Tinordi/Beaulieu (Our younger core players, all of which look to be NHL players in a top-9/top-6 spot).



As we can see here, our defence is quite set for the future. Gorges may not be an ideal #2 but Beaulieu or Tinordi both seem capable of potentially filling that role as time goes by. We stick with the PMD and DDman configuration on each pairing as well as a physical element to each pairing. All could potentially be top-4 defenceman.

What the team lacks are wingers, especially left-wingers. We have Kristo, Collberg and Leblanc slotted as RWs in the system, only Timothy Bozon and Charles Hudon as potential LW candidates. Both Bozon and Hudon seem like good players but are not upper class, sure-fire prospects like Collberg and Kristo seem to be (Though I am a huge fan of both).

In regards to our issues with size, one of the biggest differences between our current and future roster is size down the middle. Instead of the smaller Desharnais and Plekanec we will likely have the comparatively large and strong Galchenyuk-Eller. This should make a huge difference in our lineup as both are capable and do play with some physicality, something that was missing with Plekanec-Desharnais who play with little to no physicality. In addition, Gallagher plays with an edge that makes him difficult to play against, something we haven't seen out of Gionta lately.

Are there potential UFAs/RFAs with size, speed and skill? Absolutely. Here are my favourites to fit into a top-6 role in the future:
Chris Stewart (RFA)
Magnus Paajarvi (RFA)
Blake Wheeler (RFA)
Nathan Horton
Patric Hornqvist (RFA)

Paajarvi has been rumoured to be available for quite some time and St. Louis may have difficulties to re-sign Stewart with big contracts being owed to Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo as well as having a self-imposed cap. Unlikely for Palmieri/Wheeler/Stewart to be available without a big piece being moved. All of these players would need to be traded for apart from Horton.

Top-9/3rd line roles that could be filled by UFAs/RFAs:
Viktor Staalberg
Bryan Bickell
Jordan Caron (RFA)
Cal Clutterbuck (RFA)

I didn't list Clarkson and Clowe here for several reasons. Both are 3rd liners. This is a fact that people often seem to miss out on. Absolutely, they are good players but, they can't fill the offensive role of a top-6 player. Their calling card is their physicality but they can't fill an enforcers role (which people seem to expect of them). They would be great guys to have on your team but in no way are they the solution to our troubles. How likely are we to sign both of them? We have just about no chance, unlikely even that Clarkson is not re-signed in New Jersey if he's the real deal. They are 29 and 30 years old. They will both be looking for contracts at around 4-4.5mil x 5/6yrs. Physical players often "age" quicker in the NHL because of the style of game they play. So in three years when our team is competing, will they be relevant? My guess is no, look at Moen. He got signed to his big contract because of his physical play. Clarkson and Clowe don't have the offensive ability to keep them going when their physical play is gone.

It will be much easier to sign a player for our top-9 (Bickell/Stalberg etc.). To get another player for our core we may have to look at a trade. My ideal candidate for the future top-6 is Paajarvi because of his size, skill, defensive ability, cost and potential. For the top-9, Stalberg because of his age, size, speed, and offensive ability.

Bourque + Moen for Paajarvi

Stalberg signed @ 3.3 over 5 years.

Future core forwards excluding prospects:


None of Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Paajarvi, Eller or Stalberg are soft players. They all bring some sort of strong, two-way play to the table as well as skill. Let the enforcers do the enforcing and let the role players play their roles, the team would very difficult to play against. I think that this team could be quite successful in the future. Thoughts?

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