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01-16-2004, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Jun 2002
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?
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