BG will do something to acquire a bonafide winger/center to play on the top two lines via trade or free agency. Latendresse either makes the team or he goes back to junior. The 3rd line spot should be a battle between zednik (if he doesn't get traded), Kostitsyn, or even latendresse. You can also throw in Lapierre and chipchura's name into the mix of youngsters that will battle for spots on the bottom lines.
If Ryder is playing healthy, Koivu's number should improve without a question. Playing with eachother along with Higgins will help all of them have good seasons (better then what they did in the 05 year).
I don't think Zednik will get a sniff on this line, but if he does he should do better than bulis regardless.
He got 65 points in 03/04 without playing with kovalev, so i can see him atleast replicating that kind of point total again. Ribs couldn't buy a goal against this year in the playoffs, but the effort was indeed there. Ward just happened to play out of his mind (pretty much the reason why he was rewarded with the connsmyth). I'm sure Muller and Carbs will light a fire under RIbs to get his act together, and well if he doesn't...he'll be out of here!
If we can add a winger that can pot goals at will, Kovalev will have atleast a 90 point season. If Gainey can pull off a trade with a team( that's in cap trouble) that addresses this need, i think gainey should pull the trigger. If not, i can see Kovalev having a similar season in which he registered around 70 points. I hope that he stays healthy throughout the season though.
I disagree with some of your assessment of plekanec. He's not just a good defensive player, i believe he's a pretty offensive player to boot. He scored quite a few nice goals this past season, and had even more beauts during his tenure in the AHL. He was the fastest skater in the AHL allstar game a few years ago, and has a slap shot that registered at 94mph at the Hamilton skills. He has all of the tools to be an effective two way player in the NHL. His play on the PK was incredible for a rookie, and he's just so smart on the ice and very seldom does he make mistakes.
He was just a rookie that was thrown around the team like a ragdoll. His scoring touch will come, he has all of the tools to be a quality finisher. I was extremely impressed with his tenacity and ability to win battles along the boards in the playoffs and at the beginning of the season where he was seeing quality minutes. He' s going to be an improved player this season, no doubt in my mind. He's not going to have a coach like Julien playing him 5 minutes a game, that's for sure.
If Gainey doesn't address the need for a quality top 2 forward, then this spot will be fought out at training camp between a host of youngsters and zednik. I think Latendresse has the ability to make the jump, he did incredible at last years preseason and had a pretty good year in the Q scoring 43 goals in 51 games (only 3rd behind Boisclair and Radulov in goals per game). Hey, if steve bernier can do it...why can guilliame? I can also see Kostitsyn play a prominent role on this line, he has all of the tangibles to make the jump. If he doesn't make it out of camp, i can see him being the first callup in case of an injury to one of the guys on the top 3 lines.
We'll have one of the better 4th liners in the league. If Lapierre makes this line, watchout! As they'll reek havoc. I agree with you about Bonk, i think he should have a more offensive role on the team. But i don't know where he can fit. Perhaps replace ribs? While making Begin our centerman for the 4th line.
Komisarek will be vastly improved this season, he scored his first goal late last season and i can see him getting some time on the Power Play giving him more confidence to rush into play while 5 on 5. Playing with Markov for an entire should also make him more comfortable in his skates and take another step into becoming a quality top pairing d-man. With Markov, i can only expect an incredible year. It's his time to shine and i don't think he'll disappoint. I hope Bob resigns Markov to a juicy longterm contract soon, because his impending free agency frightens me greatly.
If souray stops over committing himself by going for the big hit, he'll be vastly improved. He was playing with a bad wrist for the most of the season, so if it heals in time for season opener i expect to see him improve on his offensive numbers...as it's his year to prove his worth before he hits the UFA market. Rivet is a life time hab, and i expect him to do have another solid season...but unlike souray i don't see him going out of his way to llift his game due to the certainty of unrestricted free agency.
We saw the real dandy in the playoffs, and i hope he can keep up his play throughout this entire season. Both Bouillon and Dandenault are exceptional skaters and i hope they start rushing into plays more often as they should utilize their speed more often .
I thought Huet played fine in the playoffs, he let in a couple soft goals in the 6 games against the canes...but it didn't help that our team was unable to score goals when we needed them most. Huet has the ability to be amazing, he isn't flashy but he makes the big saves look easy. He has solid rebound control and with his calmness i believe he will once again pullout a strong season for us.
I believe that Aebischer's value is vastly underrated. His career numbers are better than all of the goaltenders that are supposedly available now (giguere, nabokov, biron, belfour, legace etc). Being in the west i've seen many aeby games, and his athletism is amazing...but rebound control is a definite problem of his. If we decide to keep aeby and platoon both him and huet, we'll have one of the best tandems in the nhl. Having Danis and Halak in the AHL iput us in a pretty good situation as well if either of our goalies go down to injury (hopefully they don't).
I believe with the new coaching staff, the maturation of our rookies, the health of ryder and carried over chemistry from the past season...we'll be a better offensive team. BUt i hope that BG is able to attain a bonafide scorer/playmaker for the top two lines. Our defense is good imo, it's not great...but it gets the job done. I have no worries over the goaltending....total non-issue (no more jose bringing this team down). We'll be a much better penalty killing team this year (just look at the coaching staff), and this alone will bring us up a notch. Even though the Habs have done little to improve the team via free agency, if you look at the teams above us in the standings...you won't see much improvement.
The devils are having terrible problems with the cap after they gave elias that huge contract. They'll have something like 2 million to resign gomez, gionta and a backup goaltender for brodeur. Devils aren't sitting too well.
Philly haven't added anyone either (they just lost kim Johnsson and dejardins to retirement), and apparently they're having a terrible time resigning gagne .
The Rangers on the other hand have arguably improved slightly while likely losing guys such as ruchinsky, sykora, poti and steve they have gotten matt cullen and aaron ward.
The Canes have lost Doug Weight, Matt Cullen, Aaron Ward, Marty Gerber, and gained John Tortorello's whooping boy in John Grahame. I don't think Glen Wesley and Mark Recchi are coming back either. Jack Johnson won't be available to them either this year as he wants to stay finish college first. so i believe the canes have regressed.
The Sens gained a good goaltender in gerber, but they also lost hasek (yah he's crazy and enigmatic, but when he plays you can't find many that are better), they lost chara and pothier and replaced them with joe corvo. i believe the sens have worsened.
The Sabres lost Mckee, Grier and only have 4 players under contract at the moment. The sabres haven't improved.
Now if you look at the team directly behind us, the Bolts lost kubina and modin while attaining marc denis who has yet to have a good year in the NHL. I'm getting bored and don't want to discuss the laffs, panthers, and thrashers...but those teams haven't improved IMO. Well maybe the panthers with bertuzzi and allen.
It's hard to judge next seasons team when the off-season just started and the team can still change a lot. But I can see the Blues GM's point we gave the Hurricanes a real run for their money, won the first 2 games and every game after that was close, very close. We have a lot of young players who are only going to improve, an underrated defence and if Huet picks up where he left off last year and we can trade Abby for somthing useful we'll be all set. Hopefully Koivu can stay healthy and Bob can make a couple positive moves this off-season while he still can. I'm quite optmistic about next season I think we have the type of team that could really surprise and at the very least fighting for a final playoff spot as usual.
I think there are a difference between be in shape financially and be in shape with our player
We have to find at least one top dman and a second line center so I think we cannot say that we are in shape for the next season
On the other hand, our finance situation is in shape, for sure beacause we nerver signany player.
So I think that if we can't find what we want we aren't in shape.... and even the bruins will be better than we!!! With the few UFA it remain, I think it's impossible so the only way we have to reach this goal is on the exchange market
Hey guys, was driving home tonight, when Blue GM came on AM640 in toronto with Bill waters. They talked mostly about teams that made moves, and ofcourse the Blues, but the Blues GM was quick to note the Habs were very good in the playoffs this year, and are in very good shape for next season.
To say it like he said it, "watch out for those Habs next season......."
We fans bash our team, but other GM's are praising our team. Have some faith in Gainey, maybe he really does know what hes doing.
I think Gainey knows what he is doing. I am sure he made some offers to some free agents, but I don't think he was willing to offer long term deals, which I think was the right move. He will pull something off, and if not the prospects will have some quality time to develop next year. Keep in mind he did keep Huet - lets hope he is not a one season wonder!
Either way the Habs will still make the playoffs while the bruins and leafs hit the golf course next spring.