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The case for a 1-year surgical tank for the Habs

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:07 PM
  #1
DAChampion
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The case for a 1-year surgical tank for the Habs

One of the most common arguments on these boards is whether the Habs should strive for 8th place by any means necessary or do a proper rebuild/evaluation/tank/transition/development year(s). In this thread I will make the case that 2012-2013 season is an excellent opportunity for a 1-year surgical tank (thus a 2 year tank if you add 2011-2012). I argue that this year is a better year than other years to tank, and do so from several arguments. I accumulate and expand on several arguments that have been presented throughout the boards.

I preface the following by saying that for me there is only one question that matters: How can the Habs build a championship team?

*****

1) Habs are a bad team, and are extremely unlikely to make the playoffs next year.

Last year, the Habs finished 15th in the conference, though some legitimately argue we were really ~12th placed on goals differential and bad luck in the shootouts. However, last year we had Cammmalleri, AK46, and Gill. Cammalleri has been replaced by the inferior Bourque. AK46 has been replaced by Brandon Prust, gving us more physicality but less goal scoring. Gill has been replaced by Bouillon, and is thus a step down. We're a lesser team.

2011-2012 was a year in which we ended 15th in spite of several things going extremely well for the Habs.
- We had the best PK in the league.
- Cole and Pacioretty had career seasons.
- Price was consistent.
- 3 of our 4 division rivals, Buffalo, Ottawa, and Toronto, were very weak. We could get points by beating up on the division.

If you had told the average fan a year ago we'd benefit from these 4 "random" effects, which were not expected at the start of the year, then the average fan would have predicted a top-6 or top-4 conference finish for the Habs. Nobody was counting on a career season from Cole last year. Nobody was expecting the best PK in the league. If you had told fans how weak the division would be, they would have said Montreal (and not Ottawa) would accumulate a better conference standing than it deserved by beating up on the division. However, in spite of these 4 major things going right, we ended 15th. We would have done worse in a more typical year, and thus I don't expect improvement.

Therefore, we are extremely unlikely to make 8th place. It's a remote possibility.

2) Losing now is better than losing 3 years from now.
A losing 2012-2013 season would yield development and draft picks that would complement that of the 2011-2012 season (Galchenyuk and Colberg). We would have a cohort of talented youngsters in about 3 years that would grow up together and wish to win together. You know what's better than Galchenyuk as a 1st line center? Galchenyuk as a 2nd line center behind Nathan McKinnon.

Moreover, 2012-2013 may represent the best Hamilton Bulldogs team since I've heard of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Pateryn, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Holland, Gallagher, Quailer, Bournival, hopefully Leblanc and Palushaj... wow I'm stoked. This team isn't going to win us a cup this year. However, it's very good. It can be the youth corps of a team that wins the cup in 2015. Once you add Galchenyuk, Colberg, and whoever we draft next year, it looks like the veteran core of a team that competes for the cup every year in the period 2015-2020.

3) 2013 is one of the deepest drafts in NHL history.
This fact is well documented. This doesn't necessarily mean we want to draft 4th overall rather than 12th. However, it does mean we should accumulate as many picks as we can in the first two rounds. We already have 4, and the second rounders from Calgary and Nashville (and Montreal's) might be of the highest quality. You know what's better than having a player of Colberg's quality in your system? Having 4 such players.

What the Habs could do would be to give privileged minutes to Gomez, Bourque, and Kaberle. They're not the best players, so padding their stats will come at the expense of the team as a whole. However, if we pad their stats they become tradeable. A lot of clueless fans have written that Kaberle is untradeable, but the inferior Zidlicky warranted a 2nd and 3rd at the deadline this year. I say pad their stats (at a cost to the team) and trade them for top-60 picks at the deadline this year. This gives us better draft picks, and it liberates cap space.

4) 2013 may become one of the best free agents year in history.
This point is less certain than the other points, but it is still of some value and worth being aware of.

The following players may become UFAs: Iginla, Elias, Perry, Getzlaf, Hainsey, Lupul, Morrow, Regehr, Horton, Zajac, Clowe, Scuderi, Filppula.

There's a few of those players I'd like on the Habs. Your list may be different than mine.

If we can unload our cap space this year, we may be in a position to cash in next summer, and the true upsurge will begin. Our youth will be one year older, better, there will no longer be a need to tank as we'll have the best farm system in the NHL, etc.

5) The worst teams of 2012 are improving.
If one scans the worst teams of 2012, one expects the following teams to improve:
- Minnesota has improved enough that I don't expect them to compete for a lottery pick.
- Edmonton is a young team and just picked up Nail Yakupov, whom we can expect to score 45-50 points.
- Carolina played well after their disastrous start, and they picked up the excellent Jordan Staal.
- Toronto is a young team that one would expect to improve. They also traded Luke Schenn for JVR.

Thus, the bottom 10 got stronger. Given that we got worse, this should solidify our position in the bottom 5.

6) Our core is only almost good enough.

The current core of the team is Price, Subban, Plekanec, Pacioretty, Markov, Gorges, Cole, Desharnais. That core is not good enough to win championships. It is inferior to the cores of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver -- nobody of sound mind can disagree with that. However, it's not ridiculously far off. Add in Beaulieu, Galchenyuk, and Tinordi, get experience for Eller, Desharnais, and Emelin, rock the 2013 UFA class, and suddenly the core becomes elite.

7) The 8th place model doesn't work.
When I say "8th place model", I don't mean building a world class team like the Kings and then collapsing into 8th place due to bad luck. I mean building a team that has the talent, ability, and overall mediocrity of a bubble team and hoping that "anything can happen in the playoffs". I list two examples of the 8th place model: Columbus and Buffalo.

A good example of the 8th place model are he Columbus Blue Jackets. They made the playoffs a few years ago and were excited. Last year they mortgaged their farm system for Jeff Carter, they signed Wisniewski and Prospal. The result? A total comprehensive collapse. They should have gone for a proper, patient rebuild.

The Buffalo Sabres are the blueprint of the 8th place model. They have a great coach, and are a bubble team every single year. They have a decent core: Ryan Miller, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, Robin Regehr, Tomas Vanek, Tyler Myers, and now Cody Hodgson and Mikhail Grigorenko, the same quality as the Habs. In other words, they are what the Habs might look like with a great coach and fewer injuries: A bubble team year in and year out. The Buffalo Sabres model outlines the ugly reality of the 8th place strategy: even if you have great coaching and some excellent core players, you're still not competing for the cup. You need several excellent players. And you need depth.

And that's all for now.

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:13 PM
  #2
LaTenderness
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If u wanna see your team finish last go cheer for the Leafs

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:13 PM
  #3
danyhabsfan
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You forgot we had Colby Armstrong.

50 goals scorer right here.


I agree with what you said.

Let's go all in to finish 8th.

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:14 PM
  #4
Pierre Dagenais
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Two things:

-We were the 2nd best PK, not the best
-Markov's return could be something positive to look forward to if he ever regains his form

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:14 PM
  #5
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Wow!

That's alot of hockey talk for July 26th.

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:15 PM
  #6
CP31
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Everyone seems to forget we were at the top in man games lost last year, and especially with a healthy Markov, we are a much better team than last year.

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07-26-2012, 12:18 PM
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CP31 View Post
Everyone seems to forget we were at the top in man games lost last year, and especially with a healthy Markov, we are a much better team than last year.
Not to mention we weren't that bad last year. 2 more GA than GF, once you factor out shootouts and empty netters. That doesn't equate to a 15th place finish at all. Freak fluke that we were 28th overall last year. Repeat that performance this year and we're probably fighting Washington for 8th.

Not to mention, chances are we won't lose Markov for 70 games and Gionta for 50 this season coming up, and there probably won't be a mid season coaching change and language debate again. Montreal will be much improved, much to the chagrin of those who want to tank.

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:21 PM
  #8
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However, I do agree we should consider stacking the draft picks if it looks like we won't make it. Consider the players that could be sold as rentals if we are out of the playoffs by too much comes March

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:21 PM
  #9
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I'm not making excuses but this team isn't as bad as where it finished in the season.

With a proper NHL coach, we had a record of 13-12-7, and that is after a horrible 1-5-2 start to the year. And a big reason for the poor start was Markov being out, which hurt the powerplay. And we actually had the lead a lot of the games under JM, and the PP was never able to give us that extra 2 goal lead, and with JM system a matter of time before teams tied it and won it.

Some might not like the coaching staff we have now, but if you compare it to what we had most of the year last year, its amazing, we had a freaking ast GM as an ast coach, with two guys that had no idea what the hell they were doing.

I don't think we are a bad team, for sure not a playoff lock. If things go well, Markov back 100%, and Emelin emerges as a top4 d-men. I think 6-7th place isn't in reach.

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07-26-2012, 12:23 PM
  #10
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The man games lost is a little overrated IMO. Markov was a big loss but not overly unexpected. Besides him only gionta was a really significant piece lost to injury and that was late in the year when they already were starting to get towards the basement, if i recall correctly.

We were actually quite lucky that our entire top line and pleks (best 4 fwds) stayed healthy all year as well as our two best defensemen (pk and gorges) as well as our starting keeper until the end of the year.

The injuries we sustained in the end were to bottom 6 fwds and lower pairing D man.

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:40 PM
  #11
DJ Breadman
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Why do people keep saying we need to tank, we have a young stud goalie(price), 1 young stud d(pk) and one up front(patches). That is the rebuild, no need to tank any further

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:45 PM
  #12
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I disagree with a few of your points. ( 1) I don't think we are a worse team, the habs with Markov are automatically better than last year by a fair margin. 3) Draft quality is up in the air, 11 months away. 4) Free agents crops always look good in July, most of these guys will sign extensions. )

But I agree on the whole philosophy to the point where I would try to win as much as possible now, but this wouldn't be the point where I'm spending some assets to go for a run. I would also be ready to sell, particularly Gionta. Possibly Markov, depending on the development of the rest of the group.

1) Do your best until the trade deadline.
2)
a) Make a call to sell if we are not making it. Sell wisely, not completely.
b) If we are barely 8th, don't buy, it's not the time. Unless you buy a young asset on contract: no locations.
c) If you are in the top 4, still don't buy, realize you have reached that point because the team shows chemistry and is not winning on the total amount of talent. (Team with less talent are often on and off on performances)
3) CBA: If we have a small season(start in January), this might allow some opportunistic selling if we have prospects doing very well in Hamilton. (Looking at you Tinordi and Gallagher)

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:47 PM
  #13
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Pacioretty - Desharnais - Cole
Eller - Plekanec - Gionta
Prust - Galchenyuk - Bourque
Moen - White - Armstrong

I believe.

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Old
07-26-2012, 12:52 PM
  #14
NHLFutureGuy3
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DAChampion is a true Champion

I literally couldn't even said it better myself even if I tried my best and spent all night writing and editing.

When I mention tank disrespectful fans say things like 'Loser', 'Why even play hockey then?', 'Ban these posters, they're an embarrassment', 'Go jump on a bandwagon and do let the door hit you on your way out' They are just being short-sighted.

Read this OP people, it has everything that I am trying to say.

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07-26-2012, 12:55 PM
  #15
The Doors
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This team has a lot of solid veteran players that won't ****ing finish last again. Last year was a fluke. I expect we'll see more of the team that we saw in the final days of Martin that was playing quite well, and less of the mess that Cunneyworth was running.

The team isn't that much different than the one we were all confident abotu last off-season. I expect them to make the playoffs and maybe surprise some people with Markov and Gionta back.

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07-26-2012, 12:56 PM
  #16
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The season doesn't start for 2 months and already people seriously want to tank?

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07-26-2012, 01:00 PM
  #17
The Doors
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeeto View Post
The season doesn't start for 2 months and already people seriously want to tank?
HF, where anonymous draft picks and cap space are better than playoff appearances

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Old
07-26-2012, 01:01 PM
  #18
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We're not bad enough to get another top 5 pick. Let's foster a winning attitude. None of those UFAs in 2013 will want to sign with a losing team anyway.

Talk of tanking is useless. Molson, MB, MT won't let that happen. Players won't throw games. Play hard till the end. If all hell breaks loose and we're out of it in March then sell assets for picks.

I'd rather pick at #14 and be entertained than watch a replay of last season and pick #5-10. Marginal difference imo.

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Old
07-26-2012, 01:01 PM
  #19
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As much as I would LOVE to get McKinnon... I do not want to see the Habs lose night after night...

As others have stated, we are definitely not as bad as we had finished last year.

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Old
07-26-2012, 01:05 PM
  #20
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From the look of it Bergevin has taken a wait and see approach, which to me is smart given the drop we saw from Dec 1st to the end of season. Was it just bad coaching, a bad half year(issues in the room, injuries and trades) or a precursor of things to come. By mostly making understated depth moves so far MB seems to want to give some of the guys that were hurt or under performing a real shot, which makes a lot of sense since A-just dumping them we'd lose them for nothing and B-we'd have to waste valuable assets to replace/upgrade them with UFA's or trades.

We have a pile of players that can do a lot better than 2011-2012...

Markov(he barely played and looked out of sync when he was there) If he gets back to an all-star level that's like signing Suter(or better) as a UFA.

Kaberle(he wasn't that bad here, but in general a down year) If he gets back to close to his 10-11 form that's like adding Wideman as a UFA.

Bourque(was the shell of his former self as a Hab) if he can get back to even a 20 goal pace, he adds depth offense that was missing last year.

Gionta(missed 2/3 of season) if he can stay healthy, that's like adding another 25 goal scorer to the lineup.

Moen(missed 34 games after a great start, missed almost whole 2nd half) adding more grit that wasn't there most of the 2nd half.

Prust Armstrong and Bouilllon are guys that were not there last year, they add truculence grit and toughness. Guys like Eller Emelin Diaz have an extra year under their belt and could evolve into much bigger contributors.

I think the Habs have a chance at finishing as high as top 5 in the conference, maybe top 3 given the realtively weak division as Boston and Ottawa could both slide back, if a lot of the IF's turn positive. Saying finishing 8th being the best case scenario is being quite pesimistic. If we bounce back and Boston slides back minus Thomas and Ottawa goes back to where everybody expected them to be, we could win the division. Buffalo has more than their share of question marks. Toronto doesn't look far off from a lottery team.

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Old
07-26-2012, 01:06 PM
  #21
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If you don't play to win the game, might as well not show up.

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Old
07-26-2012, 01:08 PM
  #22
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I'm not a fan of tanking, but I despise the quick fix more (unless you are a contender). Its one of the reasons I didn't like the '09 offseason rebuild and the Wisneiwski and Kaberle trades. Did some of those deals work out? absolutely. I just can't say that they really help the team in the long run. The conference final was fun, but the reality is that at the end of the day people want the cup and we still don't have one.

Tanking isn't the solution either, especially when you see permanently struggling teams in Columbus or NYI. Even building through tanking isn't a sure thing, just look at Washington (who is still a ways away from the cup). At the end of the day, if you don't have the right leadership, culture and management, you wont reach the final goal. The concept of tanking is an inherently bad idea. You can't foster a culture of losing. You can decide not to band-aid a rapidly lost season and trade players for futures, but you can't go into a season without the expressly stated goal of making the playoffs.

I'm pleased that Bergevin hasn't made any deals that support a band-aid approach. No Hudler or Wideman-type deals to further hamper the team down the line. Lets assess what we actually have. We no last season was an anomaly, but we still don't know where this team is.

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Old
07-26-2012, 01:09 PM
  #23
The Doors
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carey Price View Post
From the look of it Bergevin has taken a wait and see approach, which to me is smart given the drop we saw from Dec 1st to the end of season. Was it just bad coaching, a bad half year(issues in the room, injuries and trades) or a precursor of things to come. By mostly making understated depth moves so far MB seems to want to give some of the guys that were hurt or under performing a real shot, which makes a lot of sense since A-just dumping them we'd lose them for nothing and B-we'd have to waste valuable assets to replace/upgrade them with UFA's or trades.

We have a pile of players that can do a lot better than 2011-2012...

Markov(he barely played and looked out of sync when he was there) If he gets back to an all-star level that's like signing Suter(or better) as a UFA.

Kaberle(he wasn't that bad here, but in general a down year) If he gets back to close to his 10-11 form that's like adding Wideman as a UFA.

Bourque(was the shell of his former self as a Hab) if he can get back to even a 20 goal pace, he adds depth offense that was missing last year.

Gionta(missed 2/3 of season) if he can stay healthy, that's like adding another 25 goal scorer to the lineup.

Moen(missed 34 games after a great start, missed almost whole 2nd half) adding more grit that wasn't there most of the 2nd half.

Prust Armstrong and Bouilllon are guys that were not there last year, they add truculence grit and toughness. Guys like Eller Emelin Diaz have an extra year under their belt and could evolve into much bigger contributors.

I think the Habs have a chance at finishing as high as top 5 in the conference, maybe top 3 given the realtively weak division as Boston and Ottawa could both slide back, if a lot of the IF's turn positive. Saying finishing 8th being the best case scenario is being quite pesimistic. If we bounce back and Boston slides back minus Thomas and Ottawa goes back to where everybody expected them to be, we could win the division. Buffalo has more than their share of question marks. Toronto doesn't look far off from a lottery team.
Good post. I keep thinking of making an epic post where I claim the Habs can compete for the division but I don't think it would be worth dealing with all the naysayers and tankers.

I agree wholeheartedly with you though, you cant predict where teams will finish and there's nothing about any team in the Northeast that screams "favourite" to me.

If Markov is 90% himself which he should be we all of a sudden have two #1 defenceman, and one of Subban or Markov on the ice almost all game long. That's not too shabby. Emelin should blossom alongside Markov and complete our top four with Gorges and Subban. The team, like last off season, has a lot of "ifs" which could see them comfortably cruise into 6th or slouch into 12th. Hard to tell, could be better or worse.

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Old
07-26-2012, 01:10 PM
  #24
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Old
07-26-2012, 01:10 PM
  #25
uiCk
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considering the parity in the league, you don't have to suck much to land a top pick.

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