I'm very comfortable with the direction this team is heading in. I don't think we're that many players away from a 5+ position in the East. In fact, we might not be any players away, just a bit more time for the youngsters like Ryder, Higgins, Komisarek and Plekanec to mature and gain a bit more experience.
I've been hoping for Carbo for a long time before he was hired and if there's something I thought he'd do well, it's to have his team play consistent hockey, no matter the type of hockey. That along with a consistent goalie (fingers crossed) and a D that proved it could play at a high enough level will do wonders to make sure we avoid the kind of desastrous fall we had in the middle of last season.
I'm also very happy with our prospect pool. It's been a long time since I've looked at our system and thought we had some serious potential in there but with Price, Latendresse, Chipchura, Lapierre, Kostitsyn and Emelin, I feel really confident we'll be able to fuel on some cheap talent for a long time (and therefore keep our core together for a longer period).
If I was to nitpick or wonder about certain weaknesses then I'd definitelly say the center position is not a strength right now and we either need more production from the top-2 lines (which implies getting an other scoring winger) or better secondary scoring (which implies more depth to create better balanced lines). Finally an other steady puck mover would be nice, doesn't have to be elite.
But regardless, I think this team will do fine even if we just fill one of those needs.
In general I am happy with the direction the team is heading in, but I would be completely comfortable once I see what Gainey does with all the $$ he has to spend this offseason in the Free Agent Market.
With the Theodore trade, the salary cap going up a few millions and Montreal having sold out every game this past year, I expect Gainey to go after some top tier free agents in the hope of signing 1-2 players.
While we have a good team, we need IMO a top pairing defenseman, a #1 or #2 center with size, and perhaps a scoring RW. I expect Gainey to address some of these needs this offseason through free agency.
Here is a more complete list with current salaries:
Nicklas Lidstrom Det. $7.60 million
Rob Blake Col. $6.36
Ed Jovanovski Van. $3.99
Zdeno Chara Ott. $3.72
Wade Redden Ott. $3.72
Bryan McCabe Tor. $3.45
Pavel Kubina T.B. $2.58
Jaroslav Spacek Edm. $2.25
Teppo Numminen Buff. $2.00
Ruslan Salei Ana. $1.82
Filip Kuba Minn. $1.69
Jay McKee Buff. $1.59
Willie Mitchell Dal. $1.35
Frantisek Kaberle Car. $1.29
Marek Zidlicky Nash. $1.14
I am very happy with the direction of the habs... Ever since Gainey was hired, maybe since Gillette bought the team. Thats when i started to get comfortable. And now with Carbo come back and now going to be head coach!!!! I have been waiting for these 2 to take our team over. I just thought that Robinson would fit in nicely too, but maybe in a few years when he relaxes a bit and gets hungry again...
Now to the list:
If we get 2 of these we should trade Souray, to help upgrade the Center Position.
If we get one of these we keep our D.
If Gainey does A, we are gonna tear it up right from Day one next season.
If Gainey does B, it may take a trade during the season or a call up to tear it up.
If he gets one D from above list and a top center well than were gold as well.
Reason of trading Souray: Slow, gets burned to the outside. MAkes stupid attempts to take guys out 1 on 1 and gets burned. He has a great Shot and can move puck well, and has great size and strength but if he gets upgraded well then we have no more slow Defencemen......So at least one of the 2 new Free agent defencemen will have to be able to bring Sourays talents to the table.
Much happier then I was just a few shot years ago. If the team can contend by 2008 and win in 2009 (or before of course) I would be happy. Then it is a matter of staying at a great level for more then a few years.