Max Pacioretty: He missed nine games yet still almost became the first Habs player to hit the 40-goal mark since 1994 when Vincent Damphousse did it. However, 40 then is not 40 now. The 39 Max finished with is the equivalent to about 55 when the game was different, in the Gretzky and Oilers cup era. Max also learned how to be stronger emotionally and block out the negative this year, or at least channel the negative, like the popular bunk “Max is a perimeter player,” into determination and drive instead of disappointment. He is discovering how to have a “go screw yourself” attitude when critiqued. That's a learned skill and it is something you see in many champions. The hockey talent you know about. A+

David Desharnais: Perhaps the most stunning reversal of fortune I have ever seen inside a single season. From year to year, sure, you see ups and downs and recoveries off of bad runs of play. However, inside a season, he started with a one assist in 19 games stretch, with analysts having a feeling that surely he was done and the Habs were desperately trying to find a recovery that was just not going to happen. He failed on the puck. He lost the puck. He wasn't strong enough. People mock the Mayor now because it's easy, but when the Mayor said it, though it wasn't very mayoral, he was right - David did belong in Hamilton to find his game. Desharnais, after the horrendous start, finished with 51 points in his final 60 games and was the Habs clear number one scoring centre. A rare feat to be essentially two completely different players over the course of one season. The turnaround all started with a shootout winner and on that night you could see how much it meant to him to be a part of helping and not hurting. It would be harder to find a better example of how pressure can lift off the shoulders of a man and then a free mind has a chance to let the body excel. If you don't believe that mind, spirit and body are not connected in all of this in this world, then please look at David's turnaround moment again. A free mind lifts athletes to the heights they can reach. It's that confidence they always speak of and it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. When it is high, don't change a thing. Desharnais had that turning point and kept it all year, excelling the rest of the season. What an amazing achievement. A+

Tomas Plekanec: As all of you who follow me online or on-air know, I love this player. I love all the little things he does. He battles the best that the league can offer game after game and he, in many instances, shuts them down. Plekanec shut down this year the likes of Toews, Bergeron, and Crosby. He was so under Crosby’s skin that the world’s best player was seen complaining to Tomas about essentially nothing, except not being able to succeed against him. Plekanec finished with a plus-11 (yes, I will keep it simple and not go into Corsi here) which was one off the team lead. The sacrifice that this player commits to every single season is all class. He never gets the best linemates. He never gets the first powerplay unit. He is asked to defend first. He lives around the league in almost obscurity even though he's a decade-long veteran. This is what a man does. This is how class behaves. This is a true team player. Utmost respect from me to him. A+

Brendan Gallagher: He's not supposed to be here in Montreal. He's not supposed to be in the crease. He's not supposed to be in Chara's face. He's not supposed to be anywhere near the NHL as a small fifth round draft pick, but don't tell Brendan any expectations we had for him. He's not interested. He's just interested in being the poster boy for “can do”. 19 goals. 41 points. A complete pain in the ass for the opposition. Bergevin builds a team with character in mind. Trevor Timmins got him exactly what he needed in Gallagher. 81 games played considering the danger areas he goes and the beating he takes, this too is remarkable. A+

Brian Gionta: Five years ago, the Canadiens made a commitment to Gionta. At the time, they also made one to Scott Gomez. As time passed, both continued to lose their goal-scoring skills. However, one rewrote who he was as a player and one fell off the map. Whereas Gomez let the winds of change sweep him up, Gionta changed with them. He became a defensive specialist with Plekanec taking on the best players. A plus player on the year, Gionta still finished with a pretty strong goal total of 18 in this new dead puck era NHL. That's nothing to be embarrassed about, but what really set the stage for him was the defence. He isn't worth the same amount of money anymore of course, and he knows that. The Habs should definitely pay him according to his new role and offensive output and keep him as captain. Men are required here too. A+

Alex Galchenyuk: I felt this season was a step back for Galchenyuk. The moments of brilliance are there, but there were not enough of them. Alex didn't get the chance to shine consistently as the opportunities that should have been afforded a player with his offensive upside were not given to him. He could not get a power play look and in overtime four-on-four when his skills can shine through, it seemed the head coach was still protecting instead of pursuing with Alex. Perhaps, because he was a minus-12 and the coach felt he had a better chance in a shootout on the back of the world's best goalie, but for me, a coach always gives his player the best opportunity to find his best self. Off of that, confidence grows and skills emerge. I expected more from Alex this season, but with that said where are the others of his draft class? Even the number one (Yakupov) is a total mess in Edmonton. Galchenyuk will be a star. He will be the number one centre, yet this year had a sophomore jinx feel to it a little bit. No reason to panic. I expect next year to be better for Alex. B-

Lars Eller: Way too much negativity in the media surrounding this player. 12 goals. Not what was expected. A minus-15 was certainly not expected. He did lose his confidence. However, he is a good puck winner. He battles along the boards and wins many of them. He has learned how to protect the puck and as a result he has shifts with considerable offensive zone time. This notion that he's useless is ridiculous and the ones spouting it are expecting just because he is a first rounder that he should have 30-goal seasons. He's not. He's going to be a very strong third-line centre in this league. C- but enough of this F talk.

Daniel Briere: Per 60 minutes played, among the leaders on the team in offensive production. Not bad for a guy who changed lines like socks, and was in more wrong positions than Pauline Marois looking for a majority. Briere with 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points. It sounds bad, but it has been better since finding the left side more. His best days were with Gionta and Plekanec, but the head coach refuses to ride that one out even though organizationally they should want this player to succeed after being a big splash free agent signing for $8 million over two years. The handling of this player was far more suspect than the player ever was. C

Rene Bourque: My heart goes out to Rene Bourque. Colton Orr knocked him out last year and Bourque has been living in a difficult world since then. Bourque had back to back 27-goal campaigns in Calgary. When I watched him then, he was far more involved than now. Bourque can't walk away from the game for his health. They wouldn't pay him his contract. He can only walk away when it is too late and his health, like Marc Savard’s, becomes a long-term question mark. He never leads with danger, but a long stick and a head on a swivel. And I get it. I understand it. But he can't get a good grade trying to survive instead of contributing. D-

Thomas Vanek: Sign this guy. Eight years, $60 million. If by year five or six he is slowing down, then Erik Cole him out of town when you recognize the failing skill set before others who are not watching him nightly. Vanek is a beast on the puck. He's an amazing passer. He is strong defensively. And the goal-scoring prowess you know. Six goals and nine assists in 18 games for the Habs and a plus player for the season while playing on two bad teams. He also gives the Habs one of the best lines in hockey. When was the last time you got a chance to say that? B+

Michael Bournival: Fastest skater on the Habs. The concussion slowed him down tremendously psychologically this season. A shame because he was really looking impressive. Scored only one goal in the second half of the campaign compared to six in the first half before injury. Big upside when you have a player with this type of speed. He needs to learn to drive with that speed harder to the net because he is massively strong too. He'll be so difficult to stop then. For now, some things to learn, but a player better than the 14 points indicates. B-

Brandon Prust: This player is a warrior. A heart and soul team guy. A guy giving you way more than goals and assists. A guy in the room who people look up to, who when he speaks, people listen because he's earned that trust. He takes on the heavyweights without pause. He's lost in the lineup because of it, but you can't have both here. He's either courageous and a team player and out of the lineup some, or he isn't and remains healthy. I'll take the courage. Every team needs this player for the rest to stand tall. Huge respect for this player. B+

Travis Moen: Another heart and soul player and sadly, he's paying for it. Three weeks since a concussion and as far as I have been able to discern, only one time on the ice skating just with Prust. He took on Boston's Miller and paid for it dearly leaving in a daze. Moen at one time was on one of the best D lines in the league with Plekanec and Gionta. Remarkably, he had the third best Fenwick/Corsi on the team at the time behind only Subban and Markov. Moen was the top forward in possession analytics playing against the other teams’ top guys. But now all I can think about is I hope he is okay. B-

Ryan White: What a learning curve for this player. Last season, one incident after another where he cost the team trying to help the team with stupid penalties at key times. White figured it out. He's still aggressive. He's still a handful, but now not costing his mates. White fills the role he is assigned. Every team needs these players. They don't get poor grades because they got only two goals, they get good grades, because they're fourth liners and they're doing what fourth liners are supposed to do. Hold the fort and win some offensive zone time. C

Dale Weise: Great pick up. I was wrong. Didn't like the trade because for me Diaz was devalued on the way to getting less instead of more for him, but who cares, when the guy coming back is making such an excellent contribution. What a gamer too! Takes a huge cut across his face and demands to get back out there with his face looking like spaghetti. Massive respect from your teammates when that's how you roll and massive respect from me. B-

George Parros: Night one when he fell hard on his face in a fight with Colton Orr made the rest of the nights that followed an inevitable script - a desperate struggle to stay healthy and to stay relevant. A wonderful human being who is trying to answer to the call of his contract as best he can, but I hope that he leaves this game with his long-term health intact. He can hold his head up high, and while he still can, that is what he should do as he leaves the game. He's been a proud warrior. It's time now to be a proud father. D


Andrei Markov: I have been more wrong about this player than any in my career. Three years ago, I thought he was done and the contract was a huge gamble. Here he stands the best defenceman on the Habs this year. A plus-12 rating which is the best on the team. A superior Corsi and Fenwick. A power play specialist. A tremendous intelligence for the game. He merits a two-year deal this summer. He will probably get three and I will be okay with that this time. A+

PK Subban: What a powder keg of a season for PK, not of his own doing whatsoever. The lightning rod for all things mysterious for the head coach. The Norris Trophy winner got reshaped into a lesser D man right before our eyes. The running back was got revamped into a quarterback. The instincts of his game got turned into dump and chase and off the glass. It was a bad season for Subban. He got out-coached by his coach. The Norris winner won't finish in the top 10 in balloting. He doesn't deserve it either. He needs to find another coach. He can't flourish under this one. He can't even be all that good under this one. He was top Corsi and plus-11 in the first half of the season, and as he kept getting de-PKed, he turned into a minus-15 in the second half. He got only 10 goals. The power play fell apart in the second half as the opposition keyed on him and the coaches couldn't find a second option as a counter. If they could have found a second option to punish penalty killers for keying on PK, they would have had to regroup to that second option which would have opened up the way for Subban to shine again. Alas, nothing really good happened like that, except Subban is an ultimate gentleman rising to the highest standards and living with some real subpar treatment. The best that Subban was this year was actually keeping quiet while the fan got hit with the coach's excrement flying all around him, but PK wouldn't let the fan change who he was. He refused to get funneled into that mess. That's the best PK I saw this year - off the ice. I should have seen the best PK on the ice. Alas, a sad B-

Alexei Emelin: Got stronger and stronger in the last month. This was a massive injury he suffered. It takes time to heal. Confidence is so hard to regain when fearful. It even affects decision-making. Nothing is easy when you're worried your knee can't take it. Notice his hit totals starting to elevate with the security that the knee can take some grinding. This is a defender who plays on the wrong side too. An enormous sacrifice for a defender, but he persevered through what I believe will be his hardest moments with next year looking better than this one. C

Josh Gorges: The ultimate character player. Not many can convince a medical staff that they can keep playing with a broken hand unless the break gets worse. That's Gorges. He will go to war for his mates. He doesn't do any one thing tremendously well in hockey, except go to war. B-

Mike Weaver: What a pick up again from the GM. 35 years of age, won a Turner Cup in the defunct International League, Weaver at 5-foot-9 is not supposed to be here. Instead, he's so intelligent that he's still getting better. You thought he was going to be a depth guy like Drewiske last season, but he's in the 5 hole for good now through the playoffs. Like to think he will be offered a contract in the off-season. B-

Francis Bouillon: A depth piece at 38, this is how he was used. You didn't love him on some nights, but really, what were you expecting? He did what he could and he answered the call against Dorsett to win huge respect from his mates in game 82. He knew his role. It's a cap world. You can't have six D worth $6 million each. You find players who can give you some solid games to help the cause. He did. C-

Doug Murray: Another lightning rod for the Habs just like PK. A big body, but a large ship turning in the Atlantic too. I have not been kind to this player. His Corsi and Fenwick are among the worst in the league. He kills penalties well and protects his mates, but I can't justify those strengths against the massive amount of zone time the Habs play in their own end when he is on the ice. D-

Jarred Tinordi: Still learning the game, to be honest. I thought he was more ready in the playoffs last year, but he makes positional mistakes and looks slow-footed on the turn at times. He will need to improve his read of the game to mitigate his lack of foot speed. See a bright future, and to be honest, the coaching staff has done a pretty good job of protecting this player from exposure while he learns the ins and outs. C

Nathan Beaulieu: I love this player. I don't give one little ounce of care that he isn't the easiest guy to tame for the coaching staff. I don't care if he didn't like how he was used. Good for him. He was used terribly. Stand up and fight for what is fair. We love and honour that in others. Why not this player? Why the double standard where he is supposed to just take it? I wouldn't take it either if I looked around and saw how talented I was in comparison to others and was sent back to Hamilton yet again. Some of you like this tough love stuff. I like a player getting a chance to reach his potential by playing hockey, not receiving grade school lessons. Look at that Chicago game, a couple of errors, but overall, wow, he slowed the game down, he found the right option, his first pass is sensational, he's got wheels, he's got smarts and vision, he's got a shot, he could help the power play. The treatment he receives confounds me. B


Peter Budaj: The perfect backup when kept in the backup role. When asked to play consecutively, he struggled. He can't keep that up when Price is hurt. He knows his role. He's loved in the room. He doesn't cost a lot. C

Carey Price: Olympic gold. Technical perfection. Rapier-like glove. Superb team attitude. Class. Maturity. Amazing numbers. Handles the pressure of Montreal. Controls the pace of the game. Perfect package. Does a mark exist of...... A++

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