Wilde: Feel the pride as the Habs plan for the future
By Brian Wilde, CTV Montreal
Published Friday, May 30, 2014 7:20AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 30, 2014 9:01AM EDT
Though disappointment hangs in the air as it does for 29 teams, when the short memory of a game 6 loss is replaced by the long memory of a third round exit, all Habs fans should feel pride that what was achieved this year was well beyond the expected.
Once again the pundits, despite a second place finish in the East the year before, had the Habs destined for a mid-April golf vacation.
The pundits always underestimate the Canadiens. It must be that many never actually watch them.
This year, though they loathed having to watch Montreal, they were forced to because the Habs didn't miss the playoffs as they had thought, but overachieved time and time again.
The Habs provided so many great memories for their fans the last season:
- The 39 goal performance of Max Pacioretty
- The coming of age of Carey Price with two series wins massively out playing the upcoming Vezina winner Rask and also claiming a gold medal with an obscenely good save percentage
- The greatest career recovery I can ever remember achieved by David Desharnais going from one assist in his first 19 games to among the best forwards in the playoffs
- The arrival of Lars Eller as a force
- A backup goalie who came from nowhere and matched Henrik Lundqvist save for save
- The persistence of Brendan Gallagher
- The sophomore ready to break out and star Alex Galchenyuk
- The maturity and excellence and strength of character of PK Subban
- The commitment shining through of Josh Gorges
- The surprises of Dale Weise and Mike Weaver acquired for a song
The list continues. The Habs were in the final four for the Stanley Cup.
A young team that can only get better
The ultimate goal looks closer than it has in a long time.
The nucleus is so young.
From the 20-year-old Galchenyuk to the top goal man Pacioretty at 25, to the 25-year-old Subban.
Add and subtract some parts to get some more size and even Glenn Healy will have to say something nice about Montreal.
The Habs do need to get bigger.
I love how Steve Yzerman in Tampa said it when trading away a small player to Ottawa to get Ben Bishop.
He said "I already have one small player" as if to suggest that two would be silly of course.
Well the Habs have a lot of small players and they need to get bigger.
Bergevin likes to say that you need a balance. He's right.
Just big means slow. Just fast might mean pushed around, especially in the post season.
I believe at last check there were only two players in the entire West at 5 foot 10 or less.
On the Habs there are Briere, Gionta, Weaver, Desharnais, Bouillon, Gallagher.
You can't win with six small guys.
You eventually, as a team, wear down. The playoff grind is too much.
I am not advocating wholesale change but some changes are needed.
Brian Gionta still plays good defence. He is a great leader.
However he had one goal in 17 games in the playoffs.
He won't want to take a significant pay cut and he's going to have to test the free agency market to learn that.
Bouillon has probably played his last game with the Habs.
I hope he finds a home though. I think he still has some hockey left.
Mike Weaver is one of the smartest defencemen you're going to meet.
He is small but I think the Habs would be well served to award him a reasonable contract.
Weaver is as smart and savvy as they come.
Thomas Vanek played his way out of a big offer to stay in Montreal.
I would be surprised if Vanek was actually healthy to learn that he gets any offer at all.
I would not offer him a contract. He is 31 and looked like he just couldn't elevate his game anymore.
However I also presume someone is going to throw $53 million at him for 7 years.
I don't think that would be wise.
If he was injured then he's off the hook.
The Habs have two big needs.
One is a big winger to replace Gionta. I like Jarome Iginla here on a short-term deal. I also like Matt Moulson on a long-term deal.
They need another high quality defenceman to play with PK Subban.
A stay-at-home type but solid and strong.
I think they can get that type of player by giving up Tomas Plekanec.
The Hawks have a long list of talented defencemen but they need some strength down the middle.
The Hawks C are getting killed by LA's C.
The Habs will have an abundance of strength at centre when they enter camp making the move - Alex Galchenyuk to centre.
He was excellent and can elevate his game already at 20. That's something.
Centres are then Desharnais, Galchenyuk, and Eller with Briere or White at 4.
Plekanec, who did not have a strong defensive playoff, is ready to be replaced by Eller who did.
Eller is ready for the shut down role.
Plekanec can be moved for a big talented D or a big talented winger.
Either position, but the time is now.
Eventually the Habs bring in Jakob De La Rose, the second rounder out of Sweden, to strengthen the wing nicely as he is going to be a stud.
Beaulieu and Tinordi are worked in on the blue line in October so they can be more battle ready in April.
I am convinced bloggers are giving up on McCarron way too soon. No one said he was going to be a fast arriver.
Patience for a big man. He's a giant puppy not grown into his own paws yet.
What will Bergevin do?
The building blocks are well in place. And with the Habs mounting a good run, Bergevin has a lot better chance of convincing a free agent to come to Montreal to be part of something growing.
The long view looks very good.
The roster broken down as a depth chart has very few holes.
The club has $8 to 10 million to spend even after paying Subban huge dollars and offering a two year to Markov.
They can spend $8 million on a free agent and trade Plekanec so Galchenyuk can slide into centre and they'll be even better than this playoff run.
Bergevin and Therrien know what mistakes they made last year. I doubt they'll make them again.
Bergevin won't get another enforcer or another slow foot.
He's a smart man. He's the right man.
He completely redeemed his bad off-season with a superb in season with moves of Weaver, Vanek, and Weise. Bergevin and his staff have a lot of skills.
There's no guarantee that any season goes well for any team but look at the growth.
This is a Habs team that was last in the East two years ago.
They drafted third that year they were so bad.
Everyone is commended for a season of overachieving. Expect more of the same next year.
Expect a chance at the Cup with some bigger size and a couple more components.
Time for great expectations.
The Bruins are losing an effective Chara soon.
Their chart is a descending line.
The Habs are ascending.
It's a sea change soon in the Atlantic and the Habs will be at the helm.