The Canadiens Have Given Their Fans Many Reasons To Be Optimistic

Fans are impatient. WHAT? No they’re not! Now hurry up with your preface and get to the point! We want our cake and eat it too. We want to trade for the best players but we don’t want to give up our own good players to obtain what we want. Every single UFA should want to sign with our team. Taxes, weather, language, media, fans… those are just excuses. Rebuild? Retool? Reset? That should all be done overnight. The player development sucks but we want our prospects with the big club now! If that’s not impatience… what is it then? Bipolarity?

What we’re hearing right now from those who hate Marc Bergevin‘s gut is… finally! By giving credit to his work since the Canadiens were eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers, they still want everyone to agree with them for being so critical. Oh come on, they don’t do that! Yeah, right. Nice try!

A much improved team

Again, on Bergevin’s ‘to do’ list, he had to solidify his defense. He had to get bigger up front. Bergevin had to add some scoring. He also needed to find a backup goaltender worthy of that name. Check, check, check and check! One little addition that I would personally like to see happening is the addition of a 3rd-4th line winger with size and grit, someone who hits everything that moves and can protect his teammates. We’ll see if that happens.

Josh Anderson

Many seem to downplay the impact Josh Anderson can and should have on this line-up. When Jeff Petry said, after the teams elimination, that they needed size and grit on the top-six, Bergevin listened. His shoulder is at 100% and he would have played had the Blue Jackets moved onto the next round. The most laughable comment is when someone claims that he won’t help because he only had one goal last season. No mention of him playing hurt and mostly, no mentions that he’s only played 26 games. It’s kind of reminiscent of when the Canadiens acquired Max Domi, when the same people were going on about his number of goals, and most in empty nets, doesn’t it?

With Alexander Romanov, Joel Edmundson, Tyler Toffoli and Jake Allen, Bergevin added four players to his formation without losing any immediate assets in return. Those additions provide quality depth in the organisation. Don’t be mistaken, the Habs do have quality depth but most of those players are still playing in Europe or in American Colleges. Let’s now look at what they bring individually.

Alexander Romanov

Dominant at every level that he’s played, it was obvious that his KHL team, CSKA Moskva, would not give him the deserving ice time since he wouldn’t commit to them for next season. Many KHL teams do that to their young Russian players in a desperate attempt at convincing them to stay with them instead of pursuing their dream of playing in the NHL.

Standing at 5-foot eleven-inches, Romanov will be the smallest defenseman (in height) in Montreal, after Victor Mete, that is. But don’t be fooled. Romanov is a hitter. A major league hitter and playing on the smaller North American ice surfaces will suit him perfectly. Armed with a good mix of mobility and physicality, he is said to have a good hockey IQ. Let’s put it this way: he will be better than Xavier Ouellet, who was a regular in the playoffs.

Joel Edmundson

It’s incredible to see how little respect this guy gets from around the league, even from some pundits in Montreal. Truthfully, it’s reminiscent of what they were all saying about Ben Chiarot when the Canadiens signed him a couple of summers ago. Like Chiarot, he is big. He is mean. And he loves and is fully capable of using his big body. Now let’s just hope that like Chiarot, Edmundson proves his GM right for offering him a contract. With Romanov, that’s not one, but two defensemen added to the depth chart without losing a player in a trade.

Jake Allen

Jake Allen’s mask

It’s amazing how fans of other teams in particular, downplay the role of a backup. Here in Montreal, we understand how important it is and yet, we are fortunate to have one of the best starters on the planet! Cayden Primeau did well in the couple of games he’s played with the Habs but he is not a backup. He needs to play and play often to continue his development. Here’s what the Habs’ backups did last season, in comparison to the work Allen did in St. Louis. Being able to play your backup more and get a few points out of it allows for proper rest for Carey Price and we saw what he can do when well rested.

NAMEGPWLOTGAASv%SO
Keith Kinkaid61134.24.8750
Charlie Lindgren62403.33.8880
Jake Allen2412632.15.9272

Tyler Toffoli

Living out west, I’ve always loved Toffoli both in Los Angeles or in his short stint with the Canucks, where he managed 10 points (6G) in 10 regular season games. He also added two goals and two assists for the Canucks in their seven playoffs games. He’s a perennial 20-25 goals scorer and he was on pace for another 25 goals last season before COVID-19 cut the season short. With Anderson and newly re-signed Brendan Gallagher, his addition gives you three potential 20-30 goals scorers from the right wing.

From last season

➡️ Jonathan Drouin healthy? Had all of his points in 18GP prior to injury: 7G – 8A – 15Pts and the eye test will tell you that he was more involved, wanted the puck on his stick and went to the dirty places. In the playoffs, people talk about Nick Suzuki (and rightfully so) but they forget that Drouin let the team in points, tied with the rookie centre. Much like Anderson, Drouin only played 27 games so it’s only fair to say that he’ll greatly improve on that.

➡️ Speaking of Suzuki, we might as well talk about him. Just as impressive he was in regular season, earning him votes for the Calder Trophy, how he was able to raise his game in the playoffs is even more encouraging. That’s also what makes me believe that unlike Jesperi Kotkaniemi last year, he won’t suffer the same setback in his sophomore year. The kid will only get better with time.

➡️ Let’s discuss Kotkaniemi, shall we? The way he came back in the playoffs, when players raise their games and there are no easy teams is encouraging at the very least. A real hitting machine and goals’ scorer, he seems so much stronger on his feet. I think it’s only fair to say that he will improve on his eight points from last year, isn’t it?

A playoffs’ team

Here’s what the Canadiens have lost and gained from last season’s regular season team.

OUTIN
Max Domi (Top-9 C)Josh Anderson (Top-6/9 RW)
Nate Thompson (4th line C)Alexander Romanov (5-6 D)
Nick Cousins (3rd-4th line LW)Joel Edmundson (4-5 D)
Dale Weise (4th line RW/scratch)Tyler Toffoli (Top-6/9 RW)
Keith Kinkaid (G)Jake Allen (G)

And add Jake Evans or Ryan Poehling, whoever wins the battle, to take over Thompson’s spot as the fourth line centre. The Canadiens lose in experience at that position, but gain in energy and youth. So with those additions, tell me again how this team isn’t the most improved in the Atlantic division and one of the most improved in the entire NHL. They should be in the playoffs next season and don’t be surprised to see them make some noise… whenever the NHL resumes play.

Yes, yes Mr. Molson, we are pumped. And fans want to thank you for being patient with Marc Bergevin when you could have easily could have panicked and fired him in the summer of 2018. Yet another solid proof that dealing from an emotional standpoint like fans are doing is not good when in a position of power. But you already know that as a successful businessman and, as it is more and more evident, a good hockey President and executive. Looking at everything done this summer (and prior), it’s hard not to be pumped! Go Habs Go!

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