The Habs are in the swamp tonight to face the Devils who currently hold down 8th place in the Eastern Conference. Montreal sits 10 points behind the Devils in the standings and may have passed officially into the ‘playing for pride’ territory after the disappointing loss to the Sabres on Tuesday night. Myself, I’ve been in future planning mode since before the Kaberle deal. One thing is for certain – it will be very interesting to see what the Canadiens do this season in terms of becoming “sellers” for the first time since before the lockout. Can management parlay some older veterans into capspace or players for the roster for next season? Can they gain a few draft picks in advance of the draft with which to replenish a rather depleted Hamilton lineup?
Speaking of the Hamilton lineup – if you need further evidence that Montreal needs to restock the cupboards, look no further than Steel Town. Louis Leblanc (17 points in 25 games) and Aaron Pulashaj (28 points in 29 games) are the only forwards of note currently on the team. Brian Willsie and Garrett Stafford are both career AHLers in their 30s, while Phil DeSimone, Brock Trotter, and Andreas Enqvist all seem to have ceilings as decent-to-good AHLers.
Help is on the way as Hamilton could be bolstered by the addition of some or all of Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Brendan Gallagher, Danny Kristo, and Michael Bournival. In a perfect world Montreal would have such a deep pool of waiting NHL talent that they could a) open up trades for NHL ready players and b) wouldn’t have to start using players like Leblanc until they are ready to play in the NHL. Right now this is not the case, which is why Montreal should be looking to hoard prospects/ draft picks between now and the end of the year.
The NHL is becoming a young mans game, every season. The best way to compete is to have young, cost-controlled players producing at a level that exceeds their pay. This has been the one bright spot (excluding Eric Cole) on Montreal’s team this year with Desharnais, Pacioretty, Eller and a few others who’ve provided value. By taking a losing season and using leverage to earn picks and young players Montreal can avoid a long rebuild by getting started a year early.
Go Habs Go!!!