With that in mind, I humbly offer the Habs a few suggestions for the coming months.
1- At last years trade deadline, I felt the Habs would do well to move Andrei Markov, David Desharnais and maybe even Tomas Plekanec if the offer was a real solid one. The reasoning behind that was:
a) The team had some important pieces missing if they were to become a top-end team in the NHL , (A Top line Centre, a scoring-winger and a bonafide top two defenseman), pieces that could best be acquired by trading proven assets for youngsters who had not yet had the opportunity. Getting a older veteran was not my preferred solution.
b) That their current youngsters (Galchenyuk, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Bournival) needed to get a good deal of ice-time in the roles they are meant to play going forward.
Habs didn’t do that last year so I feel they will have to do this now. If they can move the same assets mentioned earlier, I think they will be better off going forwards. Getting a real top line center, top six winger and top 3 defensemen can’t be done during one off-season.
Bergevin should give the youngsters he has now some real playing time while at the same time accumulating a few more assets and improve the quality of the team’s depth. Once this is done, the next step has to happen:
2- Bergevin and Therrien have to learn to place more trust in their youngsters.
I understand the importance of veterans on a team but there is something to be said about giving them too much respect.
Facts are that some did not produce enough during the season and a few were a non-factor during the playoffs while some youngsters had too little rope. The Tampa Bay line of Kucherov-Johnson and Palat were great for the Lightning during the playoffs and featured a 2nd round pick, a 7th round pick and an undrafted player.
Maybe Montreal has that kind of talent but management will never know if youngsters are not given real opportunities without the fear that one mistake will mean a trip to the press box or a demotion to the AHL.
3 – Beware of July 1st
Habs may be close to being a top team but they shouldn’t jump on the Free Agency market to fill their needs. Many times, the players available are aging players whose best years are behind them, and on top of that, you have to overpay to get them. Players are an asset but so is available cap space.
Bergevin should tread very carefully. Don’t go for the best available solution, chose the right solution.
4 – Habs need to be patient.
Usually, it’s preferable to get players during the off-season so they can ease into a new team/city but cost may be lesser once the season begins. Team with high-expectations flounder and get desperate for help, some teams decide a rebuild is in order and start giving up assets or some teams need cap relief.
This may be a good opportunity for Bergevin and the pro scouting staff to make something happen. Rangers have mortgaged their future for a big playoff run. Maybe a Brassard or Stepan becomes available?
The Blues feel they should contend but had a difficult post-season, can they get desperate if things don’t go well next season? They have a lot of depth in their organisation. Maybe a talented francophone player like Xavier Ouellet could be an helpful piece to the puzzle. Oh, and did Jimmy Develanno not say just a few weeks ago that he expected a lot more from Anthony Mantha?
Not saying any of these are possible but a creative, bold General-Manager can make things happen.
Habs have some good pieces but Bergevin needs to do a few things differently if they are to move forward. He needs to re-evaluate the coach, the players, the whole hockey staff …and even the GM.
So what do YOU think the Canadiens need to do in order to get better?
Rick has been a scout, and has been covering and writing about hockey for over a decade. Follow him on Twitter at Rick1042