Canadian general manager Marc Bergevin can take a vacation and have peace of mind. The Habs now have the elements to compete with all teams in the East, including the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It has been a long time since we have seen the leaders, the players, the media and the supporters so optimistic about an alignment of the CH. With reason.
What we can understand is that Bergevin heard the message from Carey Price, who repeated that he wanted to win in the short term. He also saw that the roster he had in 2019-2020 could aspire to be better than what it showed in the regular season. The team were transformed in the playoffs and, had it not been for a glaring lack of offense, they might have been able to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers.
Bergevin therefore set to work to resolve this shortcoming and he succeeded in his mission. The arrival of Josh Anderson is ingenious on several levels. First of all, the power forward will bring a different dimension to the team who were clearly looking to add some muscle. Also, from what we hear, the new No. 17 of the team will bring a good attitude in the locker room, which was criticized Max Domi. Then, Tyler Toffoli is a player known for his scoring skills. It can be used on the power play and give the CH some important goals.
In a matter of weeks, what seemed like a weakness, the attack, seemed to become a strength.
GALLAGHER AND DANAULT
Obviously, that’s not to mention the contract extension to Brendan Gallagher.
The Canadian had no choice but to get along with him in the long term. Its impact is too important and we saw it during the last playoffs.
Gallagher had agreed to a cheap contract extension in 2015 and CH owed him that recognition.
In addition to Gallagher, the CH recently secured the services of Jeff Petry on a long-term basis and, although they did not want to confirm this at a press briefing on Thursday, their priority is now the dossier. Phillip Danault.
I remain convinced that the Quebecer will find a way to come to an understanding with the Canadian. It would be the best option, both for him and for the team.
Danault remains an important piece in the CH puzzle. His experience and his qualities both in attack and defense allow him to occupy several different chairs in the lineup. He’s a guy the coach can send out to the ice to keep the momentum after a goal scored, just like when his team has just conceded one. It takes smart players who are able to understand situations and adapt.
In a matter of weeks, the Canadiens’ message changed from “let’s be patient and trust the young” to “we have the elements to be competitive quickly”.
The Canadian has been drafted well in recent years and the youngsters are ready. The youth-veteran mix makes it possible to believe in the team’s chances. Suddenly the team can hope to win. The Tampa Bay Lightning has become the new benchmark because of its conquest of the Stanley Cup and the CH can compare to it. They have an equally good, if not a better goalie. As for the defensive brigade, the Lightning has the best defender of the group in Victor Hedman. However, in a unit of six, the CH compares favorably with Bolts. On the attack finally, in addition to Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, the Canadian has the necessary depth.
Am I saying the Canadiens are as good on paper as the Lightning? No.
But it is not far from being.
Echoes of Bergie
HALL DISAPPOINTED ME
Taylor Hall was the player I would have preferred to see in Montreal, out of all the forwards who had unrestricted free agent status. I have to admit that I was very disappointed to see him choose Buffalo after he mentioned that he wanted to play for an aspiring team. They say he would have preferred the Sabers to the Boston Bruins. After having lived through years of misery in Edmonton, New Jersey and Arizona, here he is signing with a team that will probably not make the playoffs. What you can understand from this, reading between the lines, is that Hall chose money over victory. It is his choice.
VEGAS AND ST-LOUIS
Among the teams that have improved over the last few days, I have to name the Vegas Golden Knights who got along with Alex Pietrangelo. Clearly, Vegas has been in win mode since setting foot in the NHL and the acquisition of Pietrangelo takes them even closer to the ultimate goal. I at least hope that they will have the courage to offer Marc-André Fleury to decide the next steps for him. A matter of respect. Besides, I also liked the way the Blues handled the loss of Pietrangelo. Doug Armstrong wasted no time in feeling sorry for himself and turned back to Torey Krug. Nice job.
We still don’t know when the next NHL season will start. In the last draft, commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned aiming for January 1 to kick off his circuit’s activities. I am one of the optimists on this file and I believe the NHL will be able to hold a season. The example of Major League Baseball (MLB) proves that, despite some pitfalls, it is possible to last a full season. The big difference between the MLB and the NHL, however, is that the National Hockey League has seven Canadian teams, compared to one in the MLB. This is why the current scenario of a Canadian division seems one of the most plausible options as long as a 14-day quarantine is required for visitors entering Canada.
– Interview by Kevin Dubé