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2018-2019 NHL Preview: Montreal Canadiens

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Carey Price’s play in net will help turn their season the right way.

Winnipeg Jets v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Eleventh up are the Montreal Canadiens (currently in their 101st season in the NHL). They have made the playoffs 2 of their last four years dipping in and out each year.

2017 – 2018 NHL Stats:

NHL Standings: 28th
Goals for Rank: 29th
Goals against Rank: 27th
PP Rank: 12th
PK Rank: 30th

Projected 2018-2019 NHL Stats

NHL Standings: 21st
Eastern Conference Standings: 10th
Atlantic Division Standings: 5th
Coach: Claude Julien (117-109-10-29 regular season; 6-11 playoffs).

Overview:

Claude Julien’s first full year back with Montreal in 12 years was less than successful. They finished with a 29-40-13 record one year removed from finishing first in their division. They were bad on offense and defense and the sole good part of their season was their power play. The top line of Max Pacioretty, and Brendan Gallagher was improved by the trade for Jonathan Drouin last year but more needs to be expected out of them. Personally, I’m curious on a potential second line that includes newly acquired Max Domi, Phillip Danault and Artturi Lehkonen as it would be a nice blend of playmaking (Phillip Danault) scoring (Artturi Lehkonen) and the grinder (Max Domi). The loss of Alex Galchenyuk leaves a void on the offense that this 2nd line will need to fill. Shea Weber is an elite defender on the wanning years of his career but he still holds a strong PP presence with his shot. Behind him sit Jeff Petry, Karl Alzner and David Shlemko who are all average to below average. It’s not the worst defensive unit but it could use some improvements. The most important piece to this team is Carey Price (on a new contract with a cap hit of $10.5MM per year) who had a substandard year last year at 3.11 GAA and .900 Sv % going 16-26. Antti Niemi proved to be better at 2.46 GAA and .929 Sv %. Carey should bounce back which will help this teams chance drastically but the days of him carrying the entire team to the top of the standings are likely behind us.

Major Additions:

Steve Mason, Max Domi

Major Subtractions:

Alex Galchenyuk,

Prospects and Picks:

-Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Selected 3rd overall in the 2018 draft, it surprised some as a bit earlier than he was anticipated to go. The Canadiens needed a center and went for the one they wanted. At just 18 years old, he spent a whole season at the highest Finish league Liiga scoring 29 points in 57 games. He is an adept player who backchecks hard, plays smart and has good hands both navigating through the ice and shooting on net. He will need to get a bit stronger physically and skating as he transitions into the NHL.

-Ryan Poehling. The 25th overall pick in the 2017 draft spent last season in St. Cloud State where he put up 31 points in 36 games including 14 goals. He was put on the U-18 team as a shutdown player for opposing top players which he did quite well while also scoring 3 points in 7 games. He is strong on his skates and is not afraid to use his large build on the ice. He could be more present on offense shooting the puck but he is a team first player. Look for him to spend another year at St. Cloud and then work his way up to the pros.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:

-Max Domi. Last year he had just 45 points with 9 PPP on a struggling Arizona team. He has not made quantum leaps in terms of offensive firepower but if he joins the Montreal Powerplay and sits on the 2nd line alongside Danault and Lehkonen there is an argument to be made that he could post 20+ power play points and go back to his rookie year numbers where he eclipsed 50 points (potentially sniffing near 60 points). Claude Julien always finds a way to get his grinders involved in point production deep in plays so I feel good about this connection.

Cap Situation:

$58MM Spent; $17M in Cap room; 22 players signed; average team age 26.

Poll

Will Carey Price be a top 5 goalie in GAA or Sv %?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Yes top 5 in GAA
    (1 vote)
  • 12%
    Yes top 5 in Sv%
    (6 votes)
  • 38%
    Yes, top 5 in both GAA and Sv %
    (18 votes)
  • 46%
    No, outside top 5 in both
    (22 votes)
47 votes total Vote Now