Fresh Faces for the 2016-17 Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens’ have been very active in both the trade and free agent markets in the past month and Canadiens’ Exec Marc Bergevin is at the center of the activity. There’s a lot of new faces that Bergevin believes will push the Canadiens’ back into serious contention to win the Atlantic Division and hoist Lord Stanley in 2017. Let’s get to know them.
The first major move occurred just before the 2016 draft in Buffalo, NY. Bergevin swung a deal with the Chicago BlackHawks’ to obtain the negotiating rights for forward Andrew Shaw. The Habs only gave up two second round draft picks for the upcoming 2016 draft. Bergevin acted quickly, inking Shaw to a six year deal, securing his services to pester the front of the net with opposing goalies being the victims. During his career Shaw has 70 goals and 67 assists for a total of 137 points in 322 career games, with two rings as a member of the 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks. He is an upgrade which will add intensity and toughness lacking with the Canadiens.
The second major move occurred just after the draft with a straight trade occurring involving the Nashville Predators. Montreal says goodbye to P.K Subban and in return they receive 30 year old Shea Weber who has several years left on a monstrous contract that may have cap implications down the road. Weber brings 166 goals, 277 assists, for a total of 443 points and immediately will fill in the top pairing for Montreal. Many hockey experts are critical of the deal due to age of both players ( Subban is 27) with one former Habs analytics consultant Mark Pfeffer imploring management to keep Subban instead of trading him. It will be a good two years to get an actual gauge on who wins the deal, but for now the jury is out.
Other moves made during the free agency period seem to be more ancillary in nature. The Habs signed former Colorado Avalanche blue liner Zach Redmond to a two year deal worth $1.25 million. During the 2015-16 year he tallied six points with 22 shots on goal with a plus -5 rating and will compete for the bottom pairing role on the blue line. Bergevin looking to add competition, signed free agent goaltender Al Montoya to a one year $950,000 deal and if he stays with the club, should provide solid backup to phenom Carey Price who will recover fully from his injury plagued 2015-16 campaign for the Canadiens.
A curious move was the signing of Alexander Radulov who was not in the NHL for awhile. The one year $5.75 million price tag raised some eyebrows as the knock on Radulov is a load of talent and scoring ability yet short on work ethic and bringing his “A” game every night. The press in Montreal might give management a hard time if this does not work.
Marc Bergevin has been in Montreal for five seasons now and he seems to be staking his job on some of these moves that can get Montreal right back in the mix. The collapse last year can be attributed to the loss of Price, but if the woes continue, there may be some changes on the horizon at Bell Center Central.