Overview: The Habs were a team that struggled to make the playoffs last year. They had stretches of games where they looked like they didn’t care, they were outshot and outplayed in many games, and had to rely on other teams to squeak into the postseason. That’s two years in a row now. Two seasons ago, they made it in because of a tiebreaker, last year by one point.
In the offseason, they didn’t do much to address any needs or concerns. That’s not a good sign for Habs fans.
Best offseason move: Trading away Jaroslav Halak for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz. Yes, most Habs fans think this was a horrid trade. But it wound up being pretty shrewd. By trading Halak early, the Habs management managed to get a decent return for him. If they decided to wait, nothing would have happened. This past summer saw about eight or nine number one goalies available. Nabokov, Huet, Turco, Mason, Theodore, Ellis, Emery, Niemi, Leighton and maybe Toskala and Biron if you think they are still #1 goalies (I don’t). That’s nine #1 goalies, plus two other former #1 goalies. And that also doesn’t include prospect Corey Schneider in Vancouver, who would probably be starting for a lot teams right about now.
So in essence, if the Habs had waited to move Halak, they wouldn’t have gotten such a good prospect for him. Don’t forget, Eller was the second-highest rated prospect in the Blues organization. That’s got to count for something.
Worst offseason move: Signing Tomas Plekanec for too much money. My buddy Dave disagrees with me. But I still think paying $5 million a year to an undersized centre who doesn’t make his linemates better, can’t score in the shootout, can’t win the majority of the faceoffs, and has more up and down seasons than Sheldon Souray is a little much.
Dark horse trophy candidate: Mike Cammalleri for the Rocket Richard.
Pool pick: Andrei Kostitsyn. He was benched for part of the playoffs, he was injured for part of the year, and his brother was traded. So he should be properly motivated. He’ll rebound this season. Look for about 60 points from him. Who to stay away from: The aforementioned Plekanec. He has a good year, then a bad year, then a good year, etc. He’s due for a bad year. Look for him to finish around 45 points.
Sporcle quiz: Can you name the Habs top 100 players of all-time?
Best hall of fame choice: Sadly enough, it’s Carey Price. No one on offence has the numbers good enough to warrant hall of fame consideration. And on defence, it’s just Andrei Markov, and he doesn’t belong either. The Habs best chance right now lies with Price.
My Prediction: Fourth in the Northeast, 10th in the East
Famous celebrity from that city: Maryse Ouellet