Tomas Plekanec led all Montreal Canadiens in scoring this past season, with his breakout campaign. Although he did not establish career highs in goals — which he did back in 2007-2008 with Alexei Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn sniping on both sides of him — every other category got a boost. Somehow Plekanec managed to increase his point totals while decreasing his goals both at even strength and on the powerplay. In other words, his playmaking skills really came to fruition and he started to become a consistent fantasy player and earned himself a new contract because of it.
Michael Cammalleri most likely would have led the team in scoring had he not gotten injured on one fateful hockey day in Canada. Cammalleri still finished with a reasonable 50 points in 65 games and should be penciled in for at least 70 points next season if he manages to stay healthy.
Brian Gionta continues to be a 20 goal machine and scored an impressive 28 in only 61 games. This past season marks his sixth straight over 20– in other words if he can suit up for over 60 games pencil in for 20 notches. His partner in crime, Scott Gomez, can be put down for 40 assists likewise and has only fallen below that margin once in his career during his second NHL season. These type of depth players win championships if they are your 4th line forwards. They also make for decent stream plays although they can be incredibly streaky.
After those four vets, there are some potential players. Kostitsyn still knows how to put the puck in the net and may be less distracted without his controversial younger brother in the system. His point totals have declined for the last three seasons but he is entering his fourth full season professionally and could in theory put it all together. Similarly, Benoit Pouliot showed some of the scoring prowess that made him a 4th overall pick. He remains an outside shot at hitting 20 goals if he plays with Gionta and Gomez again.
Andrei Markov may not be ready for the start of the season, which is good only for PK Subban owners. Just like in the playoffs Subban will need to be their offensive force from the blue line. Thus far the Canadiens have not re-signed their powerplay quarterback of last year, Marc-Andre Bergeron, and must have faith in their core moving forward.
Josh Gorges and Hal Gill showed in the postseason they could be a premier shutdown tandem making the team rely on them with Markov out and a rookie as their leading point getter. Jaroslav Spacek and Roman Hamrlik could chip in some points but with both of them 36 years of age fantasy owners have better options.
Not much to see here except maybe trading your MVP and savior.
Aside from Craig Anderson, the best waiver wire pickup had to be Jaroslav Halak. He led the team with 26 wins against 13 losses while his counterpart Carey Price carried a more pedestrian 13-20 record.
At least Cammalleri has faith in Price. Goaltenders can be fickle and perhaps Halak will be a flash in the pan talent but Price has yet to show at the NHL level he can handle the load and essentially lost the job last year. His pedigree as a 5th overall pick can only carry him so far so this season will definitely be a test of his abilities.
On the Bench:
Jacques Martin has 11 playoff appearances in his 15 season as a head coach which explains how the scrappy Canadiens made it into the postseason. When you take out an abysmal year in the begining of the Ottawa Senators era and all three seasons with the Florida Panthers, Martin looks even better as a coach.
Martin made the most with what the Canadiens gave to him and it showed as a team nobody expected to win defeated both of the Eastern Conference powerhouses before showing their exhaustion against the Flyers. Expect more of the same this coming season.
The Bottom Line:
So far the Canadiens have limited their damage control by re-signing Plekanec and Pouliot but traded their most valuable player in order to acquire forward depth. Time will tell how their blockbuster trade will work out and by all means Lars Eller looks like a keeper, but was he worth the price? Price could be the dark horse of the season or yet another highly touted young netminder to never reach his potential. Too many questions if you ask me, there will be much safer bets come next season.