10 days ago, the Montreal Canadiens were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They were ousted by the New York Rangers in 6 games in the 1st round. Although many thought the Habs were the better team throughout the series, they were unable to put the puck past Henrik Lundqvist.
With a disappointing end to what should have been a long playoff run, the Habs management will do everything it can during the offseason to ensure next year’s team will be a contender. With this in mind, there will be many key changes this offseason, with several players and staff moving in and out.
Although it has only been less than 2 weeks, we have already seen a few changes since the Habs were eliminated. In case you missed anything, here are some important things that happened in the 10 days since Montreal’s disappointing game 6 loss.
Post-Season Press Conference
Alex Galchenyuk‘s Short-Term Future Is On The Wing
This is not what many Habs wanted to hear. Despite in need of a top center, they are deciding to keep their best option on the wing. Galchenyuk was 3rd in points and 2nd in points per game on the Habs, while playing most of these games at center. Despite a few rough patches, Galchenyuk has shown the potential to be the #1 Center the Habs are looking for. There is no good reason why the Habs are opting to put him on the wing and stunt his growth even more than it has already been. On the bright side, Claude Julien contradicted Bergevin’s statement and said that ideally, Galchenyuk will be playing center. Julien’s statement adds a little hope to the situation, but most signs still point to Galchenyuk playing wing.
The Clock Is Ticking For Nathan Beaulieu
Since being drafted in 2011, Beaulieu has shown signs of reaching his potential but has been unable to fully prove that he is the player the Habs drafted him to be. He continued this trend this season and ended the year off as a healthy scratch. The management’s patience with Beaulieu is running low, and they seem to be unsure of how he should be expected. Do not be surprised is Beaulieu is left unprotected for the Expansion Draft or is involved in a trade this offseason.
Carey Price Is Going Nowhere
*Phew*. After the Habs were eliminated, many fans started to talk about a Carey Price trade. Although yet another disappointing year, the Habs NEED Price. If he is moved, this team is no longer a contender. Thankfully, Bergevin has put an end to these rumors. He stated that he will definitely not trade Carey Price, and hopes to get him signed up long-term once the rules allow him to. Then again, he said the same thing about P.K. Subban.
Hoping To Re-Sign Alexander Radulov
With the Habs winger being a free agent in the summer, Bergevin knows that Radulov is a must have on this team. Losing Radulov would massively reduce our scoring, and would really hurt our chances of winning. Radulov had 18 goals, 36 Assists, and 54 points, good enough for second on the Habs. He was also Montreal’s leading scorer in the playoffs with his 7 points. Radulov is not replaceable, and with an already struggling offense, the Habs need to get him signed.
Habs Sign Defender Jakub Jerabek
The Habs have announced the signing of 25-year-old Czech defender Jakub Jerabek. Jerabek, who comes in at 5.10, is a smooth puck moving defensemen who played with Chekhov Vityaz of the KHL. In 59 games, Jerabek put up 5 goals and 29 assists, giving him 34 points and a 0.58 points per game average. These numbers are very good for a young defenseman. His 34 points placed him 5th in defense scoring in the whole KHL. Expect Jerabek to be a part of Montreal’s roster come game 1 next season. Jerabek was signed to a 1 year, 2-way contract with a cap hit of $925,000. As per Pierre LeBrun, 8 other teams put in offers for Jerabek, but he decided to choose Montreal.
Overall, this is a really good signing for Montreal. As we seen throughout this year, the Habs really lack a good puck moving defensemen, and Jerabek brings this to the table. It also provides good insurance for the upcoming expansion draft. There is a very good chance that one of Nathan Beaulieu or Jordie Benn is claimed in the expansion draft. Jerabek will be able to replace the lost player, and the Habs will leave the expansion draft in good shape. Lastly, with Jerabek signing short-term for cheap, even if it does not work out the for the Habs they will not be hurt in any way. It’s a low risk, high reward situation, and you can never go wrong in one of those.
Here’s a little look at what Montreal’s new signing can do (7 red):
Habs Sign Prospect Antoine Waked
The Habs have added to their prospect pool and signed 6.01, 20-year-old forward Antoine Waked to a 3-year entry-level deal. Waked finished off his overage season in the QMJHL with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies this season. He put up a solid 80 points in 67 games, including 39 goals. Waked saw large improvements in his game this past year. His 80 points just this year were more than his past 3 QMJHL seasons combined (77 points). It is unknown whether this was just a result of being overaged or just plain luck, but Waked still showed big improvements and signs of having good potential. Chances are Waked may not be an impact player with the Habs for the rest of his career, but you can never go wrong with a free prospect.
Here are Waked’s season highlights (#19):
Assistant Coach Clement Jodoin Leaves
Assistant coach Clement Jodoin has left the Habs organization. Jodoin stated that he wished to pursue other opportunities apart from Montreal. This was Jodoin’s second tenure with the Habs. His first one came between 1997-2003, and the second from 2012 until now. Both times around, Jodoin assisted Michel Therrien, so it is no surprise to see him leave once Therrien was fired. Jodoin was not the greatest coach out there, and him leaving could be a good thing. There were many firings throughout this seasons, and Montreal should be able to improve with whoever is hired as a replacement. With one assistant coach already gone, expected others to follow as new head coaches usually like to pick their own assistants.
No Vadim Shipachyov For Montreal
There was a lot of hope that the Habs would sign Vadim Shipachyov to fill their 1st line center role. Montreal’s chances of signing him looked good, especially with his fellow Russian friend Alex Radulov being able to put in a good word. Shipachyov is one of the top KHL players and would make big improvements to whichever team is able to land him. Unfortunately, Shipachyov has put Montreal’s hope to rest. Word got out that Shipachyov is looking to sign in the NHL, but not with the Montreal Canadiens. He has received several offers, but the Habs are looking elsewhere. Shipachyov would have been a big add for the Habs, increasing their offense greatly. It is very unfortunate they were unable to scoop him up.
We have already seen signs of how crazy this offseason will be for Montreal. Keep in mind it has not even been 2 weeks since the Habs season ended. There will be many big things happening this offseason within the Habs organization. Stay tuned and continue to look out for other articles.