After another disappointing year for the Montreal Canadiens, many have put the blame on General Manager Marc Bergevin. From the Subban-Weber trade all the way to the trade deadline, Bergevin has made some very questionable decisions during this past year. At the same time, he has also made some pretty good moves that have benefited this team greatly. Although the goods and bads, many have still been calling for Bergevin’s head after Montreal’s first-round loss to the Rangers.
It’s time to take a look at whether Bergevin is deserving of all this backlash from Habs fans. I will be grading all of his moves from the end of last season until the end of this season using the common lettering system. A will be very good, B good, C average, D bad, and F very bad. Keep note that I will be skipping minor league deals, RFA signings, and AHL free agent signings. All of the following moves will also be in chronological order.
May 8th and 18th: Bringing youngsters Artturi Lehkonen and Martin Reway over from Europe.
In the offseason, Bergevin expressed interest in the two European youngsters, signing both to entry level deals. Based on this season, it is safe to say that Bergevin made the right move in bringing these two to North America. Lehkonen had a great rookie year in the NHL, scoring 18 goals and 28 points. His 18 goals were good enough for 9th among rookies, and 3rd among Habs players. Lehkonen was also one of Montreal’s top players in the playoffs, picking up 2 goals and 2 assists, putting him 2nd on the team in playoff points. On the other hand, things are not going so well for Martin Reway. The Slovakian forward has unfortunately been hospitalized since last summer with Cardiac problems. Reway potentially could have cracked the lineup this season, and brought some much-needed scoring to the team. Reway’s absence will not affect Bergevin’s rating as it was a very good signing that was hurt by Reway’s unsuspected illness. Hopefully, for Reway, his recovery goes well and he can get back to playing hockey for the Habs.
June 2nd: Kirk Muller is signed as an Associate Coach
The return of Kirk Muller paid off well for the Habs. A Muller run powerplay was able to take a 3% jump up from the previous season. Also, Muller was very popular amongst Habs players. You would always see him giving valuable lessons on the bench, with the players taking note better than they would with other coaches. With a better powerplay and increased team morale, Muller was a great addition behind the bench for Montreal.
June 24th: Lars Eller is traded to the Washington Capitals for 2017 and 2018 2nd round picks
Lars Eller was a misused player under Michel Therrien and unfortunately did not fit in so well on the team. Getting two 2nds will help out Montreal down the road, as they currently have a mediocre prospect pool. Eller continued his average play with the Caps this year. Eller had 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points with the Caps, a 1 point decrease compared to last season with the Habs. Although they will be later picks, two 2nd rounders for a 25 point player is a good trade off, but nothing too substantial.
June 24th: Habs acquire Andrew Shaw from the Chicago Blackhawks for picks 39 and 45 in the 2016 Draft
Seconds after the Eller trade, the Habs announced they had given up both their 2nd rounders for the gritty Andrew Shaw. Shaw had a decent year with the Habs with his 12 goals and 28 points in only 68 games. Like the Eller trade, two 2nds is a lot to give up for a 3rd liner, but it made sense considering the Habs were looking to save their team after a brutal 2015-16 season. Before the picks were made, the trade was already pretty questionable, but it was the player who Chicago drafted that makes this trade look bad. At 39th overall, the Blackhawks selected Alex DeBrincat from the Erie Otters. After 2 straight 50+ goals, 100+ point season with the Otters, Debrincat took his game to another level. His 65 goals, 62 assists, and 127 points earned him the honors of the OHL most outstanding player award. With Shaw having an average season, and DeBrincat showing a ton of potential, this trade is not looking so good for Montreal as of today.
June 29th: PK Subban is traded to the Nashville
Predators straight up for Shea Weber
Here is the big one. Upon the first reaction, many Habs fans were in
shock after the blockbuster trade. Trading away fan favorite all-star defensemen PK Subban would be bad enough, but getting only a lesser, aging player in Shea Weber made this one sting even more for Habs fans. Although everyone understood this was a bad trade, many thought that this would at least help the Habs for a season or two. Unfortunately, despite what the eye test may say, these people were wrong. Although Weber finished the year with more points (42), Subban only got 2 less in 12 fewer games. This gives Subban 0.61 PPG compared to Weber’s 0.54. On top of that, Subban team had far more success when he was on the ice than the Habs did with Weber. Subban finished the year with a very good 54.87% Corsi percentage, compared to Weber’s 51.47%. For Subban, this was +4.6 in relation to his teammates, whereas Weber was a poor -1.8%. Although Weber may have been better in the corners, net front battles and things like that, these numbers also proved that Subban was the better defender due to not actually having to play much defense. While these numbers mean a lot, Subban is also leading in the most important factor; team success. While Weber is golfing after Montreal’s 1st round exit, Subban and his Nashville Predators are currently on the verge of heading to round 3. Don’t get me wrong, Weber was great for the Habs this year. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as good as Subban. Add this to the fact Subban is only getting better while Weber is getting worse, and this was a very bad trade.
July 1st: Alexander Radulov is signed to a 1-year deal.
When Radulov announced he was interested in making a return to the NHL, teams were very excited at the thought of signing the talented Russian. Although Radulov was very talented, everyone was also aware that Radulov had been a problem off-ice in his previous tenures in the NHL. Bergevin decided to take the risk and signed up Radulov to a 1 year, 5.75 million deal. After 1 season, the risk has definitely paid off for the Habs. Radulov was the best free agent signing of 2016 and had a great season with Montreal. He finished the year with 18 goals, 36 assists, and 54 points placing him 2nd on the Habs in scoring. Radulov was also Montreal’s best player in the playoffs, scoring 7 points in only 6 games. This was easily Bergevin’s best move this year, and it only seems to be getting better as Radulov is interested in signing long term with the Habs.
July 1st: Habs sign Al Montoya to back up Carey Price.
After Price got hurt last season, any goalie the Habs put in the net could not seem to get it done. With Price’s health in question, Bergevin knew he needed insurance in case Price would go down again. He solved this by picking up Al Montoya for 1 year. Thankfully for Montreal, Price stayed healthy and Montoya only had to play the backup role. Montoya had a decent year backing up Price, posting a 2.67 GAA and a .912 save percentage. More importantly, the Habs picked up 20 out of a possible 36 points when Montoya started. By finishing over .500, Montoya proved to be a solid backup, and Bergevin signed him for 2 more seasons. Although his season was average at best, he still provided enough for the Habs to find success.
Bergevin fires Head Coach Michel Therrien, hires Claude Julien
After years of little success, Bergevin finally decided to put his friendship behind him and fire Michel Therrien. After the Montreal’s play started to decline, it looked like the Habs could drop in the standings, and maybe even miss the playoffs once again. Luckily for the Habs, rivals Boston Bruins had recently fired former Stanley Cup winning Head Coach Claude Julien. Once Julien took over, the Habs turned their play around. They finished the regular season off 16-7-1. Although a good regular season, Julien was unable to find success in the playoffs, hurting his grade just slightly. The Habs still have several seasons with Julien on the bench, and this should lead to better years then what would have been if Therrien was not fired.
Mid season and trade deadline acquisitions
I’ll keep this part short and sweet, as no move was too big during the year.
Nikita Nesterov from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Jonathan Recine and a 6th round pick
Nesterov was nearly always a liability when he was on the ice for Montreal. Fortunately, they did not give up too much, as Racine is a career AHLer and it is unlikely anyone good is taken with the 6th rounder.
Jordie Benn from the Dallas Stars for Greg Pateryn and a 2017 4th round pick
Benn had a very solid time with the Habs. He helped out our d-core night in and night out, rarely putting in a poor performance. Pateryn was never able to secure a lineup spot with Montreal, and the 4th rounder should not be too big of a loss. Benn is also locked up for two more seasons with the Habs, barring he does not get picked up in the Expansion Draft.
Brandon Davidson from the Edmonton Oilers for David Desharnais
The main part of this deal was getting Desharnais’ 3.5m cap hit off Montreal’s back come trade deadline. Desharnais is doing decently with Edmonton but had little success in a depth role with Montreal. Davidson did not see much ice with the Habs, but controlled most of the offense in the time he did play. Overall, the effect of this trade is not that big at all.
Andreas Martinsen from the Colorado Avalanche for Sven Andrighetto
Yikes. Martinsen was very poor with Montreal and did not register a single point. Andrighetto, on the other hand, was one of the top players for Colorado, getting 15 points in just 19 games. Andrighetto is still only 24 and has a promising future ahead of him.
Dwight King from the LA Kings for a conditional 2018 4th round pick
Double yikes. King, who was mostly added for playoff experience was brutal for Montreal. He was far too slow to keep up with any line he was put on. In the 17 games he played with Montreal, he only managed to get 1 goal and 0 assists. Surprisingly, he was even worse in the playoffs, as he did not register a single point in 6 games, and was constantly a liability on that 4th line. On top of everything, if King is resigned that 4th round pick will change to a 3rd. A very good player can easily be taken at that point.
Steve Ott from the Detroit Red Wings for a 2017 6th round pick
Ott did exactly what he was brought in to do; grind it out and piss players off. Was that really worth a draft pick though?
Bergevin’s Overall Grade: C-
Overall, Bergevin did not do as bad as many would say. He did very good with his free agent signings in Radulov and Lehkonen and was just as good with his coaching changes, firing Michel Therrien, and bringing in Claude Julien and Kirk Muller. Despite making some very good moves, he also made some very bad ones. His trading during the year was very bad, especially with the infamous PK Subban/Shea Weber trade and his wasteful trade deadline deals.
I would say that these trades outweigh the signings and firing, especially the PK one, and therefore have given Bergevin a below average grade. If Bergevin wants his team to contend next year and for years to come, he is going ta have to do much better than he did this past year.
Feel free to leave a comment on how you think Bergevin did this season!