A long rebuild
If there is a lesson to be learned from the last week, it is that the Canadiens players were not very attractive and that the general manager, Kent Hughes, will have to arm himself with patience in his rebuilding process.
No one expected Hughes to perform miracles, as he had few cards in hand to make big deals, and in the deep down, I am very happy that good veterans like David Savard, Mike Matheson, Joel Edmundson and Josh Anderson are staying in Montreal.
It is essential to have established players in a team in reconstruction to properly supervise the young people. As gifted as they are, Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj haven't had a lot of life and they need guides.
Probably with the right price Hughes would have moved a veteran or two, but as I said last week, he was not to give it away.
He therefore limited himself to an acquisition on waivers, Chris Tierny, a minor transaction, Frédéric Allard, and another more important, Denis Gurianov, in return for Evgeni Dadonov.
Besides , I like this Gurianov and he could surprise us. It's up to Tierny and Allard too to seize their chance.
Hughes was handcuffed
Hughes was handcuffed and will be again next summer. As there is no question of him departing from his good hopes, he cannot acquire star players without giving impact players. With a few small trades, he can hope for a nice surprise or two.
He will get a very good player with his first selection. Maybe he'll manage to fabricate a major trade with his ten other picks, but don't expect free agents to scramble to come to Montreal, at least not yet.   ;
Patrick Kane, it does not run the streets and it knows what it wants. In his case, he had only one destination in mind, the New York Rangers, an attractive team that can go far in the playoffs with a goaltender like Igor Shesterkin.
The presence Artemi Panarin also played a big part in Kane's decision.
To attract top-quality free agents, it takes a Stanley Cup-winning team and big names. The CH is not yet at this level and there is no more Carey Price or Shea Weber in the entourage.
As good as Nick Suzuki is, he's no Connor McDavid and there isn't a star NHL player who falls asleep at night dreaming of coming to play with him.
The Canadian is in a process of slow reconstruction and progress will come from within. When the Suzukis, Caufields, Guhles and others are mature and we have an elite goaltender, it will be easier for Hughes to get a hold of star players from the outside.
For now, we have to focus on development and the draft. We know that Hughes should draft at least one excellent youngster with his first selection, but before dreaming of the Stanley Cup, there are still a lot of elements missing.
The Canadiens are leaving in the right direction, we have good young defenders, but there is a long way to go. You can't skip the steps, and patience is essential.
Who wants to stay?
Now I can't wait to see who actually wants to stay in Montreal. There are still 19 games left on the schedule and we will have answers to this question in the coming weeks. Would Jonathan Drouin and Sean Monahan accept discount contracts? We'll see.
-Interview by Gilles Moffet
As much as I would have liked to see Jonathan Quick end his career with the Los Angeles Kings, as much as I must admit that general manager Rob Blake did a good job of getting Joonas Korpisalo from the Blue Jackets. Quick was a great goalkeeper, but he is at the end of his career. The Kings are playing well and they needed to improve in net. With Korpisalo they could go far. It's boring to say, but Quick will not be a distraction. If Korpisalo, or Pheonix Copley, has a bad playoff game, fans won't be able to claim Quick. Blake has thought of his case well, and kudos to Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen, who satisfied Quick by shipping him to the Golden Knights.
Another file for Bettman
I get the impression that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman isn't very happy with the tactics of general managers who ship injured players' salaries elsewhere. It is ingenious, certainly, but the situation has become ridiculous. The GMs have found the loophole in the system and they are circumventing the salary cap principle that Bettman was so keen on in 2004. I am convinced that we will see fixes soon. Same for “deductions” salary.
The dice are cast
Now that the dice are cast, we can wonder who will make it to the final in Eastern Association. I wouldn't bet against the Tampa Bay Lighgtning, even if Jon Cooper feels the need to stir the apple tree. Andrei Vasilevskiy is so strong. The Rangers are dangerous, but who will stop the Bruins? They are amazing. And who will participate in the playoffs? Congratulations to Pierre Dorion for rewarding the effort of his team and acquiring defender Jakob Chychrun. We see the impact of a good veteran like Claude Giroux. Cam Talbot's return comes at the right time. The Panthers aren't giving up and the Sabers are surprising, especially with a three-goalie rotation. Lots of suspense in sight.